KINGSTON, R.I., — April 1, 2019 — The University of Rhode Island’s Hillel Center will host its Annual Holocaust Memorial Vigil on Thursday, April 4 at 12:30 p.m., in front of the Multicultural Student Services Center at 74 Lower College Road on the Kingston Campus.
Set against a moving backdrop of thousands of individual colored flags placed in the ground by students and displayed as a remembrance of the millions killed in the Holocaust, the vigil will include poetry, readings and songs that provide historic context to the event. Each one of the 2,400 flags represents 5,000 lives lost in the Holocaust, including Jews—represented by yellow flags, and Soviets, Poles, the disabled, homosexuals, and other groups targeted by the Nazis—represented by red, orange, blue, white, green and purple flags.
Organizers, including URI junior nursing student Elysha Ravitch, who will also serve as the event’s emcee, emphasize that the vigil provides an important opportunity for the university community to remember the Holocaust while remaining vigilant in the face of present day hatred and discrimination.
“Many of us, from the Jewish faith as well as others, have made the promise to never forget the Holocaust,” said Ravitch. “As a community, it is paramount that we all join together as part of our journey toward healing and to ensure that something like this will never happen again. Even if you have no personal connections to anyone who died in the Holocaust, we can still come together to mourn the devolution of humanity that allowed so many to perish.”
The ceremony will include student readers from Hillel, the Muslim Student Association, the Gender and Sexuality Center, the Catholic Center and other campus groups. Mary Grace Almandrez, URI’s interim chief diversity officer and Paul Bueno DeMesquita, director of the URI Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies—the latter of whom had family members killed in the Holocaust—will offer remarks.
“While the Holocaust remains unique in its magnitude, recent events such as the shootings at the synagogue in Pittsburgh and the mosques in New Zealand, and the desecration of the Jewish cemetery in Fall River, Massachusetts just last week, remind us that we cannot become complacent or indifferent to the violence and hatred that exist today,” said Amy Olson, executive director of Hillel, URI’s Jewish student center.