Holocaust Memorial Event preserves history

Yom HaShoah is the Jewish holiday of Holocaust remembrance celebrated all around the world. This year, Sam Houston State University will continue in its tradition of keeping the holiday alive by holding the Yom HaShoah Holocaust Memorial Event on April 11 in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences room 430 from 12 to 5 p.m.

Less than 75 years have passed since the official end of the Holocaust. This event is designed to keep the memories of the victims alive through memorializing their works from that period, all taken from the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

An estimated six million people lost their lives in the 12 years the Holocaust ran its course through Europe. Even with the high death toll, several works remain from that period.  At this event, volunteers will have the opportunity to read from surviving selections and commemorative works alike.

“All in all, it’s going to be a very somber event, as the name implies,” student event organizer Andrew Vierkant said. “It is a way for people to read poetry of Holocaust survivors and victims, read from a list of the victims and give a memorial for all those that were lost in the tragedy.”

In the United States, Yom HaShoah events can range from formal ceremonies in synagogues to educational events. All over the country, documentary airings, history lessons and lectures are given in hopes of keeping the name of the holiday alive, and in doing so, keep the memories of the victims alive.

“I hope it will bring awareness, not only of the event, but of its significance to the local community, and showing people around here that we do remember and we do care,” Vierkant said. “We want to be part of a larger dialogue at Sam Houston.”

That larger dialogue is something SHSU has taken part of for several years on Yom HaShoah.

“I think all over the world, but especially in areas like southeast Texas where there’s not necessarily a large Jewish population, it’s important to still have these events and these discussions so that the dialogue never turns away from the victims memory,” Vierkant said. “It is a way to kind of keep their names alive and not lost.”

Yom HaShoah Remembrance Event will be divided into 10-minute increments, where every 10 minutes a new piece will be read. Pieces will include “The Eyes Remain Open” by Yoseph Kirman, “Written in Pencil in the Sealed Freightcar” by Dan Pagis and “Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye.

Faculty organizer Zachary Doleshal said that, while this is only SHSU’s third year to host this event, it has been a worldwide memorial since 1949. According to Doleshal, each event is unique.

“Ours is meant to deny the perpetrators of this crime their goal – which was to erase European Jewry,” Doleshal said. “We do this by reading the names of victims and relevant literature. When the student, faculty and staff volunteers read each name, they make a simple and profound statement of defiance. These people lived and mattered. And they still matter. Even in Southeast Texas.”

Events like these serve as an educational means to hopefully keep history from repeating itself.

“The Bearkat communities’ participation in the event makes clear that our university will never forget,” Doleshal said. “This matters because our continual remembrance commits us to do everything in our power to prevent a similar event.” 

Everyone is encouraged to come to the event and either read or just watch and listen. Admission is free.

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