At noon, Kimberly Grabiner, chairwoman of N.C. Hillel's Holocaust Remembrance Committee, began reading victims' names, initiating a vigil that will conclude at noon today.
"It's important to remember those who perished as a name rather than as a number," she said.
The event kicks off the fifth annual Holocaust Remembrance Week, an event co-sponsored by N.C. Hillel and the Carolina Union Activities Board.
Grabiner said she expects the volunteers to read the names of only about 3,000 of the 11 million who were killed during the Holocaust. Among those scheduled to take a turn reading names include Chancellor James Moeser, Student Body President Justin Young, Chapel Hill Mayor Rosemary Waldorf and football head coach John Bunting.
Grabiner said the remaining time slots will be filled by an array of student volunteers. "I'm glad that people are still wanting to come out and participate in the events," Grabiner said.
Grabiner said the event serves as a reminder to students to learn from the past and prevent such a tragedy from occurring again. "This is one way we can educate people about the travesties that happened less than 100 years ago," she said.
Bystander Nicole Kossove, a junior communications studies major, agreed, saying that her grandparents -- who are Holocaust survivors -- had always taught her the importance of remembering those who died as a way to ensure that there would never be another Holocaust. "To me, it's really important because it's great to see something the entire school can be involved in and aware of," she said.
After Moeser stepped down from the microphone, he spoke of the importance of the event as a way to remind students of the fact that each person who died was an individual, a point he said should not be forgotten. "It's a touching and sobering thing to read those names," Moeser said. "When you talk about the Holocaust, you talk about 6 million individuals, rather than just a group."
Some of the events that will round out the schedule this week include a picture display in the quad Wednesday titled "Children of the Holocaust," and a presentation and discussion of the film "Europa, Europa" 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in 105 Gardner Hall. Israeli author and journalist Yaron Svoray will give a lecture called "In Hitler's Shadow" at 7 p.m. Thursday in 111 Carroll Hall.
Svoray went undercover several years ago as a Nazi sympathizer in hopes of exposing a growing neo-Nazi movement in Germany, Europe and the United States.
Grabiner said the overall goal of the week's events is awareness. "It's good for people to see that we do this year after year to remind them that people care about what happened and wish to preserve the memory."
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