Kent State remembers the Holocaust

Helen Yablonski

Students, staff and faculty gathered to read over 6 million names of those lost in the Holocaust Wednesday through Thursday to celebrate Yom HaShoah.

“Anyone can read, you don’t have to be Jewish,” said sophomore finance major Peter Zeid, who hosted this year’s event.

Yom HaShoah, known in the English language as Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorates the victims of the Holocaust during World War II.

“We do a 24-hour name reading of anyone who died in the Holocaust, and we have people read for 15 minute increments or so,” Zeid said.

Kent State’s Cohn-Jewish Hillel Center, Alpha Epsilon Pi, B’nai B’rith International, KSU Jewish Studies Program and KSU History Club host the event together every year outside the M.A.C. Center.

“Michael Pollack, who is an alumni of our fraternity, started this four years ago, and it’s just been a thing,” Zeid said, “we partner up with Hillel every year and we just know how important it is to the Jewish people, and really to the whole world of how significant the Holocaust was.”

The event is marked on the 27th day in the month of Nisan, or the first month on the Jewish calendar. In 2018, Yom HaShoah started on the evening of April 11 and ended the evening of April 12.  The Knesset, Israeli Parliament, selected the date in 1951, and it became full law on August 19, 1953.

It has become a day commemorated by Jewish communities worldwide.

The name reading has become a tradition on campus, and holds significant meaning to many students.

“My grandparents both survived the Holocaust, and my grandpa was actually in a concentration camp, and managed to escape,” sophomore fashion merchandising major Lauren Novick said.

Yom HaShoah is a special time for Novick to honor her family and others whose lives were lost.

“So doing Yom HaShoah is really important to me because I need to commemorate their memory,” Novick said.

The day holds significance to Zeid as well. He also had family and friends whose lives were lost, and he finds Yom HaShoah a meaningful time to commemorate them.

“I have a lot of friends, and my family escaped right before the Holocaust, but I have a lot of friends whose grandparents, and great grandparents died in the Holocaust,” Zeid said.

Overall, it seems all communities celebrating Yom HaShoah will continue to commemorate oppression and genocide.

“It wiped out a third of the Jewish population, and that’s insane, so just making sure we never forget their memories and live on their legacies,” Zeid said.

Helen Yablonski is the religions reporter. Contact her at [email protected].