Michael Berenbaum

Michael Berenbaum (born July 31, 1945 in Newark, New Jersey) is an American scholar, professor, rabbi, writer, and filmmaker, who specializes in the study of the Holocaust. He served as Deputy Director of the President's Commission on the Holocaust (1979–1980), Project Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) (1988–1993), and Director of the USHMM's Holocaust Research Institute (1993–1997).

Berenbaum played a leading role in the creation of the USHMM and the content of its permanent exhibition. From 1997 to 1999 he served as President and CEO of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, and subsequently (and currently) as Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute: Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust, located at the American Jewish University (formerly known as the University of Judaism), in Los Angeles, CA.[1]

Michael Berenbaum
BornJuly 31, 1945 (age 73)
Alma materFlorida State University
Queens College
OccupationHolocaust Scholar
EmployerAmerican Jewish University
Spouse(s)Melissa Patack Berenbaum
ChildrenMira Leza Berenbaum, Joshua Boaz Berenbaum, Phillip Lev Berenbaum, Rabbi Ilana Berenbaum Grinblat

Professional career

Berenbaum, who is Jewish, graduated from Queens College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1967 and received his doctorate from Florida State University in 1975. He also attended The Hebrew University, the Jewish Theological Seminary and Boston University. Berenbaum received Rabbinic ordination (Orthodox) by Rabbi Yaakov Rabin at the age of 23. Berenbaum held teaching posts at Florida State University, Yale University, Georgetown University, Wesleyan University, George Washington University, the University of Maryland, College Park, and American University, and is currently a Professor of Jewish Studies at the American Jewish University (Los Angeles).

He is the author and editor of eighteen books, including After Tragedy and Triumph, a study of the state of American Jewry in the early 1990s, as well as The World Must Know, Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp. He co-edited After The Passion is Gone: American Religious Consequences with Shawn Landres (2004),[2][3][4] which examines the social impact of the film The Passion of Christ on religious groups. Berenbaum and Landres took a public role in shaping the interreligious response to the film.[5][6][7][8]

Berenbaum is the Executive Editor of the New Encyclopedia Judaica, 2nd ed., that includes 22 volumes, six million words, and 25,000 individual contributions to Jewish knowledge, published in December 2006 (ISBN 0028659287); it won the Dartmouth Medal of the American Library Association for the outstanding reference work of 2006.

Berenbaum co-produced One Survivor Remembers: The Gerda Weissmann Klein Story,[9] a film which was recognized with an Academy Award,[10] an Emmy Award and the Cable Ace Award. He was the chief historical consultant for Last Days, which also won an Academy Award in 1998. In 2001, Berenbaum was historical consultant for the History Channel's The Holocaust: The Untold Story, which won the CINE Golden Eagle Award and a Silver Medal at the US International Film and Video Festival. He was also Executive Producer of a film entitled Desperate Hours about the unique and rarely acknowledged role The Republic of Turkey played in rescuing Jews from Nazi Germany's final solution and "About Face: The Story of The Jewish Refugee Soldiers of WWII". Berenbaum was executive producer of Swimming in Auschwitz and was a consultant for Defiance and Uprising, among other Holocaust-related films and documentaries.

Berenbaum is the founding partner of Berenbaum Jacobs Associates, a firm designing Museums, Special Exhibitions, Memorials and Educational Centers.

Berenbaum's wife, Melissa Patack Berenbaum, is the Vice President and General Manager of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), California Group, and president of the California chapter of the MPAA. Berenbaum is the father of four children: Rabbi Ilana Berenbaum Grinblat, Phillip Lev Berenbaum, Joshua Boaz Berenbaum, and Mira Leza Berenbaum.

He is the model for the character Monty Pincus in Tova Reich’s 2007 satirical novel My Holocaust.[11]


  1. ^ Holocaust and ethics Archived October 30, 2012, at the Wayback Machine Academics.ajula.edu
  2. ^ Manseau, Peter (2005), "Nailing Down a Film's Legacy," Forward, March 25, 2005.
  3. ^ Deacy, C.R. 2006, Review of J. Shawn Landres & Michael Berenbaum (eds.) After The Passion Is Gone: American Religious Consequences (AltaMira, Walnut Creek, California, 2004). Journal of Contemporary Religion, 21 (1). pp. 122-124. ISSN 1353-7903.
  4. ^ Maestranzi, J. L. (2005), Review. Journal of Religion & Society 7.
  5. ^ Landres, JS; Berenbaum, M (2004). After The Passion is Gone: American Religious Consequences. Rowman Altamira.
  6. ^ "Who Really Killed Jesus?" (2004). Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, February 20.
  7. ^ Gruber, R. E. (2004), "Nun who inspired Gibson’s ‘Passion’ may become a saint." Jewish Telegraphic Agency / JWeekly.com, October 8.
  8. ^ Landres, J.S., & Berenbaum, M. (2004), "Diskuse o Gibsonove 'Utrpneni krista'" [in Czech]. Dingir 2/2004.
  9. ^ Film award
  10. ^ Academy award
  11. ^ My Holocaust at Forward.com

External links

Articles by Michael Berenbaum

See also

Anipoli (Hasidic dynasty)

Anipoli is a Hasidic dynasty founded by Rebbe Reb Zishe, Rabbi Zusha of Hanipol (died 1800).

