URI Hillel to Commemorate the Holocaust and the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, April 10

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KINGSTON, R.I. — April 6, 2015 — URI Hillel will host a special presentation to commemorate the Holocaust and the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on Friday, April 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the Norman M. Fain Hillel Center, 6 Fraternity Circle, Kingston, RI. Guest speakers for the evening will be Dr. Albert Silverstein, Pauline Getzoyan and Esther Kalajian.

A retired URI psychology professor, Silverstein was born in Austria in 1935 and survived the Holocaust by being sent from his home and parents at age 3 on the Kindertransport to England. This rescue effort brought thousands of refugee Jewish children to Great Britain from Nazi Germany between 1938 and 1940. Silverstein was reunited with his parents in November 1940 and later moved to the United States. Many of his extended family members perished in the Holocaust and he will speak about his experiences and the imperative to work against factors in contemporary society that make genocide possible.

Pauline Getzoyan and Esther Kalajian are the co-chairs of the Rhode Island branch of The Genocide Education Project, as well as the creators of the current URI honors seminar entitled, “The Armenian Experience: History and Culture.” Experienced and respected educators, they are involved in many philanthropic endeavors, most notably, supporting educators in New England with materials for inclusion of genocide education in school curriculum as outlined by legislation adopted in Rhode Island in 2000. They will speak about how their Armenian identity has been shaped through historical exploration and the personal testimony of their relatives who survived the genocide.

The presentation, which is open to the public will take place from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and will be followed by dinner. Dinner is free for students and $15 for non-students. Reservations are required and may be made by calling Hillel at 401-874-2740 or on the Hillel website, by Monday, April 6. Guests may attend the presentation without staying for dinner at no charge, however, due to space limitations, RSVPs are requested.

This program is made possible in part by Laurie Onanian, a former staff member at the URI Foundation who has admired Hillel’s Holocaust related programming for many years. An active member of the Armenian community, Onanian wished to call attention to how the Armenian Genocide paved the way for Hitler and the Nazis to conduct the Holocaust. She recalled seeing a quote of Hitler’s etched in stone at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. Preparing for the Nazi invasion of Poland in August 1939, Hitler said, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

Hillel has scheduled this event to take place at the end of the week of Passover, a holiday that commemorates liberation from slavery to freedom. It also is timed to occur near the April dates of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) and the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

Other co-sponsors include the Office of Community, Equity and Diversity and the Harrington School of Communication and Media. For more information, contact Amy Olson at URI Hillel, 401-874-2740 or amyolson@uri.edu.