Rutgers fraternity honors Holocaust Remembrance Day with silent memorial walk
The Brothers of Rutgers Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (AEPi) hosted the "We Walk to Remember" event on Monday, which was a silent memorial walk remembering those lost in the Holocaust.
Those who attended the event started at the AEPi house and walked around the College Avenue campus. Participants were urged to wear a plain black or dark gray shirts with no designs on them.
According to their website, AEPi is a Jewish fraternity at Rutgers that began in 1913 and served as a brotherhood for students who came from similar religious backgrounds and had experienced the same prejudices against their religious beliefs.
The fraternity works with the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life and International Hillel to educate students about Judaism.
Danny Jacobs and Adam Nachman were founding fathers of the Rutgers Rho Upsilon Chapter and helped bring the fraternity back to campus.
Jacobs, a School of Environmental and Biological Science senior said, “My experiences as a Jew at Rutgers has been similar to many other Jews in some ways but different than others. Many of us have participated in various programs that are available for us.”
He explained that while his experiences were individual, they were also similar to others.
“I was a founding father of AEPi so that changed my experiences. And events like this one are very important to me, it's very unfortunate I was unable to participate this year,” he said.
“There are many who still deny the Holocaust and this is our attempt at fighting against that ignore. It is also a way to remember, war memorials or 9/11 memorials all have names of victims on them,” Jacobs said.
Following the walk, there was the 4th annual "Unto Every Person There is a Name" program — a 24-hour reading of names of those who passed in the Holocaust.
“The book we read from for 24 hours is a list of several thousand children. Just children,” he said. “It's one of the easiest ways for people to comprehend the magnitude of the loss of life.”
Nachman is a School of Arts and Science senior and the organizer of the event.
“Organizing our Holocaust remembrance events involved me reaching out to my fraternity brothers along with individuals throughout the Rutgers community to either walk in our 'We Walk to Remember' event or read names during 'Unto Every Person There is a Name,'" he said.
Nachman said they reached out to some local and national Jewish organizations for grants so they could afford some of the supplies needed for the event, like shirts.
The event started at 6 p.m.
“On the day of the event, I'm basically just calling the shots and making sure people are coming to their shifts along with helping manage our social media,” he said.
This was the first "We Walk to Remember" event held at Rutgers.
The fraternity was encouraged by their International Headquarters to hold a Holocaust Remembrance event and they suggested to do a walk or name reading.
“We decided to go for reading for 24 hours straight, something that maybe two or three of our 180+ chapters do every year. 'We Walk to Remember' is actually an initiative by AEPi partnered with B'nai Brith International where over 130 of our chapters held walks this year,” Nachman said
He explained the event was important because this generation is the last that will have Holocaust survivors.
“We have an obligation to remember their stories along with those who tragically were killed in the Holocaust. By recognizing the Holocaust and never forgetting, we realize that we should do what we can to prevent another genocide from happening,” he said.
Hannah Stern, a School of Arts and Science senior, also attended the event.
“Rutgers has many programs and places for a Jewish student especially with the new Hillel building,” she said. ”Rutgers is one of the most diverse universities and it's comfortable for students to be openly Jewish and meet up and celebrate holidays with others.”
The new Hillel building was finished this year.
“When Hillel says that Rutgers is 'a great place to be Jewish,' they actually mean it. Being at the university that currently has the largest number of Jewish undergraduates, I have felt that the Jewish community here welcomes all with open arms," Nachman said. "Rutgers' Jewish life is vibrant and thriving and definitely has a place for everyone.”
Jillian Pastor is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.