Dr. Shay Pilnik

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The grandson of Holocaust survivors from Lithuania and Poland, who immigrated to Israel from the USSR about a decade after the founding of the Jewish state, Dr. Pilnik is the new director of the Emil and Jenny A. Fish Holocaust and Genocide Studies Center at YU. Prior to landing this position, he was the executive director of the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center (HERC) in Milwaukee between 2014 and early 2020. Under his leadership, the organization doubled both its outreach and capacity, serving schools and communities across the state of Wisconsin with programming, lectures, teacher workshops, study abroad trips and more.

Pilnik earned his bachelor’s degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, majoring in Comparative Literature and Jewish Thought; an MA in Jewish Studies from McGill University and a doctoral degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary in the field of Modern Jewish Studies, which he earned in 2013.  His PhD dissertation dealt with the commemoration of the Babi Yar Massacre in Soviet Russian and Yiddish literature.  From 2008-2014, he was an adjunct instructor at the Universities of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Oshkosh, lecturing on a variety of topics including the Holocaust, modern Jewish history and culture, Judaism, Hebrew Bible, and the religions of the world.


Sample Titles

  • ‘Don’t Ever Say the End is Near & Hope is Gone:’ Jewish Armed Resistance during the Holocaust
  • Holocaust in Context: A Multi-faceted Exploration of the Shoah against the background of Modernity, Anti-Judaism and the rise of Modern German Culture
  • Unbroken Silence: The Commemoration of the Holocaust in the Soviet Union and the Story of Babi Yar
  • Bearing Witness to those who Bore Witness: Teaching the Holocaust in a Survivorless Era.