On a crisp afternoon, Hillel at USC hosted an event in collaboration with the Daffodil Project at the Anne Frank Center to plant 250 daffodils in honor of the children who lost their lives in the Holocaust and support of the children in the world today suffering from humanitarian crises.
Hillel at USC is an organization on campus aiming "to enrich the lives of Jewish students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world," according to its website.
Gathered at the Anne Frank Center, the event consisted of students, faculty and community speakers who shared the purpose of the project and provided a reflection on the living memorial that was to be established.
“We felt like this was a really great learning opportunity for all community members and students. It's a really great way to have a living memory of those who perished,” Hillel President Madelyn Miller said.
The Daffodil Project aspires to create a worldwide living Holocaust memorial by planting 1.5 million Daffodils. The shape and color of the daffodils represent the yellow stars Jewish people were forced to wear during the Holocaust, according to its website.
Mary McElveen, vice president of religious events and cultural programming, participated in a Daffodil Project event at her home synagogue and introduced the idea to fellow Hillel members.
“I actually hadn't heard about it until Mary [McElveen] told us about it; she had done it at her synagogue,” said Hailey Smilowitz, vice president of communications and media and second-year mass communications student. “They’re all over the world … so I’m really glad that we’re able to do it here.”
Following the program, guests were invited to begin planting daffodils in front of the Anne Frank Center.
“I think the power of a living memorial is really special. The idea that life continues on, and it's not just something over and gone. That memory is something that has to live on, and these daffodils as part of the landscape helps to remind us of these stories,” said Doyle Stevick, executive director of the Anne Frank Center and speaker at the event.
The Columbia Jewish Federation has been a strong supporter of the Daffodil Project event on campus and Hillel at USC. Ana Sazanov, executive director of the Columbia Jewish Federation, spoke at the event.
“When the students came up with this idea to have the Daffodil Project, we were all in … The federation is here to support Jewish life in Columbia, and one of those areas is campus,” Sazanov said. “Right now, there is a lot of — antisemitism is rising, and this is an amazing opportunity for them to come as a community and to really show our pride.”
Members of Hillel at USC and supporting organizations see this event as an opportunity for USC students to not only learn and remember the events of the Holocaust but also take action.
“Remember. Remember what happened. Remember the Holocaust. Remember the loss. Keep this in our minds, and also that we all need to condemn and fight antisemitism,” Sazanov said.
Having had around 70 guests, Hillel at USC plans to participate in the Daffodil Project every year, according to Miller, a second-year sports and entertainment management student.
“This was the first year; it was an amazing turnout," Miller said. "We’re really hoping that in the future, we can keep this momentum going, and it’s a great way to bring everybody back once a year for something special like this.”