Educating on empathy: CSU prepares to host Holocaust Awareness Week


Collegian | Trin Bonner

Ivy Secrest, Life and Culture Director

Educating and building empathy are two of the greatest powers against intolerant behaviors. For the organizers of Colorado State University’s Holocaust Awareness Week, these elements are the key to success.

For Natalie Delman, president of Students for Holocaust Awareness Week at CSU, bringing in survivors to share their stories and educate is an essential and urgent task.


“What started this event, what started a lot of Holocaust Awareness Week events, was that survivors were beginning to pass away,” Delman said. “So there was this urgency to start getting their stories and to have people hear them in person.”

For the past 23 years and 24 Holocaust Awareness weeks, members of SHAW have worked to have survivors come speak on campus. This gives students an interactive element of Holocaust education that will not always be available. This year the speaker is Sara Moses, who was a child during the Holocaust and can uniquely speak to both her own and her family’s experiences.

“Holocaust Awareness Week helps to educate so the atrocities of the Holocaust are not repeated for the Jewish community or any other community that may be treated in a similar way.” -Natalie Delman, president of Students for Holocaust Awareness Week

“(Moses) had never seen a flower until she was 7 years old,” the SHAW website reads. “She had never experienced the delight of ice cream. She had never heard music before or even seen her own reflection in a mirror. Sara had just turned seven when she was liberated from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on April 10, 1945.”

Accounts from survivors like Moses are a reminder of the realities of genocide, Delman said.

Beyond the survivor speaking event, students have organized other events to bring the community together. There will be a Field of Flags representing all groups affected by the Holocaust, film showings, a discussion on antisemitism, a reading of the names of those lost in the Litany of Martyrs and a closing memorial walk.

“We try to educate through a variety of learning styles because not everyone likes a traditional lecture as Mrs. Moses will do it,” Delman said.

“Participants of all backgrounds are welcome to attend whichever event fits their interest, free of charge,” Delman said. “These events are not exclusive to Jewish students, nor do they require an entrance fee this year.”

While the other events offer a great deal in education, the main event will still be the talk with Moses.

“In today’s troubled times, it is an increasingly important and rare opportunity to hear and learn from the living testimony of Holocaust survivors,” wrote Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik, faculty advisor for Students for Holocausts Awareness Week at CSU, in email correspondence. “We are so grateful for these incredible individuals who offer us hope and joy in our own lives as they inspire us with their extraordinary stories of survival and triumph.”


Delman said this week’s focus on education and empathy can be seen through the efforts of the organizers and the value of an in-person speaker.

“There’s something so much more that carries through to teach people empathy and the importance of keeping your community alive and not tearing it down with stereotypes that comes across so much better when it’s said to you by a person who specifically lived it themselves,” Delman said.

“Holocaust Awareness Week helps to educate so the atrocities of the Holocaust are not repeated for the Jewish community or any other community that may be treated in a similar way,” Delman said. “This is why you will see the phrase ‘Never Again’ at the events.”

Moses will share her story 7 p.m. March 1 in the Lory Student Center Grand Ballroom. Her speech can be watched virtually or in person, and more details on events are on the SHAW website.

Reach Ivy Secrest at or on Twitter @IvySecrest.