This week Hillel, the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, and other organizations along with other UC Davis students will remember the Holocaust and raise awareness against genocide.
Two events will be occurring this week including collaboration from the UC Davis Jewish community, Student Anti-Genocide Coalition (STAND), and the Baha’i communities. STAND and members of the Jewish community will be tabling in from of the Memorial Union today and handing out pamphlets.
“We thought that this might be a good opportunity to approach random people walking past the Quad and tell them information on different cases of genocide,” said Mahrad Enayati, senior sociology major and intern for Hillel who helped organize this event.
A panel discussion titled “Genocide Across Cultures” will take place today at 7 p.m. in 206 Olson and will feature Professors David Biale and Benjamin Lawrence. Along with a STAND student activist and a student from the Baha’i club, they will lead a discussion about the atrocities committed against people in Rwanda, Iran, Darfur, and the Holocaust.
“As descendants of these atrocities, it is our responsibility to remember that these things happen and spread that to further generations,” said Mike Amerikaner, program director for Hillel.
This is the first year that other student organizations have been included with the remembrance of the Holocaust and panel discussion.
“We all have this collective pain and history of the past, and its important for us not to forget as we move into the future,” said Amerikaner, a 2004 UC Davis alumnus.
Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, is the Jewish holiday that remembers the victims and crimes that occurred during the Holocaust. This year, it falls on May 1. Alpha Epsilon Pi, along with Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi sorority, the Jewish Student Union, students from the Jewish community and others will join together for a march in remembrance of the Holocaust.
“I felt that this event would be a great opportunity to get the Jewish students together on campus from all organizations to come together and show our support for a cause. With all the events on campus that have been coinciding with Jewish festivals we wanted to do something that would bring everyone together to observe a Jewish holiday,” said Louis Sachs, president of Alpha Epsilon Pi in an e-mail interview.
Participants will be wearing black and holding signs that read “We Remember” throughout the march, which will begin at the Alpha Epsilon Pi house on 4th and C streets, continue through campus and end again at the house.
“I feel that it is important to bring Jewish students together from all parts of campus to really show our solidarity with each other,” said Sachs.
After the march, Professor Emeritus Alex Groth, a survivor of the Holocaust, will be speaking about his experiences in the Holocaust at the Hillel House and give an academic description of the atrocities that occurred during World War II.
Roughly 10 to 11 percent of UC Davis is part of the Jewish community. Sachs mentioned that two campus events have coincided with Jewish holidays. In fall 2007, a move-in day for first-year students fell on Rosh Hashanah, a Jewish High Holiday. Most recently, Picnic Day coincided with the first day of Passover.
“Move-in day is arguably the most exciting day for freshmen. I shouldn’t have to abandon my traditions for my first day of college,” said Tyler Gregory, a sophomore political science and international relations double-major and Alpha Epsilon Pi chair who is helping organize the march event.
This year’s May 1 Yom Hashoah holiday will not occur during other large campus events.
“The vast majority of the world is aware of the Holocaust, yet history has repeated itself in places like Darfur and Rwanda. It is important to humanize a set of historical facts and numbers to put the event in perspective. When the generation of Holocaust survivors is no longer with us, it will be up to us to keep their stories alive,” said Gregory in an e-mail interview.
ANGELA RUGGIERO can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. XXX