UMass Amherst Jewish Affairs

Jewish Affairs

Educational, Cultural,
and Dialogue Programs

We're very proud of the many educational, cultural, and dialogue programs sponsored by the Office of Jewish Affairs between 1995 and 2010 (when it was incorporated into a broader Office of Religious and Spiritual Life). Those programs are listed below, by year. Follow the links for more information. Or if you're interested in a particular topic, check out our Subject Index.

For information about Shabbat and other religious services, contact Hillel, Chabad or our local synagogues. Links to these and other Jewish resources can be found on our Resources page.


Chronological Index: 1995-2010


2010

12th Annual Freedom Seder
This year's Freedom Seder was truly interfaith as well as multicultural, as we welcomed the Newman (Catholic) Student Association to our planning group, joining the Black Student Union, Muslim Students Association, and Jewish Student Union. The delicious international buffet dinner was again prepared by the students in Hospitality & Tourism Management 457, followed by a mesmerizing musical performance featuring Moonlight Davis singing R&B, Gospel and Spirituals (4/8/10)

Jewish Resistance During World War II:
The Myth of Jewish Passivity in the Holocaust

Lecture by Nechama Tec, author of Defiance: The Bielski Partisans, the book on which the popular film "Defiance" was based. For more information about Jewish partisans, click here. Cosponsored with Hampshire College School of Social Sciences, the Jewish Community of Amherst, and various Jewish studies, political science, and German departments at the Five Colleges (4/12/10)

Film/Discussion: Fish Out of Water
This new documentary uses animation, an original musical score, and interviews to analyze the Biblical passages that have been used to condemn same-sex sexuality and deny rights to LGBTQ people. Followed by a discussion with Rev. Chris Carlisle, an Episcopal priest, and Rhonda Rieser-Shapiro, a Jewish spiritual leader. Presented by the Stonewall Center, 2-in-20 Floor, Office of Jewish Affairs, and cosponsored by the Episcopal Chaplaincy and United Christian Foundation (4/14/10)

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2009

PSOY-OY-OY!
New Yiddish rap from the former Soviet Union

An evening of stories and songs with poet-singer-songwriter-performance-artist Psoy Korolenko, in English, Russian and Yiddish. Presented by the Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies and cosponsored by the Office of Jewish Affairs, Program in Slavic and East European Studies, and the National Yiddish Book Center (12/3/09)

Art exhibition...
NEVER AGAIN: Genocide from Cambodia
to Darfur and Beyond

Three powerful art exhibits bring us face to face with the tragic history of genocide in the 20th and 21st centuries. (November 2-13; opening reception and artist talks 11/3/09)

Interfaith panel discussion...
Genocide: Reconciliation, Forgiveness, and
the Search for Meaning in the Face of Evil

Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Native American spiritual leaders discussed how their traditions approach genocide and other crimes against humanity, the process of reconciliation, and the possibility of forgiveness (11/3/09)

Genocide: From Justice to Prevention
Human rights activists from STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition, Beyond Genocide, and the Darfur Rehabilitation Project discussed their efforts to combat genocide (11/10/09)

Cambodia Remembered
Angkor Dance Troupe & Monkey Dance Film
Presented by the Asian Arts & Culture Program... Julie Mallozzi's award-winning film Monkey Dance documents the lives of three Cambodian-American teenagers coming of age in a world shadowed by their parents' nightmares of the Khmer Rouge. Traditional Cambodian dance links them to their parents' culture, but fast cars, hip consumerism, and new romance pull harder. The Angkor Dance Troupe from Lowell, Massachusetts trains young Cambodians to preserve, develop and teach the traditions of Cambodian dance (11/15/09)

Religion, Spirituality and Health
Lecture by Dr. Harold G. Koenig, founding co-director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University Medical Center. Presented by the Center for Research on Families and cosponsored by the Office of Jewish Affairs, Center for Public Policy and Administration, Religious Affairs Committee, Five-College Council on Religious Life, and Bay State Health Systems (9/17/09) More info...

