The grandson of Holocaust survivors from Lithuania and Poland, who immigrated to Israel from the USSR approximately a decade after the founding of the Jewish state, Dr. Pilnik is the new director of the Emil and Jenny A. Fish Holocaust and Genocide Studies Center at Yeshiva University. Prior to acquiring that position, he was the executive director of the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center (HERC) in Milwaukee from 2014 until early 2020. Under his leadership, the organization doubled both its outreach and capacity, serving schools and communities across the state of Wisconsin with programming, lectures, teacher workshops, study abroad trips and more.
Pilnik earned his Bachelor’s degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, majoring in Comparative Literature and Jewish Thought; an MA in Jewish Studies from McGill University and, in 2013, a Ph.D. from the Jewish Theological Seminary in the field of Modern Jewish Studies. His Ph.D. dissertation dealt with the commemoration of the Babi Yar Massacre in Soviet Russian and Yiddish literature. From 2008-2014, Dr. Pilnik was an adjunct instructor at the Universities of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Oshkosh, lecturing on a variety of topics including the Holocaust, modern Jewish history and culture, Judaism, Hebrew Bible, and the religions of the world.