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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Butterflies symbolize Holocaust children

Rebecca Noble

Butterflies hang outside of the UA Hillel Foundation to commemorate the lives of 1.5 million children lost in the Holocaust on Sunday morning. Mayor Jonathan Rothschild proclaimed April 19 to be “Holocaust Survivor and Butterfly Project Day.”

Inside the Hillel Center on Sunday, Mayor Jonathan Rothschild proclaimed April 19 as Holocaust Survivor and Butterfly Project Day.

In a City of Tucson Proclamation, Rothschild read: “We honor the Tucson Holocaust survivors and their families who, through their shared stories and unselfish acts, have educated the next generation of leaders.” The Proclamation also encourages the Tucson community to “cultivate respect and tolerance for each other.”

According to Amy Gould, a UA parent who brought the project to Tucson, the UA is the only campus worldwide that has its very own Butterfly Project installation.

“For 24 years, Hillel has been sponsoring the Annual Holocaust Vigil because we think it’s important to never forget,” said Michelle Blumenberg, one of the event organizers who worked closely with Gould. “It’s important for the campus to never forget that the Holocaust happened but also to speak up about the evil in the world,”

The installation outside of Hillel currently has about 700 butterflies, Blumenberg said.

The Butterfly Project was inspired by a poem written by Pavel Friedman, a Czechoslovakian poet who perished in Auschwitz.

Friedman’s poem, titled “The Butterfly,” was written in 1942. The butterflies symbolize the lives of 1.5 million children who perished during the Holocaust, in addition to honoring survivors and representing hope.

“It’s sometimes easier for us to forget atrocities and horror and hatred,” said Martha McSally, U.S. Representative of Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District. “It’s safer to do that, but we must remember.” 

McSally, as she returned to her seat, was embraced by a Holocaust survivor.

“We have to honor those who were lost, and we have to stand guard today to teach our children and our grandchildren to never forget what has happened so … we fight against the horror and the hatred that is capable in man’s heart,” McSally said. “It’s not about the history; it’s also about today, because this is about hatred and bigotry and prejudice.”

Additionally, the Butterfly Project inspired McSally to consider different ways by which the project can be spread across the Tucson community to locations that may be unexpected to visitors.

“We have to remember the past and the pain, … the suffering, … the murder in order to be vigilant about the threat that is in the present against Jewish people around the world,” McSally said.


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