On Holocaust Remembrance Day, We’re Still Here



February 2, 2024

I was eight years old the first time I went to the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C. Even though it was more than ten years ago, I still remember how I felt exploring the Daniel’s Story exhibit and learning about Jewish children, just like me, who experienced  the Holocaust. It made the Holocaust feel real in a way I’d never understood before, even though I grew up in a Jewish family and community.

As I got older, I became more and more interested in narratives and stories of the Holocaust. To me, those first-person stories felt like a window into history. And now, witnessing the rise of antisemitism, here in a place which has historically felt safe for the Jewish people, has made me feel even more connected to my Jewish community. 

Since October 7, there has been more tension and antisemitism here on campus at the University of Connecticut (UConn) where I am a second-year student. Many students are taking strong stances against Israel and putting up posters with antisemitic messages, and every time I see them, it breaks my heart. It feels like there’s no room for dialogue, and that’s led many Jewish students to feel isolated. 

Recently, I was elected as Vice President of the UConn Hillel Student Board. As Holocaust Remembrance Day approached, we knew we needed to observe the day in a meaningful and sensitive way.  We decided to visit the Holocaust Memorial in Boston, which has a special place in my heart as I grew up visiting it with my family. 

When we arrived in Boston, we met with Mona Wiener, a representative of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, who gave us a tour of the Memorial. Later we headed to Boston University (BU), where we met up with students from BU Hillel for a Zoom meeting with Janet Singer Applefield, a Holocaust survivor who was hidden in plain sight by a nanny and raised by a Christian family who saved her from the Holocaust. 

While our trip showed us some of the absolute worst of antisemitism, my hope was that my fellow students would also see the amazing power of Jewish resilience. To me, the connection between the Holocaust and October 7 was undeniable. Throughout the trip, I couldn’t stop thinking about an interview I saw with a Holocaust survivor, who heard a story from October 7 of a woman who hid her daughter under a table, praying she’d stay silent, and told her interviewer, “That’s exactly what happened to me.”

We tell these stories so we remember what happens when antisemitism goes unchecked, but also so we remember that all Jewish people, past and future, in diaspora and in Israel, are connected. We remember, and together, we’re still here.