Students reflect on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

‘Be proud of your Judaism’ 

Queen’s Hillel commemorated the day with an awareness campaign.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day took place on Jan. 27, with several Queen’s students and organizations helping to educate the student body.

The Journal sat down with Leora Tarshish, professional staff member at Queen’s Hillel, to discuss the significance of this day. Tarnish said this is the day we commemorate the losses of the people who died in the Holocaust.

“When we say the people, we don’t mean just us, because Jews have their own internal day for remembering the victims of what we would call in Hebrew, the Shoah,” she added.

Although it only takes place on one day, Tarshish said Hillel tries to build around the day.

“We say we’re going to create a whole week, a campaign of awareness, so that we can build up to the day. In that week, we focused on breaking down different aspects of it,” she said.

Tarshish said Hillel welcomed a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor to tell his story last Friday.

“This is really going to be one of his last engagements. He said that it’s really hard to retell the story. It’s really hard to live through that trauma, to share it publicly, to go through these motions, and he’s really tried his best to speak in so many spaces.”

Tarshish spoke to how non-Jewish community members can educate themselves.

“When [non-Jewish people] ask questions, and they want to know more, I think the first thing we say is to educate yourself. There’re so many resources out there. There are so many books, beautiful pieces written by people who have survived this.”

“There are survivors, testimonies that have been recorded, they’re worth listening to. If you show any interest in this, humble yourself by opening yourself up to more knowledge.”

She said we never want this genocide to happen to any groups of people ever again, and that means we need to share the message that genocide is possible to safeguard against it.

Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) Community Outreach Deputy (Volunteer Support & Appreciation) Sara Oshry, ArtSci ‘25, spoke to The Journal to talk about the significance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Oshry grew up attending a Jewish school and was also very involved in her synagogue. 

“Personally, I found I had no Holocaust education in elementary school. My knowledge of Holocaust education within high school was a worksheet that we did in grade 11 Social Studies,” she said.

Being from Alberta, most of Oshry’s friends had maybe a few days of covering Holocaust education, but it was very “basic and surface level.” 

This day is about the six million Jews that were killed within concentration camps during the Second World War, raising awareness about a genocide that almost destroyed the Jewish population and about ways we can ensure that it never happens again, Oshry said.

“[However] I would not just consider Holocaust survivors to be just Jewish individuals who were able to survive the camps, but I consider them people who were displaced [in] Europe and had to find ways to survive,” Oshry added.

Especially in approximately the last 20 years, the definitions of Holocaust survival have really broadened to include a lot of Jewish people who lived in Europe, she explained.

Oshry spoke to the different places in the Kingston community that can offer support for Jewish students to talk about their grievances with this day.

“There are places like the Yellow House where Jewish students can go [for support]. In the last couple of months, when there was antisemitic graffiti found around Kingston, they held an event.”

“There’s ASUS resources students can turn to as well,” she added.

“On campus, there is Queen’s Hillel, which is a great place for students to go kind of with other like-minded Jewish students. There’s Chabad, which is off campus. There’s a lot of resources on campus for students, which is something I’m very appreciative of,” Oshry said. 

As the years go on, the last of Holocaust survivors, Jewish and non-Jewish, are beginning to pass away, so it’s important to listen to the stories of survivors, she added.

“[Holocaust education] needs to be integrated at a younger age, so that people can understand the impacts,” she said.

“The most important thing we can do is document living history so that we ensure that it consistently stays within our historical demographic.”

Oshry explained not one of her family members in the Holocaust became a survivor.

“I did personally have family that died in the Holocaust. That has a huge impact on [the] kind of the way that you view the Holocaust. Knowing that my family died in the Holocaust is very impactful. It really made sure that my family […] shared values of being able to stand up to antisemitism.”

“Be proud of your Judaism.”


History, Holocaust, Jewish, Jewish culture

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