Based on Patt’s recently published book, Finding Home and Homeland: Jewish Youth and Zionism in the Aftermath of the Holocaust, this lecture seeks to answer the question: What is the relationship between the Holocaust and the creation of the State of Israel? In many ways, the creation of the state in 1948 was far from a historical inevitability as numerous obstacles stood in the way of its establishment following the Holocaust. Through a focus on the often under- examined and under-appreciated role of Holocaust survivors and their plight after the war, Patt examines the role of Jewish Displaced Persons in the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
Avinoam J. Patt, Ph.D. is the Philip D. Feltman Professor of Modern Jewish History at the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford, where he is also director of the Sherman Museum of Jewish Civilization. Previously, he worked as the Miles Lerman Applied Research Scholar for Jewish Life and Culture at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). He received his Ph.D. in Modern European History and Hebrew and Judaic Studies from New York University. His first book, Finding Home and Homeland: Jewish Youth and Zionism in the Aftermath of the Holocaust (published by Wayne State University Press, May 2009) examines the situation of young survivors in Europe in the aftermath of the Holocaust and their role in the creation of the state of Israel. He is also the co-editor of a collected volume on Jewish Displaced Persons, titled We are Here: New Approaches to the Study of Jewish Displaced Persons (Wayne State University Press, February 2010). He is currently writing an archival document collection, with historian Alexandra Garbarini, (to published by the USHMM), entitled Jewish Responses to Nazi Persecution, 1939-1940 for use by university professors and scholars. Patt teaches courses on Modern Jewish History, American Jewish History, Theology and the Holocaust, the History of Zionism and the State of Israel, and Modern European Jewish Literature.