BY Devin Gavigan
On Nov. 13, Sacred Heart commemorated the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht.
Students, faculty, survivors and members of the community gathered in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit in remembrance of the deaths and suffering caused by the Holocaust.
Rabbi Marcelo Kormis spoke to the crowd and said, “Today, we are remembering Jewish homes and apartments that were attacked. We remember Jews who were murdered, synagogues that were destroyed and set on fire, and we remember the over 20,000 Jews that were arrested and taken to concentration camps.”
People of Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and other backgrounds gathered at the commemoration to listen to Holocaust survivor Claire Boren and pay their respects to the persecuted.
The Sacred Heart community emphasized its welcome towards their Jewish neighbors.
“To the visitors, especially to our Jewish sisters and brothers, know that you’re most welcome and your presence among us is so important. We hope that you will always see this place as home to you. You are welcome not only today, but every single day of the year,” said speaker Father Anthony Ciorra.
Boren opened up about her life in hiding throughout World War II. She was one of the 11% of Jewish children that survived the Holocaust. She was in hiding with her mother for a year and a half, travelling from farms to the forest to an attic.
According to Boren, her childhood and experience during the Holocaust was vague, but certain memories are etched forever in her mind, and these have made their way into her art.
“I came to the United States at the age of 11. Without making a conscious decision, I didn’t speak about or confront my past. My past eventually confronted me through my art. I was shocked and surprised by the image that I had created; it was an image of a public hanging that I had witnessed as a child. From then on, I continued to work in a feverish manner, exploring my past and creating many Holocaust images,” said Boren.
Her story was full of trauma, constantly running from danger for months and months. Boren and her mother left their small town, Mizocz, to go into hiding with a Christian family. She explained, however, that her father stayed behind.
She said, “We went into hiding. The very next day, Oct. 13, 1942, was the roundup in our town. After cordoning off the ghetto in Mizocz, the Germans and the local police marched all the Jews to a killing field. The killing squad shot all the men, women, and children one by one.”
Junior Tyler McGann attended the commemoration and was moved by Boren’s story.
“She was so young and had to face so much. Her mother, too, must have had such a large burden on her shoulders, being without her husband and trying to figure out how to keep her daughter alive.”
Boren and her mother survived while hiding in an attic until the Russians reoccupied their area in the spring of 1944. While she had been at the front of Nazi’s horror, she still found positivity in her experience.
“I have experienced one of the worst horrors of our time: the cruelty and inhumanity perpetrated by the Nazis and their collaborators, the people who stood silently by and did not protest. But I also experienced the goodness of people. The farm family, for example, who took us in, putting themselves in danger without any reward,” said Boren.
Junior Cameron Silver spoke during the commemoration and brought to light the idea of God’s perspective during the Holocaust.
He said, “When I think about the way God must have reacted to the Nazi’s, I imagine Him responding similarly to the way He responded to Cain murdering Abel. God called out, ‘Where are you? My children’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Were we not all created in the same image and likeness of God?’ Today, lets all respond to God’s question: Here I am, working for a better world and a better society.”