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Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Center for Judaic Studies


Holocaust Awareness Institute

Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site

The University of Denver is proud to be home to a project so strongly dedicated to raising social consciousness and multicultural respect in memory of Jewish lives lost to the Holocaust. This project marks the spirit of inclusion and respect that DU stands for, and heralds an exciting new set of community and campus opportunities for collaboration and learning. - Former Chancellor Robert D. Coombe, University of Denver

The Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site (HMSAS) is a space dedicated to inclusivity and diversity through learning, intercultural dialogue, and social justice initiatives. The mission of the site is to honor and remember those who lost their lives in the Holocaust by dedicating ourselves to acts of learning, dialogue, and bridge-building aimed at making the world a better place today and into the future.

Our vision is linked to the Hebrew expression, "Hineni": "Here I am," a post-Holocaust ethical teaching about the infinite responsibility that each one of us has for the other. In post-Holocaust Jewish philosophy, this expression conveys a strong message: The words "Here I am" are words of ethical response—they mark the infinite responsibility that each of us has to the person standing before us. In this spirit, the site calls us to action, while emphasizing learning and dialogue.

Watch a short video about the Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site:

Source: DU VideoManager

The design of the site incorporates symbols that underscore its mission:

  • Through its inclusion of a primary stone shaped like the Hebrew word "chai," which means life, the memorial honors the past by encouraging people to gather together in the present to dedicate their actions to positive change.

  • The shape of this gathering space also calls to mind an eternal flame: Unlike an eternal flame made of fire, our eternal flame is made up of the people who gather at this site to make the world better. Through gatherings dedicated to education and action, we testify to the endurance of memory.

  • Several metal lattices beckon to the shattered glass of Kristallnacht, at once symbolizing the ruptures of history and the present-day call to heal the world.

  • These lattices also spell out the Hebrew word "Hineni" or "Here I am." In post-Holocaust Jewish philosophy, "Here I am" represents the responsibility that each human has to respond to the call of their fellow human. In its programming and symbolism, the site embodies this commitment to response.

Please visit our Flickr page for pictures of just some of the growing number of events held at this important new city-wide gathering space.


For more details on how you can reserve the space for an awareness-building event, please ask the Center for Judaic Studies for an HMSAS Scheduling Request Form by emailing us at

Archive of HMSAS Events & Press 

Has your class or group met at HMSAS recently? If so, we'd love to hear from you! Please email us at to share your experience today.

Click here to see a list of events held during the early years of HMSAS
  • July 17, 2013: National Network of University Churches for the United Methodist Church and National Association of Campus Ministers--gathering at the Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site.
  • May 2013: Social Justice Poetry Slam by students in Social Justice Living and Learning Community.
  • April 2013: Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Week activities, including Litany of Names and Candlelight Vigil.
  • May 2012: "What students are DUing: Social Justice in Action" - the kickoff event for the 2012 Diversity Summit. Participants watched In Whose Honor?, a film about Spokane Indian student Charlene Teters who campaigned against the Indian mascot at University of Illinois. After the film, attendees participated in a directed conversation intended to promote activism among students.
  • November 2011: "The Elusive Interval"-a consciousness raising video artworks installation at the Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site by students in DU's Electronic Media Art and Design (eMAD) program.
  • September 2011: DU student 9/11/11 vigil organized by DU Chaplain Rev. Gary Brower.
  • May 2011: Digital Story-telling for Social Justice, an evening of social justice films on campus, created by DU students in the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, the Social Justice Living and Learning Community, and the Women's College.
  • April 2011: Voices in Dialogue: Engaging the Stranger - A Day of Interfaith Bridge-Building featuring Muslim, American Indian, Jewish and Christian voices with Ismail Demirkan, Dr. Tink Tinker, Rabbi Marc Soloway, and Rev. John Thompson.
Click here to see HMSAS in the press!

Endowed chair of holocaust studies

In the spirit of our project, the memorial is also linked to an endowed chair of Holocaust Studies.

Education is the key to never forgetting. It is in this spirit that CJS and DU are working, with your help, to endow a chair in Holocaust studies. The Endowed Chair of Holocaust Studies is a visionary scholar and a leading voice in regional and global Holocaust studies who will expand Holocaust educational offerings on and off campus. This scholar also will direct our Holocaust Awareness Institute, and will oversee new programming at the Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site and across the community.

Establishing this position makes the University of Denver the only campus in the world with an endowed chair of Holocaust studies tied to a Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site.

To learn more about this $3-million project and how you can help, please contact Prof. Sarah Pessin at or by phone at 303.871.3021.


To help fund ongoing and new programming at the Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site, you can donate online to the Holocaust Memorial Fund, or you can send your gift by mail to:

Center for Judaic Studies
University of Denver
2000 E Asbury Ave., Ste. 157
Denver, CO 80208-0911

Visit our Current Initiatives page to learn about other exciting initiatives at CJS.