Jeremy Sharpe never directly experienced the pain and suffering seen in the Holocaust under Nazi rule. But his experiences as a Jew illuminate the need to never forget the atrocities that scarred his people long before his time.
The sophomore business major recalls his experience as a freshman in Summit Hall last year, when his mezuzah, a symbol of Jewish faith, was twice removed from the door to his dorm room in the span of his first semester at CSU.
This week in the Lory Student Center sunken lounge, students can hear a name and speculate the likes, dislikes and hardships experienced during the lifetime of a Jew that perished in the Holocaust. The Litany of Martyrs, presented by Hillel and Students for Holocaust Awareness, refers to a daily, four-hour continual reading of the names of Holocaust casualties.
Sharpe, who volunteered to read names this week, said the litany of names serves to remind students of the individual lives and personalities represented in the names.
“They were people, and they were names, and they were family members and friends,” Sharpe said. “Brothers, sisters, fathers, uncles, nieces, all the sorts.”
Universities across the nation hold similar readings for Holocaust awareness. Josh Samet, the director of Hillel at CSU, said his alma matter, the University of Arizona, holds a 24-hour format from noon to noon.
At CSU, the name reading occurred between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day of Holocaust Awareness Week and ends today. Anyone may volunteer to read for 15-minute intervals, and an online sign-up form can be found at www.csu.hillelcolorado.org.
Noah Singer, a junior environmental health major, has been involved in the name reading on campus for the last two years. This year, he signed up to volunteer to read for at least four shifts throughout the week.
He said reading the names allowed him to better picture the families and relationships held by the deceased.
“Everything that we have going on in our lives, they had going on in their lives,” Singer said. “It was no different; they had problems with their families, issues with their school, hopes and dreams and careers, things like that.”
While discussing his viewpoints, Singer heard the volunteer at the podium read through names containing his own last name.
“I’m kind of wondering, were these my great grandparents? My great grandparents’ cousins?” Singer said.
Singer and Sharpe said the promotion of Holocaust awareness helps warn of the dangers of biases and discrimination that exist in the present day.
As the vice president of Chabad, a Jewish student organization, Sharpe said that he has known other students who have been harassed or discriminated against for practicing Jewish beliefs and customs.
“We’ve had students come up to us and say they’re ashamed to be Jewish,” Sharpe said. “It’s important to remember that there’s still Holocausts going on in the world, and important to think about that.”
Staff writer Shayna Grajo can be reached at email@example.com.