Students participate in Holocaust remembrance event

By Safiya Merchant/THE DAILY NORTHWESTERN
Published: Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Aaron Zelikovich still remembers some of his grandmother’s stories of her time at Auschwitz. While Zelikovich’s great-grandfather, after whom he was named, died in the concentration camp, his grandmother and her three sisters survived.

“My grandmother always says that she sees a lot of him in me, and that I’m a continuation,” said Zelikovich, a Hillel Leadership Council Special Projects Committee chair.

However, even after they were liberated, Zelikovich said his grandparents were forced into hiding on different farms for about three months.

“When they came back to where they used to live, everything was gone,” the Weinberg freshman said. “I truly feel fortunate just to be alive.”

Zelikovich and many other members of the Northwestern Jewish community commemorated those who passed away during the Holocaust when they participated in the third annual “We Walk to Remember” event on Monday as a component of Hillel Week 2011. Other events of Hillel Week will include a Black Jewish Freedom Seder on Tuesday and a discussion about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict Wednesday.

During the walk down Sheridan Road, all participants were silent and walked single-file. Those who expressed interest in the event were told to wear black shirts and given large stickers saying, “Never Forget.”

“(It’s important) to acknowledge that this was something horrible that happened in history,” Weinberg freshman Dina Gatoff said.

The walk was organized by Fiedler Hillel and Alpha Epsilon Pi  and included speeches and poems from Rabbi Josh Feigelson, Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein and several students. Klein, the director of the Tannenbaum Chabad House, also read excerpts from the letters of victims and survivors.

At the end of the event, Rabbi Klein recited two Jewish prayers: the Kaddish and part of the Yizkor service. In the Yizkor, all those who perished in the Holocaust are acknowledged, and their souls are blessed. The Kaddish, which commemorates the loss of individuals for families, was recited over six burning white candles.

According to Klein, it is crucial for the whole world to learn about the cruelties of the Holocaust.

“I don’t think most Americans truly understand the scope of what the Holocaust was,” Klein said. “It’s a responsibility for the world to remember, not just the Jewish people.”

If people don’t learn from the Holocaust, he added, society is prone to make the same mistakes again.

Zelikovich also said the Holocaust teaches people of today that they cannot allow such tragedies to occur in any country.

“You’re never going to eradicate evil, but it doesn’t mean you should stop trying,” he said.