Richard Gair, professor of Holocaust studies and reading

Rich_smallRichard Gair used his Abe and Tess Wise Endowed Chair in the Study of the Shoah this year to travel to Poland, an important part of his Holocaust studies.

The title for his project is “Discovering Fragments of Jewish Life in Poland,” and it was Professor Gair’s intent to spend nearly three weeks in that country, spending his time talking with local historians, officials and museum staff.

“I also toured four Nazi death camps, studying and photographing them,” Professor Gair says. The towns on his travel agenda were Lodz, Chmielnik, Auschwitz, Rzeszow and Lublin. “In each location I made day trips to the sites and smaller villages.” Moreover, he explored the archives in places like Auschwitz.

The purpose of his stay? To visit, study and photograph key sites of Nazi persecution, ghettos and Nazi death camps, and to study and photograph fragments of Jewish life that once existed in Poland to deepen his understanding of that time. He also planned to examine the archives and exhibits at Auschwitz-Birkeneau to enhance his teaching and to help him plan future study abroad trips to the camps.RichardGair

He met with local historians to learn first-hand about the lives of Jews in the towns, and—perhaps most importantly, he deepened his scholarship to enrich all his Holocaust knowledge and teaching. The trip added a new perspective to what he understands about Jewish life in Poland then. It will also help him to add new components to future study abroad trips he leads.

As Professor Gair visits these places, he’ll be adding a wealth of new knowledge and experience to his professional background as a Holocaust educator and representative for Valencia in his role as a member of the Florida State Task Force on Holocaust Education. The photographs, videos and knowledge will all be infused into his classroom teaching of his Holocaust course, as well as his annual Holocaust study abroad trip.

Students have told me that when I can integrate my own experiences visiting, studying at the sites we study, it adds a level of authenticity to my teaching,” Gair says.  The pictures and videos from the trip will be shared in class, along with interviews he conducts with a historian or others. “By showing students the remnants of Jewish life, as small as they may be, they will further appreciate the magnitude of the Holocaust and its effect on a culture that has vanished.”

Videos from his trip can be found at

valencia to host “the courage to remember” visual narrative


Valencia College will host, “The Courage to Remember,” a 42-panel visual narrative of the Holocaust, presented by the Foundation for California and produced by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. With nearly 200 original photographs, many never before seen by the general public, The Courage to Remember offers compelling new insights into the Holocaust.

You’re invited to the opening event on Thursday, October 11 from 4:00-5:00 p.m., at Valencia’s East Campus Black Box Theater. To RSVP for the opening event, call 407-582-2340 or

In conjunction with the exhibit, Valencia will host a public lecture series featuring Holocaust and genocide scholars.

Monday, October 15 at 6:00 p.m., Building 3, Atrium – “Police, State and Systemic Violence: How the Police are Used as Instruments of Horror,” by James McDonald, professor of Criminal Justice

Tuesday, October 16 at 1:00 p.m., Building 3, Atrium – “The Courage to Transcend,” panel discussion featuring Richard Gair, professor of Reading and Holocaust Literature, James McDonald, professor of Criminal Justice, and Michael Savage, instructor of History. The panel will be moderated by Lee Thomas, East Campus dean of Social Sciences

Tuesday, October 16 at 6:00 p.m., Building 3, Atrium – “Yes, They Did Fight Back: Resistance During the Holocaust,” by Richard Gair, professor of Reading and Holocaust Literature

Wednesday, October 17 at 6:00 p.m., Building 3-113  “Problems Associated with Memorializing Genocide,” Michael Savage, Genocide expert and instructor of History

Thursday, October 18 at 1:00 p.m., Building 3 Atrium – “Nazi Propaganda: How They Used It to Sell Their Ideas,” Richard Gair, professor of Reading and Holocaust Literature

Thursday, October 18 at 6:00 p.m., Building 3 Atrium – “Preventing Mass Atrocities in the 21st Century,” George Lopez, professor at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, at Notre Dame University

The Courage to Remember exhibit will be on display through October 18, including Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 – 4:00 p.m., and weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.