The name readings event was really important to me. I wanted to do something that would not only honor the people who were killed in the Holocaust, but also would impact other students on campus who were passing by. Raising awareness for Yom HaShoah was the ultimate goal.
The act of reading the names was a lot more emotional than I expected. For every person, we read first and last name, father’s name, age, place of birth, and place and year of death. It gave every name so much more context. A lot of times you would read—for example, Joe Smith, son of Bob, born in Poland, died in Auschwitz 1942; Sarah Smith, daughter of Bob, born in Poland, died in Auschwitz 1942; Bob Smith, born in Poland, died in Auschwitz 1942—names of a whole family who all died in the same place. Realizing that was probably the most difficult part. In addition, I’ve visited some of the concentration camps in Poland. Reading names of these camps brought up a lot of memories and emotions that I had while visiting them.
The response that we got from some people was overwhelming. There was one guy who I noticed listening to the reading. So, I asked if he was interested in reading a page. He said yes, and afterwards told me how honored he was to help us remember the holocaust. That exchange itself would have been enough to make me feel like what we put together was making a difference. However, there were many people who read pages and were grateful for the opportunity to do so.
It’s not enough to remember for one day or even one week. I’ve been to the places where these atrocities happen and never go a day without thinking about it and the other atrocities that are going on in the world. Holocaust Remembrance Week is important to me because we are giving other people a reason to remember and the means to have discussion about what happened and what is happening in the world. Over 70 years ago, we said ‘Never Again’, however that has not been upheld. Genocides and mass atrocities are occurring and have occurred in numerous places since the Holocaust. It’s important to make people aware of these things so we can become a more conscious and accepting world where these human rights violations no longer occur.
Samantha Susson s a senior at UD majoring in Health Studies with a concentration in Occupational Therapy and a minor in Disabilities Studies. Samantha is from Voorhees, NJ and serves as the Holocaust Remembrance Intern at Hillel. She is also involved in ChaiNamics A Capella, STAND: Anti-Genocide Coalition, and Alpha Phi Omega.