Holocaust Remembrance Day observed at JCU: Jewish Foundation of Cleveland and Kol Israel honor victims at commemoration

April 30th, 2014



John Carroll University hosted a series of events for Holocaust Remembrance Day, which began the day before on Monday, April 28.


On April 27, the Jewish Foundation of Cleveland and Kol Israel invited the JCU community to a Yom Hashoah Commemoration.


The first event on Holocaust Remembrance Day on Monday was the film screening of “The Path to Nazi Genocide.” After the credits rolled, a discussion about the content shown in the film and audience reactions proceeded.


After the film, a panel discussion entitled, “Educating the Next Generation” commenced. Sophomore Daniel DeMello and senior Brittany Thompson, along with Holocaust survivor Erika Gold, discussed how teaching the current and future generations about the Holocaust is of great importance. Since this was a panel discussion, Sean Martin, lecturer in the department of theology and religious studies, acted as moderator.


The concluding event of the day was a memorial ceremony led by Hillel at JCU. The ceremony was put together by co-presidents DeMello and Nicolle Simonovic with former president, senior David Markovich.


Upon walking into the Donahue Auditorium in the Dolan Center for Science and Technology where the ceremony was held, attendees were greeted with a packet containing a memorial prayer for the Holocaust victims, Psalm 23, Mourner’s Kaddish and online resources about the Holocaust.


The ceremony began with Simonovic describing how her grandmother survived the Holocaust while her family was murdered by the Nazis. As a tribute, she lit a candle in her family’s honor. The speaker’s grandmothers, Ida Wolvovitch and Bertha Shimonovich, were present at the ceremony.  Each grandmother lit a candle.


After the ceremony, Simonovic described her grandmothers’ presence as heartwarming. “They’re my biggest inspirations in life,” said Simonovic. “To have them with me as I told their story to encourage people to never forget meant so much to me.”


Gold, DeMello’s grandmother and Holocaust survivor, lit a candle along with Elizabeth Efraim and DeMello in honor of Avraham Levin.


Six candles were lit in honor of the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust. After the last candle was lit, all stood for a moment of silence to pray for the victims. Then, the audience said aloud the three prayers written in the given packet.


Campus minister Gail Roussey said, “It was a wonderful learning experience to hear the stories of the survivors and the survivors’ families.”


Event coordinators of Hillel, Efraim and DeMello, read diaries of those that experienced the horror of the Holocaust on behalf of the people who were not able to be here to teach about their experiences.


“Remembering the Holocaust is not something you can go a day without thinking about with all the tragedies in the world still occurring,” said Efraim. “You want to be optimistic because of the survivors while remembering the victims.”


DeMello explained the inspiration for the events. “My president predecessor David Markovich had the Holocaust Remembrance Day last year and we wanted to carry on this day continue to educate the JCU community. And, we plan to continue to honor the victims by continuing to teach their tale.”