La Sapienza - Università di Roma

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International Holocaust Remembrance Day

As a university, we have often called for a unified cultural approach to International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The joint celebration of this extraordinary lay rite, inspired by humanity and the need to remember, drives us to look at the relation between “Sapienza” and “Memory” - the strength of words is an antidote to the repetition of events that may be removed or re-interpreted.

Sapienza University has a long-standing tradition, a beautiful expression used by historians to indicate an organisation that has a long experience and vast heritage of memory. And, in this context, a great intellectual, Professor Elie Wiesel, coined a fitting concept: “transfusion of memory.” By trading in knowledge, and all the experience accumulated by previous generations, a university is naturally promoting the vitality of memory (which, in this case, is also a tradition), without overlooking the fact that the root of the Latin verb tradere alludes to the transfer of goods between generations.

Just yesterday, the entire university community commemorated the second anniversary of the death of Giulio Regeni. And we look back to last year’s heartfelt ceremony, when 365 young men and women counted out the days elapsed since the sad fact, underlining our will not to forget.

And this leads us to the semantic shift between past and future, on which our dear moto is founded: “The Future Started Here.”

Moreover, there is a further cultural reference, a significant one for Sapienza, which refers to the duties of intellectuals that philosopher Jacques Maritain referred to as the “responsibility of memory.”

And Sapienza did more to buttress this culture. It presented a Doctorate Honoris Causa in History, Anthropology and Religions to Sami Modiano, a survivor and witness of the Shoah, at the inauguration of the 2013 academic year.

This year, as we celebrate International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the university has chosen to commemorate the event with a musical performance by MuSa – Music at Sapienza and a conference on the relationship between Medicine and the Shoah, a theme that still calls on the entire scientific community to preserve our memory and respect our responsibilities.