USC's Hillel will plant daffodils at a Remembrance Event at the Anne Frank Center to remember the Jewish children who lost their lives during the Holocaust.
The daffodils are part of a larger initiative called “The Daffodil Project,” which seeks to plant 1.5 million daffodils across the world for the same purpose. Over 600,000 daffodils have been planted worldwide at over 230 locations. The daffodil itself serves as symbolism within the initiative, according to its website.
“The reason that it's a daffodil is because the bloom of a daffodil like a Jewish star. And that's to indicate the stars the children had to wear that identified them as Jewish,” Mary McElveen, Hillel’s Religion and Education Chair and third-year accelerated undergrad to MD student explained.
McElveen said she wanted to see the planting of the daffodils expand to places around campus in the coming years.
McElveen introduced the project to USC’s Hillel organization last year after remembering the tradition of planting daffodils at her hometown synagogue. Hillel is a student organization dedicated to the Jewish students of the university.
“This was a great opportunity to get Hillel involved in doing work near the Anne Frank House, working for Holocaust remembrance, working against antisemitism,” McElveen said.
The Anne Frank Center of Columbia is the only establishment in North America that has a direct partnership with the original Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. The opportunity Hillel of having an Anne Frank Center on campus is not one the club takes for granted, according to MadelynMiller, Hillel President and third-year sport and entertainment management student.
“It's absolutely a great relationship. We are so thankful to have them here. They've been very supportive of Hillel,” Miller said.
The purpose of the Remembrance Event is to remember the horrors of the Holocaust and to encourage education amongst USC and members of the Columbia community.
With the recent rise in instances of antisemitism in the United States, McElveen also said that education through events like the ones Hillel hosts is important in preventing future prejudiced actions against Jewish people.
“I think now is a more important time than ever to not only educate people on the Holocaust itself and what happened, but the type of patterns of hate that lead to events like that” McElveen said.
Doyle Stevick, Ph.D, the executive director of the Anne Frank Center, said the center welcomes the initiative and hopes the flowers not only serve as a visual appeal, but will also cause students to reflect on life's beauty.
"People who see the daffodils immediately recognize their beauty. And when they stop to reflect, they also recognize the fragility of human life and the importance of stepping up to protect that precious life," Stevick said.
Hillel hopes to continue this tradition for years to come to continue the conversation around ending antisemitism, and to keep the memory of the lives lost during the Holocaust alive.
“(To) have the opportunity to create a Jewish space on campus, and to provide an opportunity where others can learn about this sort of thing and remember the Holocaust, remember the horrible things that happened before and set an intention not to let that sort of thing happen again, I think that can go a really, really long way," McElveen said. "I want as many people who can know about it to know about it."
The event will be on Nov. 4. at 5 p.m. at the Anne Frank Center. Attendees must RSVP here.