To kick off Holocaust Remembrance Week at Ohio State, Hillel conducted a Holocaust Remembrance Day Seder at Arps Hall Wednesday evening. Those in attendance were taken back 70 years to the time of the Third Reich through narratives and symbolism.
Brian Freedman, the staff supervisor and advisor for the Holocaust awareness counsel at OSU, said that events like these are becoming more important, as we move farther away from the Holocaust.
“We are really focusing on educating people on the Holocaust,” Freedman said. “With a lot of survivors passing away now, there is a movement to tell a narrative story of the Holocaust so that people never forget.”
About 25 students were in attendance and everyone participated. Aside from reading portions of the service, attendees were asked to wear yellow stars on their shirts and eat the skin of a potato. These activities symbolized hardships faced during the Holocaust, and helped participants understand what the Jewish people had to overcome.
“The stars were used to show who was Jewish in Nazi Germany,” Freedman said. “We are all in solidarity with those that perished in the Holocaust by putting on the yellow stars. The potato skins represent the food in the camps and how they ate the bare minimum. We are really focusing on recreating and reenacted as best as we can.”
For Zach Weisberg, a first-year in geology, the activity that hit closest to home was when Freedman asked everybody to rip apart a sheet of paper containing the Jewish alphabet, an act symbolizing the destruction of Torahs by Nazis.
“Some people just see it as weird letters on a page, but it has a strong sentimental value,” Weisberg said.
The service was paused four times, and each time an audio clip of a Holocaust survivor was played. One clip featured a woman who told the story of her experience in a Jewish ghetto. Nazi officials were terrorizing the ghetto and came upon the narrator’s brother. The officer took her brother, who was only six at the time, away. The mother ran after the officer and was severely beaten for her insolence. The officer then sent the mother and brother away. It was the last time that the narrator saw either of them.
Emily Supowit, a second-year in history, said that she especially appreciated that story because it was easy to relate to the family aspect. Supowit also said that she thought using recordings of Holocaust victims was a smart way to narrate the service.
“I think it’s a good way to memorialize the Holocaust, especially in an era where survivors aren’t around anymore,” Supowit said.
Freedman said he hopes that the Seder, and all of the events during Holocaust Remembrance Week, will help give students a better appreciation of the Holocaust.
“I hope people feel a real connection with the Holocaust and feel as if they were there,” Freedman said. “That’s what I think the end goal is, to get people to feel like they are in the shoes of survivors.”