By Dr. Catherine Chatterley
This tribute was written for the 24th anniversary of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR) based in Montreal.
CIJR supporters know the devoted director of the Institute but they may not know what a powerful educator and influence Frederick Krantz is as well.
I first met Fred in 1995 when I arrived at Concordia University, from Winnipeg, to begin my Masters degree in history. He was teaching a European historiography seminar with a 15 lb. syllabus! Truly, it is the largest and most substantial syllabus I have ever been given by a professor (I still have it and just passed it on to a very keen student several years ago who wanted a summer reading list).
This course was the best class I had in the program and at the end of the year I asked if Professor Krantz would supervise my thesis. He agreed, handed me a book and told me to go read it; supposedly I had much in common with the author. That text was George Steiner: A Reader and it was determinative. I was struggling with the difficult question of how to transmit the horrors of the Holocaust in mundane human language, something Steiner thought a great deal about and struggled with himself.
Fred’s perceptive choice put me on the future course of my life in many ways. I wrote my M.A. thesis on George Steiner’s approach to the Shoah and my Ph.D. dissertation on the relationship between Steiner’s oeuvre and his neglected writings on Antisemitism and the Holocaust (published last year by Syracuse University Press).
I can honestly say that I would never have attended The University of Chicago were it not for Fred’s encouragement to apply to the finest American graduate schools and his assurance that they often provided funding for the outrageous (by Canadian standards) tuition fees. Fred is an incredibly talented editor and it was during the period of my Masters degree that I truly feel that I learned how to write and edit my own work at a high standard. The investment of time he made working with me on the thesis made all the difference.
Lenore and Fred are famous for their Fine Arts Trips to New York and I can personally attest to the fact that touring the Cloisters, Frick, MOMA, the Met, and others, with Fred Krantz is an unforgettable experience. The breadth and depth of his learning--spanning antiquity through the Middle Ages, modernity to the present, with a particular focus on intellectual history in all of its facets--is really quite rare and so that much more impressive. Fred’s love of things Italian is always in evidence on these tours and in his emails that sometimes begin with Cara Caterina.
As I began to get to know Fred I learned about CIJR, which he started in his basement after the First Intifada, and the uneven press coverage of the Israeli position. I then met Baruch Cohen, who I also knew through the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Museum, and was amazed at this lovely man’s demeanor, given his experiences in the world, and his singular devotion to his family and to Israel (both the people and their homeland).
These two friends, Fred and Baruch, have supported one another in their work for Israel and the Jewish people in the most selfless ways. Both full-time volunteers who have dedicated themselves to mentoring countless students on their way through university--the accomplishments are untold but deeply meaningful to those of us lucky enough to have received these blessings.
And their spouses, Lenore and Sonia, are a testament to the indispensable value of true and meaningful partnership in one’s life and work. These two couples are role models for all of us, just as CIJR was a template when I established the Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism (CISA) in Winnipeg last year. I hope CISA will be able to accomplish as much as CIJR has in its 24 years.
Thank you Fred and Baruch for all that you have done and continue to do. You can take sincere pride in your accomplishments and know that your generosity and devotion have produced students and scholars who will advance your work and purpose into the future.
You have my love and thanks. Yasher koach!
Dr. Catherine Chatterley, Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Manitoba, is Founding Director of the Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism.