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HEW is marked by many different opportunities to remember those we lost, and to be reminded

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The Boerneplatz synagogue in flames during the Kristallnacht pogrom (the "Night of Broken Glass"). Frankfurt am Main, Germany, November 10, 1938.

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Holocaust Education Week (HEW) takes place this year from November 2nd to November 9th.

Observed since 1982, HEW is an internationally recognized week honouring the survivors of the

Holocaust and commemorating those murdered by the Nazis.

According to the official history, “Holocaust Education Week was founded before there was a physical site to house a museum or education centre. As early as 1977, the Jewish Student Federation at York University hosted a Holocaust Remembrance Week on campus that featured films, poetry readings, lectures and group-study sessions. In 1982, Holocaust Education Week became formalized under the auspices of the Holocaust Remembrance Committee of the Toronto Jewish Congress (the precursor name of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto) and was overseen by a dedicated group of volunteers and survivors. At its founding, Holocaust Education Week was launched with a community-wide event on the Wednesday or Thursday closest to Kristallnacht – a tradition that continues to this day.”

By the time WWII ended in 1945, the Jewish population in Europe had been reduced by two thirds. Six million Jewish men, women and children were killed at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators.  

HEW is marked by many different opportunities to remember those we lost and to be reminded of the hatred and antisemitism still alive in the world. Even in this new normal of life under COVID-19, organizations continue to make programming available to the public.

This year, the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre has teamed up with the Virtual J in order to ensure that Holocaust Education Week is impactful as ever. There are many curated online activities available to provide education of the Holocaust for all. They are also providing resources for educators and students to explore the tremendous impact that the Holocaust had on the past, is having on the present, and will have in the future. More information and a calendar of events can be found at virtualjcc.com/channel/holocaust-education-week .

Many other organizations plan events as part of Holocaust Education Week.

One night last week, I presented to a group of York Region District School Board staff on the events of the holocaust and the importance of learning about the events of the past in order to prevent future atrocities. The next night, I was a guest on a podcast discussing the importance of Holocaust with some pretty prestigious Holocaust educators. This week I am making presentations to groups of students and a community group. There is certainly no shortage of people who recognize the need to remember what can happen when hate is left to run unchecked. 

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The need for us to remember is further emphasized by a recent survey conducted by the ADL in the US.

Students surveyed “indicated that their Holocaust education (with survivor testimony and without) had helped them: make connections between the Holocaust and modern day events (48% for those exposed to survivor testimony compared to 31% for those who had no testimony); understand the importance of speaking up against any stereotyping (65% for those who had exposure, compared to 45% who did not); and understand how the Holocaust happened (71% who had exposure, compared to 50% for those who had no exposure).”

Despite the results of the ADL survey, there are still many youth who are not aware of the details of the Holocaust.

A survey conducted in Canada by the Azrieli Foundation last year found that more than 53% of those surveyed were not aware of how many Jews died in the Holocaust. That does not take into consideration the growing problem of antisemitism and Holocaust denial across Canada and the world. Antisemitism and antisemitic acts have increased steadily over the past few years.

“Hindsight 2020, the past transforming the future” is the theme for this year’s Holocaust Education Week.

Last week, the Government of Ontario voted to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism. This is a significant move in the fight against antisemitism in Ontario in that it lays out clear criteria by which we can address transgressors.

It states in part that “antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

This is especially important when dealing with situations such as the one involving Foodbenders in Toronto. In that case, we clearly have repeated antisemitic attacks launched, while trying to hide behind the a very thin veil of social issues, while publicly spewing vile and hateful rhetoric targeted at Jewish people.  With the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, City of Toronto has proceeded with charges against the business and they have requested a hearing before the Licensing Tribunal.  The city, under By-law 574-2000, could have laid charges before, but they have only done so now that the IHRA definition was adopted in Ontario.

Holocaust education, and by extension antisemitism education, should not be confined to one week a year, but this one particular week, Holocaust Education Week, brings awareness to many of events that need to be brought to light, so that we can all truly understand the meaning behind the words “never again!”

Corey Margolese is the founder of JTeach.ca, a not-for-profit organization that offers training and resources in the dangers of antisemitism, Holocaust education, and in Judaic traditions, culture and religion. He is a public school teacher.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

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Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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