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Holocaust holds special significance for law professor

February 08, 2007
As the child of two Holocaust survivors, David Kader grew up around memories of the atrocities inflicted on the Jews of Europe during the period of Nazi rule of Germany and their lasting impact on that generation.

That upbringing made its mark on Kader, born in a “displaced person” camp in the American zone of occupied Germany after World War II. Nearly 25 years ago, Kader helped found the Phoenix Holocaust Survivors Association. He served as its president for the past decade, making sure members' stories were not forgotten.

Now, Kader, a professor at ASU's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, is turning his attention to two organizations that promote tolerance and understanding. He's been appointed to the advisory councils of the Martin-Springer Institute at Northern Arizona University and of a program of the New York-based American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants. The Flagstaff institute was established in 2000 by Doris (Springer) Martin, a Holocaust survivor, and her husband, Ralph. Its focus is teaching professionals and future teachers how to instill tolerance, moral courage and altruism in their students.

“They're doing important work with public schools, teaching certain values that are anchored in history's lessons,” says Kader, who will advise the institute on programs and direction. “It's a noble calling that they're engaged in, and I'm happy to help.”

Kader recently accepted an invitation to join the advisory council of the American Gathering's Summer Seminar Program on Holocaust and Jewish Resistance. The invitation was made to Kader by Vladka Meed, who helped found the American Gathering in 1981 with her husband, Benjamin, a Polish survivor. He died in October.

The program brings American high school teachers to Poland , Israel and the Czech Republic to visit the remains of concentration camps in that region.

“It makes history come alive whenever you go to the place where an event you are studying occurred,” Kader says. “It makes everything more vital. But the deeper and more significant thing she (Meed) accomplished is recognizing that the Holocaust wasn't primarily a Jewish story, but really, a European story – a Christian story, you might say. The most significant legacy of the history has to engage the non-Jewish world, so everyone can understand where hate can lead, where bigotry can lead. It's not just a look back, it's how do you use this going forward in our lives and in our culture?”

Meed's request comes at a bittersweet time in Kader's life; his mother, Lola, passed away from a sudden illness in December at her home in the Bay Area. His father, Moshe, died in 1992.

Kader also sits on the Coordinating Council of the Generations of Shoah International, and he is a faculty affiliate of the Center for Study of Religion & Conflict, the Center for the Study of Medieval & Renaissance Studies and the Jewish Studies Program, all at ASU.