Holocaust Remembrance, Israel Remembrance and Independence Days
The current conflict in the Middle East and preparing for Passover may be our top priorities right now but Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and Yom HaZikaron/Yom Ha'Atzmaut (Israel Remembrance Day and Independence Day) are just around the corner. These occasions provide a tremendous opportunity to educate the campus community, and to engage large segments of the Jewish community.
Often simply known as Yom HaShoah, Yom Hazikaron L'Shoah U'Legvurah, or Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day, takes place on the 27th of Nisan. "Shoah," Hebrew for destruction, is another name for the Holocaust. This day commemorates the Six Million Jews who died during the Holocaust. At the same time, it marks the anniversary of the heroic Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943. Jews around the world hold memorials and vigils, often lighting six candles in honor of the Six Million Holocaust victims. Many hold name-reading ceremonies to memorialize those who perished.
SHOAH (Students Helping to Organize Awareness of the Holocaust)
SHOAH, Northwestern University's Holocaust awareness group, was created to increase awareness of the Holocaust and other related human rights issues on the Northwestern Campus and in the Evanston community. SHOAH accomplishes its goals by sponsoring and planning events, including speakers and ceremonies for Kristallnacht and Yom HaShoah.Yom Hashoah Remembrance
This past fall SHOAH created an art exhibit featuring concentration camp photographs and artwork by students and Philip Drell, the only Jewish member of the U.S. army's Elite Media Corps during WWII. In addition to providing photographs and artwork, students also contributed journal entries and descriptions of each of their photos. Mr. Drell and the student contributors presented their photographs and discussed their experiences with over 150 attendees. Based on the success of Northwestern's group, SHOAH groups have begun on several other campuses.
Last year, Cornell University students planned a three-part Yom Hashoah program, starting with speakers and ending with a reading of names. The middle section, the candlelight vigil, can be easily replicated on any campus. The vigil began with an introduction from one student, and then nine more students spoke about a personal connection their family had to the Holocaust. Each of the nine students' names was connected to the family members who perished in the Shoah. Three of the nine also had special themes. One was for the next generation who will not be able to hear the words of survivors, one for non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and one for Righteous Gentiles. The evening ended with the reading of a poem, the singing of two songs, and HaTikvah.Learn more about Yom HaShoah >>Learn more about the Hillel Darmstaedter Holocaust Education Program >>[Back to the top]
Beginning at sundown on the 4th of Iyar, on this Memorial Day, we commemorate the soldiers who have fallen fighting for Israel's independence and defending her security. In Israel, a morning siren sounds and the country observes two minutes of silence; people stand in honor of those who died. This holiday's placement the day before Israel Independence Day (the 5th of Iyar) is intentional: The soldiers who give their lives were directly responsible for the existence of Israel as an independent state. In this way, a day of solemn commemoration can be followed by joyous celebration and song.
Yom Hazikaron Ceremony from the World Union of Jewish Students
It is customary in many communities and in Israel to commemorate Yom HaZikaron with a ceremony. WUJS offers a sample ceremony which you can adapt to suit your campus. This can either be used for Yom HaZikaron exclusively, or it can be used for both Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut - in which case we recommend that you run this program at sunset, as Yom HaZikaron becomes Yom Ha'atzmaut.Soldiers - Missing in Action
The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs also offers readings and prayers.
Six Israeli soldiers are officially listed as "soldiers missing but presumed to be alive." Three of the soldiers -- Zachary Baumel (an American citizen), Tzvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz -- were captured in 1982. The fourth -- Ron Arad -- was captured in 1986. Over the years there has been a steady flow of information indicating that at least some of these MIAs may be alive and are being held under Syrian and Iranian control. Despite the diplomatic and military efforts of over seven successive Israeli governments, almost no progress has been made in determining the fate of the missing men. Contributors to the State
Recently, two more names were added to the list of the missing. On August 17, 1997, Guy Hever went missing from his army base in the Golan. On October 15, 2000, Hizbullah announced that another Israeli citizen, 54 year old Elchanan Tannenbaum (Col. res.), had also been taken captive. To learn more, or for more information on how you can support Israel's missing soldiers, please visit The International Coalition for Missing Israeli Soldiers.