Holocaust and Genocide Today
Lecture by Yehuda Bauer, world-renowned historian of the Holocaust and other genocides (4/27/09)

National Yiddish Theatre: Mama's Loshn Kugel
Di Folksbiene Trupe of the New York-based National Yiddish Theatre performed classic Yiddish comedy routines and theater songs, in Yiddish with English supertitles (4/19/09)

11th annual Freedom Seder
Our annual multicultural and interfaith celebration was once again inspiring, uplifting and, this year, especially delicious, with an international buffet dinner prepared by the students in Hospitality & Tourism Management 457. Presented by the Office of Jewish Affairs, Black Student Union, Muslim Students Association, and Delta Xi Phi Multicultural Sorority, and cosponsored by the Jewish Student Union (4/2/09)

Jewish Film Festival at UMass Amherst
Fugitive Pieces
An emotionally-charged drama about a boy who is orphaned in Nazi-occupied Poland, the Greek archeologist who rescued him, and the woman whose love restored him to life... a poignant film about love, loss and redemption. The first of two films shown in conjunction with the Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival (3/26/09)
While All Germans Sleep
Based on East German writer Jurek Becker's short story The Wall, this poignant feature offers a glimpse into history through the eyes of children. Shown as part of the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival and the Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival (4/1/09)

Exhibit: A Reason to Remember
This powerful exhibit tells the story of the five Jewish families who lived in the village of Roth, Germany, and how their lives were systematically destroyed under Nazi rule from 1933-1942. Presented by the Hatikvah Holocaust Education Center (Springfield, MA) and cosponsored by the Office of Jewish Affairs.
March 23-April 9, 2009 in Herter Gallery

One Million Voices for Peace in the Middle East
Young Israeli and Palestinian peace activists from the OneVoice Movement spoke about their experience mobilizing hundreds of thousands of moderate Israelis and Palestinians who want to achieve peace non-violently through a two-state solution. This extraordinary event was presented by the Office of Jewish Affairs and cosponsored by the Muslim Students Association, Student Alliance for Israel, Arab Students Club, and the UMass Muslim Political Action Coalition (3/5/09)

Inter-Religious Approaches to Bridging the Arab-Israel Conflict
Lecture by Dr. Ben Mollov, Research Fellow at the Project for the Study of Religion, Culture and Peace at Bar-Ilan University, Israel. Response by Prof. Iza Hussin, Legal Studies, UMass Amherst (2/19/09)

Challenges Facing LGBT People with Religion
A panel discussion of the challenges faced by lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people within various religions. Panelists were Faisal Alam, Founder of Al-Fatiha, an International LGBT Muslim organization; Rabbi David Dunn Bauer, Jewish Community of Amherst; Kathleen Boucher, researcher on LGB Catholics; Chris McMillan, co-director of the Multicultural Resource Center at Amherst College; and Winnie Nazarko, a Buddhist teacher at the Insight Meditation Society. Presented by the Stonewall Center and cosponsored by the Office of Jewish Affairs (2/11/09)

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2008

A Night in Eilat
The Student Alliance for Israel and the Office of Jewish Affairs were pleased to present an evening of Israeli food, music, and dancing (12/4/08)

Yom Ha'Atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day)
A celebration of Israel's 60th birthday with live music, dancing, and Israeli food (5/8/08)

Caught in the Crossfire: Hollywood 1947, Communist Conspiracy or Jewish Plot?
Lecture by Village Voice film critic J. Hoberman, about the House Un-American Activities Committee's political purge of the American movie industry, particularly Jewish writers and producers (4/17/08)

Film: "Mechina: A Preparation"
In Israel, military service is mandatory after high school graduation. Living with her cousin Amitai and his five friends as they prepare for army service, director Maital Guttman uncovers the complexity of being young and idealistic in a time of war. Q&A with director (4/14/08)

