You are hereThe Deborah Gabry Memorial Lecture Series on Contemporary Jewish Issues
The Deborah Gabry Memorial Lecture Series on Contemporary Jewish Issues
The Deborah Gabry Memorial Lecture Series on Contemporary Jewish Issues seeks to promote discussion at UVa about issues related to Judaism and Jewish practice around the world today. The series invites scholars with a wide range of perspectives and foci, including Jewish literature, culture, history and religious practice, to share their knowledge and engage in dialogue with the UVa community. The lecture series was founded in memory of Deborah Gabry and in honor of her lifelong commitment to Judaism and relationship with the UVa community. About Deborah Gabry Deborah Gabry was born in 1953 in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Holocaust survivors. Many of the other adults in her life were also survivors. The impact of their recitation of the atrocities they witnessed was an everyday part of her life growing up. She attended Brooklyn's Yeshiva of Flatbush for all her secondary education. There she studied traditional Jewish and and secular topics. As was true in many immigrant communities, but especially so among survivor families, education was prized above all else. Learning was so important in part because of the Jewish religious emphasis on education but perhaps even more so because, as she was reminded repeatedly by the adult survivors in her life, education was one's only possession which no government could ever take away. Pursuing further study, which was expected of her brothers but, as was the custom of the times, by no means preordained for a daughter, she continued her education, graduating from Boston University and then earning a Master's Degree at Columbia University in New York City. After graduation, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she went to work for the U.S. Department of Labor, soon finding her spot in the DOL's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. She worked there to great acclaim, earning the respect of her colleagues and others across a wide spectrum of industry and government with whom she came into contact, for more than 30 years until her retirement in 2011. As was true in her personal life, her professional life was guided by Jewish tradition, Jewish ethical values, and the obligation of hard work she had been taught in her youth. She was guided by Jewish tradition, but not unquestioningly. Like many of those with personal Holocaust connections, she had many questions for traditional Jewish teachings of a faith system which would allow the Holocaust to occur. For Deborah, these were always the questions of one whose Jewish identity and commitment to her religion were unshakeable, ones which led her frequently to question what had had happened, but even more, what may happen to Jewish thought in the future, as Jewish teachings, practices, and traditions evolve in a changing world. In life, she clung fiercely to the essence of her religion in both teachings and traditions, but she was just as fierce in her efforts to try to look forward. Education remained important. Deborah always wanted to learn more; to educate herself better to understand every issue; to reconcile as best she was able what she had newly learned with her own experience and earlier teachings; and deliberative but never intransigent in changing her views where she found it appropriate. In 2011, she retired and with her husband and moved to Tucson, Arizona. After only a few months in Tucson, just long enough to begin to become an active participant in the Jewish community there, she died tragically at the young age of 58. Her husband has endowed the Deborah Gabry Memorial Lecture Series at the University of Virginia in the memory of this wife and mother of Virginia graduates to honor those Jewish values which were so much a part of her life; to continue, in the setting and spirit of the Jeffersonian academic pursuit, voicing and studying contemporary Jewish issues; and to inspire future students of Jewish studies and other disciplines as she was inspired in her own studies. To view the inaugural lecture in this series "Jews, Judaism and the Promised Land: American Jewish Literature from a Chinese Perspective" by Qiao Guoqiang, please press play on the video below.