The world honors Holocaust victims today. “Never forget,” UNF student says

Carter Mudgett, Editor in Chief

“A burnt sacrifice offered whole to God.” 

Translated from its Greek origin, that’s the definition of “Holocaust.” From when it began in 1941 until it ended in 1945, approximately six million European Jews were systematically killed by the Nazi regime during the Holocaust – the exact number is unknown. 

Jan. 27 was designated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day by the United Nations in 2005 to honor the victims of the Holocaust and educate the world to help prevent future genocides. It’s the day that marks the liberation of Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 1945. 

The UN urges every member state (and citizen) to participate on this annual day of commemoration, which is exactly what University of North Florida senior and Jewish Ospreys President Samantha Rosenbloom is doing. 

When still in high school, Rosenbloom said she connected more deeply with her religion and her history. Pairing that with her love for photography, she had an idea. 

On a white sheet of paper, she wrote the words “We Remember” with the Star of David, held it up to cover her face, took a photo and posted it to social media.

The photo Rosenbloom took of herself this year and posted on Instagram, asking others to submit similar photos to show their solidarity with the Jewish community. (Photo courtesy of Sam Rosenbloom)

Her face isn’t what’s important, she explained; the focus should be on the message: never forget the Holocaust. Today, Rosenbloom is a UNF sports management major and photography minor who’s set to graduate this fall, but that doesn’t mean her project has ended. 

“Every year I ask for people to show their support by sending in photos on their own that I then turn into a collage,” she said. “I have always felt that my project is a powerful way to bring attention to the Holocaust and to remember the victims.”

A collage that Rosenbloom created in 2022 from submitted photos with variations of one recurring message: “We remember.” (Photo courtesy of Sam Rosenbloom)

The photo project isn’t limited to just the Jewish community. She encourages everyone to participate.

Fighting hate

ADL, an organization dedicated to fighting all forms of antisemitism and bias, found that antisemitic attitudes in the U.S. are “widespread and likely increasing” in a survey titled Antisemitic Attitudes in America, which was published at the start of 2023. 

The report found that 85% of Americans believe at least one anti-Jewish trope, compared to 61% in 2019. Similarly, 20% of Americans believe six or more anti-Jewish tropes, compared to 11% in 2019. 

Jacksonville has been the site of multiple antisemitic displays over the past few months. In September of last year, Spinnaker reported that a Jewish UNF student found a Swastika drawing on their dorm room door, according to a University Police Department report. 

Seemingly spurred by tweets and comments from Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, the message “Kanye was right about the Jews” was projected on the TIAA Bank Field in October 2022, News4Jax reported. Similar antisemitic displays that read “End Jewish Supremacy in America” and “Honk if you know it’s the Jews” were written on banners hung from an overpass on the Westside and captured on social media. 

Earlier this month, a swastika and cross were allegedly projected on the side of the CSX building, Action News Jax reported

Though there is much hate making its way to headlines in both local and national media, that doesn’t mean those fighting to educate people about the Holocaust have backed down. Last Tuesday,  the Chabad Center at UNF partnered with the Interfaith Center to bring the “Hate Ends Now Tour” on campus. 

The Hate Ends Now tour brought a replica cattle car and a message of standing against hate to the University of North Florida last Tuesday. (Mallory Pace)

“Unfortunately, we’ve been talking about antisemitism a lot lately. And that’s never a great conversation to have, but yet it’s a conversation that has to be had,” Rabbi Shmuli Novack told Spinnaker ahead of the event. “What’s more disturbing is we’re living in an era where people are denying the Holocaust while we have survivors still alive to tell their stories.”

They also hosted Hedy Bohm, an Auschwitz survivor, who spoke later that night and encouraged people to stand up against bullies and intolerance when they see it. 

“Antisemitism is still a very real problem and if we chose to forget about the Holocaust or pretend that it didn’t happen, it will happen again,” Rosenbloom warned. 

How to commemorate the day

The UN Holocaust memorial ceremony will be held today under the theme “Home and Belonging.” Though an in-person memorial, watch the broadcast here.

Holocaust survivor Israel Tanner, left, talks to Israel’s ambassador to Romania David Saranga, right, during a ceremony commemorating the victims of the Holocaust on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Holocaust memorial in Bucharest, Romania, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is streaming an episode of their award-winning “Stay Connected Live” virtual series featuring Irene Weiss, a survivor of Auschwitz who volunteers at the museum. The stream will happen at 9:30 a.m. on Friday. Watch it live here

“International Holocaust Remembrance Day brings much-needed attention to those who were murdered, those who survived, and the hate that allowed it to happen in the first place,” Rosenbloom emphasized. 

To learn more about the Holocaust, visit here


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