Anipoli is the Yiddish name of Hannopil, Ukraine.

Antisemitism (authors)

This is a list of authors in the field of antisemitism in alphabetical order.


Berenbaum is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

David Berenbaum, actor

May Berenbaum (born 1953), American entomologist

Michael Berenbaum (born 1945), American academic, writer, and film director

Shmuel Berenbaum (1920–2008), American rabbi


HeHalutz or HeChalutz (Hebrew: הֶחָלוּץ, lit. The Pioneer) was a Jewish youth movement that trained young people for agricultural settlement in the Land of Israel. It became an umbrella organization of the pioneering Zionist youth movements.

Il Resto del Carlino

il Resto del Carlino is an Italian newspaper based in Bologna, and is one of the oldest newspapers in Italy. Its rather evocative name means "the change you get from a Carlino," the smallest part of the Papal baiocco, which was legal tender at the time, when a sheet of local news was given out in shops to make up for any change owing after buying a cigar.

Illuminata (film)

Illuminata is a 1998 romantic comedy film directed by John Turturro and written by Brandon Cole and John Turturro, based on Cole's play. The cinematographer was Harris Savides. The puppet sequences were done by Roman Paska. Music for the 'Tuccio Operatic Dream Sequence' was composed by Richard Termini.

Lajos Werkner

Lajos Werkner (October 23, 1883 – November 12, 1943) was a Hungarian Olympic champion sabre fencer.

Mac (film)

Mac is a 1992 American drama film co-written and directed by John Turturro, in his directorial debut. It stars Turturro alongside Michael Badalucco, Katherine Borowitz, Carl Capotorto, Nicholas Turturro and Ellen Barkin. It won the Caméra d'Or award at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.


The Masoretes (Hebrew: בעלי המסורה Ba'alei ha-Masora) were groups of Jewish scribe-scholars who worked between the 6th and 10th centuries CE, based primarily in early medieval Palestine in the cities of Tiberias and Jerusalem, as well as in Iraq (Babylonia). Each group compiled a system of pronunciation and grammatical guides in the form of diacritical notes (niqqud) on the external form of the biblical text in an attempt to standardize the pronunciation, paragraph and verse divisions and cantillation of the Jewish Bible, the Tanakh, for the worldwide Jewish community.

The ben Asher family of Masoretes was largely responsible for the preservation and production of the Masoretic Text, although an alternative Masoretic text of the ben Naphtali Masoretes, which has around 875 differences from the ben Asher text, existed. The halakhic authority Maimonides endorsed the ben Asher as superior, although the Egyptian Jewish scholar, Saadya Gaon al-Fayyumi, had preferred the ben Naphtali system. It has been suggested that the ben Asher family and the majority of the Masoretes were Karaites. However, Geoffrey Khan believes that the ben Asher family was probably not Karaite, and Aron Dotan avers that there are "decisive proofs that M. Ben-Asher was not a Karaite."The Masoretes devised the vowel notation system for Hebrew that is still widely used, as well as the trope symbols used for cantillation.

Milk-cream strudel

The milk-cream strudel (Viennese: Millirahmstrudel, German: Milchrahmstrudel) is a traditional Viennese strudel. It is a popular pastry in Austria and in many countries in Europe that once belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867–1918). The milk-cream strudel is an oven-baked pastry dough stuffed with a filling made from diced, milk-soaked bread rolls, egg yolk, powdered sugar, butter, quark, vanilla, lemon zest, raisins and cream and is served in the pan with hot vanilla sauce.

Names, Not Numbers

Names, Not Numbers is a holocaust documentary film project offered to schools around the US, Canada and Israel. The films follow students as they learn the main aspect of filmmaking from journalists and filmmakers including research, interviewing techniques, filming techniques and editing, to prepare them to interview and film survivors and liberators themselves. They also undergo the rigorous process of editing their survivors 1.5 hour interview down to 15 minutes, which is added to the DVD as the extended version of their survivors interview. The interviews are further cut down and intertwined with the other survivors who were interviewed for the same school that given year, and the feature-length films are screened at the end of the school year for the students, their families, the participants, and the community.

