December 12 , 2005
quilt draws 1,000 to Quadrangle
To mark World AIDS Day on Thursday, Dec. 1, the Quadrangle
hosted one of the largest displays of the AIDS Memorial Quilt ever
take place in Atlanta.
More than 400 panels of the quilt, which totals more
than 45,000 panels and weighs some 54 tons, were spread out on the
a succession of readers stepped
to a podium and recited names of people who have passed away from the disease.
“Quilt on the Quad” was the University’s centerpiece event
of AIDS Awareness Week, a campus-wide remembrance for which Volunteer Emory was
the lead sponsor. Emory Hillel was the lead sponsor for Quilt on the Quad.
In addition to the quilt, many campus organizations,
as well as others from outside Emory, set up information tables around
The week also
guest speakers, cultural and information events and outreach work.
Following an opening ceremony that featured comments
from Rollins School of Public Health Dean Jim Curran and several
staff and students
campus took turns reading names from the quilt. They also were invited to add
names of anyone they knew who succumbed to the disease. Those names were read
for more than four hours.
Emory Hillel Director Michael Rabkin said one reader
told him he could feel not only energy emanating from the panels
rising from the quilt as
names were read.
“There were people who had never seen the quilt before who were moved to
tears when they saw it,” he said. “It’s touching to hear stories
of how the quilt affected people.”
According to Rabkin, approximately 1,000 members of
the community passed through the Quadrangle during the event and
examine the quilt.
at just a handful of panels, while others wound their way throughout the
display, contemplating each of the colorful squares. Few visitors left
The effort to bring the AIDS quilt to Emory (the Quad
event was not the first time a portion of the quilt has been displayed
on campus, but this was the
largest display to date) began earlier this year. A group from Emory Hillel
Tritt Social Justice Force had taken an outreach trip to Minsk, Russia, which
inspired them to take on a project closer to home.
The students contacted the Atlanta-based NAMES Project
Foundation, which is caretaker of the quilt. With the assistance
organizations such as
of Residence Life, the Quilt on the Quad display was organized. In all, the
quilt memorializes some 88,000 people from around the world who have died
Hillel’s outreach efforts will not end with the
conclusion of AIDS Awareness Week. “I’ve already had
students come to me who want to do something,” Rabkin
said. “They have made this a priority. It is a refection of Jewish [teaching]
that to save a life is to save the world.”
In response, Rabkin said Emory Hillel is working to
create JHEALTH, an education, advocacy and awareness group that could
Hillel and the wider Emory
Jewish community to health organizations around Emory and Atlanta.