By Chloe ROSE, Birmingham University.
Students at the University of Birmingham were extremely lucky this January during the period known as Holocaust Memorial.
Birmingham J-Soc put on and supported some great events both with the University and separately. On Monday 27th January there was a Vigil at the Guild of Students involving all societies affected or wishing to commemorate the tragedy of the Holocaust. This involves J-Soc, LGBT and all other groups wishing to remember.
However, we were also lucky enough to hear from a Holocaust survivor, Ziggy Shipper. Being a Thursday night (Vodbull night) I wondered how strong the turnout would be for this talk. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many of my friends, J-Soc members and non-Jewish non-students in attendance.
Looking around the room and seeing so many faces, both familiar and strangers, made me so proud to be part of this commemoration and the society that had organised it.
Ziggy himself spoke wonderfully with a story that seemed both recognisable and distinct from the many tales we have been privileged to hear in our lifetimes. What truly made his talk stand out was the surmising message of love and happiness.
Rather than condemning Hitler or questioning Hashem, Ziggy encouraged us to celebrate the life we have and the people around us with whom we share it.
It takes a special kind of moment to really induce this idea and what better time was there than Holocaust Memorial Week to inspire those still living despite Hitler’s actions.
I will always be proud of my religion and identity but around Holocaust Memorial Day, it became a particularly special time to share with my fellow Jews.
We are the legacies of survivors like Ziggy and his counterparts and it is our duty to step into their shoes and tell these stories once there are no more first-hand experiences to tell.
It is our responsibility to take heed of Ziggy’s message and celebrate our lives and his life and love and share in the way he encouraged us in his talk.
We are the future of British Jewry and the diaspora Jews and we are lucky to be standing here today. Whilst we look back and memorialise the tragedy of the Holocaust it is equally important to step forward and commemorate those who survived and their legacies like my companions or myself.
As legacies we have the responsibility to listen to survivors and pay attention to the words they say. I will go on from Ziggy’s talk and live my life to its fullest celebrating the fact that I am here today and sharing the joy he brought into that room with every person I meet.
Forgetfulness is easy. How many times have I uttered the words ‘I forgot my keys’ or ‘I’m sorry, I can’t remember your name?’ But these are nothing but trivialities and insignificant details. Remembering is hard.
Ziggy and his fellow survivors have the daily pain of remembering the atrocities they suffered. We have a duty to remember alongside them – remember their suffering and remember the liberation they have today.
Today, we must remember. We must never forget.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Birmingham J-Soc for their hard work during Holocaust Memorial Week and also to thank Ziggy Shipper for his wonderful words. [divider]