Hillel and Miller Center raise Holocaust awareness

This week, the University of Miami Hillel and the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies is hosting a series of on-campus events commemorating the ninth-annual Holocaust Education Week presented by the Holocaust Memorial of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

Events on campus include a special Holocaust Education Week Shabbat service. The 6:30 p.m. service on Friday will be followed by free dinner. Michael Berenbuam will address frequently asked questions about the Nazi Holocaust and the questions that remain unanswered in 2011.

Senior Amanda Hochberg hopes that student awareness will increase after the event.

“Learning about the Holocaust is one thing, but having a full week dedicated [to it] really allows students like myself to have a better understanding,” Hochberg said. “The stories I hear during this week are really inspiring. I realize that I don’t know as much as I thought I did about the Holocaust.”

On Saturday, a Havdalah service will be held at the Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach featuring Holocaust survivor David Mermelstien. Havdalah is the short but powerful ceremony marking the end of Shabbat. UM Hillel will be meeting at 7 p.m. to carpool to the event.

The week will also highlight UM’s unique Judaic studies internship class, JUS 205/206. The class has been offered for seven years and connects students to Holocaust survivors who live in South Florida.

The class capitalizes on the week by connecting with the survivors. Some students meet with their assigned survivor for the first time at the memorial.

“Holocaust Education Week is a very important time to commemorate what happened in the Holocaust,” said Dr. Eugene Rothman, head coordinator of the Holocaust Survivors Support Internship Program. “It is also an opportunity for the 50 student interns who are working with Holocaust survivors to become the next generation’s voice for their stories to publicly put into action what they have learned from the survivors.”

Jeremy Altman can be contacted at jaltman@themiamihurricane.com.