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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Dinner and dialogue with the survivors: Hillel’s annual event reshaped

Casey Sapio / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Casey Sapio
Casey Sapio / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Jewish student leaders will continue their yearly tradition today of bringing Tucson-area Holocaust survivors to campus to talk about the Jewish experience over Shabbat dinner.

In what organizers call an effort to close the generational gap, Hillel has reevaluated and reconstructed their annual event, “”Holocaust Shabbat: Dinner and Dialogue.”” 

Hillel has hosted this dinner for several years, said Laura Etter, director of engagement for UA’s Hillel branch, but this year will be different. 

“”For years we’ve done the Shabbat dinner where we bring the Holocaust survivors to the school, but it’s been very awkward,”” said Adam Scott Bellos, a Near Eastern and Judaic studies senior and Hillel member. “”It’s very awkward to sit and eat dinner after hearing such horrific stories.”” 

Because of the discomfort, Bellos felt the need to make some changes, he said.

“”Survivors also felt that students didn’t really care about what they had to say. There was not much discussion because it truly is such a heavy subject,”” he said.

During this year’s event, is the Holocaust survivors will not be speaking before dinner, but rather will be led in discussion by “”student leaders,”” one per table, during dinner. Reform, orthodox and conservative Shabbat services will precede dinner.

The event will educate not only attendees interested in finding about the past, but also elders who want to know about the lives of college students, organizers said. 

“”The survivors are interested in what it feels like to be a college student; they want to feel connected. They never had the opportunity to go to college, because most of them were between the ages of 13 and 25 during this horrific genocide,”” Bellos said.        

As of Thursday, 60 students have committed to attend, Etter said. Students can still RSVP to the event. 

“”The event is open to anyone who wants to attend, Jewish or not. We do this to educate the public about the people who were affected,”” he said. “”Many people on campus are in denial of the Holocaust so we like to bring firsthand witnesses,”” he said. 

Hillel’s Holocaust Education Program “”has done this event once a year for any years and will continue to do this for as long as the survivors can participate,”” Etter said. “”I think it is an amazing opportunity to hear firsthand from survivors while they still can share their memories and experiences.””


If you go

What: Holocaust Shabbat: Dinner and Dialogue

Who: Hosted by Hillel, open to the public

When: Services – 5:30 p.m., Dinner – 6:30 p.m.

Where: Hillel, 1245 E. 2nd St., Tucson, AZ 85719

How much: $5 for students

RSVP: (520) 624-6561

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