Student groups spread Holocaust awareness

By Emma Kilcup

At a time when there are few survivors left to share their stories about the Holocaust, Linda… At a time when there are few survivors left to share their stories about the Holocaust, Linda Hurwitz has made it her mission to pass along her parents’ story.

Last night in David Lawrence Hall, the former director of the Holocaust Center of the United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh shared stories of her parents’ hardships and losses during World War II as well as her personal experiences as the child of Holocaust survivors.

About 50 people attended the event, which was hosted by Pitt’s Jewish sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi and Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi. The Hillel Jewish University Center Student Board also joined in hosting Hurwitz in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, scheduled for May 1.

Hurwitz shared a story about her mother, Irene Furst, escaping from the Nazis after she convinced them that she was not Jewish. After finding work as a nurse in the Polish ghettos, Furst, a Polish citizent, rebelled against the Nazis by stealing food for her family.

Hurwitz said it was not until she became the director of the Holocaust Center that she learned the full extent of her mother’s trials.

“My mother shares so many amazing details, but it is getting harder for her,” Hurwitz said. “I have heard her stories so many times that now I try to be her voice.”

Furst was unable to speak at the event.

Senior Jessica Laiter took interest in the stories Hurwitz told.

“It is important to get it out there so history doesn’t repeat itself,” she said. “It takes a lot to tell your story.”

After the speech, the audience asked questions about Hurwitz’s mother and the speaker’s own experiences growing up with Holocaust survivors as parents.

“It was my normalcy — growing up with accents and having to translate,” Hurwitz said about her parents’ struggle to fit into American society. “There was sort of a somberness as I was the firstborn and my parents were getting used to the American life.”

Hosting a speaker was not the only way the University’s Jewish community honored Holocaust Remembrance Day.

On Monday night, students gathered in front of the William Pitt Union to read the names of those who died during the Holocaust from a book that Heather Rubin, holidays chairwoman for Hillel, described as “6 inches wide.”

“It was the first time I did the name reading,” freshman Sarah Winston said. “It was really sad. I read names of kids who were 2 years old when they died. It’s hard. Some families just have last names because their first names have been erased.”

After the reading, students walked in silence and held signs that read, “Never Forget.”

David Kugelman, sophomore and member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, said that now is a good time for memorials because it is close to the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a Jewish uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto that took place from April to May of 1943 and resulted in more than 10,000 deaths.

Students agreed on the importance of talking about the history of the Holocaust.

“I think that the Holocaust is a fascinatingly unfortunate experience,” sophomore Erin Doppelt said. “Since there are so few survivors, I want to learn what I can while they are still alive.”