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Remembering the past

CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Judaic studies senior Mickey Jotkowitz paints the words of the traditional Jewish prayer for the deceased, the mourner's Kaddish, in Hebrew during a vigil ceremony for Holocaust victims on the UA Mall Monday. The vigil lasted 24 hours.
By Devin Simmons
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday February 19, 2003

Holocaust conference begins with vigil; other events include movies, seminars and dinners

A 24-hour vigil to honor victims of the Holocaust sparked the beginning of the 11th Annual Conference on the Holocaust, sponsored by the Hillel Foundation.

UA President Peter Likins started the vigil at 1 p.m. Monday on the UA Mall with a speech honoring the victims. Over the next 24 hours, 50 students and many others read the names of 20,000 people killed during the Holocaust, according to Rebecca Rosenburg, a Jewish campus service corps Diamond Family fellow.

"I was really impressed with President Likins' speech," said Daniel Pack, a student leader at the Hillel Foundation and co-chair of the committee for the conference. "It was passionate, and it appeared that he gave it off the top of his head."

Pack was surprised by the student turnout, which included not only members from Hillel, but passers-by from various ethnic and religious groups who identified with the need to remember the tragedy.

One of the most emotional moments of the day's activities, according to Pack, took place during the reading of the names of children who died in the Holocaust.

Pack also enjoyed a painting completed at the vigil by Judaic studies senior Mickey Jotkowitz.

Jotkowitz began the painting at 1 p.m. on Monday and finished it six hours later. The painting illustrated the mourner's Kaddish, a prayer said by the living to remember those who were lost in the Holocaust, being engulfed in flames and smoke taking the form of a Holocaust victim.

"The painting is a representation of how we can never forget," Jotkowitz said. "We cannot allow the memory of what happened to go up in flames."

Other events included a discussion by Assistant Professor of Judaic studies Marc Krell and Father Albert of the Catholic Newman Center about the effect of the Holocaust on both the Jewish and Christian religions.

The vigil also included showings of the movies "Life is Beautiful" and "Swing Kids," both of which illustrate the lives of people involved on both sides of the Holocaust.

More than six million people lost their lives to Adolf Hitler and the German Nazi Party.

"It's important to remember what happened," Rosenburg said. "If we even start to forget, we will make it that more likely that something like this could happen again."

Remembering the Holocaust is not just important because of the huge human price that was paid, but because of the lessons it bestowed upon society, Pack said.

"I think the biggest lesson of the Holocaust was a lesson in tolerance and acceptance," Pack said. "The Holocaust happened because of one group of people who tried to force their beliefs on everyone else. But we have to learn to accept people whatever their religious affiliation or sexual preference is."

Events for the rest of the week include a screening Wednesday of a documentary entitled "Martin," directed by a young Israeli who visited the Dachau Concentration Camp.

On Thursday, members of the Hillel Foundation, the Islamic Center of Tucson and the Newman Center will put together a mural called "Hope Beyond Conflict," and the president of the Phoenix Holocaust Survivor's Association will share his own family's story.

Hillel will conclude the weeklong conference with a service and dinner that will be attended by local survivors of the Holocaust.

For more information on this week's events, contact the Hillel Foundation at 624-6561 or visit their Web site at

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