While agreement concerning the importance of commemorating and transmitting Jewish history is easy to achieve, questions of both which parts of the past should be emphasized and the best media for that commemoration and transmission are far more controversial. Should priority be placed on remembering the violence done to Jews or documenting Jewish communal, religious, intellectual, or cultural life? Are different genres needed when the primary intended audience are Jews or non-Jews? What can best be done by artists, whether photographers, film-makers, composers, novelists, or poets? What can scholarship and classroom teaching best convey? What is the role of museums and archives in this memory labor?
The workshop will focus on efforts in France, Germany and the United States, in a variety of genres, to transmit aspects of the Jewish past to contemporary audiences including both Jews and non-Jews, children and adults, scholars and lay people. Most of the proposed participants engage the question of transmission of the experiences of European Jews in the 20th century, but some are concerned with either earlier times or other places. While one could obviously expand the range of Jewish histories included here, such an expansion would render an already complex problematic unwieldy. The challenges of communicating ancient or medieval Jewish history, or that of the Falasha or Jews in India, to contemporary European and U.S. audiences are different from those of the more recent and seemingly more familiar histories of the 20th century.