Consider raising awareness of this issue through distributing the petition on this site.
Create a display of important figures who have contributed to, or given of themselves to, the State of Israel. Share writings from these figures, who can range from the earliest Zionist thinkers to modern-day victims of terror, and perhaps set up a contest among students to determine who is the most important figure in Israeli history. Or facilitate a discussion among students exploring the price that often must be paid for freedom. Alex Singer
Alex Singer was a student from Cornell who made aliyah (moved to Israel), and was killed in defense of the State of Israel. His is a story that may resonate well with many students. Information about him and his writings, and discussion topics can be found at the Alex Singer Project.Film
Remember the soldiers of the Yom Kippur war from a student perspective by viewing the compelling film, Kippur by filmmaker Amos Gitai. Available for $25 from Barnes and Noble Booksellers.Learn more about Yom Hazikaron >>[Back to the top]
On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion declared Israel's independence. Years of Zionist dreams culminated in this moment - Israel announcing to the world that the Jewish people would once again have a state of their own.
"Accordingly we, members of the people's council, representatives of the Jewish community of Eretz-Israel and of the Zionist movement, are here assembled on the day of the termination of the British Mandate over Eretz-Israel and, by virtue of our natural and historic right and on the strength of the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish State in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel."
~ David Ben-Gurion, May 14, 1948
Visit the World Zionist Organization for the full text.
With those words, the Jewish state was born, and immediately the new nation was fighting for its life. Just a few years earlier, Jewish people were fighting not just for their own lives, but to prevent Hitler's idea of exterminating the Jewish people completely. Israel has been on the forefront of our minds for most of the last two years.
Israeli Independence Day is celebrated on the 5th of Iyar. The establishment of the modern State of Israel is marked with festivities, fireworks, fun, and falafel. Whether or not they have visited Israel, Jewish students can express their joy that the State of Israel exists as a haven for Jewish people around the world, and they can connect through Israel to their extended Jewish family.
During these difficult times, Israel is in the headlines with great frequency and strong emphasis on, what can be controversial politics. Many Jewish students are, in fact, becoming 'disengaged' with their relationship with Israel or their Jewish community because of feelings of discomfort with what they read in the news, or because they simply do not feel they have enough information to respond. Israel can also be an effective entry point for conversations and education regarding Israel, and introducing Israel as a means of engaging students with their own Jewish journeys. The keys to the following successful programs are in building campus and community partnerships, highlighting non-political aspects of Israeli life and culture, and meeting the students where they are.
With the war in Iraq, and depending on your campus climate and when hostilities end, not all activities listed may be appropriate for your Yom Ha'Atzmaut celebration. You may wish to educate about themes like Israel's quest for peace; the dangers of terror, dictatorship and fundamentalism; Israel as a vibrant multi-cultural/multi-ethnic democracy - and emphasize educational displays, ads/mailings/materials to Jewish students, discussions with advocates, town hall meetings, coalition building/programming with other groups on campus.
- Explore your own vision of Jerusalem through these evocative verses. This conversation weaves together three texts: a Psalm that includes a prayer for the peace of Jerusalem, the Babylonian Talmud, and Midrash Esther Rabba.
Oh Jerusalem: A Conversation (PDF file 108k)
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- Reproduce and share this exploration of the Hatikva, Israel's national anthem.
- Several campuses have held Israel education and cultural festivals in public places on campus. The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill held a cultural festival for Yom Ha'atzmaut in the center of campus during the lunch hours, with flashy and attractive stations including: free falafel, Israeli dancing, get your name written in Hebrew, Historical Information Q&A, Peace Quilt, Notes for the Wall, Turkish Coffee, Religions of Israel, Shalom Sesame, Opportunities to go to Israel and a Reflection station. A camel was brought in to help draw attention to the festivities.
