International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Even though my great-grandparents arrived in North America in the 1880s, we lost family in the Holocaust. If you know an Ashkenazi Jew (a Jew of Eastern European descent), it is likely you know someone whose family was touched by the Holocaust.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day was first observed by the United Nations in 2006 to remember the “millions of innocent Jews and members of other minorities [who] were murdered in the most barbarous ways imaginable” by the Nazis in World War II. According to the UN, “Focusing on the humanity of the victims prompts us to remember our humanity, and our responsibility to combat hate speech, combat antisemitism, and prejudice – to do all we can to prevent genocide.”
As a member of the Jewish community living in Toronto, I am concerned about the rise in antisemitism [hatred of Jews]. In the last five years, there have been fatal synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh, PA (2018), Poway, CA (2019), and a hostage crisis in Colleyville, TX (2022). As a result, if you walk into any Jewish organization in Toronto, you will find professional security at the entrance.
Antisemitism has been the most reported hate crime for the last five years in a row in Toronto. I raise this to highlight that hate lives here today, not in the distant past an ocean away.
What can you do? A good start is to learn more about how the Holocaust touched lives here in Toronto.
- Visit the Canadian Association for Yad Vashem Memorial in Earl Bales Park. It includes a narrative about the Holocaust as well names of both victims and survivors.
- Read By Chance Alone | A remarkable true story of courage and survival at Auschwitz by Toronto resident Max Eisen. It won the 2019 Canada Reads award.
- Visit the online Toronto-based Neuberger Education Centre for stories of the Holocaust from a Canadian perspective.
In the words of George Santayana “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I hope you will take some time on January 27 to learn more about the Holocaust and to think about how you will fight hate speech in Canada.
AFP-GTC has members that reflect the diversity of Canadian Society. AFP-GTC has invited members from a variety of backgrounds to share a reflection. This piece was written by Ann Rosenfield for International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, it reflects her personal experience.