Next Wednesday, Seattle University will honor all people hurt by the Holocaust–including those who have no living relative left to
“In one of our prayers that we do for this event, which is the Mourner’s Kaddish, there is a point where most rabbis will say please stand and everyone remains standing and they will say, ‘please stand for people who don’t have people to pray for them,’ survivors from the Holocaust,” said Seattle University student and co-president of the Jewish Student Union, Hannah Traktman. “I think it’s a big deal, there’s a lot of people who don’t have anyone to stand for them because their entire family line was completely destroyed in the Holocaust.”
Each year, Seattle University’s Campus Ministry and School of Theology and Ministry, in collaboration with the Jewish Student Union, organize the Holocaust & Genocide Remembrance Day, an event that recognizes Holocaust survivors and their experiences from the tragedy.
The destructive effects of genocide impacts the lives of its victims and survivors beyond comprehension. At this event, participants remember the lives of Jewish people lost during the Holocaust to honor their continued presence among us and to ensure that their culture overcomes the multi-generational desecration that the Holocaust caused.
“When I started in the Jewish Student Union, the number one thing that I was working on was this event, it’s something that’s really important to me,” Traktman said.
According to Assistant Dean for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue in the school of Theology and Ministry Michael Reid Trice, acts of genocide remain a threat to the existence of various ethnic and religious groups in today’s society.
“Unfortunately and tragically, genocidal activity happens regularly enough that it is like a tear in the fabric of human history,” Trice said. “Its effects include the loss of life, the loss of the living memory of a people in their own present and future, and is a total breach of human trust, often eradicating a sense of safety in the world around us.”
Trice described genocide as the deliberate cultural and physical eradication of an entire population that arises from an immense intolerance of their existence.
“One cannot underestimate the corrosive power of genocide. From personal and professional experience, in friendships and professional relationships, the lasting impact of genocidal activity is undeniable,” Trice said. “Of course, there are stories of courage, heroism, and especially simple noncompliance. Communities can be valiant, creative amidst suffering, and unquenchable reminders of the strength of the human spirit.”
For this year’s Holocaust & Genocide Remembrance Day event, speaker Bob Herschkowitz will share his insightful story of surviving through the largest concentration camp in France during World War II. The event will also feature the artwork of Akiva Segan that conveys the revival of respect for the memory of those who suffered through the Holocaust.
“Honestly I think the goal of the event is to be able to personalize a tragedy that is beyond comprehension,” said Associate Director of Campus Ministry, Erin Anderson. “When you think about the total number of deaths in the Holocaust, 11 million is the number that is thrown around. I think my goal, would be just for people to be able to see a human face and to put a human narrative in that number of 11 million people. Every single survivor…who’s come to speak on our campus has had this incredible hope and belief in humanity and so for me, even if that hope and belief in humanity was transmitted to one student on our campus, that would be worth all the time and energy that is put into an event like this.”
In remembering the stories of these survivors and commending the resilience of the Jewish community, their legacy thrives despite the tribulations that sought to eliminate their existence. The event also promotes equality and justice for all people in any society in order to prevent the appearance of any similar tragedies in the future.
“The memory will never die…the Jewish people…have a memory, a collective, cultural, and religious memory and I think that’s the power that’s there, that I see,” Anderson said.
With racism and discrimination flourishing in modern society, the Holocaust Remembrance Day serves as a reminder that the value of humanity is worth much more than the conflicts that emerge in a diverse environment.
Even though those who lost their lives during the Holocaust may not have any living relatives to pray for them, those in attendance at the event will be able to honor their memory.
“I think that it’s good for people to be able to stand up and represent those families who can’t speak for themselves anymore,” Traktman said.
The Holocaust Remembrance & Genocide Day event will be on Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. in Student Center 160. All students and faculty are welcome and encouraged to attend.
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