From April 9 to April 23, Hillel held 11 events that made up the club’s annual “J Time.” J Time is a two week commemoration and celebration of Jewish Life.
According to Yaniv Havusha, director of Jewish student life, the two most highlighted events during the two weeks were the Field of Flags Memorial Display and the Holocaust Memorial Vigil and Walk to Remember.
The Field of Flags Memorial Display was located outside of the Dieter Hammerschlag Mall and consisted of 2,400 flags put out by Hillel and student volunteers. This display was put up on April 9 and was taken down on April 18. Each flag represented 5,000 victims of the Holocaust, and each color represented a different group of people that were persecuted during the Holocaust. Yellow flags represented Jews, red stood for the Soviets, orange represented the Polish, blue represented Gypsies, also known as Roma, white flags stood for the disabled, green represented Jehovah’s Witnesses and purple stood for homosexuals.
“That was a very moving visual display that was put on the campus that a lot of students I noticed were reading the signs when we were putting the flags out,” Havusha said. “It’s also just a great visual remembrance without needing explanation or audio.”
Havusha believes this visual display acted as an important reminder to students that the Holocaust did happen. As the years go by and the Holocaust falls farther back in history, it becomes harder for people to remember its events.
Another display in conjunction with the Field of Flags Memorial was the Courage to Remember Panels from the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Displayed in front of the 24-hour room of the library, the display included pictures that depicted life before and during the Holocaust when many Jewish stores were damaged and many other harmful acts that were taken against Jewish people.
These panels were “another silent educational piece that students could just walk by and take time to read at their leisure,” Havusha said.
The Holocaust Memorial Vigil and Walk to Remember was another highlight of J Time which occured on April 12 outside of the Multicultural Student Services Center. Members of the Hillel and the University of Rhode Island community came out to share readings, sayings, poems and songs in honor of victims of the Holocaust. This ceremony was followed by a walk lead by the fraternity group Alpha Epsilon Pi in silence.
“[This] can’t just be a history lesson. We also have to defend against what’s going today and make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself,” Havusha said.
Normally J Time is during Hillel’s Holocaust Remembrance Week. This is the first year that J Time was extended into two weeks because Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, fell during Greek Week this year.
Understanding that since Greek Life is an important component of the URI community Hillel decided to extend J Time to two weeks to make sure they could still make a big impact and raise the attendance of their events.
“We’re very pleased with the attendance as well what that attendance shows in terms of students getting an educational piece out of all of those events that occur,” Havusha said.
Other J Time events included an end of Passover celebration, a Jewish music performance featuring a trumpeter and accordionist, film screenings, a brunch in honor of Good Deeds Day, an Israeli Independence Day Celebration and a Shabbat service followed by dinner.
The final day concluded with photographer Alexandra Broches who shared her story of her family’s life in the Netherlands during the Nazi invasion in World War II through letters and photos. She was followed by comedian Joel Chasnoff with his one-man show titled “Israel – What’s your story?”
These events welcomed the public, URI community members, and the Jewish community of Rhode Island. J Time was supported by the Ernest and Lily Markel Living Legacy Fund.