SJU Sponsors 40th Annual Conference on the Holocaust

‘Crisis and Credibility in the Jewish-Christian World’ honors Franklin H. Littell

Friday, February 19, 2010

PHILADELPHIA (Feb.18, 2010) – The Annual Scholars’ Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches, an international conference dedicated to teaching, learning and remembering the lessons of the Holocaust while examining the churches’ struggle and failure to confront Nazi anti-Semitism and “the Final Solution,” will be held at Saint Joseph’s University from March 6-8.

The conference was co-founded in 1970 by the late Franklin H. Littell, universally acknowledged as the father of Holocaust studies in America. This year’s conference theme, “Crisis & Credibility in the Jewish-Christian World: Remembering Franklin H. Littell,” honors his life and work.

“I am delighted to welcome these internationally renowned scholars and guests to Philadelphia and Saint Joseph’s University for this vital conference,” said University President Timothy R. Lannon, S.J., the honorary chair for 2010. “The conference’s focus on human rights and social justice mirrors such an essential component of our University’s mission. We are proud to participate in the 40th anniversary of this conference in such a meaningful way.”

SJU previously hosted four other Scholars’ conferences. Notably, in 2000, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel was the keynote speaker, and received an Honorary Doctorate from the University. William Madges, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Nancy Fox, Ph.D., associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, are the overall 2010 conference co-chairs. Rabbi Richard Libowitz, Ph.D., adjunct professor of theology, who introduced the first Holocaust course taught at SJU, is program chair.

Littell, who passed away in 2009 at the age of 91, was an ordained Minister of the United Methodist Church and former chair of the religion department at Temple University. He first encountered Nazism in Germany in July 1939, as a young pastor leading a delegation of Methodist youth to a world conference. Stopping in Nuremburg, he engaged in a heated discussion with an S.S. officer regarding the intentions of Adolf Hitler.

Later, Littell served for nearly 10 years in the occupation and de-Nazification of Germany as the Chief Protestant Religious Officer in the High Command. He was deeply affected by his experience, and dedicated the rest of his career to speaking, teaching and researching religious freedom, Jewish-Christian relations, human rights and the Holocaust. His book, The Crucifixion of the Jews, was the first Christian response to the Holocaust.

The conference, which is interfaith, international and interdisciplinary, will bring scholars, experts, survivors and community leaders to speak on topics ranging from the failure of mainstream media to cover the fate of European Jews during World War II – Laurel Leff, Ph.D., of Northeastern University, author of Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper – to contemporary Holocaust denial. Participants in the five plenary sessions, 16 breakout sessions and a special Teachers’ Institute will come from all over North America as well as Australia, Belarus, England, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Japan and Russia.

John McCall, Ph.D., director of SJU’s Pedro Arrupe Center for Business Ethics, will participate in a plenary titled “Professional Ethics After Auschwitz: How We Have Changed, or Have We?” The final plenary, a panel discussion on the church crisis discussing three institutional responses to early persecution of the Jews and Kristallnacht, known as the Night of Broken Glass, will be led by leaders from the United States. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

Two free community programs will be held at Campion Student Center. A memorial to Littell is scheduled for Sunday, March 7, at 7:30 p.m.; Rabbi Dr. Irving Greenburg will speak on Monday, March 8, at 7 p.m. Reservations for both evenings can be made at or 610-660-1240.

International community leaders Dr. Felix Zandman and his wife Ruta will be honored with the Eternal Flame Award at the closing conference dinner on Monday, March 8, at 6 p.m. Reservations and a fee are required, and can be arranged at 610-660-1240.

To register for the conference, e-mail or call 610-660-1240. All conference activities will be held at Mandeville Hall. A program is available for download at

Media Contact

Patricia Allen, Associate Director of University Communications, 610-660-3240,

Expand this section