Never forget

Holocaust Education Week starts Nov. 8

Naomi Rosenfeld, co-chair of holocaust education Week, said she wants to ensure Queen’s students know themes of genocide are applicable to today.
Naomi Rosenfeld, co-chair of holocaust education Week, said she wants to ensure Queen’s students know themes of genocide are applicable to today.

The Holocaust marked one of the worst tragedies in human history, and in order to ensure that victims aren’t forgotten, Queen’s Hillel is participating in Holocaust Education Week on campus from Nov. 8 to Nov. 11.

Next week’s initiatives will mark the 30th year Holocaust Education Week has taken place in Canada. Holocaust Education Week was initially organized around the Nov. 9 anniversary of Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, when The Nazi government had Jewish homes and business ransacked and hundreds of Jews killed and taken to concentration camps.

Since it began in 1980, it has grown from being various small community sponsored events to a major forum for international speakers. According to the Canadian Jewish News, last year about 30,000 people attended programs across the country.

In recognition of the anniversary, this year’s theme, entitled “We Who Survived” focuses on survivor testimony and the importance of documenting it now, before there are no more survivors left.

On Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. in Stirling D, Holocaust Survivor Nate Leipciger will be speaking about his story and experiences.

He was born in Poland in 1928 and survived a series of ghettos and death camps. He and his father were liberated in May of 1945 and immigrated to Canada in October of 1948.

He has since taken to educating youth about the holocaust and received a meritious service decoration from the government of Canada in 2000 for his work.

“Having arrived at Auschwitz at the age of 15, and having seen the others of my age group marched off directly to the gas chamber, I feel a terrific obligation to educate our youth,” he wrote in a March of the Living testimony.

He wrote that each time he makes a “pilgrimage” to Poland, he does it to pay homage to his mother, sister and grandparents who perished.

While most Holocaust Education programs occur in the Greater Toronto Region, Regional Jewish Communities of Ontario is co-sponsoring programs in Kingston, Thunder Bay, Newmarket, Sudbury, Guelph, Barrie and Peterborough.

Naomi Rosenfeld, Holocaust Education Week co-chair, said Canadian universities like McMaster, McGill and Western also work to commemorate victims of the Holocaust during this week.

“The main goal of the week is to educate people at Queen’s and the Kingston community at large about themes of the Holocaust,” Rosenfeld, ArtSci ’13, said. “We are raising awareness to ensure it or anything like it never happens again.”

Promotion for Holocaust Education Week has occurred through the use of social media like Facebook, posters on campus, emails to faculty and announcements at lectures and Hillel events.

“The history we tend to educate about is specific to Holocaust, but themes of genocide are applicable to events going on in world today,” she said. “It is clear that hate is not going away, which you can see with what is going on in Darfur right now.”

[The] historical content about the Holocaust will be shown in a walk-through exhibit displayed in the lower-Ceilidh JDUC from Monday to Thursday of next week, Rosenfeld said. This exhibit has been displayed in the JDUC during Holocaust Education Week every year since 2006, and Queen’s is one of the few universities in Canada to have a walk through exhibit of this scale.

“It is a museum-like exhibit where people can learn about events prior, during and after the Holocaust, such as what was going on in Germany at the time, Hitler’s rise to power and the spread of anti-Semitic propaganda,” she said.

Scott Miller, director of curatorial affairs at U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum, will be speaking about his 10 year project of documenting the fate of the St. Louis; a ship denied entry in to Cuba, the US and Canada because it contained 937 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany.

In addition, the movie Escape from Sobibor, based on the factual account of what happened at the Nazi death camp of Sobibor will be shown.

Life in the ghettos, concentration and death camps will also be discussed during the week. The many types of resistance demonstrated by Jews and non-Jews alike will also be discussed.

“Throughout the Holocaust, there were all types of resistance, such as the Warsaw ghetto uprising and the righteous among the nations who risked their lives to help,” Rosenfeld said, adding that victims such as gypsies and political prisoners will be acknowledged as well as Jews.

“It’s very important this is not just targeted for Jews but for community at large.

“Our events don’t require previous knowledge; they are there for people to come to learn. We want the community at large to know about it so they can raise awareness on their own,” she said. “We want someone to be able to come who doesn’t know a thing about the Holocaust and leave with a general knowledge and overview of what happened.”

While the Holocaust occurred decades ago, it is crucial to continue to learn about it and understand why it remains relevant to today, Rosenfeld said.

“A lot of time people might look at the Holocaust and think that it’s so long ago and not relevant to their life, but not only are the themes relevant and applicable, there are so many connections at Queen’s to the Holocaust,” she said. “This is not something in the past that we can forget about.” Hillel Co-President Shira Sasson echoes these sentiments.

“The Holocaust is one example of what hatred is capable of. The purpose of Holocaust Education Week is to show our respect in remembering the millions who were killed, and to learn from the stories of Holocaust survivors who we are so fortunate to have with us,” she told the Journal in an email.

“The lessons we learn through Holocaust education are very relevant to more current issues. Through education and remembrance, we will be able to prevent such atrocities from ever happening again.”

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