A message from Debbie…
Dear Hillel friends,
Every time I hear a Holocaust survivor speak, I get chills. This year, I had the honor to hear Marion Weinzweig share her personal story as part of ASU’s Genocide Awareness Week. Her tale of survival was all the more powerful as I listened to it while sitting next to her grandson, and ASU junior, Simon. Thinking of the value Simon adds to our Hillel community reminds me of all the generations lost to us. Marion’s positive attitude and messages of hope and tolerance also gave me so much hope for the future.
I had the distinct honor to read her family’s names during our 25-hour name reading held on campus earlier this week. While staying on campus for a full 25 hours is a large undertaking for Hillel, we continue to prioritize it to remember the 6 million and to ensure current students have the powerful opportunity of sitting for 20-minute name-reading sessions.
I asked others from our Hillel staff to share what Holocaust Remembrance Day means to them, too. See below for their responses.
All my best,
P.S. The fourth annual Hillel Global Giving Week is just around the corner, from May 1-5! You don’t have to wait to have your support DOUBLED – make an early gift today.
Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, is a time to mourn and remember the six million Jewish men, women, and children murdered during the Holocaust. We also honor the survivors and recall the horrific consequences of unchecked bigotry.
Yom HaShoah is observed on the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, an intentional choice to honor the Jewish heroes who resisted tyranny and fought against hatred. As the number of survivors who can share first-hand accounts of the Shoah decreases, we memorialize this tragic chapter in our recent history through ceremonies, lighting memorial candles, and reading the names of those who were lost.
This year, Hillel students and staff volunteered at the Phoenix Holocaust Association’s Yom HaShoah Ceremony on Sunday, April 16. We then facilitated a 25-hour name reading, held outside the Memorial Union, from sundown Monday, April 17-sundown Tuesday, April 18.
This 25-hour name reading was an opportunity for our campus community to remember, collectively. Germany was a democracy before Hitler was elected in 1933 and transformed it into a dictatorship. Our commemoration on campus was a strong reminder of the importance of each individual standing up for democracy and protecting those around us.
Staff reflections on the importance of our 25-hour name reading:
Jake, Community Experience Specialist: Yom Hashoah is our chance to ensure that we never forget. It’s not about numbers or statistics… it’s about remembering the faces, personalities, and people we live for today.
Shira, Community Engagement Specialist: Yom HaShoah is a reminder to educate our community about all of the beautiful souls that perished in the holocaust. Each of them was special, and all their memories are significant to us today.
Devin, Community Engagement Specialist: Yom HaShoah reminds us to never forget the horrific acts the Jewish people endured during the Holocaust. This is a beautiful way to come together and honor those who have perished.
Taylor, Assistant Director: There are some family members that I cannot trace because of the Holocaust. Every day I think about them, but especially on Yom HaShoah, I am reminded of my family and the 6 million we lost due to this tragedy. I know this remembrance day is important to so many of our students too and it is an honor to be able to provide this space for them.
Rabbi Suzy, Senior Jewish Educator: Holocaust Remembrance Day is an incredibly personal day for me. I’m so grateful that my immediate family made it out of Germany, but in 2016, while doing research in Germany, I learned that at least twelve members of my extended family were killed in the Shoah. I read their names in both grief and pride. I grieve the fact that their lives were extinguished by intolerance and baseless hatred. I live in pride that their legacy lives on through me and that no one can make me feel afraid without my permission.
As Jews, memory is our sixth sense. We are commanded to never forget those who perished in the Shoah. We are obligated to recall those who stood up against tyranny in Europe so that we may now live as Jews in a free and democratic society. But remembrance requires action. It requires building a healthier and more robust democracy each and every day of the year. This is not a burden; but rather, a privilege that is bestowed upon us with every breath we take.
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