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Remembering Holocaust Victims and Survivors

Groups across Southern California come together in honor of the 60th anniversary of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Citizens across the country are honoring Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. The official holiday began Sunday evening and will officially end Monday evening. 

USC Hillel will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Holocaust throughout April.
USC Hillel will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Holocaust throughout April.

Both the prime minister and president of Israel will give speeches remembering the Holocaust and its victims on Monday, followed by a nationwide two-minute period of silence. Aside from the two speeches, there are no set religious rituals or traditions to observe the day. 

This year's day of remembrance marks the 60th anniversary Yom HaShoah.

In Los Angeles, The Museum of Tolerance hosted a ceremony sponsored by the The Simon Wiesenthal Center to commemorate Yom HaShoah. The founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center gave the commemorative address.

David Siegel, Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles, and Dr. Bernd Fischer, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany, both gave remarks at the ceremony.

"Our generation has a sound responsibility to remember and to ensure the evils of anti-semitism, racism, and intolerance, which are never able to rear its ugly head again," said Siegel.

There was also a portion of the ceremony dedicated to Holocaust survivor Luke Castabow. "Today is a special day because its a rememberance day that is mostly 70% dedicated to my memories and which was a pleasant presentation more or less of my life history," said Castabow.

Community members were encouraged to reflect on what people today can learn from the horrors of the past.

"We see what happens when people keep quiet and didn't do much or couldn't do much and now people with tvs and computers know much more and hopefully can do much more," said Jewish community member Miriam Guter, who attended the ceremony.

The Jewish World Watch organization is also commemorating the day with its annual Los Angeles Walk to End Genocide, scheduled to take place Sunday, April 14.

USC's own Hillel Center has already had observations to commemorate the Holocaust, and will continue throughout the month of April. The events started with a survivors' lunch at the University Club on Thursday, April 6, where students were able to meet and hear the stories of several Holocaust survivors.

USC Hillel will also hold a campus-wide commemoration in which the names of almost two-thousand Holocaust survivors will be read at the Gavin Herbert Plaza next to USC's "Finger Fountain" on Thursday April 25 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

According to USC Hillel executive director Michael Jeser, these commemorations are important because the issue of genocide remains relevant to today's society.

"Although the Holocaust happened 60 years ago, there are still events that continue acts of genocide. The lesson of man's inhumanity to man is still relevant today," Jeser said.

Jeser also believes that it is important to use this time of rememberance to not only reflect on how the Holocaust has affected Jewish people, but how genocide as a whole has affected the human race.

This will be the theme of a dinner hosted by USC Hillel on Friday, April 26 called "Inheriting Genocide." Attendees will discuss how generations have been affected by various genocides including Rwanda, Armenia, and the Nazi Holocaust.

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