Rowan University’s Virtual International Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremonial Event

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Rowan University held a virtual event on Jan. 27 in remembrance of the Holocaust events and those who lost their lives. All who were in virtual attendance were able to hold prayers, as well as have the opportunity to share their touching stories. 

Alexander Rossen, the president of the Rowan Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Student Association, lead and organized Wednesday’s event.

“Seeing our community come together like this was something truly special. After three years of helping organize this annual memorial event, and two years of leading it, I never imagined there’d be more than 50 attendees, let alone the 90-plus people that came this year,” Rossen said.

Rossen expressed his gratitude for the overwhelming amount of support and respect that followed the event’s remarkable turnout, describing the experience and accomplishments of this year’s event to be a true blessing, made possible by the efforts and dedication of RCHGHR’s co-sponsors. 

“These prayers represent ideals that are very close to my heart, and very important to the center and everything we do. I believe that Rabbi Mirvis, Archbishop Welby and Chief Imam Asim said it best when they prayed that we see ‘everyone as equally precious manifestations of the Divine,’” Rossen said. “I was most touched by the stories people brought with them to this event. To me, these stories are the most important part of Holocaust memory. Stories remind us of the humanity and individuality of those we lost who would otherwise just be names on a page.”

Jody Manning, RCHGHR program director and modern European history professor, noted the gravity of the annual event in continuing to honor Holocaust victims.

“I strongly feel that this as an important day to remember all of those affected by Nazi persecution, especially Jewish victims, as well as individuals and collectives facing violence, terror and xenophobia,” Manning said. “It remains imperative for each generation to commemorate and remember this extremely important past and how it continually has—and holds—ramifications for contemporary society.” 

Junior Alexandra Herschman, the Rowan Hillel vice president, was especially moved by everyone’s thoughtful prayers during the event.

“I think that it’s really great that we still went through with holding a Holocaust Remembrance Day event virtually. Remembering this day is extremely important, and I am so grateful for the event’s amazing turnout and for everyone’s touching contributions,” Herschman said. “I was honored to read the Holocaust Memorial Day prayer to remember those who lost their lives during the Holocaust. When each student spoke on a story, it impacted me very deeply, and was truly so devastating.” 

Although Herschman feels that the accounts of first-hand experiences were devastating, she also feels a great sense of hope that the following generation will continue to learn and remember as we move forward. 

“Hearing these testimonials of first-hand experiences made it all hit even harder,” she said. “Sharing these testimonies, though, did help me feel assured that the importance of the Holocaust will never be forgotten, no matter how many years have passed. And it gave me hope that the memories will continue to be passed on to future generations.”

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