Holocaust Memorial creator to speak Filmmaker will keynote Cal Lutheran commemoration

A scholar, rabbi and filmmaker who played a leading role in the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., will speak at the California Lutheran University Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemoration on Sunday, April 30.

Michael Berenbaum will be the keynote speaker at the event, which will begin at 4 p.m. in Samuelson Chapel on the Thousand Oaks campus. It is the last of a series of three events organized by the university this year to celebrate Holocaust survivor Clara Knopfler’s 90th birthday and raise money for a scholarship named in her honor.

Berenbaum served as project director for the Holocaust Memorial Museum and oversaw the development of its permanent exhibit. He served as the first director of its research institute from 1993 to 1997. 

At the request of director Steven Spielberg, Berenbaum served as president and CEO of the Shoah Visual History Foundation from 1997 to 1999. The organization has taken the testimony of 52,000 Holocaust survivors from 57 countries in 32 languages.

Berenbaum co-produced “One Survivor Remembers: The Gerda Weissman Klein Story,” which won an Academy Award and Emmy Award, and he served as the chief historical consultant for “The Last Days,” which received an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. Berenbaum was also the historical consultant for the PBS documentary “Swimming in Auschwitz,” HBO’s “Conspiracy” and NBC’s “Uprising.”

He currently serves at American Jewish University in Los Angeles as director of the Sigi Ziering Institute: Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust, and is a professor of Jewish studies. He has written or edited 20 books.

Admission to the event is free, but donations will be accepted for the Clara Knopfler Jewish Leadership Scholarship. The scholarship provides support to Jewish student leaders.

Knopfler was born in Romania and later lived in Hungary. In 1944, she was taken to a ghetto and subsequently transported to Auschwitz, then Riga concentration camp and later to two labor camps in East Prussia. After a long death march, she was liberated in 1945. She and her mother were the only members of their extended family of 37 to survive. The Thousand Oaks resident speaks frequently at schools, churches, temples and colleges, including Cal Lutheran, to educate people about the dangers of hatred and the importance of acceptance, freedom and respect for all. She also has been involved with the university’s Hillel club, which provides Jewish students with a community and opportunities to explore their identity.

The Office of Campus Ministry-Jewish Life is sponsoring the event. For more information, contact Rabbi Belle Michael at bmichae@callutheran.edu.

Dr. Michael Berenbaum speaks to high school students at MTA. Berenbaum is an Academy and Emmy-award winning historian and filmmaker who will be addressing the MTA senior class in conjunction with the Names, Not Numbers oral history film project


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