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Roosevelt House is pleased to present a discussion—presented in-person and on Zoom— of Refuge Must Be Given: Eleanor Roosevelt, the Jewish Plight, and the Founding of Israel by John F. Sears. In this essential history, Sears illustrates for the first time Eleanor Roosevelt’s transformation into one of America’s foremost advocates for Jewish refugees and Israel.
Deeply researched and revelatory, Refuge Must Be Given explores in great detail Eleanor Roosevelt’s effort to advocate for the Jews of Europe at a time when few would do so. With an emphasis on her role in the establishment of the State of Israel, the book also gives thorough consideration to her work with Quaker leader Clarence Pickett to admit more refugees into the United States, and her relationship with Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles, who, though sympathetic to the victims of Nazi persecution, defended a visa process that failed both Jewish and non-Jewish refugees. Also included is how, as a member of the American delegation to the United Nations, Eleanor Roosevelt came to the conclusion that the partition of Palestine was the only solution—both for Jews in displaced persons camps in Europe and for the conflict between the Arabs and the Jews.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s devotion to Israel is shown to reflect some of her most deeply held beliefs about community building, education, and citizenship—originating a bond not only between Eleanor Roosevelt and the people of Israel but between her and the American Jewish community,
According to previous Roosevelt House guest Douglas Brinkley, “Refuge Must Be Given brilliantly details Eleanor Roosevelt’s evolution from a holder of antisemitic stereotypes to a fierce champion of Israel. The amount of new research presented here is staggering. It’s impossible to understand America’s greatest first lady without reading this book.”
John F. Sears served as executive director of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute from 1986 until 1999 and as associate editor of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project from 2000 to 2007.He has taught at Tufts University, Boston University, and Vassar College, and is the author of Sacred Places: American Tourist Attractions in the Nineteenth Century, a book about the role of tourism in shaping America’s national identity.
Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination will be required for all who attend, and masks must be worn at all times in Roosevelt House.