Jewish Identity and Consciousness




Dr. Françoise Ouzan:

Dr. Maya Guez:


Tel: 03-6405319

Ongoing Research by Dr. Ouzan


Rebuilding Lives after the Shoah in the United States, France and Israel (1948–1993)


Through memoirs, testimonies, archival material, various writings by Holocaust survivors and interviews (some of which have been conducted by the author in three languages), Dr. Ouzan has examined the return to life and the process of rebuilding lives in France, the United States, and Israel.

The book based on this research, entitled How Young Holocaust Survivors Rebuilt their Lives in France, the United States, and Israel, was published by Indiana University Press in 2018.


Jews in the American Army in World War II: Experiences Abroad and Meaningful Encounters


Dr. Ouzan’s new research concentrates on “the liberators” – in particular, American Jewish soldiers during World War II. Her current focus is on their presence in Europe, with an emphasis on French soil.


Among the sixteen million Americans who served in every branch of the military forces, fought in every theater of World War II and participated in liberating the world from the Nazis and their Axis partners, there were over 550,000 self-identified Jews.


Drawing on a multitude of in-depth interviews and testimonies, as well as on letters written by soldiers to their families, this research explores some of the 400 interviews recorded by the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York with Jewish veterans from various backgrounds and all branches of service. It also uses the oral testimonies of Jewish “liberators” at the USC Shoah Foundation and at the Zionist Archives. This research attempts to recount and understand the nature of the Jewish GIs’ war experiences, especially in unfamiliar territories and cultures.


The significance of this research cannot be overstated: through oral history which provides details that are usually absent from other sources, letters and photographs, as well as war diaries, the impact of military service on the soldiers’ American and Jewish identities can be best analyzed. This study also aims at undermining stereotypes about Jewish soldiers such as “unpatriotic cowards” at a period when antisemitism was at its peak in the United States. It enables a reassessment of anti-Jewish attitudes in the American military during World War II.


During the 2018-2019 academic year, Dr. Ouzan conducted a research trip to the United States to gather materials –besides the oral history from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum—from the archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, housed by the Center for Jewish History in New York, and at the Jewish Heritage Museum in New York (March 2019). At this museum in Battery Park, Dr. Ouzan screened the documentary film made for the exhibition entitled “Ours to Fight For: American Jews in the Second World War” that chronicles the experiences of Jewish servicemen and servicewomen. Dr. Ouzan is in the process of collecting more relevant oral testimonies from their oral archives. 


The new materials recently collected will enable Dr. Ouzan to focus on the following issues:

  • How Jewish GIs confronted anti-Jewish feelings in the army, on French soil and in the Pacific (two very different environments and experiences) and discovered or expressed Jewish identity overseas.
  • How the expression of Jewish identity appeared as a transgression in POW camps in the Philippines, based on a memoir and archival documents on Allied Military Personnel in the Philippines in World War II.  




How Young Holocaust Survivors Rebuilt their Lives in France, the United States, and Israel, Studies in Antisemitism, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2018.



“Zeev Birger, et le développement de Jérusalem”, in Si c’était Jérusalem, coll. Schibboleth-Actualité de Freud, Paris, Editions In Press, April 2018 (eds. Bar Zvi M., M.G Wolkowicz), pp. 481–85.


“Was Truman’s Missouri the Cradle of the State of Israel?”, The Jerusalem Report, May 14, 2018, p. 6–7, Volume XXIX, No. 3.


“Elie Buzyn: the Extraordinary Story of the Father of Frances’ Health Minister”, The Jerusalem Report, August 6, 2018, p. 32–33, Volume XXIX, No. 9.


“Marcel Marceau: Grappling with the Past through Silence”, The Jerusalem Report October 1, 2018, pp. 28–29, Volume XXXIX, No. 13.


“On the American Experience of Postwar Jewish Refugees”, The Jerusalem Report, October 15, 2018, p. 6, Volume XXIX, No. 14.


“On ‘Refujews’ and Refugees in America”, The Jerusalem Report, December 10, 2018, p. 5, Volume XXIX, No. 18. 


“Noah Klieger as I Remember Him”, The Jerusalem Report, January 7, 2019, pp. 42–43, Volume XXX, No. 1.


“Carved in Stone, Shoah Survivor Shelomo Selinger’s Sculptures Celebrate the Triumph of Life”, The Jerusalem Report, February 11, 2019, pp. 26-27, Volume XXX, No. 3.


Forthcoming Publications

“Moving from France to Israel: The Final Home, Pediatrician and Psychoanalyst Ida Akerman-Tieder”, The Jerusalem Report, May 2019.


“The Birgers’ Social Imprint on Israel and Its Capital”, The Jerusalem Report, June 2019.


“From the Jewish Resistance in France to the Jewish State: Intersecting Roads”, in Jewish Soldiers in World War II, edited by Kiril Feferman, Simha Goldin and Dina Porat (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, 2019), vol. 17 of Michael: On the History of Jews in the Diaspora.


“The Dachau Nazi Camp Through the Eyes of American Jewish Soldiers and Its Impact on Their World View”, Moreshet, The Jerusalem Report. (Research based on 13 individual narratives and on a 7I page report on the conditions in the Dachau concentration camp. Archives of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Section World War II, Holocaust; Report, Office of the Strategic Services, preface by William W. Quinn, Colonel, 7th US Army)   





April 20, 2017

Dr. Ouzan participated in the Center’s symposium “Jewish Soldiers in World War II” in which she delivered a lecture entitled “A Meaningful Encounter: Jewish GIs and Jews in French North Africa (1942–1943)”.


May 27, 2018

Dr. Ouzan participated in the Center's symposium: “Saving Jewish Children in France during WWII and their Lives in the Aftermath”. Dr. Ouzan lecture is entitled: “From Victims to Social Actors: The Case Study of Boris Cyrulnik”.


