The Stotsky Professor in Jewish Historical and Cultural Studies was established at Northeastern University in 1991 as a result of a generous gift from Dr. Bernard A. Stotsky.
The professorship is intended to support a faculty member who pursues research on broad ethical, cultural, and social issues arising out of the suffering and heroism of the Holocaust, as well as to encourage new approaches to the problem of social justice and modern Judaism.
The current Stotsky Professor is Laurel Leff. When asked to describe her work she wrote:
“I am researching the United States’ role in saving Europe’s intellectual elite from the Nazis. The rescue of European intellectuals during the 1930s and early 1940s is in many ways a story of American generosity and open mindedness. But in many ways it is not. For every persecuted intellectual America saved, many more tried to escape but could not. Obstacles erected by the American government and the indifferent response of American institutions, including universities, left thousands trapped in Europe. Even those who escaped did so only after Herculean efforts on their parts and on the part of individual Americans. The relationships between these Americans and the immigrants they helped were often tragic and tortured, not the feel-good tales usually depicted. My goal is to tell this more complicated and far more interesting story through the experiences of individual Americans who helped rescue European intellectuals and through the experiences of Europeans who tried but failed to immigrate to the United States. Through interwoven narratives, my book will explore how a variety of institutions, including universities and professional associations, as well as individuals within those institutions, responded to this era’s crisis of conscience and the incalculable losses that resulted when they did not live up to the moral challenge.”