Presented by

Understanding Jewish Life, Resilience, and Resistance in the Face of Persecution
a workshop for students, scholars, and practitioners

Taken together, the collections of the partners of the Center for Jewish History comprise the world's largest archive of modern Jewish history. The partners hold remarkably significant materials that speak to Jewish experience. Hear from the leaders of these organizations as they share some of the collection materials that speak to the history and experience of antisemitism. Learn from them as we consider how to combat the contemporary manifestations of antisemitism and understand what consulting archives and studying Jewish history offer us.


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Gemma R. Birnbaum

Executive Director, American Jewish Historical Society

Originally from Queens, NY, Gemma holds a Bachelors in History and Judaic Studies from New York University and a Master’s Degree in the History of Twentieth Century Labor and Civil Rights from Tulane University. Currently the Executive Director of the American Jewish Historical Society in New York City, she previously spent 10 years at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, where she oversaw media production and mission-driven web content, distance learning, K-12 and community engagement programs, and interpretation, also serving as administrator of the Museum’s online Master’s Degree in World War II Studies with Arizona State University and creator/executive producer of the podcast “To the Best of My Ability.” Prior to her time at the Museum, Gemma worked as an experiential educator at Heifer International and was a Lipper Intern at the Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, where she first got her start in museums and archives.

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Jonathan Brent

Executive Director, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

Jonathan Brent is a historian, publisher, translator, writer and teacher.  For eighteen years (1991-2009) he was Humanities Senior Editor then Editorial Director at Yale University Press where he established the Annals of Communism series.  His books include Stalin’s Last Crime (2003); and Inside the Stalin Archives (2008). Brent has translated poems of Joseph Brodsky and Vladimir Mayakovsky and teaches history and literature at Bard College. He is currently writing a study of Stalin’s seizure of power, and finishing a novel.

In 2009, Brent became Executive Director and CEO of The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research where he initiated The YIVO Vilna Collection Project in 2014, an international project to conserve and digitize all of YIVO’s pre-WW II collections in New York City and Vilnius, Lithuania. In 2018, Brent initiated development of the YIVO Digital Museum of East European and Russian Jewish Life. In 2019 Jonathan Brent received the Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania by H.E. Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of the Republic of Lithuania. The award was given to Mr. Brent in recognition of his work in promoting cooperation between Lithuania and YIVO and for the preservation of the prewar Jewish archives of Lithuania.

Brent lectures and publishes widely on Jewish, Soviet and East European history.  He has made three documentaries about his work: Stalin’s Last Plot (2009); Stalin: Man of Steel (2003); Declassified: Stalin (2006); and How to Become a Tyrant (2021, Netflix).  His articles have appeared in The New York Times, Commentary, The American Scholar, The New Republic, The New Criterion, The Chronicle of Higher Education and numerous other journals and newspapers.  He is now participating a documentary on the life and disappearance of Raul Wallenberg. His books have been translated into French, Swedish, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Portuguese, and Polish.

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Jason Guberman

Executive Director, American Sephardi Federation

Jason Guberman-P., a social entrepreneur who specializes in building broad coalitions and melding intellectual and technical innovation, is the American Sephardi Federation’s Executive Director, founding Executive Director of Digital Heritage Mapping, and coordinator of DHM’s flagship initiative, the Diarna Geo-Museum of North African & Middle Eastern Jewish Life. A summa cum laude graduate of Sacred Heart University, Jason was named to Connecticut Magazine’s “40 under 40” and to the NY Jewish Week’s “36 under 36.” He has presented at Stanford University’s Digital Humanities Center and conferences of the Association of Jewish Studies, Association of Jewish Libraries, Limmud UK, and the US Department of State/Moroccan Rabita Mohammadia of Ulema’s 1st Regional Conference on the Preservation of Cultural and Religious Heritage; guest lectured classes at Harvard’s Middle East Studies Center and Wellesley College; represented the ASF at the Mecca-based Muslim World League’s “National Conference on Peace, Harmony & Coexistence” in Sri Lanka, the Moroccan Royal Inauguration of Bayt Dakira in Essaouira, and on the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations’ Missions to Morocco, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, and UAE; written for AJS PerspectivesSh’ma Journal, Wexner Foundation Newsletter, NewsweekThe Algemeiner, and MyJewishLearning; as well as appeared on NPR’s “Here & Now” and in SmartHistory.

