RSVP to the CJC’s Final Event of the Semester!

About the Event

The Hal Israel Endowed Lecture in Jewish-Catholic Relations is named in memory of Hal Israel (C’92) and seeks to facilitate dialogue and strengthen ties between Jews and Catholics. It explores the many ways in which members of these two faiths continue to replace ancient prejudices with cooperation and understanding in today’s world. We are excited to welcome Dr. Erica Lehrer to deliver her talk, “Terribly Close: Polish Vernacular Artists Face the Holocaust.” RSVP today

About the Lecture: “Terribly Close: Polish Vernacular Artists Face the Holocaust”

How can Jewish-Catholic relationships play out in the form of inanimate objects? This talk examines “folk art” made by non-professional Polish artists – most of them uneducated peasants – documenting the German Nazi occupation of Poland and the Holocaust. Made largely in the 1960s and 70s, these objects are uncanny: at times deeply moving, at others grotesque, they can also be disturbing for the ways they impose Catholic idioms on Jewish suffering, or upend accepted roles of victim, perpetrator, and bystander. Cultural anthropologist and curator Erica Lehrer describes her collaboration with Polish researchers to explore the motivations, uses, and ethical implications of these works, asking whether we might view them as legitimate “arts of witness.”

About the Speaker

Dr. Erica Lehrer is sociocultural anthropologist and curator. She is currently Professor in the departments of History and Sociology-Anthropology at Concordia University, Montreal, where she also is Founding Director of the Curating and Public Scholarship Lab (CaPSL). She is the author of Jewish Poland Revisited: Heritage Tourism in Unquiet Places (Indiana University Press (2013); and editor (with Shelley Butler) of Curatorial Dreams: Critics Imagine Exhibitions (McGill-Queens 2016); (with Michael Meng) of Jewish Space in Contemporary Poland (2015); and (with Cynthia Milton et al) of Curating Difficult Knowledge: Violent Pasts in Public Places (Palgrave 2011), as well as numerous articles. In 2013 she curated the exhibit Souvenir, Talisman, Toy and in 2018-19 co-curated Terribly Close: Polish Vernacular Artists Face the Holocaust at the Kraków Ethnographic Museum (MEK) in Poland.

About the Reception

A Hanukkah reception will precede the lecture. Please arrive at 4:00 PM for food and refreshments! Save your spot here

Any person with an accommodation request is welcome to email us at We will try to meet these accommodation requests to the best of our ability.