Beyond the Holocaust: brochure

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Facilitating Encounters and Exchange between Jews and Their Non-Jewish Allies

Jews followed their Roman occupiers to Europe some two thousand years ago. Today, the Romans are gone; the Jews are not—despite the handiwork of the Nazi regime and others motivated by hate. But, the disaster handed to the Jews of Europe by their gentile neighbors ended seven decades ago.

At present, an increasingly integrated, peaceable and prosperous European Union counts a solidly established Jewish minority as one of many stones in a colorful mosaic of cultural diversity. Germany, in particular, watches as Jewish life within its borders revives, not only in numbers but in vitality.

Still, narratives told by both Jews and non-Jews about the relationship between the two groups over the past century or more often hinder new narratives, new ways of relating between the various voices now heard in the Europe of today—including in Germany, a dynamo at the heart of Europe.

This program examines the narratives we mostly subconsciously construct and, over time, repeatedly reinforce simply by believing what we keep hearing ourselves or those closest to us say. A chorus led by group think might afford us a feeling of belonging, but it can also limit, even block our potential.

New narratives are needed—but who should weave them and how should we then live them out?

Project Outline: What

Beyond the Holocaust focuses not on the abstract or political but on the immediate and personal. Its co-facilitators believe that while we all live in a neighborhood, each of us first lives in a house: To make conscious our belief-driven behaviors, then confront and finally change them, we best begin at home. Thus, participants are invited to examine their own roots and lives.

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Beyond the Holocaust provides a relaxed, hands-on environment where participants can examine from where they and their families have come, reconsider their lives today and re-envision who they might yet become as individuals and as members of larger groups—religious, civic or otherwise.

Beyond the Holocaust takes place, typically, from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, with English and German as working languages*. Over five** sessions the participants share their own (familial) resumes and their biographies, with photos, maps, etc. They also refer to them as part of small- and large-group work, which includes exchanging experiences, ideas, fears, hopes and dreams.

At the end of the weekend, each participant shares how she or he intends to carry new awarenesses home, then integrate them into daily life. Those participants who wish may stay in contact, post-workshop, in order to support each other’s Next Step: periodic “reunions” facilitate continued action.

* Both facilitators speak fluent German but as their workshops attract international audiences English serves as a language open to all, regardless of nationality. Individuals may address the group in their own mother tongues, but must have someone present able to translate to the rest of those present. ** Participants must arrange their own accommodation. Friday evening is “free” yet we encourage those who wish to dine together and to continue the conversations from the workshop into the evening. Plan to spend Saturday evening with the group to watch, then discuss a relevant film.

Project Outline: How

Beyond the Holocaust co-facilitators, Sagy Cohen and Michael Luick-Thrams, work in tandem with Spuren e.V. Its workshops and books focus on stories, on narrative social history, on three levels:

  • Stories of humanity: What does it mean to us to be a human? How have humans lived in various eras or cultures—and, what does that variety of experience say to us alive today (and those to follow us) about how to live; what lessons can we draw from our shared pasts?
  • Stories of groups: How did we get to be “us” till this point? How did past shared experiences form our collective character or inform our current ways of living and organizing society?
  • Stories of individuals: What in a given human life is the result of nature and what born of nurture? What parts of “me” are innate and which ones are absorbed from those around us?

Project Outline: Why

Spuren executive director, Michael Luick-Thrams, brings forty years of genealogical, historical and pedagogical experience with him. A great-grandson of a one-time Ku Klux Klan member, he seeks to understand group behavior and the seeds of conflict by examining their roots in individual lives.  He is the recent author of his own family-history trilogy, Oceans of Darkness, Oceans of Light: Our Troubles and Treasures in the New World. (For details, see ). Holding a doctorate in Modern European History from Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, he facilitates family and individual history research in the context of social history. (See .) Dr. Luick-Thrams invites participants to consider the effects on their families and themselves of:

  • migration: How has moving from one culture to another or between different regions within a country changed our families? What’s been gained through that process; what’s been lost?
  • work and leisure: What goods or services have our families provided others in order to fund our livelihoods? Outside work, what roles have entertainment, music and art, sports, travel, hobbies, civic engagement or voluntary pastimes played in our families or individual lives?
  • economic cycles: How have our families responded to and been shaped by booms or busts? How have wealth, poverty, job loss, further education or career shifts changed our lives?
  • climate and natural disasters: How have climatic conditions dictated our ways of living, or freak-occurrence weather events visited our lives for a moment, but with long-term effects?
  • wars: How has the experience of war changed our family members’ personalities, our familial fates and our nation? How have we, through war, affected the lives or fates of others?
  • religion: How has religious belief or spirituality shaped our familial culture or community?
  • technology: How have technological developments altered the ways we live, think or relate?
  • intimate relations: What have been lasting legacies of unplanned pregnancies, marriage, divorce, patchwork parenting, non-traditional lifestyles, aging and death in our families?

Project Outline: Who

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Project Outline: When and Where

Beyond the Holocaust is available as of spring 2015 (through July) and again as of September in Germany. Further workshops and other programming are planned for:

  • fall 2015 in: the United States and Israel
  • spring 2016 in: Central Europe and fall 2016 in: the United States and Israel
  • and as of spring 2017 in: Germany and other European countries, occasionally the U.S.A.

For details, or to apply to host or attend a workshop, please contact

Thank you!