Naomi Seidman, Chancellor Jackman Professor in the Arts at the University of Toronto, and was previously Koret Professor of Jewish Culture and the Director of the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. In 2016, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her writings focus on the relationship between Judaism, literature, gender studies, translation studies, and sexuality.
Daniela Finzi is a literary and cultural scholar. She has worked as a research assistant at the Sigmund Freud Museum since 2009 and has been the research director and board member of the Sigmund Freud Foundation since 2016. She is on the board of the cultural studies association aka – Arbeitskreis Kulturanalyse, a member of the editorial board of aka/Texte (Turia+Kant) and the co-editor of the Vienna University Press series “Sigmund Freud's Works. Viennese Interdisciplinary Commentaries”.
Stephen Naron is the director of the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies. Stephen Naron has worked as an archivist/librarian since 2003, when he received his MSIS from the University of Texas, Austin. Stephen pursued a Magister in Jewish studies/history at the Freie Universitaet Berlin and the Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung, TU. Stephen is currently a PhD student at Brandeis University and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies.
Ohad Ofaz is a filmmaker, film scholar and a Senior Lecturer at Oranim Academic College in Kiryat Tiv'on, Israel. He defended his dissertation, “Camera of Encounter: On the question of documenting and bearing the Other’s testimony in film” at Hebrew University in 2021. Since 1997, Ofaz has directed films that have been broadcast and screened internationally including The Boys from Lebanon (2008) and Going Dutch (2002).
Françoise Davoine, psychoanalyst in Paris, in private practice, after 30 years in the public psychiatric hospital of Villejuif. At the Social Sciences University, she held with JM Gaudillière a weekly seminar, “Madness and the Social Link”, combining their clinical work with the exploration of literary works dealing with the madness of war. Member of the ex-Ecole Freudienne of Paris (Jacques Lacan dissolved it before his death in 1981). PhD in Sociology and Classical studies, with aggregation in classics.
Amit Pinchevski, Professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, where he has been teaching since 2004, after completing his doctoral research at McGill University, Canada. His research interests are in theory and philosophy of communication and media, focusing specifically on the ethical aspects of the limits of communication; media witnessing, memory and trauma; and pathologies of communication and their construction.
Sonja Knopp is a historian in the fields of Holocaust research, memory studies and historical theory. As research fellow at Yale University she examined various video testimonies of Holocaust survivors in collaboration with Dori Laub. In her 2023 publication Zeugnisse erlittener Gewalt. Die Shoah im Videointerview she focuses on the video testimony of the child survivor Shmuel B., interviewed by Laub in 2003, out of the special collections of the Fortunoff Video Archives for Holocaust Testimonies. The pilot-study shows how unheard-of, invisible, even unconscious messages of violence from massively traumatized survivors can be re-integrated into historiography.
Jeanne Wolff Bernstein
Jeanne Wolff Bernstein, Ph.D. works as a psychoanalyst in Vienna. She was president and training analyst at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California (PINC) in San Francisco. She teaches at The New York University Postdoctoral Program of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in New York. She is a member of the Wiener Arbeitskreis für Psychoanalyse. Jeanne Wolff Bernstein is the chair of the advisory board of the Sigmund Freud Foundation in Vienna, and was the 2008 Fulbright-Freud Visiting Lecturer of Psychoanalysis at the Sigmund Freud Museum, Vienna.
Born in Czernowitz, Romania, in 1937, Laub was deported in 1942 with his parents to a camp in Transnistria. His father disappeared during a German raid prior to liberation by the Soviets. Laub and his mother were reunited with his grandparents who had survived in Czernowitz. They emigrated to Israel in 1950 where Laub attended medical school, graduating in 1963, in 1966, he emigrated to the US. His research stays also include the Austen Riggs Center where he conducted his psychoanalytic training within the Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis which he completed in 1979. It was during his analysis that experiences of the camp came back, and that he started to feel the desire to become a witness for other survivors.
Laub’s unique perspective as a survivor, psychoanalyst and clinical psychiatrist shaped the archive’s distinctive methodology, with a focus on empathic listening rather than journalistic interviews. The understanding of the intersubjective nature of testimony, memory, and denial, enables to build trust with the witness – which is crucial to enable free flow of memory, free association. In an interview with Yad Vashem, Laub described his approach and the connection to psychoanalysis:
“The most difficult experiences sometimes are never spoken of before [someone decides to give testimony]. There is a certain need [that people have] for someone to hear [their story] and for a connection and correlation [to be made]. It’s not a newspaper interview or an historical interview. It’s not only about facts but it’s about facts embedded in so much memory and so much pain or terror. And inevitably you create a relationship with the interviewer and you pick up the subtle cues that tell you that he wants to hear or doesn’t want to hear your story, and that makes the interviewee ready to tell more of their experiences. Now for people who are not trained, they will not necessarily be aware of or notice that. But the point is that the person will go through the painful experiences. Through psychoanalysis you facilitate this and make it happen, and sometimes intuitively or because of a personal connection, you know how to respond or wait or make a comment and keep the flow.”
Laub was a pre-eminent scholar of trauma and published widely on the topic of video testimony and its significance, authoring or co-authoring dozens of academic articles and book chapters. His most well-known work, Testimony: crises of witnessing in literature, psychoanalysis, and history (with Shoshana Felman, Routledge, 1992), remains a seminal text that helped launch deep analysis and discussion of audiovisual testimony of Holocaust survivors. Not long before his death in 2018, he published as co-editor the book Psychoanalysis and Holocaust Testimony: Unwanted Memories of Social Trauma (Routledge, 2017). In addition to his scholarship, Laub worked as psychoanalyst and psychiatrist in private practice in New Haven, was an active participant in the work of Yale’s Genocide Studies Program and continued to contribute and advise testimony projects worldwide.