In observance of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), undergraduate students recited the names of Holocaust victims, beginning at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1, in the Murray-Dodge Courtyard, and continuing for 24 hours. In 30-minute shifts, student volunteers recited the name, age, place of residence, and place of death of Jews killed in the Holocaust. Approximately six million Jews are known to have been killed in the Holocaust.
At 7:45 p.m. on May 1, students and community members held another event, “Unto Every Person There is a Name.” The recitation began shortly thereafter and ended on May 2 at 9 p.m.
Louis Aaron ’22, an active member of the Jewish community at the University, emphasized that the events serves as a reminder “of the heroic lives of the Jews murdered in the 1940s and acknowledges the shared trauma that lives on in every Jew today.”
“Yom Hashoah is a Jewish holiday because it contextualizes the Holocaust in the story of the Jewish people; it fits in all too well,” Aaron wrote in an email to The Daily Princetonian. “It is also an opportunity to remember the millions of innocent non-Jewish lives that were taken during the Holocaust and World War II.”
The ceremony also included remarks from several members of the Jewish community, including Trudy Album, a Holocaust survivor.
“In a way, it is frightening to have a Holocaust survivor come before you to tell her story; it’s a reminder that nations and their armies tried to wipe out your people less than a lifetime ago. It’s also incredibly inspiring,” Aaron wrote to the ‘Prince.’ “Trudy Album’s optimism and her pride in her Jewish identity are important reminders that the Jewish people have a long history of resilience.”
Rabbi Ira Dounn, Senior Jewish Educator at the Center for Jewish Life, said that the significance of the ceremony is “making sure the world doesn’t forget” and “making sure people are remembered specifically.”
“It’s important to remember the people who have passed away, to honor their memory and make their lives a blessing,” Dounn said. “It’s important to remember that there has been genocide since the Holocaust, that we, as humanity, and, more specifically, as we the Jewish people, need to remember that ‘never again’ means that anywhere where there is genocide or suffering, we need to do something about it.”
Dounn also referenced author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel’s 1986 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, in which he said, “Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must — at that moment — become the center of the universe.”
Dounn says Wiesel’s idea still resonates with many today.
“In the Holocaust, they did not care what kind of Jew you were. If you were Jewish then they sought to kill you,” said Mark Abramovitz ’21, who also spoke at the opening of the ceremony. “Part of the significance to that today is that today is a day where, no matter what kind of Jew you are today, we put differences aside and, as one people, we mourn the losses that were caused to us, regardless of where we come from or where we are going.”