'Six Hours for the Six Million' aims to never forget lives lost in the Holocaust
Image courtesy of Adam Flash//Hofstra Chronicle: Samantha Meltzer reads off names of Holocaust victims outside of Axxin Library.
Hofstra Hillel held their annual Six Hours for the Six Million event on Wednesday, May 1, outside of Hammer computer lab. Every year students and faculty gather for six hours to read the names of Jews who perished in the Holocaust, commemorating Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“I really feel like the main takeaway [of today] is visibility ... understanding that a group of people pushed past literally all odds and they’re still standing here,” said Sarah Lippman, Hofstra Hillel director of programming.
Prior to the event, students registered for time slots between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to read names of children – individuals 18 and younger – who perished in the Holocaust. The names of relatives of Hofstra community members who died were also read.
“I think it’s important [to do this] because so many of these people’s families were completely wiped out and there’s no one really to remember them,” said Samantha Meltzer, Hofstra Hillel Student Board treasurer. “As long as you keep the memory alive they didn’t die in vain.”
While Hofstra Hillel only began holding the event in recent years, the tradition dates back all the way to the end of the Holocaust.
In addition to remembering the lives of those lost, the event aims to educate people about the Holocaust and bring attention to the issue of anti-Semitism.
“If you look at a lot of statistics people don’t know anything about what happened. A lot of people don’t even know what Auschwitz was, and so I think that you have to do things like [Six Hours for the Six Million] in order to make sure that people don’t forget,” Lippman said.
One unique aspect to this year’s Yom HaShoah commemoration is the recently-launched Instagram account @eva.stories. The account is based on a true story, documenting a 13-year-old girl’s experience living through the Holocaust as if Instagram existed back then. It’s one way in which modern technology is being used to ensure this history is never forgotten.
“Anti-Semitism has always been a thing, it’s just whether or not people believed it before. I think that with this huge development of media and the advantage to pass information along so quickly people are finally seeing just what’s been going on this whole time,” Lippman said of both the Holocaust and modern acts of anti-Semitism. “The purpose of [doing Six Hours for the Six Million] feels so much more tangible than it has in the past.”
Six Hours for the Six Million also aims to bring attention to a larger issue of hate around the world, not just anti-Semitism.
“I hope people take away that people’s lives are important and that we shouldn’t hate someone simply because of their religion, their race, their gender,” Meltzer said.
“This is so much larger than the Jews. It’s so much larger than Judaism. This is something that has affected so many different groups of people and I think [Six Hours for the Six Million] acknowledges that and what they’ve been through as well,” Lippman said.