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The "Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe," Berlin, Germany. Taken June, 2018.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day raises awareness about antisemitism

Jan. 27 marked the 79th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. This day is recognized as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, where ceremonies are held to commemorate the 6 million Jews and millions of other minority victims of the Holocaust.

The United Nations General Assembly designated Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Nov. 1, 2005, after former German president Roman Herzog proposed the idea. Recognizing this day intends to honor the victims of Nazism and educate the public on the Holocaust to prevent further genocide.

The first commemoration ceremony for International Holocaust Remembrance Day was held at the UN Headquarters on Jan. 27, 2006. Since then, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and other commemoration sites honor victims each year by reading names, lighting candles and sharing facts about the Holocaust to reject all forms of Holocaust denial.

While this day is acknowledged internationally, it also affects OU students and those involved in Jewish organizations. One of these organizations is Chabad at Ohio University, a community for Jewish students that includes social events, holiday gatherings and a safe space for Jewish students to congregate

The Ohio University Chabad Center on Court Street, Jan. 28, 2024, in Athens, Ohio.

Levi Raichik is the rabbi and director of Chabad at Ohio University. While Chabad does not hold any ceremonies to honor International Holocaust Remembrance Day, he commented on how it can be used to promote awareness of antisemitism around campus as well as the U.S.

“The way we address antisemitism on this campus, first and foremost, is by trying to influence Jewish students to be as openly Jewish as possible and not to be afraid,” Raichik said. 

Raichik also discussed the importance of educating those who seem to be misinformed and highlighting the difference between antisemitism and ignorance.

Although Chabad does not actively pay homage to International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Raichik appreciates the awareness the day brings to Holocaust victims.

“I think it’s beautiful that the U.S. government is recognizing the Holocaust, it definitely brings awareness to the Jewish people and it shows the fact that the United States has been a great home for Jewish people,” Raichik said.

Jews around the world, including those in Chabad, have other days in the year for honoring victims of tragedies in their history, one of the most well-known being Tisha B’Av

“The Jewish people have our own days of mourning for all national tragedies, the main one of which is called Tisha B’Av,” Raichik said. “It’s a fast day in the month of July where we fast for 25 hours just like Yom Kippur to commemorate all the tragedies that have happened to the Jewish people.”

Jewish tradition has other days to commemorate genocide victims, but International Holocaust Remembrance Day is an opportunity for non-Jews to reflect and educate themselves on the horrific events that took place during the Holocaust. Spreading awareness of antisemitism locally and nationally is a powerful way to prevent this genocide from fading from the public’s memory.


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