Holocaust Survivor Walter Ziffer to Address Audience of All Ages

Holocaust Survivor Walter Ziffer to Address Audience of All Ages
Posted on 01/11/2020
Holocaust survivor Walter Ziffer embraces BMS students after addressing eighth grade, 2016

Holocaust survivor Walter Ziffer will address an audience of all ages in Ingram Auditorium at Brevard College, this Thursday, January 16, from 1:15 to 2:45 p.m. 

Thanks to Brevard Middle School with support from Brevard College and the Brevard Jewish Community, Ziffer’s address is free of charge and open to the public.

Teacher Kelly Muse regularly invites a Holocaust survivor from Western North Carolina to speak during the Holocaust Literature unit in her eighth-grade English class at Brevard Middle School. She advocates for Holocaust education and has taken several research trips, most recently to Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Center in Jerusalem.

Dr. Walter Ziffer takes questions from Brevard Middle School eighth-graders, 2016

Walter Ziffer is among those who have previously accepted the invitation to speak at Brevard Middle, and Muse reflected that such occasions are becoming more important, and rarer.

“In this new decade, it is more vital than ever to take an opportunity to meet a Holocaust survivor and listen to their stories,” said Muse. 

“They are leaving us more and more each passing day. Their stories need to be passed down to us, adults and young people alike, so their experiences and this history will never be forgotten—so their memory and what they endured as our fellow human beings will live on into future generations.”

Dr. Ziffer is a retired professor of biblical studies and theology, having taught in France, Belgium and the US over many decades. He has served as adjunct faculty at UNC-Asheville and Mars Hill University. 

His most recent book is, “Confronting the Silence: A Holocaust Survivor’s Search for God.” 

Dr. Walter Ziffer embraces students after addressing Brevard Middle School eighth graders, 2016

As a Jewish secular humanist who survived seven concentration camps after the Nazi occupation of his hometown in today’s Czech Republic, Ziffer remains chiefly interested in promoting Jewish-Christian dialogue and human rights. 

One thing Ziffer states openly about speaking to groups of any size—he does not intend to entertain listeners with his story.

“There are jillions of stories more important than mine, even more horrific than mine. I am here because I want to make a contribution to your education,” Ziffer told an audience in 2017. 

“To know about the Holocaust is absolutely necessary, contrary to those who deny it happened and suggest that this it is an invention of ‘some Jewish people’.” (From Ziffer’s address to Asheville-Buncombe Technical College: view on YouTube)

Kelly Muse hopes the public will take this unique opportunity to attend an intergenerational event not only to hear Ziffer, but also to see how his message resonates with students immersed in the topic through reading and reflection. 

Eighth-grade students are preparing to travel this spring to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum as part of Brevard Middle School's annual trip to Washington.

"The fact that a public gathering can hear Walter Ziffer right now, talking about his personal experience during a dark time, is a hopeful sign,” said Muse. 

“It says to me, despite forces to the contrary, that a mix of generations—from teenagers up to the wise elders of our community—can come together in the name of compassion, empathy, and social justice.”

All are welcome to attend the event in Ingram Auditorium. Dr. Walter Ziffer writes a blog with his thoughts and reflections at walterziffer.com.

(Portrait photo credit: UNC Asheville)

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