Madison Parker, Correspondent
Around 60 people gathered at Merrill Hall on Tuesday evening to listen to Eli Pinhas recall the tragedies his family faced during the Holocaust.
The JSU Holocaust Remembrance Committee and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion sponsored this event for students, faculty, staff, and the public right before the official Days of Remembrance, which was commemorated on April 8, 2021, by Congress.
Brooke Robinson, Student Government Association (SGA) President, opened the remembrance by stating her thankfulness to the committee and Pinhas.
“I believe it is so important for us as a community to take the time to reflect on the Holocaust,” Robinson said.
After her speech, Robinson lit six candles in honor of the 6 million Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust.
Dr. Tamara Levi, a member of the committee, gave a heartfelt speech on the background of the Holocaust.
“The Holocaust left millions dead and countless lives shattered,” Levi said.
The audience sat solemnly in preparation for Pinhas to approach the floor. One could feel the heartache in the room as Pinhas spoke.
“Coming to America was the dream of millions,” Pinhas said. “Freedom and a new life in America.”
Pinhas spoke much of his parents’ struggles in Greece and how his mother quite literally ran for her freedom.
While on a trip to the pharmacy, he said his mother fled to nearby mountains in the hope of freedom but never saw her family again.
“The only reason I’m standing here today is because my mother took that chance,” Pinhas said while holding back tears.
“Growing up, my parents’ friends had tattooed numbers on their arms. I was too young to understand what that meant.”
Pinhas said he started speaking at events like this in hopes of educating people.
As time goes on, survivors are dying and Pinhas believes if not him educating people, then who will?
“I hope that they see pictures, maybe this brings it closer to home,” Pinhas said regarding his audiences. “It really was for real. It was my mom, it was my dad.”
“It is educating people,” Pinhas said. “That is what I hope.”
Karlie Johnson, the co-chair of the Holocaust Remembrance group, said it takes a year to plan this event.
“It helps me never to forget. Every year I learn something new,” Johnson said. “I get to help people through this program learn about what happened so that something like this is not repeated.”
Johnson said while growing up she always had an interest in the Holocaust, but attending her first Holocaust event at JSU forever changed her.