May 9–10, 2018

Dr. Ouzan represented the Center and served as chair at a conference on Jewish secularism: the Colloque des intellectuels francophones d’Israël, organized by Professor Shmuel Trigano, Tel Aviv, Dialogia.


June 28, 2018

Dr. Ouzan was invited by Alumim, in Jerusalem, an association comprised of former hidden children during the Holocaust, to deliver a lecture on “Holocaust Survivor Menachem Perlmutter and the Transformation of the Negev Desert”.


December 13, 2018

The Center held a symposium in honor of the publication of Dr. Ouzan’s book How Young Survivors Rebuilt their Lives in France, the United States, and Israel.


March 23–27, 2019

Dr. Ouzan represented the Center at an international conference organized by Indiana University on the topic “Contending with Antisemitism in a Rapidly Changing Political Climate”, which was held in Bloomington, Indiana. She served as chairperson in the panel “Antisemitism in France and Belgium”.


May 7, 2019

Dr. Ouzan represented the Center at an international conference organized by Schibboleth-Actualité de Freud, on « La transmission en question », where she delivered a lecture entitled « Les rescapés de la Shoah et la transmission des valeurs juives » (Holocaust Survivors and the Transmission of Jewish Values).


Forthcoming Conferences


June 4–7, 2019

Dr. Ouzan will represent the Center at the Third International Conference on Jewish Studies which will be held in Shanghai, China, where she will deliver a lecture entitled “How Young Holocaust Survivors Rebuilt their Lives in France, the United States, and Israel: A Comparative and Interdisciplinary Approach”.


June 10, 2019

Dr. Ouzan is helping to organize a symposium being held by the Center, in cooperation with the Rogatchi Foundation, on the topic “Crossroads of Remembrance: Art and Humanism after the Holocaust”. Dr. Ouzan will also deliver a lecture entitled “On Emotional Wounds, Art, and Humanism among Shoah Survivors”.


October 23, 2019

Dr. Ouzan will represent the Center at an international conference organized by Schibboleth-Actualité de Freud, on « Les Figures du Mal » (The Faces of Evil), where she will deliver a lecture entitled « La perception des réfugiés juifs d’après-guerre aux Etats-Unis après 1945 » (The Perception of Postwar Jewish Refugees in the United States after 1945).



Ongoing Research by Dr. Guez


Mothers in Crisis: Changing Concepts of Motherhood in the Warsaw and Lodz Ghettos 

This study explores the metamorphosis of Jewish motherhood in the Warsaw and Lodz ghettos from their inception until their destruction, during the period of 1940–1944. Over these four years, traditional maternal roles evolved and charted a new course, comprising behavior previously unknown among Jewish women in Eastern Europe. The research questions to be examined are the following: What kind of family life – motherhood and parenthood – transpired under the constant threat of death and terror? How did the loss of children shape women survivors, and mothers? This project received funding from the International Institute for Holocaust Research of Yad Vashem. Based on her research, Dr. Guez will prepare and publish an anthology of diaries and letters which have been translated from Yiddish to Hebrew, accompanied by a foreword for each chapter and a comprehensive introduction for the volume as a whole.  


Free Masons in World War II and the Holocaust

This project examines a hidden, little-known chapter of the Holocaust period focusing on Nazi persecution of Free Masons – both Jewish and non-Jewish – in Germany during World War II. In Chapter 11 of Mein Kampf, Hitler refers to the Free Masons and their alleged efforts to take over the world; he emphasizes the critical need to exterminate them. This research traces the Free Masons who came to Eretz Yisrael during World War II in order to promote Masonry in the Jewish Yishuv, out of concern for their Masonic brethren who were sent to ghettos and concentration camps. The study considers testimonies, symbols, and ceremonies practiced by the Masons in the camps as an attempt to preserve the character of the Masonic order even during the war and under constant threat to their existence. During the 2018–2019 academic year, Dr. Guez has collected and analyzed a number of additional materials that were sent to her by the Free Masons. In the coming year she will complete her research with the aid of funding received from the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem.


The Rescue of Jewish Children in Holland during World War II

This project investigates another hidden, little-known episode of the Holocaust period: those responsible for the rescue of 600 Jewish children in Holland. This operation was led by a number of different individuals, among them Walter Süskind, the manager of a Jewish theater in Amsterdam, who convinced the German authorities to transfer the Jewish children from the theater to a nursery across the road. With the help of a forger, Süskind erased the names of those children from the records and, with the aid of the student underground from the University of Amsterdam, they were concealed with Dutch families. Thus they were able to hide and save 600 children, some of whom later came to Israel and established families.


Forthcoming Publications


“Romain Gary, A Gender Pioneer: Representations of Jewish Women in the Writings of Romain Gary against the Backdrop of World War II”, Alpayim, Carmel Publishing House, 2019.


“Jewish and Christian Gastronomic Rituals in Medieval France”, Food in Global History, New York: Routledge, peer-reviewed publication (2019).


“Mothers in Crisis: The Changing Role of Motherhood in the Lodz and Warsaw Ghettos”, Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust, peer-reviewed publication (2020).




May 17, 2018

Dr. Guez delivered a lecture at Tel Aviv University entitled "Mothers in Crisis: Changing Concepts of Jewish Motherhood in the Warsaw Ghetto"; the lecture was part of a series organized by Weiner Library.


May 27, 2018

Dr. Guez initiated and organized the symposium "Saving Jewish Children in France during World War II and their Lives in the Aftermath". She served as chair of one of the event’s sessions and delivered a lecture on the topic "The Marathoner Who Saved Hundreds of Jewish Children during World War II in France".



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