After serving as the interim director of the Lillian and A.J. Weinberg Center for Holocaust Education for over a year, Rabbi Joseph W. “Joe” Prass has been named the center’s permanent director.
The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, the Midtown venue that houses the center, announced the move June 3 in a news release. Prass, who had served as interim director since April 2017, replaced Liliane Kshensky Baxter, Ph.D., and his transition is effective immediately.
“I am honored and excited to lead The Weinberg Center,” Prass said in a news release. “I believe our work matters and see it every day in the eyes of the students we impact. As the director, I will seek to teach the history and lessons of the Holocaust while ensuring that a new generation is connected to the personal stories of our local survivors.”
The center is one of the top facilities of its kind in Georgia, impacting over 21,000 people each year through a range of educational programs on the Holocaust. Its extensive docent program and Holocaust survivor speakers actively engage visitors to the museum.
The Breman uses a signature teaching approach that emphasizes a balanced perspective and invokes personal connections to history. In the last year alone, it ensured that over 14,000 children had an opportunity to hear a Holocaust survivor in person through both field trips to the museum’s permanent Holocaust exhibition, outreach efforts and innovative educational programs.
Scholarships are provided for students from Title I schools. Additionally, the Breman hosts the Summer Institute for Teaching the Holocaust, which empowers educators of various disciplines effectively to teach this complex subject matter to contemporary audiences and produces educational resources that are used across the Southeast, including documentary films that tell the stories of local Holocaust survivors.
Signature Breman programs include: the state’s only public Holocaust survivor lecture series, classes designed for Jewish families to explore the Holocaust’s impact on their own families’ histories, film screenings and art therapy workshops that bring Holocaust survivors together with homeless youth to explore trauma recovery.
The Breman’s Holocaust education team prides itself on its ability to partner with cultural institutions both locally and internationally to bring meaningful, educational experiences to its community.
“As a result of Rabbi Joe Prass’ exemplary accomplishments as acting director of the Weinberg Center and his exceptional qualifications for the position, he is the best choice for this position,” Lori Shapiro, the museum’s board chair, said in a news release. “The board is excited to continue to work with Rabbi Prass in this new capacity.”
Leslie Gordon, the Breman’s executive director, said, “We are fortunate to have someone of Rabbi Joe Prass’ caliber and experience step up to lead the Weinberg Center. We are at a critical moment in history when we can envision a time when there will not be Holocaust survivors capable of giving first-hand testimony to future generations. His leadership will help us navigate the challenges and implement our strategy to continue the important work of educating Georgia students about the lessons of the Holocaust.”
Prass has been teaching about Judaism and the Holocaust for over 20 years in schools, colleges, synagogues and summer camps. Prior to joining the Breman, he served as a congregational rabbi in Houston, Wisconsin and Atlanta.
In addition to his work with the Breman, he currently serves as the part-time rabbi at Congregation Ner Tamid in Marietta. Passionate about blending formal and informal education, Prass seeks to inspire the next generation to create a deep connection to underlying ideas of the Holocaust and Judaism.