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UW-Eau Claire to host Holocaust Remembrance Day event April 17

| Judy Berthiaume

Photo caption: UW-Eau Claire will host a Holocaust Remembrance Day event from 6-7:30 p.m. April 17 in Centennial Hall. Among the event speakers are Blugolds involved in an international research project that works to locate Holocaust mass-killing burial sites and other Holocaust sites that have been lost over time.

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will host a Holocaust Remembrance Day event from 6-7:30 p.m. April 17 in Room 1804 of Centennial Hall.

The event is a time to remember and honor the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the non-Jewish victims of Nazi oppression, says Jodi Thesing-Ritter, director of the Center for EDI training, development and education.

“It’s important that all of us remember, discuss and learn about events in our history even when they are painful, so we better understand the past and never repeat it,” Thesing-Ritter says. “Monday’s event also is an opportunity to raise awareness about the danger of prejudice and extremism and to promote human rights.”

In recent years, UW-Eau Claire has hosted events in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah in Hebrew), which is recognized by countries throughout the world.

During UW-Eau Claire’s Holocaust Remembrance Day event, Iris Tzafrir, the daughter of two Holocaust survivors, will share a first-person account of finding family members who were thought to have died in a concentration camp but had survived.

Event participants also will learn more about the Holocaust, talk with Blugolds who are involved in faculty-student research that relates to the Holocaust and discuss why these kinds of remembrance projects matter so much.

It’s increasingly important that the university host a Holocaust Remembrance Day event because acts of antisemitism continue to rise in Wisconsin and elsewhere, says Dr. Harry Jol, a UW-Eau Claire professor of geography who leads a Holocaust mapping project.

“With antisemitism on the rise in Wisconsin — incidents are up 450% — we need to better educate our students, staff, faculty and community on our history,” Jol says. “This event is an effort to start that process.

“It’s an opportunity, a sad one, that allows for people to remember the Holocaust where 6 million Jewish people, Roma and other ‘undesirables’ were killed while others stood by. The day also marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a symbol of resistance in the face of huge atrocities.”

Jol leads the university’s Holocaust mapping program, which is the largest international undergraduate research program that is actively working to locate Holocaust mass-killing burial sites and related Holocaust sites that have been lost over time. His team of Blugolds uses geospatial methods in their efforts, working closely with in-country partners in Eastern Europe.

Students working with Jol on the Holocaust mapping project will be among the Blugolds participating in Monday’s event. Their project was recently recognized at the United Nations, and has been reported on by national media, including by The New York Times and Boston Globe.

The university event is open to all members of the campus and Eau Claire communities.

UW-Eau Claire event organizers include Thesing-Ritter; Jol; Dr. Yaakov Levi, a senior lecturer of philosophy and religious studies who teaches a Holocaust course; and Dr. Brianna Rockler, an assistant professor of public health and environmental studies whose family members experienced the Holocaust.

For more information about UW-Eau Claire’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, contact Thesing-Ritter at 715-836-3651 or