- The University of Southern California planned an Israel week, in which the JCSC Fellow set up a table on campus with posters, giveaways from the Israel consulate, Israeli products (like Steve's packs) bought on consignment and had Israeli music playing from a boom box. Each day, there was a different theme that attracted new students to the table. There was also a different Israel-related activity each evening of the week, to reach as many students as possible "where they are." The week culminated with an "Israel Shabbat." The tables were decorated with Israel facts and flags, and Israeli food was served. The Shabbat program featured an Israeli student discussing his experience serving in the Israeli Army. For more information, please contact Sarah Shpall, Hillel Steinhardt JCSC Fellow. Phone: (213) 747-9135. E-mail: JCSC@uschillel.org.
Incorporate Israeli music into every celebration. Israeli music highlights the desire of Israelis for peace and the diversity within Israel. Create a personal CD and ask every member of your Israel group to recommend their favorite song to add to the mix. Also - highlight how Israel has expressed its aspirations for peace through song. Visit Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs' 50 Years of Hebrew Song for lyrics, translations and music.Food
What is a party without food? Move beyond the typical falafel balls and pita and bring the ethnic flare and diversity of Israel to the palates of every student. Either prepare the food beforehand and provide information or add some real spice to your celebration by conducting an Israeli-style Iron Chef contest. For information on the many cultures that inform Israeli cuisine and some great recipes check out Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs' The Land of Milk and Honey or Daniel Rogov's Israeli Cuisine.Readings
Town Hall Meeting or Panel Discussion
Celebrating the State of Israel is always fun, but consider using Yom Ha'tzmaut to reflect on some of the major ideological issues facing the State of Israel. You can view this as a way to energize your Israel advocates, or to bring the broader Jewish community into the discussion. Some ideas are listed below, or check out Hillel's Israel section for more information.
A Helping Hand
- Why is it important for Israel to remain a Jewish state? What is the role of Israel as a democracy?
- Is the supreme duty of a government to protect the lives of its citizens who are being attacked or is it a higher ideal to protect all civil rights? Who should be required to serve in the army?
- What is Jewish peoplehood? Are Jews part of the same extended family?
- What role does national memory play in statehood? This can also be tied to how a state commemorates its dead (Yom HaZikaron).
- What is the relationship of Jews in the Diaspora to Israel? What should it be? Are American Jews strengthened or weakened by the crisis in Israel? Can Jews in the Diaspora only live proudly in other countries because of the State of Israel?
- What is freedom? What are we willing to sacrifice for it? How does this relate to life in Israel?
This Yom Ha'atzmaut, celebrate Israel by celebrating her children. Through an arts and crafts party, you can begin to create toys, educational materials, and activities for the immigrant communities that do not have the essential resources. Create flashcards with Hebrew letters, or have a school supply drive.A Package From Home
CASE It! Yom Haatzma'ut (PDF file 33k)
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This is a perfect example of one person's ability to effect change. Barbara Silverman, an American who made aliyah several years ago, knew that the soldiers fighting this latest war in Israel (particularly the chayalim bodedim, soldiers with no family in Israel) could use some extra attention. She and many volunteers assemble special gift boxes filled with goodies and a personal note to say "Thank you" for defending this country.Films
Use films to engage students and engender discussion in a relaxed atmosphere. The Hillel at the University of Wisconsin purchased the film, Promises, and hosted a screening for almost 200 students. PROMISES follows the journey of filmmaker B.Z. Goldberg as he travels to Palestinian communities and settlements in the West Bank -places he had never ventured before-and to the familiar neighborhoods of Jerusalem. You can learn more about Promises at www.promisesproject.org. During the showing of the film, the JCSC and other campus professionals posted butcher paper around the room for students to write reactions and comments. Hillel's Center for Israel Affairs has a number of free films available, including On the Front Lines, about a group of secular and religious young adults living in Gilo. Or, you can go to a video store and rent movies like Exodus. Israel Update Board
The Hillel Steinhardt JCSC Fellow and Israel interns in Madison also maintain an Israel Update Board with recent copies of the Jerusalem Report, Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz, and relevant articles. This is an effective passive programming tool that draws attention to Israel and educates students. For more information, please contact Matt Lowe, HSJCSC Fellow (608) 256-8361 or email@example.comClimbing Masada
Targeting students interested in physical activity and the outdoors, the Hillel Steinhardt JCSC Fellow at the University of Albany rented an indoor rock-climbing gym, and created an atmosphere similar to Masada. He distributed information about Masada, and after the students had their 'climb', he shared the historical story behind Masada. For more information, please contact Danny Newman, HSJCSC Fellow: (518) 591 8605 or firstname.lastname@example.orgIsrael at Heart
Israel at Heart, a non-profit independent organization founded by Hillel International Board of Governors member Joey Lowe, brings articulate and compelling Israeli students to college and university campuses across North America. From April 1 - April 13, 2003, sixty Israeli students, broken into teams of three, will travel to college campuses telling their stories and connecting with a variety of audiences, both Jewish and non-Jewish. These Israeli students come from various countries of origin and levels of religious observance, and they speak from their heart about what life is really like in Israel.Some More Ideas
Israel at Heart (PDF file 18k)
[Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader version 4.0 or higher.]