Tenth Annual Freedom Seder
Our 10th annual celebration of multicultural and inter-faith unity. Some of the alumni who began this tradition (in 1999) and sustained it over the past decade were honored in a special ceremony, followed by an acappella concert of freedom songs in many languages including Zulu, Spanish, Hebrew, and Arabic (4/13/08)

Israeli Film Series:
Understanding the Palestinian and Israeli 'Other'

Hot House
Israeli filmmaker Shimon Dotan's interviews with Palestinian "security prisoners" (whom most Israelis regard as criminals, but most Palestinians regard as freedom fighters) provide insight into the mentality behind terrorism and the ways Israeli prisons have served as virtual universities for future Palestinian political leaders (4/3/08)
Storm of Emotions
An emotional documentary about Israel's evacuation of Jewish settlements in Gaza in 2005, as seen through the eyes of the secular and religious Israeli soldiers and police who carried out the evacuation, and the settlers who were forced to leave their homes (4/7/08)

Film: Constantine's Sword
James Carroll, a former Catholic priest, is on a journey to confront his past and uncover the roots of religiously inspired violence. This powerful documentary focuses on Christian antisemitism as a prototype of religious intolerance, exposing a long history of violence against Jews, Muslims, and others (3/27/08)

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2007

In Conversation with Tony Kushner
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Angels in America (a landmark play about the politics of AIDS) and the screenplay for Munich, Kushner is one of America's cultural icons, and its conscience. The 2007-2008 Rand Lecture was co-presented by the Theater Department, Stonewall Center and Office of Jewish Affairs (10/9/07)

Wrestling With Angels
A feature-length documentary about Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner, shown in conjunction with Kushner's visit to UMass Amherst (10/2/07)

The Environment as a Catalyst for Peace
in the Middle East

Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli alumni of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies will discuss their experience living and studying together, in an effort to cooperatively solve the region's environmental challenges (9/24/07)

Israel Independence Day Celebration
Community-wide celebration with live music, dancing, Israeli food, and other activities (4/23/07)

2007 Freedom Seder
Our ninth annual celebration of multicultural unity
and our yearning for universal liberation. We were especially honored this year to be joined by the
Muslim Students Association (4/18/07)

Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom Ha-Shoah)
Vigil and rally to memorialize the six million Jews exterminated by the Nazis during World War II, and
to condemn the phenomenon of Holocaust denial (4/15/07)

Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival
(March 10-31, 2007)

Jewish Film Festival at UMass Amherst:
Walk on Water is the most popular Israeli film ever shown in the U.S. This thriller about a Mossad agent assigned to track down an aging Nazi war criminal challenges our beliefs about sexuality, vengeance, and the morality of killing (3/10/07).
Encounter Point is a compelling documentary about Palestinians and Israelis who risk everything to promote a nonviolent end to the conflict. Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the San Francisco International Film Festival (3/11/07).
West Bank Story, winner of the 2007 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film, is a musical comedy about dueling falafel stands in the West Bank...
a hilarious parody of West Side Story which makes a serious statement about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict (3/11/07).

The Memory of the Holocaust and the
Israeli-Arab conflict

Lecture by Idith Zertal, one of Israel's "New Historians"; author of From Catastrophe to Power and Israel's Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood (3/13/07)

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2006

Holocaust Denial in America
Lecture by Ephraim Kaye, a researcher from Israel's Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem (11/30/06)

Monday Night in Westerbork
A performance about a cabaret troupe formed by the Jewish inmates of the Westerbork concentration camp in the Netherlands (10/11/06)

The Left Hand of God
Lecture by Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine, on fundamentalism in American politics and a progressive spiritual alternative (4/6/06)

Recent Developments in Israel and Palestine
A panel discussion exploring the political landscape after the Israeli disengagement from Gaza and the electoral victories of Hamas and the new Kadima Party (4/4/06)

Multicultural Freedom Seder
Our eighth annual celebration of multicultural unity
and our yearning for universal liberation (4/2/06)

The Search for Identity in a Fractured Society
Films by Israeli and Palestinian women directors: "Paradise Lost" and "Another Road Home"
(March 28-30, 2006)

