UM Hillel hosts annual ‘6 Hours for 6 Million’ in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day

President Julio Frenk reads the names of Holocaust victims at an event hosted by UM Hillel on March 26, 2024. Photo credit: Emily Rice

Holocaust Remembrance Day is a sentimental time for Jews all around the world, as the day honors all six million Jews that perished in the Holocaust during WWII under Adolf Hitler´s regime.

University of Miami´s Hillel, a Jewish college-based organization, coordinates an event called “6 Hours for the 6 Million” annually from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m, taking place on March 26 this year.

Jewish faculty and students are encouraged to read child victims’ names out loud during the event, indirectly educating students about the tragic time period, according to UM Hillel´s rabbi, Jason Cook.

“We see horrible things happening in the world, and when we have an opportunity to memorialize those that have died, it says something about the Jewish community and about the world at large,” Cook said.

UM Hillel’s president, Betty Srour, notes that despite the long duration of the event, the day still does not account for all of the victims who died during the Holocaust.

“If we held a moment of silence for every victim of the Holocaust, we will be silent for 11 years,” said Srour. “These are just children and in six hours we can’t even read the entire book.”

Throughout the event, UM’s students, faculty and president, Julio Frenk, read a total of 5,520 names, which is equivalent to 0.36% of all 1.5 million children that perished.

According to Cook, as more and more Holocaust survivors pass on during the years, attending events such as this allows local Jewish communities to “share who we are so that the legacy stays on.”

Despite the rise of anti-Semitism across college campuses due to the events that occurred on Oct. 7, 2023, UM Hillel and fellow Jewish organizations on campus continue to persevere by reciting the names of the victims of the worst massacre in history as a sign of resilience.

Srour highlights the privilege she has of going to such a campus where organizing peaceful events such as this one is allowed without opposition.

“It means a lot, especially when antisemitism is rising, to know we have allies that do show up for us,” she said.

Students showed their support during the event by stopping in complete silence and listening to the names being read.

“People seem to look by and realize what’s going on, and they stop talking and just walk by silently,” said UM Hillel Vice President Corey Silbergleid. “It is one of the only times throughout the year that I´ve seen the Rock Plaza be completely silent.”

At other universities, Srour notes, anti-semitic protests continue to increase, causing Jewish students to be more limited in their ability to organize events.

“So many of my friends can’t put on a demonstration like this without students counter-protesting, which is really sad to say because we are just sitting here and remembering the victims of the Holocaust and there would be counter protests at other universities,” Srour said.

Ultimately, UM Hillel´s executive board and organizers felt the event was a success, with members like Silberglied citing that it demonstrates the resilience of the Jewish people and the importance of “taking every day as a blessing and remembering those that did not have the life that we have.”