Students remember victims of Holocaust

Jeff Stone

Yom HaShoah was celebrated in a big way on the Evanston Campus with the help of Students Helping Organize Awareness of the Holocaust.

The day of remembrance at NU featured several events — including a speech by a Holocaust survivor — to remind people on Tuesday to never to forget the murder of 6 million Jews during World War II.

Yom HaShoah, or the Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorates the anniversary of the Jewish uprising in the Warsaw ghetto.

Survivor Lala Fishman shared her story to about 30 students in Annenberg Hall. Born in Russia in 1932, Fishman grew up in Poland during the rise of the Nazis.

“I was determined to stay alive and out-master those beasts who thought they could end my life,” Fishman said. “I was suspicious of everyone and trusted no one. Survival was my only goal.”

Fishman said the sounds and images still are vivid in her mind.

“How can you forget the sound of the crying children and the look of terror as mothers watched gestapo soldiers kill their children?” she said.

Fishman said she avoided getting captured by the Nazis by convincing them that she was a Christian. She did this by taking formal baptismal certificates from a church and memorized the catechism.

By the end of World War II, Fishman and her brother were the only members of her immediate family who had survived. She fled to the United States after the war and set out to write a memoir of her experience during the Holocaust.

“It took me over 50 years to write my book because I didn’t want to talk about it — not even to my children and closest friends,” Fishman said.

At a memorial service following the evening’s event, students recited prayers, lit candles and shared their families’ stories.

“Today should inspire us to look around the world and see where there are other human rights abuses occurring and to get involved,” said Rabbi Michael Mishkin, executive director of Fielder Hillel Center. “But the primary objective is to remember.”

Four students shared stories of their grandparents’ survival and emphasized the importance of passing them on to future generations.

“It is my job that my grandma, her story and the horrors that she lived through are never forgotten,” said Michal Berkson, an Education sophomore. “I will never forget.”

The service enabled Jewish students to embrace their heritage.

“Hearing a story from someone who actually survived was very sobering,” said Darren Lefkowitz, a Weinberg junior.

Throughout the day students took half-hour shifts standing in front of Norris University Center and reading the names of people who died in the Holocaust.

“I’ve studied the Holocaust before,” said Joseph Bubman, SHOAH president and a Weinberg senior. “But when you read the names, it personalizes the Holocaust.”