Yom HaShoah Community Commemoration
Please join us on Zoom, Thursday, April 8th at 7:00pm
for prayers and songs led by Rabbi Meiri and a lecture by
Dr. Walter Ziffer.
The Dilemma of Owing One’s Life to Evil:
A Holocaust-Related Personal Case Study
Following George Floyd’s murder by police on May 20, 2020 in Minneapolis, America exploded in a burst of protest against police brutality in treatment of Black Americans. It is only a short memory leap from the police murder of Floyd and other Black individuals to the institution of American slavery, its brutalities and post-slavery attempts to glorify white power and privilege, often through monuments of white supremacist leaders. In some places—including Asheville—the recent reckoning with American racism has led to the decision to remove monuments to past advocates of slavery and white supremacy. How though can we come to terms with remnants of the past that are less tangible than stone monuments?
Our speaker, Dr. Walter Ziffer, theologian and author who himself was enslaved for three years as a fifteen-year-old boy in seven concentration camps during the Holocaust, will discuss this dilemma: Can perpetrators of evil, such as slave holders, also exhibit decency and humanity? How are one’s ethical dispositions influenced by where and when one is born? How can we use these insights to understand atrocities of the past, confront injustice in the present, and prevent such inhumanity in the future? Drawing on his personal experience and his insight as a Jewish theologian, Ziffer will challenge us to consider the complexity and nuance of the ethical dilemmas involved.