Last Friday evening members of the college community gathered at the campanile to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
The candle-lit vigil was led by TCD Jewish society, and was begun with a brief explanation of the importance of Holocaust Memorial Day within the international Jewish community, and especially the diasporic Jewish community. This was followed by a reading by society President Anna Kohanoff, who chose to recount the story told by the late Rabbi Hugo Gryn, who recalls that, whilst incarcerated in Auschwitz, his father, realising it was the first night of Chanukah, decided to use his butter ration as fuel for a crude chanukiah that he had fashioned from scrap metal and cloth from his uniform.
When Hugo protested to his father that he was wasting a precious food ration, his father replied by saying that a person can live many days without food, but cannot live even three minutes without hope.
After she had finished reading, a yarthzeit candle (the Jewish memorial candle) was lit, and the mourners’ Kaddish (the Jewish prayer for the dead) was recited, after which a minute’s silence was held in remembrance of the 6 million Jews, along with the more than three million Soviet prisoners of war more than two million Soviet civilians, more than one million Polish civilians, more than one million Yugoslav civilians, 220,000 to 500,000 Romani, roughly 70,000 men, women and children with mental and physical handicaps and the unknown numbers of political prisoners, resistance fighters, homosexuals and deportees who perished in the death camps from 1939 until 1945.
May their memories be a blessing.