New student organization Jews and Allies hosts Holocaust Remembrance Day symposium and exhibition

<p>Attendees at the International Holocaust Remembrance Day symposium listen to speaker Hans-Christian Jasch.<br/><br/></p>

Attendees at the International Holocaust Remembrance Day symposium listen to speaker Hans-Christian Jasch.

Throughout history, there have been various international events that have shaped the way we interact with the world around us. Especially within the legal system, these types of events hold even more imminent ramifications in regards to how the justice system operates. The weight of this history is upheld by a new student organization, Jews and Allies, through McKinney School of Law at IUPUI. Jews & Allies hosted a symposium on Thursday, Jan. 25, along with the opening of an exhibition in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Mia Sacks

Mia Sacks speaks at the International Holocaust Remembrance Day symposium.

Mia Sacks, a current McKinney law student and president of Jews & Allies, was first approached by Robert Katz, a professor at McKinney Law, in September 2023 about creating an organization for Jewish students, as well as those who want to learn about the Jewish experience.

“Professor Katz and I felt there was an opportunity there to develop an organization that gave a place for Jewish students in McKinney to be comfortable with each other and identify as Jewish. To welcome allies and others who wanted to learn more about Jewish culture and identity so that they could better understand that as lawyers,” Sacks said. “Also, to learn more about how this is something that continues to affect the field, and how they can be better served going forward as lawyers.”

Furthermore, once they realized the need for an inclusive space, Sacks saw that there was also a gap in cultural understanding for some law students at McKinney.

“As law students, there is a need for an opportunity for us to learn and understand the many kinds of racism and bias that exist not just in the country, but in the world, in society and in law,” Sacks said. “The reality is that the law is reflected throughout human history, and it continues to reflect on our clients. It affects the people that you represent in a courtroom, and it affects how you look at a jury pool and reflects perhaps how you are often dealing with explaining things to a courtroom, where your client and their background may not be well understood.”

As for Jews & Allies specifically, their goal is to focus on the effects on antisemitism and the way that it continues to affect lives around the world.

“The reality is that antisemitism is not a subject that is frequently discussed and understood well as something outside of, let’s say, the Holocaust. We tend to think of it in those big sweeping terms, but, just like other forms of racism, it has its subtleties," Sacks said. "It exists in tropes, in marginalizing, in othering, and it exists in not having a strong understanding of people inside of that community and people outside of that community.”

According to Jenna Rudowski, a McKinney Law student and Jews & Allies Treasurer, the inclusion of “allies” in the title of their organization was very intentional.

“This is not just an exclusive club just for people who identify as Jewish. We added allies very intentionally because we wanted everyone to be welcome,” Rudowski said. “Our goal is to not only advocate for bettering a world where antisemitism is less of a thing, or just better understood, but also for any ally to say, ‘hey, let’s collaborate with other organizations of marginalized folks,’ because we understand advocacy does not exist in a vacuum.”

Being that advocacy is a large part of the organization’s foundational values, Jews & Allies hosted a Holocaust Remembrance Day symposium and exhibition where anyone could attend.

“It’s (the symposium and exhibition) an educational piece. We very much not wanted to show not only the event itself, the genocide, the horror, but understand the structures that made it possible, because those are something that attorneys and future advocates need to be aware of so that we’re not just repeating history,” Rudowski said. “Understanding anti-semitism, anti-semitism in the law, is also understanding prevention of harm to other communities and how they interplay amongst one another.” 

Although the exhibition is only available for a short time, Rudowski hopes that the exhibition, as well as the symposium, opens the door for deeper conversations.

“If we never ask questions, think critically, then we’ll never advance. So what my goal, my hope, is that people who do decide to join us in this event can hear it, listen, feel impacted and talk about it,” Rudowski said.

The symposium itself had a keynote lecture given by Hans-Christian Jasch, a historian and attorney for the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, on “The Role of the German Judiciary after 1918 and during the Nazi and Post-War Eras.” 

Additionally, there was a panel discussing Nazi persecution of non-Jewish populations, with discussion between Kathrin Janzen, a University of Vienna doctorate candidate and Jasch. Janzen spoke on the Nazi mass murder of disabled people, and Jasch spoke on the relationship of American anti-Black race laws with Nazi anti-Jewish race laws. The panel closed with an exploration on the topic of the interwoven narrative of the persecution of LGBTQ+ persons, moderated by Katz.


The exhibition “Crimes Uncovered: The First Generation of Holocaust Researchers” is displayed in the Ruth Lilly Law Library.

The symposium ended with Jasch’s opening of the exhibition “Crimes Uncovered: The First Generation of Holocaust Researchers,” which he originally curated while serving as Director of the Memorial and Educational Site House of the Wannsee Conference in Berlin. The exhibition is displayed in Ruth Lilly Law Library for members of IUPUI and the public to view through Feb. 2.

Abigail Godsen (she/her) is a sophomore majoring in Applied Information Sciences with a minor in Classics. She is a reporter, podcast co-host and Copy Editor for The Campus Citizen. When she isn’t writing, Abby likes to cook, do crossword puzzles and drink a lot of tea. She can be summoned using tea, cardigans and books (according to her roommate Jackie).

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