MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Over 24 consecutive hours, students, faculty, and community members will read the names of the dead as part of a yearly Holocaust memorial service.
“The beginning of the book we did today is like all children,” said WVU Hillel President Mollie Fisher. “Sometimes you can go like five hours without reading someone under the age of 40, but then you have a whole list of kids who died at the age of five, which is kind of tough.”
Fisher, a senior at WVU, has been participating in Yom Hashoah services virtually all of her life.
“When I was younger and everything, our Schul always had something,” she said. “We always had a Remembrance Day, and we always combined it with other synagogues in town. When I got here, and we did this huge event… it’s not something I look forward to, but it is something I appreciate that our organization does this here too.”
Students from numerous walks of life come together over the course of the 24 consecutive hours, Fisher said.
“I like having the event because it does bring us together.”
“It feels good to have a community when it is such a solemn event,” she added.
24 straight hours of name reading can push you to the limit though, particularly when you are constantly reminded what happened to the people who once owned these names.
“As it drags on into the night and you’ve been doing it for so long, it does start to weigh on you,” Fisher said.
Yom Hashoah is observed across the U.S. and Canada, but there is not a full accounting of all 12 million dead in the Holocaust.
“It takes us probably three years to get through every single name that we have, and it is only a fraction of all the names possible,” she said. “Which is insane.”
Volunteers will stay at the Mountainlair through the night and finish at noon Thursday.