In a moving assembly, the Upper School affinity group honored International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
As Upper Schoolers found their seats at the assembly on Thursday, Feb. 3, the music of Irving Berlin played from the loudspeakers. In her opening remarks, Associate Dean of College Counseling and adviser to the Jewish Student Union Brianna Shepard noted that Berlin was just one of many renowned Jewish composers and musicians. Although the Upper School gathering marked a somber occasion, paying tribute to victims of the Holocaust and contemporary acts of hate, it also celebrated all that the Jewish faith and culture mean to so many of our students.
“International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27 inspired us,” said junior and JSU co-leader Eli Horwitch. “We really wanted to have the campus come together and all support each other and lift each other up.”
Eli and JSU co-leader Isabella H. began the assembly with a moment of silence for people persecuted and killed during the Holocaust. Other members of JSU then shared distressing accounts of both historical and current acts of antisemitism, bigotry and genocide around the world and in America—from the 12th-century Crusades and the Holocaust to the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the armed hostage-taking at a Texas synagogue just last month. Interspersed between the contemporary stories, the students played powerful audio clips from the events and the people who experienced them.
“Isabella and I were trying to find a way to recount those people’s stories, and we were finding that we couldn’t tell them as well as they could share their stories themselves,” Eli explained. “We really wanted to give the student body a firsthand account of what happened.”
In addition to recounting these painful moments, JSU highlighted their favorite Jewish artists and musicians, including Lou Reed, Bob Dylan and Drake. The students also shared some of their fondest memories celebrating Jewish traditions with family and friends.
“We are super grateful to be part of a [School] community that has welcomed our Judaism. However, there is still a lot more work to be done outside of Crossroads,” Eli concluded at the end of the assembly. “The Holocaust added to a slew of antisemitism that exists in our greater world today. We hope that when we all leave the Crossroads community we can be upstanding people and support the Jewish community around the world.”