Each film is archived at the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem, Yeshiva University's Special Collections Library, and Yad Vashem, the official memorial for the victims of the holocaust in Israel.

Currently there are 20 schools participating in the Names Not Numbers program, including Kellman Brown Academy, The Mesivta High School of Greater Philadelphia, YUHSB, YUHSG, the Moriah School, Hillel Torah, SAR Academy and Kushner, amongst other Jewish schools.

Names Not Numbers was started by Tova Fish-Rosenberg in 2004. It has since become a nonprofit organization. Academy Award-winning producer Michael Berenbaum is among the Board of Directors in the organization.


Peshat (also P'shat, פשט) is one of four classical methods of Jewish biblical exegesis used by rabbis and Jewish bible scholars in reading the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Tanakh. It is the first of the four exegetical methods known together as PaRDeS. While Peshat is commonly defined as referring to the surface or literal (direct) meaning of a text, numerous scholars and rabbis have debated this for centuries, giving Peshat many uses and definitions.

Politische Abteilung

The Politische Abteilung ("Political Department"), also called the "concentration camp Gestapo," was one of the five departments of a Nazi concentration camp set up by the Concentration Camps Inspectorate (CCI) to operate the camps. An outpost of both the Gestapo and the criminal police (Kripo), the political department evolved into the most important of the five.


Shas (Hebrew: ש״ס) is an ultra-Orthodox religious political party in Israel. Founded in 1984 under the leadership of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a former Israeli Sephardi chief rabbi, who remained its spiritual leader until his death in October 2013, it primarily represents the interests of Haredi Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews. The party works to end prejudice and discrimination against the Sephardic community, and highlights economic issues and social justice.

Originally a small ethnic political group, Shas is currently Israel's third-largest party in the Knesset. Since 1984, it has almost always formed a part of the governing coalition, whether the ruling party was Labor or Likud. As of 2019, Shas members sit with Likud in the government.

Sonderkommando photographs

The Sonderkommando photographs are four blurred photographs taken secretly in August 1944 inside the Auschwitz concentration camp in German-occupied Poland. Along with a few photographs in the Auschwitz Album, they are the only ones known to exist of events around the gas chambers.The images were taken within 15–30 minutes of each other by an inmate inside Auschwitz-Birkenau, the extermination camp within the Auschwitz complex. Usually named only as Alex, a Jewish prisoner from Greece, the photographer was a member of the Sonderkommando, inmates forced to work in and around the gas chambers. Several sources identified him as Alberto Errera, a Greek naval officer. He took two shots from inside one of the gas chambers and two outside, shooting from the hip, unable to aim the camera with any precision. The Polish resistance smuggled the film out of the camp in a toothpaste tube.The photographs were numbered 280–283 by the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. Nos. 280 and 281 show the cremation of corpses in a fire pit, shot through the black frame of the gas chamber's doorway or window. No. 282 shows a group of naked women just before they enter the gas chamber. No. 283 is an image of trees, the result of the photographer aiming too high.

The Marconi Bros.

The Marconi Bros. is an independent 2008 American comedy drama film. It was written and directed by cousins Michael Canzoniero and Marco Ricci.

What to Expect When You're Expecting (film)

What to Expect When You're Expecting is a 2012 American romantic comedy film that follows the lives of five interconnected couples in the Atlanta area as they experience the thrills and surprises of having a baby, and realize that no matter what you plan for, life does not always deliver what is expected. It was distributed by Lionsgate, produced by Mike Medavoy, Arnold Messer and David Thwaites, co-produced by Alcon Entertainment, Phoenix Pictures, What to Expect Productions and Georgia Public, edited by Michael Berenbaum, directed by Kirk Jones from a screenplay by Shauna Cross and Heather Hach with music by Mark Mothersbaugh and based on the pregnancy guide of the same name by Heidi Murkoff.

The film stars Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Chace Crawford, Brooklyn Decker, Anna Kendrick, Matthew Morrison, Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock and Rodrigo Santoro. The film was theatrically released on May 18, 2012 by Lionsgate. The film earned $84.4 million on a $40 million budget. What to Expect When You're Expecting was released on DVD and Blu-ray on September 11, 2012 by Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

Zalman Gradowski

Zalman Gradowski or Chaim Zalman Gradowski (1910 – October 7, 1944) originally from Suwałki, was a Polish Jewish prisoner of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp during the Holocaust in occupied Poland. He arrived in November 1942 aboard a Holocaust train from Kalabosin (see: Kiełbasin Sammellagger servicing Grodno Ghetto, possible spelling error). After "selection" his family members perished. He was sent to work in the Sonderkommando slave labour unit.

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