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William Weitzer

Executive Director, Leo Baeck Institute

William H. Weitzer, Ph.D., became the Executive Director of the Leo Baeck Institute—New York|Berlin (LBI) in January, 2013. The LBI ( maintains the world’s largest archive dedicated to German-Jewish history, supports scholarly research, and provides public access through programs and projects, for example, the 1938Projekt ( and the Shared History Project ( Previously, Dr. Weitzer served as an administrator at Fairfield University, Wesleyan University, and the Uni­versity of Massachusetts-Amherst. He combines various aspects of his background—working closely with faculty and scholars, applying his professional and management skills, being of German-Jew­ish descent, and having involvement in Jew­ish communal life—in support of LBI’s mission to preserve and promote the history and culture of German-speaking Jewry.

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Shulamith Z. Berger

Curator of Special Collections, Yeshiva University Museum

Shulamith Z. Berger is the Curator of Special Collections and Hebraica-Judaica at Yeshiva University’s Mendel Gottesman Library.  She blogs on material from Yeshiva University’s collections at:

She is a frequent speaker at the Association of Jewish Libraries conferences. Her translation of Joseph Opatoshu’s Yiddish novel, Hebrew, into English is forthcoming from Ben Yehuda Press.

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Bernard J. Michael (moderator)

President & CEO, Center for Jewish History

Bernard Michael is the CEO and President of the Center for Jewish History. Previously, he was Chair of the Board of the Center and President of the American Jewish Historical Society. Mr. Michael is a Co-founder and Partner at AWH Partners, LLC, a privately held real estate investment firm specializing in hospitality, and was a partner in the Real Estate Group at the law firm Proskauer, LLP. Mr. Michael is a graduate of NYU School of Law and Brown University.

About the Center Partners

American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) is the oldest national ethnic historical organization in the United States. It provides access to more than 20 million documents and 50,000 books, photographs, art and artifacts that reflect the history of the Jewish presence in the United States from 1654 to the present. Among the treasures of this heritage are the first American book published in Hebrew; the handwritten original of Emma Lazarus’s The New Colossus, which is the poem that graces the Statue of Liberty; records of the nation’s leading Jewish communal organizations; and important collections in the fields of education, philanthropy, science, sports, business and the arts.

American Sephardi Federation (ASF) preserves and promotes the history, traditions, and rich mosaic culture of Greater Sephardic communities as an integral part of the Jewish experience. ASF hosts high-profile cultural events and exhibitions, produces widely-read online (Sephardi World Weekly, Sephardi Ideas Monthly) and print (The Sephardi Report) publications, supports research, scholarship, and the National Sephardic Library, and represents the Sephardi voice in diplomatic and Jewish communal affairs as a member of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and World Jewish Congress.

Leo Baeck Institute (LBI) was founded in 1955 by a circle of émigré Jewish intellectuals who resolved to document the vibrant German-speaking Jewish culture that had been nearly extinguished in the Holocaust. In the decades since, LBI has worked to fulfill that mission by building a world-class research collection. With an 80,000 volume library, millions of pages of archival documents, 25,000 photographs, 8,000 art objects, 2,000 memoirs, and hundreds of oral histories, LBI’s collections document centuries of Jewish life in central Europe.

Yeshiva University Museum (YU Museum) was founded in 1973 with the mission to present, research, and interpret Jewish art and culture across history and from the four corners of the world. A prominent Jewish cultural resource and tourist destination, the Museum develops artistically creative and thought-provoking exhibitions that offer revealing perspectives on Jewish texts, traditions and experience. Through its programs, the Museum provides a window into Jewish culture around the world and throughout history, mounting concurrent exhibitions that explore contemporary and historic manifestations of Jewish art and life.

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research (YIVO) was founded in 1925 in Vilna, Poland (now Vilnius, Lithuania) as the Yiddish Scientific Institute. YIVO Institute for Jewish Research is dedicated to the history and culture of Ashkenazi Jewry and its influence in the Americas. Headquartered in New York City since 1940, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research is the world's preeminent resource center for East European Jewish Studies; Yiddish language, literature and folklore; and the American Jewish immigrant experience. It holds over 400,000 volumes in 12 major languages, and its archives contain more than 23 million items, including manuscripts, documents, photographs, sound recordings, art works, films, posters, sheet music and other artifacts.

This program is funded, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.