Students Pledge to Preserve Survivor Testimony for Future Generations at Memorial Service
At an April 24 memorial service to mark Yom HaShoah, Holocaust survivor Irving Roth stood before hundreds of Yeshiva University students in Lamport Auditorium and recounted a particular Rosh Hashana in Auschwitz.
“Rumor had it there was someone in the camp who had a machzor [holiday prayer book,” he said. “I went searching to find this one barrack with one machzor in it. When I found it, there was a group of Jews sitting and davening all around one small machzor. I sat down and davened [prayed]. Despite the terrible situation we were in, we all found a way to daven.”
The strength of Jewish identity through adversity and societal changes set the tone for the evening, which focused on the need for students to act as bridges between the testimony of survivors like Roth and future generations, who may not have access to firsthand accounts. Smadar Rosensweig, clinical assistant professor of Judaic studies at Stern College for Women, spoke about the legacy of her mother, Yaffa Eliach a”h, who had done just that; a survivor herself, Eliach recognized this need and made a fundamental impact in the field of Holocaust education and preservation.
In an audio presentation, students offered their own reflections on stories from the Holocaust, sharing how they internalized these memories and used them to make a difference. The event was organized by YU’s Student Holocaust Education Movement.
“These are our stories now,” said Avital Golubtchik, one of the event’s organizers, at the end of the evening. “There will come a time when we no longer have the opportunity to hear from survivors. We play a role in sustaining the memory of those who perished and those who survived.”