Upper School Honors International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Students, faculty and community leaders commit to fight hatred and oppression.
Marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, the Crossroads Jewish Faith and Culture Club organized an Upper School assembly on Monday, Jan. 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Students, faculty and a panel of speakers gathered to reflect on anti-Semitism, its history and persistence today, and to reject all forms of hate.
In his opening remarks, guest speaker Rabbi Matt Shapiro of Temple Beth Am recalled a biblical passage to remind students of their “twofold charge”: “Our first obligation is to not forget, to remember the victims and their stories. And our second obligation is to erase whenever and wherever we see systemic hatred and othering of any people, Jews and non-Jews alike.”
As a tribute to the victims of anti-Semitism throughout history, students in the audience then read a collection of anonymous narratives about religious persecution. They included a story of being on the receiving end of derisive joke; a report of the violent 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia; and a first-hand account of arriving in Auschwitz.
After these readings, senior Liv Reinis, the founding president of the Jewish Faith and Culture Club, introduced the guest speakers, each of whom is working to erase systemic hatred: Samara Hutman, director of Righteous Conversations Project; Pastor Eddie Anderson of McCarty Memorial Christian Church; David Bocarsly, director of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus; Annie Ortega-Long, education director of the Anti-Defamation League; and Rabbi Shapiro. They discussed the ways American Jews and African Americans have historically worked together to fight oppression and the importance of protecting all vulnerable communities. As Shapiro succinctly concluded, “Each one of us remembers the Holocaust with our actions.”
“It’s time to spread love. There’s no better time than now. The hate is billowing and it’s consuming, and it’s terrifying for almost everybody out there,” Liv explains on why she organized the assembly. “I really wanted to spread the message that that’s just not okay. We are all human beings. We all deserve the same treatment, and we all deserve the same rights.”