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Hillel commemorates lives lost in Holocaust

by Caitlin O'Donnell,

Thousands of names and untold stories rang out from the steps of Moseley today as Hillel celebrated the Reading of the Names as part of Holocaust Remembrance Week.

Nancy Luberoff, Hillel campus director, said from the time event began at 11 a.m. to its conclusion at 5 p.m., 5,000 names were read, only a fraction of the 6 million who died during the Holocaust.

Luberoff said the Reading is an event that takes place all across the country, the main event being held at the Holocaust National Museum in Washington, D.C. on a much grander scale.

According to the Museum's Web site, a Reading of names will be taking place from April 11 through April 14.

"As 6 million is such an unfathomable number, saying aloud individual names allows us to remember that every person who was killed had a family, a life and a story of their own," said Zach Jordan, one of the organizers of the event.

Luberoff said she thought the event was very powerful, though not in a customary way.

"If you walked by and didn't see a big crowd gathered, you might think they're reading to nobody, but it's not that kind of an event," she said. "It's just remembering the names of people who don't have anyone else to remember them and I think it affected a group of people in a pretty deep way, though it may not have been thousands."

Allie Solender, president of Hillel, said the Reading emphasizes the magnitude of what happened during the Holocaust, as it takes hours to read the names.

"The people reading the names feel a personal connection to those who died because they are personally making sure those individuals are remembered," she said.

Among those who read from the list of names, Luberoff said only about half were Jewish. Speakers also included campus faculty, including Earl Danieley, Phil Smith and Chet Denlinger.

Luberoff explained that many people incorrectly assume only Jews were affected by the Holocaust. One student who attended the event came from a family of Polish Catholics, many of whom perished in the tragedy.

"She had never before been included in a Holocaust remembrance event," she said.

Though this is the fifth year Hillel has held the event, they will begin a new tradition of taking their message of Remembrance beyond Elon's campus and to local high schools, Luberoff said.

"All of the tenth grade English classes have been reading 'Night' by Elie Wiesel and Hillel leaders will be doing a Holocaust education module in the classroom," she said.

Continuing Holocaust Remembrance Week events, on Tuesday, April 13, Holocaust survivor Gizella Abramson will speak at Elon.

Luberoff said Abramson was liberated from the concentration camp where she was being held by the grandfather of Elon student Ron Yardenay, who will introduce her speech.

"It's incredible to learn that despite the continental differences between them, they are able to come together for this event," she said.

As for the Reading of the Names, Solender said she thought the event was successful.

"Not only did we have a lot of people participating in reading the names, but we had a lot of people stop and ask questions about the event in general," she said. "People were very receptive to the information we were giving them about the Holocaust."

Holocaust Remembrance events for the remainder of this week include:

Lunch n' Learn: The German Response to the Holocaust – April 13, 12 p.m., the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual life

Words from a Survivor: Gizella Abramson – April 13, 7:30 p.m., LaRose Digital Theater

"Ghosts of Rwanda" Documentary Screening – April 15, 8 p.m., KOBC 145

Shabbat Services – April 16, 5:15 p.m., Truitt Center