Emory Report
February 16, 2009
Volume 61, Number 20



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February 16, 2009

Inaugural poet reads at Emory
The work of poet Elizabeth Alexander draws from history, and is also infused with a rare foresight, said Kevin Young, professor of English, in introducing her recent reading at Emory. Alexander was the poet for Barack Obama’s inauguration.

“There can never be enough poems with food in them. And, of course, when you start talking about something to eat, you’re talking about something much larger,” Alexander said, before reading “Fried Apples.”

She said that one of her books was inspired by a white woman who dared to open in 1832 a school for black girls in Connecticut. “It’s a way to think about the as-yet-unresolved quest for equal opportunity for education for all of our children.” —Carol Clark

Holocaust survivor advocates tolerance
Hollywood could never adequately portray the events of the Holocaust, said Roman Kent, a Holocaust survivor who gave a recent talk as a guest of Emory Hillel and the German Studies Department.

“There is no way that anybody can put in a film what really happened,” Kent said. “Can a film depict the smell of burning flesh?”

Kent is president of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous and the author of a memoir, “Courage Was My Only Option.” He was born in Lodz, Poland, in 1929. “Only education can prevent a future Holocaust,” Kent told the students. “Tolerance cannot be assumed. It has to be taught.” —Carol Clark

Integrative history vital, scholar says

Holocaust historian and author Saul Friedlander describes a photograph of a newly minted medical graduate of University of Amsterdam in September 1942: “From one single photograph, the viewer gets information of a vast number of interactions” between German, Dutch and Jewish institutions, and “at the center of it all, the fate of a Jewish individual.”

The photograph, he says, can be seen as “the very notion of an integrated history of the Holocaust.”
Friedlander was the guest lecturer for the Feb. 9 Tam Institute of Jewish Studies’ Tenenbaum Family Lecture Series.

A debate in the 1980s sparked Friedlander’s advocacy for the “inclusion of the Jewish dimension along with others within an integrative history of the Nazis.”

“Integrated history leads to connections otherwise only dimly perceived,” he said. —Leslie King