URI Hillel to honor Holocaust victims, April 7-14

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KINGSTON, R.I. – March 14, 2013 – Hillel, the Jewish center at the University of Rhode Island, is hosting events in April to honor victims of the Holocaust, the murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime. The events, at various locations on the Kingston campus, are free and open to the public.

“In only a few short years, the generation of Holocaust survivors will no longer be alive,” said Amy Olson, director of Hillel at the University of Rhode Island. “It is our responsibility to continue to tell their stories and hopefully prevent such a tragedy from ever occurring again.”

Field of Flags, Sunday, April 7: The week will start with the planting of a commemorative “Field of Flags” on Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Memorial Day. The flags will go up at the Hammerschlag Mall, a walking path between the Multicultural Center and the library. Each flag represents 5,000 of the 11,000,000 Holocaust victims, which includes the six million Jews and 5 million others. Altogether, 2,400 flags will capture the enormity of the devastation.

Study Session, 3:30 p.m., Sunday, April 7: Hillel’s Rabbinic intern, Nate DeGroot, will lead a Yom HaShoah session Sunday, April 7 and another session Sunday, April 14. On April 7, he will open the week of learning, mourning, and observance by exploring the role of students as grandchildren of survivors and as inheritors of brokenness. On April 14, he will examine the relationship between the Holocaust and Israel, historically and today. The sessions are at the Hillel Center, Norman M. Fain building, 6 Fraternity Circle, Kingston.

Holocaust Memorial Vigil, Monday, April 8, noon: In front of the Multicultural Center, Hillel will hold a public vigil in memory of Holocaust victims. The vigil will include prayers, poetry, and songs to honor the memory of those who perished. The event includes URI leaders and community members.

Exhibit April 8-14: Using materials from the Holocaust Education and Resource Center of RI and the URI library, an exhibit will be on display in the Hillel lounge throughout the week.

“Solving the Mysteries of “The Little Valise,” Wednesday, April 10, 12 to 1 p.m., URI Library Galanti Lounge: Elliott Caldwell, consulting archivist at the Holocaust Education and Resource Center of RI and archives and special collections consultant at the URI library, will speak about “The Little Valise,” an artifact at the Holocaust Education and Resource Center of RI. The valise had been owned by a Jewish family – Heinrich and Leontine Schafranik, who set sail on the MS St. Louis, the famed “Voyage of the Damned.” In her presentation, Ms. Caldwell tells the story of the family members, including their internment in England during World War II. Her presentation sheds light on the little known phenomenon of British internment camps, where hundreds of Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe were imprisoned.

Kinderblock 66, Thursday, April 11, 7 p.m., Agnes G. Doody Auditorium of Swan Hall: Directed by URI Film Studies faculty member, Rob Cohen, the documentary is about the Buchenwald concentration camp that was liberated on April 11, 1945. Nearly 1,000 boys survived. Sixty-five years later, on April 11, 2010, several of the surviving boys from Block 66 returned to Buchenwald. Kinderblock 66 tells their story. Cohen will introduce the film and answer questions afterward. The film is co-sponsored by URI’s Harrington School of Communication and Media.

Shabbat Service and Dinner with RI Holocaust Survivors, Friday, April 12, 5:30 p.m.: Prepared by students, the service will include Holocaust survivors who will speak about their experiences. A dinner will be served and students will have the opportunity to visit with the survivors and ask questions. Staff and board members of the Holocaust Education and Resource Center of RI will also attend. The dinner, at Hillel, is open to Jewish and non-Jewish students and members of the University and general community. Reservations are required and may be made by calling 401-874-2740 or visiting www.uri.hillel.org.

Removal of Flags, Lunch and Yom HaZikaron (Israel Memorial Day), 1 p.m., Sunday, April 14: At week’s end, students will gather to remove the flags they planted the week before and reflect on the week’s events.

For more information, please contact Sabrina Brotons at sabrina_brotons@my.uri.edu or call Hillel at 401-874-2740. The events are funded, in part, by the Fela and David Shapell Foundation and the URI Student Affairs Diversity Fund.

Photos courtesy of the Hillel Center