Georgetown University has announced a $10 million gift from Norman Braman and his wife, Irma, to endow a program dedicated to the forensic study of the Holocaust.
The Braman Endowed Program Fund will promote the study and teaching of the Holocaust — including its causes and consequences, its role in the establishment of the state of Israel, and its continuing impact on modern Judaism — through an endowed professorship; teaching, research, and field study; and the development of a new public outreach program intended to ensure that future leaders are equipped to prevent future genocides. The first scholar to hold the Braman Endowed Professorship of the Practice of the Forensic Study of the Holocaust will be Rev. Patrick Desbois, a French Roman Catholic priest and historian who has pioneered the application of a forensic approach to the study of the Holocaust that combines historical, anthropological, psychological, and legal methods with ongoing interviews of eyewitnesses. Desbois also is founder and principal researcher of Yahad – In Unum, an organization dedicated to locating the mass graves of Jewish people killed in "the Holocaust by bullets" in the former Soviet Union.
The program will be housed at the university's newly endowed Center for Jewish Civilization, which has received gifts totaling some $10 million from more than five hundred donors and is looking to expand its research, teaching, and programming in a number areas, including American-Middle Eastern foreign policy; Jewish-Catholic relations; and Jewish literature, culture, and religious expression.
The Bramans are longtime supporters of Israel's Yad Vashem and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Norman Braman was the founding chair of Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach. The Bramans also have made significant gifts in support of cutting-edge medical research and care at the University of Miami and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
"We are pleased to make this gift to support Father Patrick Desbois' very important research on the Holocaust and to provide it a permanent home at a distinguished American university," said Norman Braman. "As America's oldest Catholic and Jesuit university, Georgetown was the natural location to focus Father Desbois' unique research....Our shared goal is to support research, teaching, and public programs that deepen our understanding of the many disparate factors that led to the Holocaust [and] how to best assure none of its remnants ever appear again."