The Afro-Semitic Experience in Concert
Cross-cultural explorations of the sacred and secular music of the African and Jewish diasporas (2/15/06)

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2005

Blacks and Jews in America
Four films exploring the complex relationship between African Americans and Jews in the U.S., shown in conjunction with the course "History of Black-Jewish Relations" (Oct-Nov 2005)

History of Black/Jewish Relations in the U.S.
First offered in Fall 1999, this important course was created with the support of the Office of Jewish Affairs, to provide a forum for informed discussion of this contentious issue (Fall 2005)

Tenth Anniversary Celebration (April 2005)

The Klezmatics and Joshua Nelson in Concert
Freedom songs from the African American and Jewish traditions. The culmination of our 10th anniversary celebration (4/20/05)

One by One: Descendants of the Third Reich
and the Holocaust in dialogue

Panel discussion with German and Jewish descendants
of Holocaust survivors and former SS and Nazi Party members (4/13/05)

Multicultural Freedom Seder
Our 7th annual celebration of multicultural unity
and our yearning for universal liberation (4/10/05)

A Land Twice Promised
Israeli storyteller Noa Baum builds bridges of understanding and compassion in this one-woman performance illuminating the complex history and emotions that surround Jerusalem for Israelis and Palestinians alike (4/5/05)

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2004

Defending Palestinian and Israeli Human Rights
Lecture by Rabbi Arik Asherman, the Israeli director of Rabbis for Human Rights (11/21/04)

Struggling Towards Peace in Times of Terror
Lecture by Avraham Burg, former speaker of the Israeli Knesset, prominent peace activist and Geneva Accord negotiator (11/9/04)

Remembering Our Humanity
Forum: Holocaust memorial, hate crimes, and the courage to say "No" to hate (5/5/04)

Multicultural Freedom Seder
Our 6th annual celebration of multicultural unity
and our yearning for universal liberation (3/31/04)

Let Freedom Ring: Black/Jewish Relations
and the UMass Freedom Seder

One-credit course (Spring 2004)

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2003

Missing Peace in the Middle East
Lecture by Ambassador Dennis Ross, the United States' chief envoy in the Middle East during the Reagan, Bush Sr. and Clinton administrations (5/7/03)

Trembling Before God
Documentary film about gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews and the dilemma they face reconciling their love of Judaism with the Biblical prohibition against homosexuality (4/7/03)

Multicultural Freedom Seder
Our 5th annual celebration of multicultural unity
and our yearning for universal liberation (4/6/03)

History of Black/Jewish Relations in the U.S.
First offered in Fall 1999, this important course was created with the support of the Office of Jewish Affairs, to provide a forum for informed discussion of this contentious issue (Spring 2003)


2002

One Holy Land, Three Holy Peoples
Lecture by Reuven Firestone, professor of medieval Judaism and Islam at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles and an expert on Jewish-Muslim and Jewish-Arab relations (10/20/02)

Promises
Award-winning documentary film exploring the Middle East conflict through the eyes of its children. Discussion with director B.Z. Goldberg following the film (4/30/02)

The Holocaust on Trial
Lecture by historian Deborah Lipstadt about her legal battle and ultimate victory against British Holocaust denier David Irving (4/11/02)

Multicultural Freedom Seder
Our 4th annual celebration of multicultural unity
and our yearning for universal liberation (4/7/02)

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2001

Major Issues in Contemporary Jewish Life
Lecture series exploring some major issues in modern Jewish life including the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, assimilation, and Jewish feminism (Spring 2001)

Boxes and Walls: Museum of Oppression
An interactive exhibition of photos, artwork, posters and other artifacts exploring various forms of oppression including anti-Semitism, racism, and homophobia (Spring 2001)

Multicultural Freedom Seder
Our 3rd annual celebration of multicultural unity
and our yearning for universal liberation (4/22/01)


2000

Muslim and Jewish Holidays
Workshop for UMass employees exploring the principal Jewish and Muslim holidays. A collaboration of OJA and the Muslim Students Association (Dec 2000)

