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Hillel commemorates victims of Holocaust

By Hensley Carrasco
On April 21, 2012


In order to commemorate and remember the Holocaust, Hillel at the University of Rhode Island has held a series of events in the past week.

The events included a kosher Freedom Shabbat for Passover, a service and dinner held at Hillel, the screening of "Love in a World of Sorrow, a 2005 film showing "the importance of family history" and how it's a "contribution to the Holocaust" and the planting of the Field of Flags outside of the Multicultural Center, among others. The dinner featured a speaker, Betty Adler, who was a child in the Holocaust.

Executive director and Jewish Chaplain Amy Olson said the Field of Flags is an event that takes place every April in order to commemorate those who died in the Holocaust from 1933 to 1945. She said Hillel tries to correspond the placing of flags with the week of Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day, the 27th day of Nisan.

"Yom HaShoah happens each April," Olson said. "The day was declared by the Israeli government." This year, the 27th day was yesterday. Olson said the flags are in place in order to commemorate all of the citizens killed during the holocaust by the Nazis and the flag event, she said, has been taking place since 2006.

Each flag represents 5,000 people killed and Olson said there are "close to 2,400 flags," each with a different color, representing a group of people killed. The yellow flags represent the Jews, the red represents the Soviets, the orange represents the Polish, the purple represents the Gypsies, the white represents the disabled, the green represents the Jehovah's Witnesses and the purple represents the homosexuals killed.

The flags represent the 6 million Jew deaths, 3.3 million Soviet deaths, 2 million Polish deaths, 400,000 Gypsy deaths, 25,000 disabled deaths, 15,000 Jehovah's Witnesses deaths and 15,000 homosexual deaths.

"It's most important that people not forget," Olson said.

Olson said she knows that people are busy and sometimes don't have time to go out to their other events, but finds that this event is one that can accommodate to those with a busier schedule.

"When you're walking by, [the flags] catches your eye," Olson said.

She added that the flags capture the attention of those walking by, which gives them an opportunity to "capture" the representation of 11 million people who died.

"The number is so enormous, you can't even begin to think about [what it really means]," Olson said.

Beside the flags are two stands with different information. One stand has the colors of the flags and what they signify, whereas the other stand has other miscellaneous Holocaust information.

Senior Josh Einhorn, who was one of the main organizers of the events, said the Field of Flags is one of the many events Hillel uses to commemorate the Holocaust.

"Holocaust remembrance here at URI has developed over the last couple of years," Einhorn said. "It's a pivitol point in the week to show people how many lives were lost in the Holocaust."

Einhorn said volunteers from various organizations helped place the flags, adding that the volunteers were also there to answer questions that anyone may have had while walking by.

"The flags [were] just a start of letting people know what's going with the events that have occurred," Einhorn said. "Each year we expand and have several different events geared toward [the] education of Holocaust remembrance. The key catchphase is 'never forget.'"

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