On Tuesday, Jan. 24, dozens of college students and members of the Stockton community gathered in the University Center Ballroom at University of the Pacific for the opportunity to hear Holocaust survivor Sami Steigmann share his story.
This public event was arranged and hosted by the Hillel Jewish Student Group at Pacific and sponsored by Religious and Spiritual Life Foundation.
Steigmann began his story with a brief introduction of who he is, and why he travels the world sharing his story.
“I do not just fight anti-semitism, because anti-semitism is talking about one particular group,” said Steigmann. “What I am fighting is hatred, because hatred encompasses every group and no group should every be discriminated against.”
Steigmann explained the significance of Yom Hashoah, Jewish Holocaust Remembrance Day, Auschwitz-Birkenau, a German Nazi concentration and extermination camp responsible for over a million Jewish deaths during the Holocaust.
He then showed a video explaining him and his family’s experience of being forced into a labor camp when he was very young, being subjected to Nazi human experimentation, almost dying of starvation, and being saved by a German woman.
“I do not know what tomorrow will bring, but what I do know is that almost half of the world population does not know that the Holocaust occured,” said Steigmann.
Steigmann emphasized on how important it is for young people to share the stories he shares so that people will believe and remember.
“I have a need. My need is to teach and to share,” said Steigmann. “My need to teach and to share is through all of you.”
After the presentation, Shiri Warshawsky, President of the Hillel Jewish Student Group, lit a ceremonious candle in remembrance of the six million who perished in the Holocaust while leading a poem read by everyone in the room entitled “We Remember Them.”
“It’s been a really interesting experience just because I’m from the bay area and there’s a really strong base of Israelis and Jewish people, whereas in Stockton it’s definitely very sparse,”
said Warshawsky. “But just having a lot of people from the school come and show up and really show their support has meant a lot, especially considering that the majority of them aren’t Jewish.”