Genes, "Lost" Tribes, and Jewish Identity
Is the Lemba community of South Africa a "Lost Tribe" of Israel? Lecture by Dr. Tudor Parfitt on the results of recent genetic research (4/6/00)

Multicultural Freedom Seder
Our 2nd annual celebration of multicultural unity
and our yearning for universal liberation (4/17/00)

Friends or Foes?
Newly-published book documenting the complex history of Black/Jewish relations, provides the groundwork for the new course on Black/Jewish relations, which was created with the support of the Office of Jewish Affairs, the Office of Human Relations, the W.E.B. DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies and the Institute for the Advanced Study of the Humanities (3/8/00)

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1999

History of Black/Jewish Relations in the U.S.
A new course, co-taught by African American and Jewish faculty members, which was created with the support of the Office of Jewish Affairs, to provide a forum for informed discussion of this charged issue (Fall 1999)

Kindle the Fire: An Interfaith Dialogue
Interfaith dialogue on spirituality with Prof. Julius Lester, Sister Eleanor Dooley, and Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, head of the Sufi Order International (11/7/99)

MotherSON
A one-man play exploring the hilarious and poignant relationship between a Jewish mother and her gay son (10/29/99)

The Affirmative Action Debate
Lecture by Julian Bond, chair of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and long-time civil rights activist, about the legacy of racism and the need for Affirmative Action "until all races are equal" (10/13/99)

Bridges & Boundaries:
African Americans and American Jews

Exhibition of photos, paintings, cartoons, posters and other artifacts exploring the histories of American Jews and African Americans. Created by the Jewish Museum of NYC in collaboration with the NAACP; on display at the University Gallery in the Fine Arts Center (Sept 1999)

Multicultural Freedom Seder
This joyous celebration of multicultural unity, modelled after the Jewish Passover Seder, was the first of what has become an annual tradition at UMass Amherst. A collaboration in the best sense between the Jewish Student Union, the Black Student Union, and the Office of Jewish Affairs (4/22/99)

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1998

Roads to Reconciliation in the Middle East
Panel discussion with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists Zoughbi Zoughbi and Judith Green, discussing their experiences trying to build bridges across "enemy" lines (11/9/98)

Roads to Reconciliation in the Former Yugoslavia
Panel discussion with four peace activists from the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia) about their struggles for reconciliation in the wake of genocide (10/29/98)

Compassion in Action: The Jews of Sarajevo
Lecture by Dr. Jakob Finci, president of La Benevolencia, a Jewish educational, cultural, and humanitarian society in Sarajevo, and director of Soros Foundation for Bosnia Herzegovina (10/30/98)

Transforming Hatred:
Sowing the Seeds of Peace in the Middle East

Panel discussion with four graduates of the "Seeds of Peace" summer camp½‚€?youths from Jerusalem; Ramallah (West Bank); Cairo, Egypt; and Amman, Jordan (3/5/98)

Major Issues in Contemporary Jewish Life
Lecture series exploring some major issues in modern Jewish life including the Arab/Israeli conflict and Jewish identity in the Diaspora (Spring 1998)

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1997

A Palestinian-Jewish Dialogue for Peace
in the Middle East

The cofounders of the Palestinian and Jewish American Women's Dialogue Project discussed Israeli-Palestinian relations and their experience forging a respectful dialogue across a vast cultural/political divide (12/3/97)

One By One: Descendants of the Third Reich
and the Holocaust in dialogue

Panel discussion with German and Jewish descendants
of Holocaust survivors and former SS and Nazi Party members (11/4/97)

Jewish and Muslim Holidays
Workshop for UMass employees exploring the principal Muslim and Jewish holidays (Nov 1997)

Major Issues in Contemporary Jewish Life
A new lecture series exploring some major issues in modern Jewish life including the Arab/Israeli conflict, assimilation, and Jewish feminism (Spring 1997)


