Remembering the Holocaust
Holocaust Awareness Week
Every year we commemorate and remembers the victims of the Holocaust. Six million Jews were systematically slaughtered by the Nazi regime that had consumed Europe. Almost one in every three Jews was wiped off the face of the earth. To every person there was a family, a life, a future.
Many unions have decided to include Holocaust Awareness Week in their calendar of activities for many reasons. For the Jewish students on campus it offers an opportunity to remember and to reflect. It offers a moment in time when Jewish students can commemorate the loss of their families and their people. For non-Jewish students it raises awareness and consciousness of an attempted genocide that occurred not so long ago. For all students Holocaust Awareness Week provides a moment out of the regular University schedule to focus on some of the broader issues of history and its ramifications to the present and the future.
Holocaust Commemoration Day is a day or remembrance. It is a memorial to the victims of the Shoah. It is a day dedicated to the honor of those who perished at the hands of the Nazis.
Beyond the commemorative aspects of the day itself, there are also several messages and lessons that one can learn from the Shoah.
Even in the darkest depths of humanity there were those that were able to rise above the average conventions of the world they lived in. Righteous Gentiles who risked their lives to save Jewish people are glimmer of hope that not all of humanity partook in one of the world”s most horrific acts of genocide.
Although blame can be placed on the shoulders of the perpetrators it is also the millions of bystanders who idly stood by and witnessed the Holocaust as it unfolded. Not just the Europeans who watched as the Jewish communities disappeared before their very eyes. But also the rest of the world who claimed ignorance when humanity needed them most.
If your union is to give one clear message during Holocaust Awareness Week it should be based on this. As Jews we have suffered a catastrophe like no other. And it as Jews that we bring the message to the rest of the world that we will not sit idly by and watch other genocides or devastations befall Jewish people or any other people of the world.
May Holocaust Awareness Week commemorate the lives of six million Jewish martyrs. May this week educate Jews and non Jews alike about the events of the Shoah. And may Holocaust Awareness Week be a reminder to us all of the obligations and responsibilities that lie upon every one us.
For, 'those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.' - George Santayana
In 1951, the Knesset declared that the 27th day of Nissan is to be Holocaust Day, a day of commemoration of the Jews who perished and for those who showed resistance and heroism. In 1959, the Knesset passed the law of Holocaust Day.
Every year, since 1989, the Knesset (in cooperation with 'Yad Vashem') performs the ceremony of 'Everyone Has a Name' in which the names of all of the Holocaust victims are read out loud.We must remember. The immensity of the Holocaust is sometimes so hard to comprehend, yet we must remember.
Each year Israel commemorates Holocaust Martyrs¨ and Heroes¨ Remembrance Day. This is the annual tribute to the memory of the Six Million, the Jews who perished at the hands of Hitler¨s Nazi regime. The yearly date for this somber holiday is the 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan, a date falling between the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising and Israel Independence Day.
Established in 1953 by an act of the Israeli Knesset, Yad Vashem is the central Holocaust memorial of the Jewish people. Located on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, Yad Vashem is a complex of museums, monuments, research, teaching and resource centers. The main events marking Holocaust Remembrance Day (in Hebrew - Yom Hashoah) will take place at Yad Vashem. On Monday evening the holiday will start with a state ceremony, in which concentration camp survivors will light torches. On Tuesday morning, at exactly ten a.m., a siren will sound throughout the country, bringing all Israelis to their feet for a moment's tribute to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. As the siren dies, a wreath-laying ceremony will begin, attended by the President and other dignitaries and public figures, members of survivors organizations and delegations from all over the country.
At the same time similar ceremonies will be taking place elsewhere. In the schools students will be wearing white shirts. All places of entertainment are closed in Israel during the course of the day.
Every year a main theme is chosen for Holocaust Remembrance Day. 'The Jewish Child in the Holocaust' was the theme for 1997. Approximately 1.5 million children perished in the Holocaust. The cruel and difficult years these children must have faced - living in the ghettos of East European cities, being transported to the concentration camps, being separated from parents and loved ones, and not being old enough to comprehend. Children, as adults, did their utmost to survive, but escape was not always possible. There were lucky ones, saved, adopted and hidden by moral people of conscience - Righteous Gentiles. These Righteous Gentiles are held in great esteem by the Jewish people, and honored especially at Yad Vashem.
Checklist for Holocaust Awareness Week on Campus
The process of informing Executive members about Holocaust Awareness Week should commence several weeks prior to Holocaust Awareness Week. An information meeting should also be scheduled to update members on related issues and thought should also be given into running educational workshops on the Holocaust and related topics.
Holocaust Awareness Week Programming
For several years some unions have handed out white carnations on campus with information about the Holocaust and Holocaust Awareness Week. As a symbol of hope the carnations have been very successful in giving a message to Jewish and non-Jewish students alike.
These have been a very simple and effective way of distributing information and images to large numbers of University students in a short amount of time. Very effective form of disseminating information.
For postcards go to :
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Ceremonies are addressed in a specific section of this booklet. Ceremonies have become a ritualized component of Holocaust commemorations around the world. Some unions feel they have a responsibility to provide commemorative services on their campuses.
Posters are useful in promoting functions and increasing awareness. The images used on posters must be carefully chosen. A picture speaks a thousand words. Catchy slogans or quotes form a major part of poster presentations.
Education is also an important part of Holocaust Awareness. There are man speakers and experts on a variety of issues related to the Holocaust that are available to contact for specific seminars. These seminars can be very general or focus on specific areas of the Holocaust.
Student newspapers are a forum to create discussion, promote functions and inform the general University community about the Holocaust and related issues. One of the strongest and most successful messages written about in previous years has been the Jewish responsibility to genocides around the world because of the Holocaust.
As the last generation to come into direct contact with Holocaust survivors your union has the ability to utilise these primary sources. Holocaust survivors provide first hand moving and often inspirational accounts of the Shoah. Survivors are also one of the best ways to refute Holocaust denial.
Ideas for Regional and Campus Activities for Holocaust Awareness Week
Also on the WUJS site:
More Shoah Education Activities.
Theology of the Holocaust Sources
An introduction to Yom HaShoah
An introduction to International Holocaust Rememberance Day
This year's dates for Yom HaShoah & IHRM can be found in the WUJS Year Mapper.