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NYMC Observes Yom Hashoah Virtually

The event welcomed keynote speaker Sari J. Siegel, Ph.D.

April 27, 2020
Sari J. Siegel, Ph.D. Headshot
Sari J. Siegel, Ph.D.

Opening remarks were offered by Marie T. Ascher, M.S., M.P.H., the Lillian Hetrick Huber Endowed Director of the Health Sciences Library, who found the silver lining in this year’s virtual format—the ability to reach a broader audience. A ceremonial candle was lit by Vilma E. Bordonaro, M.B.A., chief of staff, and Anne Bayefsky, director, Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, offered a special Yom Hashoah prayer.

“Often the commemoration of Yom Hashoah focuses on victims and victimizations. Uniformly it focuses on memory. This evening we will think collectively about resistance,” said Edward C. Halperin, M.D., M.A., chancellor and chief executive officer, introducing the speaker.

Long-intrigued by the topic of physician conduct in the presence of coercion, Dr. Siegel was inspired to focus her research on Jews, who on account of their training as doctors, were recruited by numerous parties to utilize their medical knowledge and skill sets towards a variety of ends in the prisoners’ hospitals and outpatient clinics of Nazi camps. According to Dr. Siegel, these Jewish physicians made up a group larger than historians had previously acknowledged or even anticipated.

The event closed with a remarks and a prayer by Rabbi Moshe D. Krupka, M.S., executive vice president, Touro College and University System, who noted his pride of New York Medical College being the only medical school in the United States to commemorate Yom Hashoah and the importance of focusing on the critical lessons to be learned about moral fortitude, especially for those going into the health care profession. He then continued his tradition of introducing an individual personality to be recognized and honored for their role in the Holocaust. This year he introduced Gisella Perl, M.D., a prisoner-gynecologist at Auschwitz, who is best known for saving the lives of hundreds of women and preventing them from becoming the subjects of medical experiments.

“It speaks volumes of New York Medical College and Touro College and University System that we pause today to allow our actions to reflect our heartfelt intentions, and to declare—let it be known—where our moral compass and our ethical values reside to allow us to shine some light where there is all too much darkness,” said Rabbi Krupka.