1996

Barebones Theater
Student theater troupe which performed educational skits drawn from the life experiences of its diverse cast½‚€?scenarios exploring anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, and homophobia (1996-97)

One By One: Descendants of the Third Reich
and the Holocaust in dialogue

Panel discussion with German and Jewish descendants
of Holocaust survivors and former SS and Nazi Party members, who have come together to heal their respective wounds through a process of dialogue (4/29/96)

Hate Groups in America
Public lecture and televised "Town Meeting" with Morris Dees, Jr., director of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The student television station named this program the "Best Show of the Year" (3/5/96)

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Organizers of the 12th annual Freedom Seder

Annual Freedom Seder,
a multicultural and interfaith celebration of unity and liberation

"Fish Out of Water"
Cartoon image from the film "Fish Out of Water"
Scene from film "Fish Out of Water"

Film: "Fish Out of Water"
4/14/10

Seder plate from Freedom Seder
Detail from "Beyond Genocide" illumination (Ethiopia)
Detail from an illuminated manuscript in the exhibition "Never Again: Genocide from Cambodia to Darfur & Beyond"
Photo from "Never Again: Genocide from Cambodia to Darfur and Beyond"
Photo from the exhibition "Never Again: Genocide from Cambodia to Darfur & Beyond"
Drawing by a Darfuri child
Drawing from the exhibition "Never Again: Genocide from Cambodia to Darfur & Beyond"
Interfaith Panel: "Genocide, Reconciliation, Forgiveness..."
Interfaith panel discussion: "Genocide, Reconciliation, Forgiveness and the Search for Meaning in the Face of Evil"


Holocaust Genocide Today poster
Yehuda Bauer 4/27/09


Folksbiene Yiddish Theater
"Mama's Loshn Kugel" 4/19/09


Organizers of the 2008 Freedom Seder
2008 Freedom Seder


"Fugitive Pieces" film poster, UMass Amherst 3/26/09
Film "While All Germans Sleep"


Palestinian peace activist Nisreen Abdallah at UMass Amherst
OneVoice Movement logo


Israeli peace activist Roi Assaf at UMass Amherst


Film "Constantine's Sword" at UMass Amherst 3/27/08


Film "Hot House" at UMass Amherst 4/3/08


Film "Storm of Emotions" at UMass Amherst 4/7/08


Film "Mechina" at UMass Amherst 4/14/08


Film "Constantine's Sword" at UMass Amherst 3/27/08


Film: "Wrestling With Angels"


Film "Encounter Point" will be shown at UMass Amherst on 3/11/07


Film "West Bank Story" at UMass Amherst 3/11/07


Film: "Walk on Water" at UMass 3/10/07


"Monday Night in Westerbork" graphic


photo of The Afro-Semitic Experience


Poster for the film "Another Road Home"


Image from film "Paradise Lost"


Cover of Michael Lerner's book "The Left Hand of God"


The Klezmatics


Joshua Nelson


Poster for the film "Trembling Before G-d"


"A Land Twice Promised" graphic


One By One panelists Rosalie Gerut and Martina Emme


Missing Peace in the Middle East poster


Organizers of the 2004 Freedom Seder at UMass Amherst


Palestinian and Israeli boys featured in the film "Promises" (Yarko and Faraj)


Palestinian girl in the film "Promises" (Sanabel)


photo of burning Star of David from "Boxes and Walls" exhibit at UMass Amherst


Poster for "Holocaust on Trial" lecture at UMass Amherst (Deborah Lipstadt)


photo from 1999 Freedom Seder at UMass Amherst


photo from 1999 Freedom Seder at UMass Amherst


"Bridges and Boundaries" exhibition


photo of M.L.King, Ralph Abernathy, Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath


Poster for "Roads to Reconciliation" program at UMass Amherst


"Roads to Reconciliation" speakers Jakob Finci and Libija Obad at UMass Amherst


"Transforming Hatred: Sowing Seeds of Peace in the Middle East" at UMass Amherst


"One By One" panelists at UMass Amherst (1997)


Morris Dees, Jr.