Georgetown University expands Holocaust/Jewish studies with $10 million gift

The Georgetown University campus. Credit: Lucas Cantor via Wikimedia Commons.

( The Catholic-Jesuit institution Georgetown University is increasing its curriculum on Jewish civilization with the help of several major donations, including a newly announced $10 million gift from Miami philanthropists Norman and Irma Braman, in an effort intended to expand the school’s Holocaust research.

The Holocaust will be examined “in all its dimensions—its causes and consequences, its role in the establishment of the state of Israel, and its continuing impact on modern Judaism, which has been impacted by a rise in acts of anti-Semitism and questions of Israel’s legitimacy,” Georgetown said in a statement about the Braman family grant.

The donation is part of a larger $20 million endowment that will expand the university’s 13-year-old Jewish studies program, which is part of its renowned School of Foreign Service, beginning by formally renaming the program to the Center for Jewish Civilization next week. The new center will not only explore the Holocaust, but also explore issues of foreign policy relating to Israel, Jewish culture, literature and religion, and Jewish-Catholic relations.

One of the program’s major faculty members will be Rev. Patrick Desbois, a historian known for documenting mass graves of Holocaust victims in Eastern Europe and the author of “The Holocaust by Bullets.”

“We are pleased to make this gift to support Father Patrick Desbois’s very important research on the Holocaust and to provide it a permanent home at a distinguished American university,” Norman Braman said in a statement, according to the Washington Post. “As America’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university, Georgetown was the natural location to focus Father Debois’s unique research.”

“I have decided to make this gift, now, and to Georgetown, in part as a sign of my appreciation for the leadership of Pope Francis and the priority he so clearly attaches to fostering closer relations between Jews and Catholic,” added Braman, a billionaire auto dealer and a major supporter of GOP presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.).

Posted on February 25, 2016 .