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    International Holocaust Remembrance Day

    Eva Wachsmann (being held second from the left) was born in Kosice Mesto, in the former Czechoslovakia on 22 March 1930. Here she is pictured with her family at the family home. Eva was nine years old when the Second World War began. She did not survive the Holocaust. She was murdered by the Nazis in the Auschwitz Birkenau German Nazi concentration and death camp. Photo Credit: Yad Vashem Archives, Hall of Names via

    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.

    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.

    Canadian Society for Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial at Earl Bales Park. Photo Credit: City of Toronto via

    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.

    Ann Rosenfield MBA, CFRE
    Chief Development Officer
    Temple Sinai Congregation of Toronto