Other Israel Resources
- Hold an Israeli fashion show - educate about the diversity of Israel and raise money for Israel's economy through selling 100% made in Israel products.
- Bring Israel to life on campus by inviting students to experience Israel with all of their five senses. Jaffa oranges and Dead Sea Mud are all part of the fun!
- Create a small Israel journal on your campus, giving students an arena to express their feelings towards Israel and at the same time share their views with other students.
- Reach out to students who are intimidated by the politics surrounding Israel by holding an Israeli style picnic seder.
- Check out other wonderful program ideas that emerged from the Young Zionist Leadership Conference.You too can order Israeli goods on consignment and support Israel. Contact Jeremy Poock at 1-866-739-6400 or email@example.com.
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- Hillel Postcards - Use the Hillel Israel postcards as invitations to your Yom Ha'atzmaut program, or display and distribute them on campus as part of your Yom Ha'atzmaut celebration.
- Incorporate Israel Programs Alumni - Yom Ha'Atzmaut is a perfect time to re-engage the many Jewish students on your campus who have been on Israel programs or birthright israel. Encourage them to spearhead program planning for your campus. Invite these "returnees" to create a display to share their experiences with the campus, involving their words and pictures, and highlighting sites and aspects of Israeli culture.
- Postcards - We have ready-to-go postcards available for use on your campus. They are all in PDF format so you can alter them to fit your personal Israel needs.
- Build Relationships With Other Groups On Campus - Use the celebration of Yom Ha'Atzmaut as an opportunity to build relationships with and educate other campus groups about Israel. Plan programs around common interests - ideas are available on the postcard programming page. Learn more about Yom Haatzma'ut >>
FundingThe Hillel AJPA Darmstaedter Journalism Track at the Charlotte B. and Jack J. Spitzer B'nai Brith Hillel Forum on Public Policy enables college students interested in the fields of journalism and communications to explore the lessons of the Holocaust, to meet with renowned journalists and to explore the ethical issues of journalism and Jewish identity.
The Hillel AJPA Darmstaedter Award for college journalism honors a student whose reporting effectively creates an awareness of the Holocaust on campus.
Hillel will strengthen its cooperative efforts with the Anti-Defamation League to combat Holocaust denial on college campuses.
Hillel Darmstaedter Holocaust Education Program GrantsThe Hillel Darmstaedter Holocaust Education Program Grants provide funding for innovative programming that contributes to a greater awareness of the Holocaust on campus and among campus opinion leaders. Grant allocations are decided based on the quality of the projects, while taking into consideration the specific factors that exist on each campus. Since Hillel encourages projects that reach the largest number of students on campus, priority will be given to programs that include a well-developed marketing and public relations plan. Hillel welcomes proposals that include a diversity of participants, including non-Jewish students, faculty members and administrators. Programs need not be elaborate to be effective. Grants will be awarded up to $600.
In addition to the campus grants, the Darmstaedter program includes:A continually updated Web page listing Holocaust resources appropriate for the college campus at www.hillel.org.