Thursday, July 25, 2024

PSUC seeks to honor Holocaust victims with creative competition

Windows crash, fire lights on places of worship and hate is spewed on the streets of Germany and Austria. It’s November 1938 the “Night of Broken Glass,” Kristallnacht. 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to Nazi concentration camps. Millions died by the end of World War II. 

Plattsburgh State holds a day of remembrance to remember the victims of the Holocaust in May. It is held on the second floor of Feinberg Library in the Doug and Evelyn Skopp memorial gallery. The gallery is adorned with Holocaust-inspired artwork. The two sculptures seen on entrance is called Kristallnacht.

Last year the event took place on the anniversary of Kristallnacht. At the event the winners of the Skopp Creative Competition on the Theme of the Holocaust are awarded. Students send in videos, poems, short stories ect. related to the holocaust. The Skopp competition is now open for submissions. 

Last year SUNY Plattsburgh student Jessica Suphan won the prize of $100 for her short story submission on homosexual repression during the holocaust. Suphan is in the graduate program for clinical mental health counseling at Plattsburgh and is the author of a dystopian novel “A Perfect World”. She was inspired to enter the competition because of her exposure to the Holocaust in middle school. 

“Considering the political climate today, not just here but in other countries as well, there is a real need to remember.” Suphan says on why the competition is important, “Remember in detail, is the important part too you can’t just make sweeping statement you have to be like no, these are the logistics and small things and big things that happened.” In Plattsburgh there is a sizeable Jewish population but a Neo-Nazi one as well, Suphan notes. 

Hillel, the Jewish club on campus advertises for the competition for members on social media. The club welcomes all students to learn and celebrate Judaism. The former president of the club, Paige Sangiorgio has never participated in the competition but believes it is important to remember the millions of lives that were taken. Sangiorgio explains,“It is important for people to continue learning and hearing stories from survivors today as the amount of survivors decrease each year.”

Jonathan Slater the director of the Jewish Studies and Journalism department at SUNY Plattsburgh leads the commencement at the Days of Remembrance. The competition is in honor of Douglas Skopp the former Jewish director here at SUNY Plattsburgh. Skopp wrote a fictional novel called “Shadows Walking” about Nazi medicine. This is the first year without Skopp at the competition. Over the summer, he died after a long battle with cancer. 

“Doug would come to the Days of Remembrance and congratulate the winners and hand the winners a copy of his novel, “Shadows Walking”, Slater says, “ It was always lovely to see him, so we will miss him greatly this year.” 

 Although the competition is part of the Jewish studies program which was put into place in 2015. Participants don’t have to be Jewish. Anyone and everyone is welcomed to submit artistic and scholarly work to the competition individually or as a group. Slater wants more students to participate and encourage faculty to get students involved. Submissions are due March 14th. Students can send in submissions by email to Jonathan Slater at or by logging onto MyPlattsburgh and clicking on the community sites icon

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