Holocaust scholar to speak at Temple Sinai in Sumter

BY IVY MOORE
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 3/13/19

The Sumter County Museum will present a Holocaust lecture by Dr. Henry "Hank" Knight at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Temple Sinai Jewish History Center. The lecture titled "When the Rainbow Breaks" is one of a lecture series conceived by the late Roger …

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Holocaust scholar to speak at Temple Sinai in Sumter

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The Sumter County Museum will present a Holocaust lecture by Dr. Henry "Hank" Knight at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Temple Sinai Jewish History Center. The lecture titled "When the Rainbow Breaks" is one of a lecture series conceived by the late Roger Ackerman, who was instrumental in establishing the center along with Jay Schwartz, Frank Edwards and others.

Knight is the director of the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College and teaches in the college's academic program, which offers the nation's first undergraduate major in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Knight is also co-chairman of the biennial Steven S. Weinstein Holocaust Symposium (formerly the Pastora Goldner Holocaust Symposium) that he and Leonard Grob of Fairleigh Dickinson University co-founded in 1996.

His topic, "When the Rainbow Breaks," Knight said, explores the issues and questions "What does it mean for the binding values of civilized life to be utterly shattered? What does it mean for a transcendent God in covenantal partnership with humanity and all creation to sanction the slaughter of 1.5 million children by divine absence?

"These questions are the kinds that are raised when the rainbow breaks.

"Just as surely, one must ask what could lead to a sign of hope breaking forth in the aftermath of such a storm of destruction as that wrought by the Shoah."

Knight received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Alabama and his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Emory University, where he concentrated in theology and pastoral hermeneutics (the study of the principles of interpretation). He has also served as chaplain and as a member of the departments of religion at The University of Tulsa (Oklahoma) and Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio.

It was at Baldwin-Wallace that Knight first began teaching courses on the Holocaust more than 25 years ago. His peers at The University of Tulsa honored his work in the classroom with both the Outstanding Teacher Award for the university as well as the Excellence in Teaching Award from the College of Arts and Sciences. In 2018, the Keene State College Alumni Association honored him as Keene State's Distinguished Teacher of the Year.

A judge for the Elie Wiesel Foundation's national essay on ethics contest for American college students, Knight is active in national as well as local interfaith relations. He also served as director of the Council for Holocaust Education of Tulsa, Oklahoma - a partnership of the Jewish Federation of Tulsa and The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art.

Knight is the author, co-author or editor of four books on post-Holocaust faith - The Uses and Abuses of Knowledge, Confessing Christ in a Post-Holocaust World, Celebrating Holy Week in a Post-Holocaust World and Post-Shoah Dialogues. He is married to Pam Damron Knight, formerly of Sumter.

Annie Rivers, executive director of the Sumter County Museum, said Thursday's program is one of several planned by the center. Those attending Thursday's lecture may also tour the Temple Sinai Jewish History Center during a reception following Knight's lecture, she said.

Temple Sinai Jewish History Center, 11 Church St., is on the corner of Church Street and Hampton Avenue. Admission is free to the public to the 6:30 p.m. Thursday event.