University remembers lives lost from the Holocaust with annual name reading

By Chelsea Royal
On April 25, 2012

On a sunny Thursday afternoon last week, and students sat on the quads to enjoy the warm weather. But as they walked to and from class, they crossed a podium with several chairs outside of Hofstra Hall, as names and ages echoed through. Some stopped to listen to fellow students speaking, while others continued walking, wondering what this event was.

Hofstra Hillel hosted its annual six-hour name readings as part of the Holocaust Remembrance Day. Following Holocaust survivor Annie Bleiberg's testimony of her time in a concentration camp, the group organized a reading of the names and ages of young children killed during the Holocaust.

Rabbi Meir Mitelman, the executive director of Hofstra Hillel, said some students had to pause before they developed the courage to read off the list. It was too difficult for them to read because they felt so affected by what happened more than 70 years ago.

"This is such an easy but meaningful way of honoring memories," said Meir.

Rabbi Dave Seigel, another one of the Hillel's directors, was more impacted by the readings now that he has two young children. Although he was pleased that students from every background came to listen or volunteer, he still thinks students should be more pro-active.

"What about everyone else on campus?" said Seigel.

However, Jewish students were not the only ones to participate. Mario Bolanos, assistant director of Student Leadership and Activities of Greek life, recently became aware of the tradition and wishes to make it a bigger event for the campus.

"I think it's something that we should try to increase the awareness and have more students participate," said Bolanos.

Students who did participate, like junior Alex Tabatchnick, believe this campus actually cares about remembering the Holocaust. A member of the Hillel since he began college, Tabatchnick has volunteered for the readings for three years. To him, the readings put an emphasis on kids his own age and represent progression.

"You never forget and you keep moving forward. Repetition, repetition, repetition," said Tabatchnick.

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