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MIT Hillel recalls Holocaust victims with shoe display, vigil

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Massachusetts Institute of Technology students from the Jewish student organization Hillel will commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday, April 23, with a display of old shoes to recall the shoes confiscated from Holocaust victims slated to die at Nazi concentration camps.

A Hillel committee has undertaken a campus-wide collection of shoes for the unusual Holocaust memorial vigil, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Lobby 7, the lobby of the Massachusetts Avenue entrance of the Institute.

Holocaust survivor and author Primo Levi once wrote, "Death begins with the shoes." The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., has an exhibit of victims' actual shoes.

The hundreds of old shoes collected by Hillel students will be placed in a mound in what has been designated a "Remembering the Genocide Shoe Collection" display while two students read off the names of Holocaust victims. At the end of the vigil, students will donate the shoes to a local shelter for the homeless.

At 3:30 p.m., Holocaust survivor Maurice Vanderpol of Newton will speak on "The Story of the Little Kettle: A Conversation with my Grandson" at a memorial service in the MIT Chapel.

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