On Jan. 26, UCCS commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a panel discussion featuring Jewish faculty and members of the Colorado Springs community.
Robert Sackett, a history professor, gave a lecture before the panel discussion began. He shared anecdotes from stories of the Holocaust, and stressed the importance of preserving and valuing the personal testimonies of Holocaust survivors.
“I suggest that from these testimonies, we can make a mental note of something very important — that these people, humans, members of the same species as you and I, lived through something, a trauma of such extent that you and I can probably only start to imagine it. But afterwards, they found themselves some extraordinary expressive capacity to tell, to communicate,” Sackett said.
After the lecture, the event transitioned into the panel discussion, which featured — alongside Sackett — David Weiss, a chemistry professor at UCCS, Lynn Vidler, dean of LAS at UCCS and Kobi Chumash, head of Hillel at Colorado College and a Hebrew instructor.
Each member of the panel took a turn sharing personal stories about their relationship with the Holocaust, citing specific stories on how it impacted them and their families’ lives.
Vidler discussed how the Holocaust caused generational trauma that has had a profound impact on their life. “This is still alive and happening,” Vidler said. “I personally experience the impacts of this legacy.”
Weiss talked next about how her grandmother was impacted by the Holocaust. “When my grandmother was pregnant, they started breaking the windows out of their house and throwing rocks in there,” Weiss said. “They didn’t want Jews around.”
Chumash talked about how the Holocaust influenced his childhood. “As a child growing [up] in Israel, back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, you live in a very free Jewish community, but in the background, the Holocaust exists all the time,” Chumash said.
Attendees began to share their own stories and ask questions after the panelists finished speaking. The panel became a safe and open place for people with different but similar experiences to open their hearts to a welcoming community.
“We need both, right? We need the historical account and we also need the human emotion,” Vidler said.
Mickayla Oswald, president of Campus Chai Life and the organizer of this event, thought that this event needed to happen to generate discussions about antisemitism in the community.
“It was really important to me to have this event and continue talking about what happened over 70 years ago because antisemitism still exists and always has,” Oswald said.
Students who witness or experience antisemitism on campus can find hate and bias resources through MOSAIC, or report the incident through the UCCS Office of Institutional Equity.