A siren sounded at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning in Israel, as it has for over 50 years on the 27th day of the month of Nissan of the Jewish calendar.
Tuesday marked the Jewish holiday designated for Holocaust remembrance, Yom Hashoah. UCSB Hillel commemorated the tragedies of the Holocaust this week, April 8 through April 12, through its annual Holocaust Remembrance Week.
Hillel hosted events throughout the week, including a 24-hour name reading of Holocaust victims, a candlelight vigil and a presentation by a Holocaust survivor.
“There are a large number of people who do not know much about the Holocaust,” said Rachel Wohlander, one of the Remembrance Week planners. “We always say ‘never again,’ but things are still happening. Education is definitely the most important part of this week.”
Wohlander said 90 people participated in the reading of thousands of victims’ names that began Monday afternoon and lasted until Tuesday afternoon.
On Monday night, a candlelight vigil leading participants from the Hillel building to Storke Plaza presented people with an opportunity to think about what happened during the Holocaust.
Local Holocaust survivor Judy Meisel spoke Wednesday night in the MultiCultural Center. The event featured an hour-long documentary which was filmed by two University of Southern California students in 1996, focusing on Meisel’s story called “Tak for Alt: Survival of a Human Spirit.” The documentary has won awards from organizations such as the National Educational Media Network, the Judah Magnes Museum Jewish Video Competition and the Vermont International Film Festival.
Meisel and her sister survived the Holocaust by fleeing a Polish concentration camp and disguising their identities as Catholic. After the war, Meisel took refuge in Denmark, a country known for its benevolence toward Jews during the war. She said her memories of her life during peacetime were important in her keeping faith during the time.
“I remembered flowers, baking hallah and hearing my mother’s voice. This used to put me in a trance that made me forget everything that was happening,” Meisel said in the documentary. “I never knew what the next thing would be. My survival was based on mazel, or luck.”
Meisel currently works as a community activist and teacher in Santa Barbara. She founded the Beit ha’Yeladim Preschool in Santa Barbara.
“There are not very many Holocaust survivors as eloquent as Judy,” Rabbi Steven Cohen said. “Judy is concerned with issues on campus and helped raise funds for the current Hillel building. Everyone knows Judy.”