Freshmen honor Holocaust history with Remembrance Day assembly

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Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day internationally set aside for the recognition of Holocaust victims and survivors, was observed Jan. 27. Held on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Holocaust’s largest Nazi concentration camp, Holocaust Remembrance Day provides people with a chance to reflect on the atrocities of the mass genocide. Through barbaric acts of violence planned and carried out by Nazi Germany, the lives of millions of innocent people, both children and adults, were lost.

In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, sophomore Drew Bank invited Alan Hall – a survivor of the Holocaust – to share his wisdom with the freshman class. 

“This summer, I got the opportunity to hear a Holocaust survivor speak, something that not everybody has the privilege to do. Little did I know, it would change my life forever,” Bank said as he introduced Hall to the freshmen. “I later sat down with him at the Miami Holocaust memorial and got the chance to interview him one-on-one. I learned more about who he is and what he wants to teach the world. Getting to hear a survivor speak is a blessing.”

During the assembly, Hall reflected on his experiences as a young Jew in the 1940s. He recounted years spent in hiding, and how he lived in fear that he and his family would be discovered by the Nazis. 

“I spent the majority of my childhood – starting at age seven, that is – in constant fear. All of a sudden, things started happening, terrible things started happening and we had to go into hiding,” Hall said. 

Throughout the speech, he highlighted the importance of Holocaust awareness as he explained to the freshman class that they are among the last generation to hear first-hand accounts from survivors. These accounts must be cherished and passed along to the youth of the future to ensure that the victims of this atrocity are never forgotten. 

Clubs across campus also helped to achieve this by spreading awareness and educating students about genocide. Senior Nithisha Makesh, president of the Butterfly Project, closed out the assembly with a synopsis of the organization and its upcoming events.

“The Butterfly Project is an organization that spread genocide awareness through creative and educational opportunities. Every year, freshmen English classes read Night by Elie Weisel and participate in our Genocide Artwork and Writing Competition in order to understand the Holocaust’s still standing significance and the existence of other genocides today,” Makesh said. 

The Butterfly Club hosts two main events each year: the Bagel Brunch and the Remembrance Ceremony. At the Bagel Brunch, the club donates money to Yazda, a non-profit that supports survivors of the Yazidi genocide. The Remembrance Ceremony recognizes winners of the Genocide Artwork and Writing Contest. This year’s ceremony will be held on campus April 17 and will be open to all students.

Mia Waxman and Ruby Jun, presidents of Tikkun Olam, introduce Alan Hall and his wife to the audience (Photo/Heather Johnson)

Heather Johnson, a freshman at American Heritage, is looking forward to entering her first year on the Patriot Post staff. Journalism has been a passion of Heather’s from a very young age. Aside from her avid love of writing, she enjoys singing, graphic design, reading and listening to music. She is extremely excited to contribute her ideas and articles to the Patriot Post in the upcoming school year.