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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Center for Judaic Studies


Holocaust Awareness Institute

Promoting Holocaust awareness and education in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region

The Holocaust Awareness Institute (HAI) works within the Jewish community, the University of Denver and with people of all faiths and cultures to explore the meaning of the Shoah and its lessons for future generations.

HAI is a campus and community resource for coursework, teacher trainings, education materials and programming and is a leading agent in the region for promoting education about the Holocaust and related ethical and social justice issues.

The Holocaust Awareness Institute condemns the use of ill-informed comparisons between current events and the catastrophe of the Holocaust. 

Recent remarks by Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville describing Governor Polis' stay-at-home order to protect Coloradans during the COVID-19 pandemic as leading to a "Gestapo-like mentality" are offensive, divisive, and inaccurate. Such analogies trivialize and distort the significance of the events of the Holocaust and their perception in public consciousness. Coloradans deserve more from their elected representatives than such irresponsible and demeaning words.  


Education is the key to never forgetting. It is in this spirit that CJS and DU are working, with your help, to endow a chair in Holocaust studies. The Endowed Chair of Holocaust Studies is a visionary scholar and a leading voice in regional and global Holocaust studies who will expand Holocaust educational offerings on and off campus. This scholar also will direct our Holocaust Awareness Institute, and will oversee new programming at the Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site and across the community.

Establishing this position makes the University of Denver the only campus in the world with an endowed chair of Holocaust studies tied to a Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site.

To learn more about this $3-million project and how you can help, please contact Prof. Adam Rovner at or by phone at 303.871.3020.

HONORING Holocaust survivor speakers

The Center for Judaic Studies and the Holocaust Awareness Institute are sad to announce the loss of two members of our Speaker's Bureau during the last year.
Paula Burger and Jack Welner shared their experiences with many audiences throughout Colorado and beyond. We celebrate their resilience and generosity to CJS. They are deeply missed. 

"There was no rhyme or reason why we should have survived, except to tell the story."

Portrait of Paula Burger by Deborah Howard

Paula was born in Novogrudok, Poland (today Belarus) in 1934. She and her brother survived the Holocaust with the Bielski Partisans in the Naliboki forest. In 1949, she immigrated to the US. Paula was a gifted writer and artist. More than 90% of the art hanging on the walls of our Center was created by Paula. Paula passed away in September 2019. Find Paula's obituary here.

"Never let hate take root in your heart."

Portrait of Jack Welner by Deborah Howard

Jack was born in 1920 in Lodz, Poland. He and his family lived in the Lodz Ghetto from 1940 until it was liquidated in 1944. Jack survived several concentration and labor camps, including Auschwitz and Dachau. He was reunited with his sister after the war, and both immigrated to the US. Jack passed away in August 2019, just weeks before his 99th birthday. Find Jack's obituary here

Portraits of Paula Burger (2006) and Jack Welner (2004) by Deborah Howard. Images courtesy of the Beck Archives, University of Denver Libraries.


Explore the collections of the Beck Archives at University Libraries through two new online exhibitions! 

Drawings by Deborah Howard

DU professor of studio art Deborah Howard has interviewed 25 survivors in the course of her portrait project, including Jack Welner and Paula Burger, above. View the entire series here.  

Select Documents from the Loewenstein Family
Papers and Art Collection  

The historic documents in the Loewenstein Family Papers and Art collection tell the story of one Jewish family's miraculous survival and amidst the horrors of the Holocaust. Henry Lowenstein was born in Berlin in 1933 and left Germany in 1939 via Kindertransport to England. He was reunited with his family in the U.S. in 1947.The documents in the collection were assembled by his mother Maria, and donated by Henry to to the Beck Archives. Explore the exhibit here


CJS and HAI are proud to support the CU Anschutz Holocaust Genocide and Contemporary Bioethics Program (HGCB) and their annual program during the week of Yom Ha'Shoah. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's program has been postponed until 2021. 


April 5-9, 2021

For more information, visit the HGCB website.  

Join the CU Anschutz Holocaust Genocide and Contemporary Bioethics Program (HGCB) for a virtual discussion via ZOOM:

Historical Lessons for a Time of Covid

Thursday, April 23, 2020 from 2:00-3:00pm

RSVP Required at

Hitler believed that the crisis of a war would make it easier to eliminate those whose lives he considered "unworthy of life." More than 70,000 people with disabilities were murdered in his infamous T4 program, which was run by medical scientists and started years before World War II.People with disabilities today worry that a new crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic, might lead once again to rationing based on perceptions of social utility and quality of life.

What must our triage systems look like if they are to deserve the trust of people with disabilities today?

Lisa Iezzoni, MD, MSc Professor, Harvard Medical School
GovindPersad, JD, PhD University of Denver, Sturm College of Law
Julie Reiskin, LCSW Executive Director, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
Matthew Wynia, MD, MPH Director, Center for Bioethics and Humanities

past events

"Abide: Endure. Sustain. Live On." An Uncommon Exhibit of Photographic Survivor Portraits by Wayne Armstrong (DU Photographer) at the Mizel Museum, in partnership with HAI's Survivors Speakers Bureau.

Holy Silence: 2019 Marcus Lecture

17the Annual Fred Marcus Memorial Holocaust Lecture
Kosher dessert reception to follow   
In partnership with the
12th Annual Neustadt JAAMM Festival
Elaine Wolf Theatre, MACC at the JCC, 350 S Dahlia St., Denver, CO 80246
Tickets are $18 & Free for Holocaust Survivors, Students, & Educators

Decades after the horrors of the Holocaust, a controversial debate continues over the role of the Vatican during that dark period of modern history. At the center of the debate is the pivotal question of what, if anything, the pope might have done to resist the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazism and intervene in behalf of the Jews of Europe.

HOLY SILENCE is a documentary that cuts straight to the heart of that ongoing debate. In doing so, the film also focuses on a fascinating cast of historical figures, each of whom played a crucial role in the effort to shape the Vatican's response to the Holocaust: a humble Jesuit priest from New England, a leading American industrialist dispatched on a mission by President Franklin Roosevelt, and high-ranking officials within the Vatican determined to carry out their own objectives.

Steven Pressman HOLY SILENCE features all of them and more, while allowing audiences to decide for themselves whether or not the papacy ultimately might have made more of a difference during this tragic period.

HOLY SILENCE is Steven Pressman's second documentary film. His first film — 50 CHILDREN: The Rescue Mission of Mr. and Mrs. Kraus — told the previously unknown story of an American couple who traveled to Nazi Germany in order to rescue a group of Jewish children and bring them back to safety in the United States. 50 CHILDREN premiered on HBO in 2013 and received an Emmy nomination for outstanding historical programming. It was also screened at the Fred Marcus Memorial Holocaust Lecture in 2015.


Tickets go on sale Tues, 9/3 at and will be $18, and free for students, educators, and Holocaust survivors by calling 303-316-6360

Email the Holocaust Awareness Institute at for more information. 

Holy Silence: 2019 Marcus Lecture