What the Holocaust can teach us in 2021


Merritt Dismuke

GC Hillel invited students, faculty, staff and the Milledgeville community to participate in a
Reading of Names ceremony honoring the 11 million lives lost during the Holocaust. Originally
scheduled on internationally-recognized Holocaust Remeberance Day (Wednesday, January 27),
the event rescheduled due to inclement weather. Wednesday, Feb. 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.,
volunteers read a list of victims’ names at the flagpole on front campus.

“We have not done a reading of names like this in the past, but after the events at the U.S.
Capitol on January 6, we knew that with students returning shortly thereafter that we needed to
have a showing of unity and support for all of our students,” said Emily Jarvis, Director of Parent
and Family Programs and Interim Executive Director of Student Engagement at GC. “Not just
our Jewish students, as Hillel is the organizer of this, but for all of our students who were
affected by the symbolism of that day.”

Jarvis organized the event so that anyone involved themselves. Faculty, staff, administrators,
deans and students with an interest in using their voice for the memorial stepped forward to
encourage inclusivity and honor those lost.

Volunteers read from a list of over 2,000 names curated by the United States Holocaust
Memorial Museaum. Although there isn’t a comprehensive list of Holocaust victims’ names in
existance, putting even a portion of those names into the world honors their memorial as a whole.

“You don’t have to be Jewish and you don’t have to have ties to the Holocaust to find it
meaningful,” Jarvis said. “That’s what’s really critical. All of us as a community should share the
values of fighting injustice and confronting hate when we see it. And this is just one way that we
can do that and remember that we’re not that far removed from this really horrible event. Things
like this still happen even though they’re not concentrated in an event like the Holocaust.”

“We should never forget,” said Jennifer Birch, Education Outreach and Training Officer at GC.
“Once you forget, you become complacent and there’s a possibility of repeating what we forgot.”

Although Kasey Karen, associate professor and Biology Program Coordinator at GC, is not
Jewish, her father is. Karen was a volunteer in the reading of names this past Wednesday.

“Growing up, you know, I learned a lot about The Holocaust.” Karen said. “I had a great aunt
who was in Germany until 1937 and told her story about it. Although, it wasn’t until high school
until she actually came out and said it after one passover.”

‘Remembering’ was a major theme centered around the event. In the absence of remembrance,
hatred can take its place.

“With the resurgence of antisemitism that we’re seeing in the country, it feels more important
than ever to make a note of remembering,” Karen said.

After completing the segment of names assigned to her, Karen reflected upon not only what the
names symbolized, but who they were.

“It was sort of weird to, you know, be working through them and partially having to concentrate
on how to pronounce them and feeling bad when you knew you were mangling it,” Karen said.
“Because that was somebody’s life and somebody’s name.”

2020 brought an array of social justice movements to life. Forgetting these movements yields the
possibility of repeated tragedy such as police brutality, racial injustice and unnecessary loss of
life. In a sea of differing opinions, the tragic events of The Holocaust should teach us to agree
upon a removal of hatred, violence and racism in 2021.

“It’s important that we remember that we each have a responsibility,” Jarvis said. “These things
only happen when we get complacent and we allow acts of hate to happen and continue, even if
we ourselves aren’t committing those acts. When we’re silent and we don’t confront them, we
allow for them to happen around us. The sentiment that lead to the Holocaust still exists today.
We have to be active all the time and be sure that we’re resisting it.”