Members of Students for Holocaust Awareness, Remembrance and Education gathered on the Diag Wednesday for an annual vigil, a 24-hour reading of the names of those who died in the Holocaust.
SHARE president Alexa Porter, Business junior, said the reading of the names builds understanding of the lasting impact of the Holocaust.
“We’re trying to remember those who perished in the Holocaust and really understand the impact that it has on (people), not only families and memories, but also daily lives,” Porter said. “We’re trying to remind people that even though the Holocaust happened, at this point very long ago, it still affects people and beyond that there are still a lot of cases of genocide, unfortunately, happening.”
Porter said the event is intended to showcase the extent and magnitude of the deaths and destruction brought by the Holocaust.
“The rate they usually say is something like 600-650 names per hour,” Porter said. “That means we usually get through all of our books and have to start over, but that still is nowhere near the number of people who actually died in the Holocaust.”
LSA senior Melissa Berlin, a SHARE member, said the large number of names they have to read creates the necessity for the length of the event.
“The fact that it takes 24 hours to read names and we’re still not done is very impactful,” Berlin said. “It pulls together a lot of people coming together to do these small, half-hour shifts and yet its still not everything.”
Berlin said the event is important for the many students that may not think about the implications of the Holocaust day to day.
“I think that it’s something that people don’t think about very much in their daily lives,” Berlin said. “Especially for members in our community, it feels very salient but for the rest of the community it’s just a piece of history. Sort of having it here and having this very big statement kind of, it puts it on people’s radar once a year and gives pause to think.”
LSA senior Jocelyn Brickman also brought up how many people on campus may not often think about the historical significance of the Holocaust, which is why having the event is important each year.
“I think it’s really important because it’s something we don’t think about in our daily life or everyday,” Brickman said. “To have one full day dedicated to remembering the people, especially in a public place like this, is important because I definitely wouldn’t have known or don’t think about it unless I walk by and see it.”
Many student volunteers, both those involved with SHARE and otherwise, participated in the reading of the names. Porter said she is happy to see the involvement of the student community.
“We have a lot of people who literally will come by and say ‘Wow, I’m so happy you’re doing this,’” Porter said. “People will sometimes share stories that they’ve known survivors or travelled to any of the camps or been to any memorials. We even have people that will say ‘Oh, I didn’t even know you were doing this, can I sit and read for a couple of minutes.’”
Brickman said the student-led organization of the vigil allowed other students on campus to connect with its message.
“I think it’s important that its on a college campus in general, because it’s organized by students and not at your family temple at home, so it just means we’re bringing out Jewish life to school,” Brickman said. “I think this school in particular, we have a large Jewish population and it’s just good for other people to know all of these things exist.”
Porter said anti-semitism around the country gives the event a greater significance and places importance on continuously remembering the events of the Holocaust.
“Unfortunately, recently there has been a lot of anti-semitic events, a couple on this campus in the last few years, a couple on other campuses in the U.S., around the world,” Porter said. “So we really like to have events like this just for people to remember that unfortunately things like genocide and anti-semitism are still happening and still present and still very salient to people’s lives.”