A Yom Hashoah Tradition at Hillel at Kent State University

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On March 10, 2020, Kent State University cancelled all in-person classes and events for the rest of the semester due to COVID-19 and encouraged all students to return to their hometowns, if able. As the Hillel staff maintained communication with the now displaced Jewish student campus community, it became evident that no other student body had a support system in place like the Jewish community.

This support system enabled students to remain connected to a larger peer group and maintain their Jewish leadership. Hillel pushes students to translate holidays and Jewish teachings through their very unique perspective to create relevant Jewish experiences. For the past 10 years Hillel and Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity have commemorated Yom Hashoah with a 24-hour reading of the names of those who perished in the Holocaust. This event typically takes place in the heart of campus where thousands of Kent State students and faculty pass by every day.

With the innovative consulting and mentorship of Hillel staff, the student leaders took on a 24-hour commemoration that was facilitated over Hillel’s Zoom and livestreamed to Facebook. Over the course of 24 hours dozens of students and alumni participated in the reading, accumulating over 8,300 views from around the world, the majority of which in Northeast Ohio. These students showed resilient and innovative leadership in translating this tradition into a new format and reaching a new audience. In doing so they impacted thousands of lives by demonstrating strong Jewish values and once again reminding the world that the Jewish future is in good hands with this passionate generation.

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