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Survivors speak, vigil held for Holocaust Remembrance Week

More than 70 years ago, about 6 million Jews were killed in a genocide during World War II. This week, they will be remembered.

Student members of Hillel, Ohio State’s Wexner Jewish Student Union and the Holocaust Awareness Week Council will hold events throughout the week to remember those who lost their lives during the Holocaust.

The week will begin with a 24-hour memorial vigil where participants will continuously read victims’ names aloud.

The Holocaust Remembrance Week vigil is set to start at 5:30 p.m. Thursday on the Oval with a short service, including a performance from OSU’s Jewish a cappella group, the MeshugaNotes. The group will sing various songs, some that Holocaust survivors wrote.

Members of the Holocaust Awareness Council will light six candles, each candle representing 1 million out of the 6 million victims lost.

“Anyone can come to the memorial service,” said Samantha Bloom, a fourth-year in psychology and co-coordinator for the Holocaust Awareness Week Council. “Just come to listen, read or just be there.”

The reading of the victims’ names is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m.

Becca Nitzberg, a fourth-year in Jewish studies and co-coordinator, said the most powerful part of the vigil is the end of the 24 hours.

“Almost 6 million people were killed during the Holocaust, and that’s a lot,” Nitzberg said. “It’s so emotional when you get done reading and you realize we made it not even halfway through the last names that start with B.”

There are still plenty of time slots available, which are broken into 15 minute increments, Nitzberg said. Students are able to show up to the tent on the Oval and sign up during the day.

The brothers of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity will continue the readings from midnight until 7 a.m. Holocaust survivor, Murray Ebner. is scheduled to read the last 15 minutes of the vigil.

“We are the last generation to be able to hear from the survivors of the Holocaust … we think it’s really important for students to hear first-hand experiences,” Bloom said.

The Holocaust Remembrance Week will hold a free dinner at the Hillel Foundation, located at 46 E. 16th Ave., featuring survivor Alfred Tibor on Tuesdayat 6 p.m. Tibor will speak of his life during and after the Holocaust and student-led discussions will follow.

The week will conclude on Thursday, with Ribbons of Remembrance.

Tables will be scattered throughout campus and in dorms with boards presenting the different colored ribbons the Nazis forced people to wear during the Holocaust.

Students can choose which ribbons they would like to wear during the day.

“They don’t really have to do anything with (the ribbons), but it is all for awareness. Just to promote knowledge and to prove that it was universal and not just affecting one type,” Nitzberg said.

Michelle Blate, a first-year in biology and member of the Holocaust Awareness Week Council, said she hopes the turnout will be plentiful and beneficial for everyone.

“We just don’t want people forgetting what happened,” Blate said. “Not only did it affect the Jewish community, but the entire world. The struggles the people went through are very important and need to be recognized.”

In the event of rain, the 24-hour memorial vigil will be moved to the Hillel Foundation, but only under extreme and dangerous circumstances.

“Standing in the rain or bad weather is not even comparable to what the victims went through,” Nitzberg said.

Nitzberg promised that no matter what the circumstance, the names will be read for the entire 24 hours.

“It’s a very solemn, hopeful and enlightening experience. I hope students come to take a break from class and reflect on what has happened in past history,” Nitzberg said.

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