Psychologist and Author Featured During Series on Holocaust Rescuers

February 01, 2013

Dr. Eva Fogelman, an expert in Holocaust topics, shed light on the actions of Samaritans during the World War II genocide in a special presentation on January 29 sponsored by the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies at Saint Leo University.

Dr. Fogelman, who is a psychologist, came to University Campus to discuss the motivations behind those who rescued Jewish targets of the Holocaust. She presented three primary reasons people put themselves in harm’s way to protect others. One was that people felt a moral obligation; men and women responded equally to this emotional call. People were also motivated by a felt affinity toward the Jews, created through personal and third-party connections with Jewish people.

The final motivation cited was the existence and availability of ideological networks in a position to assist. For instance, college students involved in Greek Life were better able to rescue Jews because they had large social networks from which they could obtain information concerning the needs of Jews in trouble, as well as the location of Germans in pursuit. Dr. Fogelman emphasized that rescuers are still needed in society today. People suffering from AIDS, homelessness, and other perils, can benefit from those who answer to a high moral code, she said.

Dr. Fogelman’s presentation was the first of three in a series titled “To Save One Life: Catholic and Muslim Rescuers of Jews in the Holocaust.” The Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies (CCJS) at Saint Leo University is working with the Franciscan Center of Tampa on this important series, with each organization hosting a presentation on its campus.

The series continues in February when Father André Cirino, O.F.M., presents “Rescuers of Jews in the Italian City of Assisi during the Holocaust.” The CCJS presentation will take place from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m., on Tuesday, February 5, at the Saint Leo University Student Community Center. The Franciscan Center presentation will follow at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, February 6.

In March, religious studies scholar Mehnaz Afridi, Ph.D., of Manhattan College will discuss “Muslim Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust.” Her CCJS presentation will take place from 1:30 to 3 p.m., Tuesday, March 19, at the Saint Leo University Student Community Center. The Franciscan Center presentation is at 5:30 p.m., on Wednesday, March 20.

Also helping to sponsor the series are: the American Jewish Committee of the West Coast Florida Region, the Florida Holocaust Museum, Suncoast Hillels, the Tampa Jewish Community Center & Federation, Saint Leo University’s Office of University Ministry, and the university’s Department of Philosophy, Theology, and Religion.

For further information on this program, please contact Dr. Abraham Peck, CCJS executive director, at (352) 588-7298, or abraham.peck@saintleo.edu.