The University of Connecticut Hillel is hosting a remembrance event on Tuesday, April 18, on Holocaust Remembrance Day. The event, which takes place from 4:15 to 7 p.m. at the Dodd Center’s Konover Auditorium, will feature the testimony of Holocaust survivor Nina Jacobs as well as a Q&A session with panelists speaking on behalf of various organizations across the country.
The event, “Remembering the Shoah,” will open with a candle lighting ceremony to honor the 6 million Jewish people who lost their lives in the Holocaust. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong will then make special remarks.
Refreshments will be served, with catering by UConn’s Kosher dining, according to UConn Hillel Vice President of Marketing Yana Tartakovskiy, a fourth-semester healthcare management major with a minor in political science.
Tartakovskiy says she came up with the idea for such an event a while ago and had originally planned to host it with the UConn Human Rights Symposium, but ended up pitching the idea to UConn Hillel when she found out the symposium would not happen this year.
“I was originally going to do [the event] with the Human Rights Symposium [but] they decided this year that they weren’t going to do a symposium,” Tartakovskiy said in an interview. “I had already created this idea of bringing a holocaust survivor to campus, so when they said they weren’t going to do the symposium I brought that idea to UConn Hillel as a student executive board member. Our staff were really supportive of it and said they would help me in any way.”
Tartakovskiy says she found Jacobs through a local database and decided that the story of her experience surviving the Holocaust would be beneficial for the UConn community to hear firsthand.
“Connecticut has a local database for all the Holocaust survivors who have lived here, so I was able to get into contact with them and they were the ones that recommended I reach out to [Jacobs],” Tartakovskiy said. “She is from Poland so she is going to tell students what it was like to be in a concentration camp, which can be a very serious topic. I think it’s important for students to hear that firsthand before we delve into Holocaust education or how that affects antisemitism.”
For the panel portion of the event, Tartakovskiy said it will involve questions about what Holocaust education looks like on campus and how it affects antisemitic incidents on campus, as well as what that antisemitism looks like.
“I wanted to do a combined event with a Holocaust survivor who can share their testimony and then also have panelists in scholarly academia talk about antisemitism and Holocaust education on a college campus,” Tartakovskiy said.
In terms of deciding on who to invite to the event as panelists, Tartakovskiy says she conducted research to find representatives for different organizations across the country that are most involved in Holocaust education. She also emphasized it is important that these discussions reach non-Jewish audiences as well.
“I was hoping to get a group of people who can speak to Jewish students, but also to non-Jewish students because I think that I’ve seen a lot of antisemitic comments on social media, not necessarily from people who go [to UConn], but people [do] read it,” Tartakovskiy added.
The panel will be moderated by Jake Joseph of the Connecticut Anti-Defamation League, and the four panelists are Lacey Schauwecker of the USC Shoah Foundation, Rachel Sasiene of Hillel International, Julia Jassey of Jewish on Campus and Michael Bloom of the Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut.
The event is open to everyone, and those interested in attending can RSVP with this google form. Questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-429-9007.