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Catholic educators travel to Israel to ‘bear witness’
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Catholic educators travel to Israel to ‘bear witness’

Members of the “Bearing Witness” group in Israel, from left, Father Dennis McManus, consultant for Catholic-Jewish affairs at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Marcie Denberg Serra, assistant regional director, San Diego ADL; Rabbi El
Members of the “Bearing Witness” group in Israel, from left, Father Dennis McManus, consultant for Catholic-Jewish affairs at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Marcie Denberg Serra, assistant regional director, San Diego ADL; Rabbi El

Eighteen Catholic school educators flew to Israel July 8 to continue their studies in the Holocaust and Catholic-Jewish relations.

The educators were participants in Bearing Witness: Advanced, a Holocaust education seminar cosponsored by the Anti-Defamation League and the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown.

The seminar began at the college, where participants gathered for classes July 6-8. Participants returned from Israel July 16.

Among the group were two New Jersey residents, Michele Dahl, a Catholic educator from Warren, and Maud Dahme, a Holocaust survivor originally from the Netherlands, now living in Flemington.

Dahl is religion coordinator and a sixth-grade teacher at Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child in Summit; she wrote her doctoral dissertation on Catholic students “adopting” Holocaust survivors.

Dahme is a past president of the New Jersey Board of Education.

For Dahl, a highlight of the classes was a discussion of On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness, a book by the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. The class was led by Rabbi Elliot Dorff of the American Jewish University and Father Dennis McManus, consultant for Catholic-Jewish affairs at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“It is so interesting to learn how the subject of forgiveness is approached by both the Jewish and Catholic traditions,” Dahl said.

She said she particularly appreciated the interfaith approach to the trip in Israel. “We awoke to our bus driver playing [the CD] ‘The Holy City,’ a song I learned in grade school — and one that had been echoing in my mind for days before the trip,” Dahl said. “It could not have been more perfect, like a dream come true.”

She also raved about her visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. “I had carried prayers with me from and for family, friends, and students.”

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