Memory of Holocaust victims stays alive with annual Yom HaShoah ceremony

The annual Yom HaShoah commemoration took place on the front steps of Moseley on Tuesday, April 18.

Readers standing on the steps of the Moseley Center on Tuesday offered up the names of more than 3,200 Holocaust victims during the annual Yom HaShoah commemoration, an event organized by Jewish Life Elon and the Jewish Studies program.

Yom HaShoah is a worldwide observance that serves as a reminder of the genocide that was the Holocaust. At Elon, 27 faculty, staff and students read names in the solemn remembrance. While only 3,200 names were read at the ceremony of the 6 million people who perished in the Holocaust, the event helps keep the memory of some victims alive.

“We know that the reading of names we’re doing today is just a small sampling of those who perished. We also know that there are names that we will never know because those people don’t have anyone to remember them because whole families and communities were wiped own, their memories gone forever,” said Christy Brooks, interim assistant director of Jewish Life at Elon.

“This is a way to ensure that those people who did perish are not forgotten forever,” Brooks added.

Shane Atkinson, associate chaplain for Muslim Life, reads names of Holocaust victims during the Yom HaShoah Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony.

Jewish tradition calls for the death of a loved one to be commemorated each year, Brooks said. “Now other people can join us in this tradition because the Holocaust was a global tragedy, not just a Jewish tragedy,” she said. “Having the Elon community support us, put us front and center, and honor us is a really big deal.”

The Reading of the Names ceremony included different colored ribbons to symbolize the various identity groups targeted by Nazi Germany during World War II and sent to concentration camps. The ribbons also served as a representation of the marking system created for those in concentration camps, as different groups had different identifiers sewn into their prison uniforms.

As antisemitism and Holocaust denial and distortion remain prevalent issues in society, the remembrance event acts as a way to be educated against the dangers of hatred when unchecked.

“I hope people will take away the importance of remembering and honoring those who died, said Betsy Polk, director of Jewish Life at Elon. “But also I hope people will understand the importance of doing all we can to prevent hate in this world.”

On Thursday, April 20, there will be a commemoration Ceremony of Remembrance, “The Next Generations,” at the weekly Numen Lumen: Thursday Inspiration event. The ceremony is designed by Jewish Educator Boaz Avraham-Katz and O’Briant Developing Professor and Associate Professor of History Andrea Sinn and will focus on the next generations of remembrance.