Tuesdays, April 27, May 4 and 11, 2021
6:30 – 8:30 pm (Central Time via Zoom)

In a day and age when compassion and community can seem in short supply, we turn to Etty Hillesum (1914-1943). In early 1941, Etty Hillesum was coming of age intellectually, spiritually and socially in Amsterdam when she began keeping a diary. Nazis had occupied Holland for less than a year, and as Etty’s external world became smaller with each successive restriction of Jewish freedoms, she carefully tended her space within, stocking it with all that she cherished and needed for the challenges ahead.

Etty once wryly noted there was so much barbed wire at Westerbork that it could be hard to tell whether one was being fenced in or out. Fittingly, her journals offer us wise guidance for crossing the barbed divisions of our own time. She demonstrated another way, a way of love that she consciously cultivated and equally consciously passed on to others in her written pages. Realizing that the struggle for inner peace is one with the struggle for justice and the end of war, Etty refused to accept escape from the Nazi transit camp and continued her search for meaning through her own reflections and in service to others.

How do we shoulder the common challenges of our times—not only with all of humanity but with the Earth itself and all life upon it? Come explore her philosophical and theological reflections to discover how Etty’s story can be a source of healing for all of us.

April 27: Etty Hillesum as Witness to Healing and Wholeness
Following a brief introduction to the life and times of Etty Hillesum, Mary Kaye Medinger, MA, will speak of her own relationship with Etty in writing across time and space.

May 4: She Did Not Speak
Leslie Morris
will read from She Did Not Speak, her hybrid, experimental memoir that moves between her family’s complex buried Holocaust history and a mysterious illness that came shortly after making a trip to Budapest to meet her newly discovered family.

Rabbi Morris Allen will join Leslie for this session.

May 11: Can Religion Help Heal a World Broken by Trauma? Etty Hillesum as our Ancestor in the “Qahal goyim” (sacred assembly)
William (Bill) McDonough, will use Etty’s writings to feed our moral imagination.

COST:  $65.00 for the series/$25.00 per individual session

Each session will be held via Zoom and has a total contact time of two hours.

“It is sometimes hard to take in and comprehend, oh God, what those created in Your likeness do to each other in these disjointed days. But I no longer shut myself away in my room, … I try to look things straight in the face, even the worst crimes, and to discover the small, naked human being amid the monstrous wreckage caused by [people]’s senseless deeds. ….”

-Etty Hillesum

Online Course Expectations + Details:

  • Register as individuals.
  • After registering and approximately 24 hours prior to the start of each session, you will receive an email from Wisdom Ways with the Zoom link and other information. Please check your Spam folder or Promotions tab if you don’t find the email in your inbox.
  • Have the technology and internet connection that allow for stable video and audio connection through a computer or a hand-held device (e.g., tablet or smart phone).
  • Each Zoom session will include a facilitator from Wisdom Ways who will help navigate the small groups, and the questions and comments that are shared through the chat function.


Mary Kaye Medinger final

Mary Kaye Medinger, MA, writer, editor, spiritual director and retreat leader.

Leslie Morris

Leslie Morris, Ph.D. a scholar of German Jewish and Holocaust literature, is the Beverly and Richard Fink Professor in Liberal Arts, Professor of German and Chair of the Department of German, Nordic, Slavic and Dutch at the University of Minnesota, and former Director of UM’s the Center for Jewish Studies.

Rabbi allen

Rabbi Morris Allen is the Rabbi Emeritus of Beth Jacob Congregation in Mendota Heights. He began his service as the first rabbi of the Congregation in 1986 and formally retired in June 2019. In that time, Beth Jacob became nationally recognized for creating an engaged and intentional community.

Bill McDonough

William (Bill) McDonough STL, STD, professor of moral theology, coordinator of the Master of Arts in Theology program at St. Catherine University, and two-time presenter at the Etty Hillesum International Conference.

This Program’s Calendar Entries

Click on the day you’re interested in attending to access the “Add to Calendar” feature. Or if you plan on attending all these events, use the “Subscribe to filtered calendar” button at the bottom of this event list.


[ai1ec view=”posterboard” tag_name=”Etty 2021″ display_filters=”false”]