Campus & Community / Current Issue

Campus Holocaust memorial takes shape

A new Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site at DU is designed to transform the memory of the millions in Europe murdered by the Nazis more than 65 years ago into acts of social justice.

“Remembering the Holocaust should not simply be a passive act,” says Sarah Pessin, director of DU’s Center for Judaic Studies. “When we say ‘never again,’ we commit ourselves to repairing the world through learning, intercultural dialogue and social justice initiatives. These are key parts of what it means to remember the Holocaust.”

The outdoor gathering place was dedicated on Oct. 10 with the setting of the memorial’s first stone near Buchtel Tower. More than 200 people attended the ceremony, where Chancellor Robert Coombe thanked those who made the memorial possible and spoke about the site’s purpose. Dedication attendees were asked to write words of hope and place them in two time capsules, which were placed into a special carved niche inside the first stone.

The memorial is linked to an endowed chair of Holocaust studies and will be home to performances, lectures, readings and vigils that advance humanitarian causes, foster intercultural dialogue and incubate empathy and public good works. It is scheduled to be completed by December 2012.

“The site will be a public square for social-consciousness raising,” Pessin says.

Designed under the guidance of University Architect Mark Rodgers, the memorial will radiate outward from a central stone bench shaped like the symbol chai — the Hebrew word for life — to an amphitheater of stone benches for a wide range of gatherings. Marking the boundary to the site from Evans Avenue, metal lattice partitions will suggest the shattered windows of Kristallnacht and spell out the Hebrew word hineni, which translates to “Here I am.”

“Hineni is a post-Holocaust Jewish ethical teaching about the infinite responsibility each of us has for the other,” Pessin says.

The Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site was fully funded by alumni and community members. Fundraising is still under way for endowing a programming fund for the site and endowing a new chair of Holocaust studies. For more information on donating, contact the Center for Judaic Studies at or 303-871-3021.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *