Biola commemorates Rwandan Genocide and Jewish Holocaust
Professor Judith Rood welcomed renowned guests for second annual awareness week
Those affected by genocide and holocaust are in our midst here at Biola. Students, professors and even alumni have personal stories about their involvement in the tragedies that shook the world over the past century.
Judith Rood and the Jewish Studies Club planned and executed Biola’s Second Annual Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Week, April 22-27, entitled “The Pedagogy of Holocaust and Genocide Studies.” The entire week was sponsored by the department of history and political science and the vice-provost office of multi-ethnic and cross-cultural engagement.
The honored guest speakers included Biola’s own french language professor, Faustin Ntamushobora, who lived through the Rwandan genocide of 1994 with his wife and children. In a roundtable discussion, he shared his story about the journey that brought him to Biola.
“My father was Tutsi and my mother was Hutu,” Ntamushobora said. “So I was a target … I prayed ‘God you have the power to protect us.’”
Ntamushobora described Rwanda today as “beautiful” and a place where reconciliation and forgiveness is evident. Author of a book titled “From Trials to Triumphs,” Ntamushobora is currently working on his second book.
Scholar-in-residence and Biola alumnus, Daniel Wildeson (‘77) spoke numerous times throughout the week. He is currently the professor of rhetoric and director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education at St. Cloud State University.
“Dr. Gary Strauss [Biola professor of psychology] has been Dr. Wildeson's mentor, and after last year's chapel Dr. Strauss contacted me to ask if I would meet with Dr. Wildeson so that he could do a program here at Biola,” Rood said.
Internationally renowned holocaust scholar Rabbi Michael Berenbaum also served as an honorary speaker. Barenbaum is the current director of the Sigi Ziering Institute, located at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles.
“Dr. Berenbaum, who is possibly the most important American scholar of Holocaust education, volunteered to come,” Rood said.
Barenbaum spoke about his journey to becoming a Rabbi at the age of 23 and then taught those in attendance about the history behind the Jewish Holocaust.
“There was a meeting of 15 men at a beautiful resort called Banzai. They were there, not to make the decision to commit the Holocaust... They were there essentially to make sure that each of their agencies were engaged in it and were part of bringing all of the organizations together,” Berenbaum said. “They broke no law, but used the law as an instrument of committing the crime.”
One of the week’s events was a free screening of the internationally acclaimed film “La Rafle,” which is translated “The Round Up.” The writer and director Rose Bosch had the mission to create a historically accurate depiction of the Nazi agenda in Paris, France. The film stars Jean Reno (“The Da Vinci Code,” “Leon: The Professional”) and Mélanie Laurent (“The Concert”).
With four alternative chapels, seminars with leading holocaust and genocide educators and award-winning films, the week was full of events, education, awareness and commemoration.
“I have come to believe that the reason that I am at Biola is to be able to ask these questions and to seek the answers as a Jewish Christian,” Rood said.
Rabbi Michael Berenbaum was the project director for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. See the website for information on preventing genocide, confronting antisemitism and rescuing the evidence of both the Holocaust and genocides.