Hillel honors Holocaust Remembrance Day with 24-hour name reading


Addison Foreman

Students sit on the steps of the MACC in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Addison Foreman, Reporter

Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, is a Jewish holiday to remember those that were lost during the Holocaust. Hillel, the foundation of Jewish life at Kent State, held a ceremony honoring the holiday.

The group painted the spirit rock on campus Monday with the words “Never Forget,” then silently walked to the MACC center where participants read names of those who perished in the Holocaust for 24 hours.

“Yom HaShoah is all about Holocaust remembrance, and something really big in the Jewish faith is never forget the Holocaust,” Michael Pollak, director of student life at Hillel, said. “We want to be as aware as possible, spread awareness. We paint the rock so that everyone passing by can see it. We do a walk to remember so that everyone on campus can see us. And then we’re out in public on the MACC for 24 hours to just say the names so that anyone walking by can become a witness to the atrocities that happened in the Holocaust. And now, it can live on even though Holocaust survivors might not be living.”

The rock, painted by Hillel Monday in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day. (Addison Foreman)

Members of Hillel started saying names for a full 24 hours in 2012. Before then, the group would say names for only 6-12 hours. Since this change, saying names for a full 24 hours has been an impactful thing for members of this community.

“I think there’s something really impactful about being there at 3 a.m. and you’re still saying these kids and children’s names,” said Andrew Aronoff, president of the Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi.

For members of Hillel, gathering together as a community for Holocaust remembrance is important.

“I think community is really big. Not just Hillel, but the Jewish community, and we love welcoming anyone, even if they’re not of the Jewish faith, because we really want to spread the message that we’re all in this together and we’re all here to give back to the world,” Pollak said.

For Jacob Rathkopf, freshman member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, it was his first time attending this event for Yom HaShoah.

“I think that with anti-Semitism on the rise, even without that fact, I think it’s important to honor the people who don’t have people to read names for them. This was a terrible thing that happened and millions of people died, so we want to remember those people,” Rathkopf said.

He also agreed that community is important.

“I think it builds bonds with people in the community. I know I got a bunch of my friends to come sign up and do this, and they were very inspired by how important and impactful it is. I think it gives everyone something to remember back on,” Rathkopf said.

Aronoff reflected on how the event made him feel.

“It’s just huge. There’s no other way that I can say it other than impactful,” Aronoff said.

Addison Foreman is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].