Montclair Hillel hosted its Holocaust Remembrance Day event on Tuesday, April 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Center of Faith and Spirituality. The event included special guest speaker, Robin, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. Robin has requested that The Montclarion not publish her last name.
During the event, Robin told the story of her mother and maternal grandparents’ survival during the Holocaust. Their family fled from Berlin, to Japan, to Panama before President Roosevelt began letting Jewish refugees come to America.
Robin shared that she felt strange and out-of-place regarding sharing her mother’s story.
“For a long time, I didn’t consider that this was my story too,” Robin told attendees. “But now I see that it is also the world’s story.”
A candlelit vigil immediately followed the event, in honor of the six million Jews whose lives were taken in the Holocaust. The vigil also included a commemoration of the other five million people who were killed among the disabled, Jehovah’s Witnesses, gypsies and the LGBTQ community.
The candlelit vigil was scheduled to take place outside at the Hillel Holocaust Memorial Tree, which is located outside of the Student Center. However, due to inclement weather, the candles were lit inside.
“The match represents life,” said Marissa London, president of Hillel, regarding the process of lighting the candlelight vigil. “The candle represents memory. When extinguished, the match is a life snuffed out. However, the candle remains lit, like the memory that lives on.”
Montclair State University has a long history of Holocaust education. The religion department ran a course this semester regarding religious perspectives of the Holocaust. Professor Kate Temoney hosted survivor Paulette Dorflaufer, who was a child during the events of the Holocaust. Paulette Dorflaufer came to campus to speak about her involvement with the “Twin with Survivor” program, which is affiliated with the Holocaust Council of Greater Metro West in Whippany, New Jersey.
In 2016, Christians United For Israel, a Class IV Organization of the Student Government Association, hosted Holocaust Survivor Irving Roth on campus. Many members of the student body and surrounding campus community came out to hear Roth’s powerful story of surviving Auschwitz.
Roth is the Holocaust Resource Center Director at Temple Judea in Manhasset, New York. He has received many accolades and awards for his work, including the Spirit of Anne Frank Award. According to the Spirit of Anne Frank website, Roth promotes a more accepting and diverse world and shares his story “to ensure that an atrocity like the Holocaust never happens again.”
Morgan Taylor is the outgoing president of the Montclair CUFI