MICA and Hamsa spark discussion about the Nazi persecution of the queer and Jewish communities
By Camille Chrysostom, for the Mitzpeh, @Mitzpeh
The office of Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy (MICA) sponsored an event Wednesday, April 15 to remember the persecuted Queer and Jewish victims of the Holocaust in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day and Pride Month.
The event, “The Forgotten Victims: A Gathering Honoring Queer Holocaust Victims,” was formatted as an open discussion during which students sat in a circle and offered their thoughts and opinions on topics related to the LGBT community and its intersection with Judaism. The discussion took place at Maryland Hillel and six students attended.
MICA’s LGBT community organizing student intern, Madeleine Moore, organized the event and co-facilitated the evening’s discussion with Yaki Weingarten, a student leader of Hamsa, Hillel’s LGBT student group. The event was one of 34 held during this university’s Pride Month, which occurs annually and sponsors many events that celebrate the LGBT community while promoting discussion of issues that affect the community.
Moore said she helped organize the discussion because she felt the topic of LGBT victims of the Holocaust has not received enough attention and needed to be better discussed.
“The LGBTQ community has never really taken the time to mourn our community members who were persecuted,” Moore said. “I thought it would be a great opportunity for the interfaith and LGBTQ communities to come together during Pride Month for a thought-provoking, intersectional program.”
Weingarten, said the event helped create a safe space that allowed students to voice their opinions.
“MICA felt the need to bring the LGBT community into the conversation about the Holocaust due to the fact that they were personally affected by [its] events,” he said. “It is important for different communities around [the] Maryland campus to discuss the issues that pertain to them.”
Most of the students used the event as an opportunity to express their frustrations that LGBT people are often forgotten or ignored as victims of the Holocaust. Sophomore biochemistry major Eliana Schwartz said the discussion veered from its initial topic, but all the topics covered were important overall.
“I think initially we were trying to discuss how minority groups should come together to fight persecution,” Schwartz said. “Then it rapidly became a discussion on LGBT Jews specifically and how to bridge the gap between the two groups.”
When asked what impact she believes the event will have, Schwartz said she thinks the discussion will help spark changes in the Jewish community.
“I definitely think change is going to happen slowly,” Schwartz said. “But the fact that the conversation even happened is a very promising step.”