AEPi brothers remember Holocaust, host silent walk
On the night of Wednesday, April 10, the brothers of Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) and various students gathered in Lake Michigan Hall to commemorate the lives lost in the Holocaust. The silent walk from Lake Michigan Hall to the clock tower was meant to honor the 110 mile death march hiked by Jews, blacks, gays, gypsies, disabled persons, prisoners of war and more.
AEPi’s march was walked in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day on May 2. Their motto focuses on developing leadership for the Jewish community and strives to give members a home away from home through their union in Jewish values and commitment of brotherhood.
Jewish Identity Chair Ben Friedman said this march not only pays respects to those who were affected by the event, but gives students an opportunity to hear how the Holocaust has made an impact on specific people.
“Just like many other minority groups, Jews can be targeted at any time, anywhere,” AEPi President Morgan Mattler said. “The Holocaust wasn’t something that happened overnight. It was a systematic persecution of two thirds of Europe’s Jews. For the people who (went) to this walk, (it shows they) stand with the Jewish people as well as recognize the horrors that happened.”
When the march ended at the Cook Carillon Tower, Friedman spoke of his complicated relationship with books. He spoke of his past experience when his view of reading as punishment turned to pleasure when he discovered Harry Potter, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Between the World and Me. He acknowledged books’ power and influence, and how their form of communication worked in Adolf Hitler’s favor to persuade an entire country.
“An angry young man wrote a book in prison while trying to take over the German government,” Friedman said. “Eight years later, when he rose to power, the sales of his book rose with him. It pains me to say that one of history’s most evil men was such a skilled communicator that millions could be swayed by his words alone. An entire country, complicit in the murder of 6 million people.”
He showed pictures of college students posing in front of concentration camps or on the railroad tracks that paved a trail for death marches, arguing students like to say they are standing up for social justice and supporting marginalized groups, but are not respecting the generations before them. Friedman challenged students’ thoughts that there will never be another Holocaust, and warned that a religious population could be targeted at any moment for no reason.
"But then again, we are fine in 2019 America, right?” Friedman said. “I wish that was the case… There comes the question of whether we are Jewish Americans or American Jews... Right now, we might be thought of as American Jews, but who’s to say that tomorrow… we will just be Jews. We do not have the power to prevent propaganda from being drawn out, but we have the power to erase it. We have the power to discredit these dangerous words.”
Members of AEPi then read off the names of relatives they had never met due to this horrific event. The night concluded with participants reciting Mourner’s Kaddish, a prayer for the dead in Hebrew.
“But how do we honor 6 million people?” AEPi member Adam Gordon said. “Those whose lives were cut short, and whose loss provokes a stark and powerful legacy to us all. A legacy that demands we challenge hatred and bigotry whenever we (see it). A legacy that requires us to say never again and really mean it. We recognize our interconnectedness in the fundamental dignity and equality of every human being. We help to build a world that is more accepting, secure, and free.”