URI Hillel to display Field of Flags to signify Holocaust Memorial Day

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KINGSTON, R.I. — April 21, 2008 — In commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day, Yom HaShoah, Hillel will display a “Field of Flags” on the Hammerschlag Mall on the URI Kingston Campus (the walkway between the Multicultural Center and the Library) from April 28-May 1. Nearly 2400 small colored flags will be planted in the ground, each representing 5000 victims of the Holocaust. Eighty additional flags will represent the 400,000 victims of the genocide in Darfur, Sudan that is currently taking place.

The planting of the flags will begin at 9 am on Monday, April 28. The flags will be removed at 1 pm on Thursday, May 1 following a brief ceremony. Volunteers are welcome to help with the display at the Hammerschlag mall at both of these times. For more information, contact Hillel at 874-2740 or Hillel@uri.hillel.org.

The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. “Holocaust” is a word of Greek origin meaning “sacrifice by fire.” The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were “racially superior” and that the Jews, deemed “inferior,” were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.

During the era of the Holocaust, German authorities also targeted other groups because of their perceived “racial inferiority”: Roma (Gypsies), the disabled, and some of the Slavic peoples (Poles, Russians, and others). Other groups were persecuted on political, ideological, and behavioral grounds, among them Communists, Socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals.

In calling attention to the situation in Darfur as part of the Holocaust remembrance activities, Hillel student organizers were inspired by the words of Holocaust survivor and author, Elie Wiesel: “As a Jew who does not compare any event to the Holocaust, I feel concerned and challenged by the Sudanese tragedy. We must be involved. I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.”