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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Activities & Organizations

UH Jewish organization reflects on anniversary of Auschwitz liberation


The Houston Hillel hosts many events for Jewish students on campus and provides a space in the A.D. Bruce Religion Center for students to gather, study and get involved with the Jewish community. | Courtesy of Houston Hillel

The Houston Hillel hosts many events for Jewish students on campus and provides a space in the A.D. Bruce Religion Center for students to gather, study and get involved with the Jewish community. | Courtesy of Houston Hillel

To some people, Jan. 27 may seem like any other day, but to the Jewish community, it’s a day of remembrance for the 1.1 million lives lost during the Holocaust in Auschwitz before the camp’s liberation in 1945.

Major news organizations across the country reported on the 75th anniversary of the Auschwitz liberation — something Rabbi and executive director of the Houston Hillel Kenny Weiss thinks is important in today’s society. 

“I think that I, and many other people, felt very encouraged by the observances that happened this year by the media coverage nationally and locally in Houston,” Weiss said. “Especially in the light of the increase in anti-Semitic acts during the past few years and increased acceptance in our society of white supremacy.”

According to the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Reporting program, almost 60 percent of religious bias crimes targeted Jews the highest of any targeted religious group.

Rising crime rates haven’t stopped UH or the Houston area Hillel’s Jewish organization from commemorating an important date in their history. 

Jews were the most frequent target of hate crimes toward people in America’s largest cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

“Our campus ministry Hillel works with students throughout all of Houston,” Rabbi Weiss said. “We did have something (for the anniversary) that went on in conjunction with Rice University and with the Holocaust Museum in Houston that was open both to UH students and college students around the city.”

The event was a panel discussion hosted by the Holocaust Museum Houston on International Remembrance Day which brought together prominent diplomats, politicians and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

The Houston Hillel hosts many events for Jewish students on campus including lunches every Tuesday in A.D. Bruce Religion Center on campus, Shabbat dinners on Fridays, Israel oriented activities, inviting guest speakers to campus and gives the community a place to gather and study between classes.

Although his family was not directly affected by the horrific events in Auschwitz, Weiss said he is appreciative of the coverage and ceremonies across the nation during the liberation’s anniversary.

Tori Brooks is a member of the Houston Hillel and a junior mechanical engineering junior. Brooks said nobody in her family was directly affected in WWII, but she hopes more people will learn and remember the events in Auschwitz.

“Looking at the Holocaust, when people get more exposure to it then they might want to look more into it,” Brooks said. “When there’s exposure, they can learn about the atrocities and how to prevent genocides.”

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