Associated Women Visit BHI Towson Holocaust Book Collection


On Tuesday May 7 at 9:30 a.m. Chapter Three, a program of The Associated Jewish Federations of Baltimore, will take community women ages 60+ to Towson University library. There, participants will view the Baltimore Hebrew Institute’s (BHI) collection of books confiscated from European Jews by Nazis during WWII and recovered by the U.S. Army. Additionally, they will hear presentations from Elaine Mael, Towson University Librarian, and Shifra Rabenstein, Holocaust Studies teacher at Bais Yaakov High School.

The trip is centered on Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) said Linda Elman, event co-chair of the trip along with Sharan Kushner.

“We’re really intrigued by this incredible treasure of historical books from the Holocaust that are part of our Baltimore community. Many people probably don’t even realize they’re here or have the opportunity to go see them,” Elman said.

Elman, who has visited the collection before, said she wants to share this treasure with other Baltimore area women and Jews. “The Nazis wanted to make a museum to an extinct people…. I don’t want [the books] to be packed away in boxes or in a museum where they can never be seen. I want people to see them and learn from them.”

The two speakers, Mael and Rabenstein, add their own interpretation and context to the books, Elman said. In particular, Elman is moved by Rabenstein’s presentation about looking to the past and learning for the future.

“The message that she tries to impart to people,” Elman said, “Is that we shouldn’t walk away from these books feeling down and depressed about a world that was lost. What we have to take away from this is a feeling about the strength and survival of the Jewish people. We have to be encouraged to look for the future.”

Nina Rosenzwog, Chair of Associated Women, said that Chapter Three arose out of a need for better programming for “women within all age groups.” She started Chapter Three, which had its kickoff in November 2018, because she “wanted to make sure that there would be programming for women over a certain age that would be stimulating.”

Rosenzwog has been excited by just how big the response to Chapter Three from people in Baltimore and beyond has been. “People are excited at the [idea] that there needs to be high level programming for women,” she said.

“This is my dream come true: high programming for those of us that have tons of energy to learn and be together, share experiences together and continue to grow. And everything we do has a Jewish lens,” she said.

Rosenzwog hinted at additional programming in the future, though declined to give specifics, saying that the details still needed to be confirmed.

“As long as my brain keeps functioning, we’ll have plans,” Rosenzwog assures members.

Participants will view the books in the Albert S. Cook Library at Towson, where the BHI special collections are housed. The group will meet in Chizuk Amuno Congregation’s parking lot to take a bus to and from Towson University. A boxed lunch will be provided. $18. Registration required. For more information contact Nina Rosenzwog at [email protected] or Melinda Michel at 410-369-9289 or [email protected].

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