Historian Lipstadt to keynote JFCS gala

Deborah Lipstadt, Ph.D.

Eminent Holocaust historian, scholar and author Deborah Lipstadt, Ph.D., will be the keynote speaker at Jewish Family & Children’s Services 9th annual Celebration of Caring, Sunday, April 8. Lipstadt gained international recognition for defending the historical truth of the Holocaust in a precedent-setting lawsuit, tried in a British court. The celebration is a fundraiser for JFCS, which supports mental health and human services to Tucson’s children and families, first responders, older adults, Holocaust survivors and others dealing with trauma, anxiety, conflict at home or work, and other life challenges.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Lipstadt join us,” says Carlos A. Hernández, JFCS President & CEO. “Not only is JFCS committed to providing expert mental health and community services, we believe that — now more than ever — we have to take a stand against anti-Semitism, racism, hate and violence.”

At this year’s event, Hernández adds, “we are honoring the Holocaust survivors who live in Tucson and come to JFCS for emotional support and care management.”

Lipstadt’s award-winning book, “Denial: Holocaust History on Trial,” inspired the 2016 big-screen movie of the same name, starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Wilkinson. Both are based on the libel suit in which Lipstadt proved the historical truth of the Holocaust in a court battle against infamous Holocaust denier David Irving.

“There are facts, there are opinions, and there are lies,” says Dr. Lipstadt. “And most importantly, truth and fact are under assault. The job ahead of us, the task ahead of us, the challenge ahead of us is great. The time to fight is short. We must act now. Later will be too late.”

“JFCS is committed to standing with the truth, and we are honored that Dr. Lipstadt will join us for our Celebration of Caring to help raise funds for important programs that help people who have been victims of personal or historical trauma, face mental health challenges, and lack basic human services,” says Liz Hernández, JFCS director of marketing and communication.

As an Emory University professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies, Lipstadt created the Institute for Jewish Studies and was its director for a decade. She directs the website “Holocaust Denial on Trial” (hdot.org), which catalogs legal and evidentiary materials from her trial, and contains answers to frequent claims made by deniers.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs awarded Lipstadt its highest honor, the Albert D. Chernin Award given to “an American Jew whose work best exemplifies the social justice imperatives of Judaism, Jewish history and the protection of the Bill of Rights, particularly the First Amendment.” Previous winners included Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Professor Alan Dershowitz. She’s also a member of the American Academy of Jewish Research, the oldest organization of Judaic scholars in North America.

With a bachelor’s degree from City College of New York, Lipstadt received her masters and doctorate from Brandeis University. She has received honorary doctorates from Ohio Wesleyan, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Yeshiva University, Bar Ilan University, Jewish Theological Seminary, and Hebrew Union College.

In service to the nation, Lipstadt was a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum consultant, served on the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Council and consulted with the U.S. Congress on responses to Holocaust denial. She was a member of the U.S. State Department advisory committee on religious freedom abroad and was with a White House delegation at the 60th anniversary commemoration of Auschwitz’s liberation.

Lipstadt’s other books include “The Eichmann Trial,” “Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory,” “Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust,” and “Holocaust: an American Understanding.”

The Celebration of Caring dinner is $200 per person. It will be held at the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa, 3800 E. Sunrise Drive on April 8 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. To register, go to tinyurl.com/JFCS-COC18, or contact Kate Kelly at kkelly@jfcstucson.org or 209-2435.