Toronto’s Holocaust Education Week. A vast undertaking.

SPECIAL REPORT

“Accountability. 50 Years Since the Eichmann Trial.”

“I commend the Holocaust Education and Memorial Centre of Toronto (UJA Federation) for its outstanding leadership in organizing this week’s educational programs. By bringing the accounts of survivors to people of all faiths and cultures, your efforts honour their legacy of courage, strength and humanity.”

 –  Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada

By Alan Simons

TORONTO, October 27, 2011-  The 31st Holocaust Education Week will take place in Toronto and the surrounding region, from November 1 to November 9. This year more than 30,000 participants are expected to attend over 130 multi-faceted events, that will take place in churches, synagogues, schools, universities, community venues, retirement centres, libraries and theatres.

The central theme for 2011 is “Accountability. 50 Years Since the Eichmann Trial.” SS Lieutenant Colonel Adolf Eichmann was a key figure in implementing the “Final Solution,” Nazi Germany’s plan and execution of the systematic genocide of European Jews during World War II. Eichmann was captured by Israeli agents in Argentina in May 1960 and taken to Israel to face trial in an Israeli court.

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Toronto’s annual Holocaust Education Week is a vast undertaking. It is regarded as the largest educational forum of its kind in the world. About seventy volunteers, with the support of eight staff members of Toronto’s Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, are responsible for the week. Sponsors or donors include the Consulate Generals of Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Poland, Italy and Israel.

Why the lack of interest from the Muslim community in Holocaust Education Week?

Sadly, as in previous years, it is unfortunate that Toronto’s animated Muslim community, estimated at nearly half a million people, continue to show lack of courage in extending their community’s involvement by not speaking out against racism, hate, intolerance and Holocaust denial during the week. In my opinion, I’m sure their participation in Holocaust Education Week would have been welcomed.

This is not a trivial matter. Toronto’s religious landscape is significantly changing in the greater Toronto area. By 2017, according to projections by Stats Canada, approximately one out of six residents will be non-Christian. And coupled with the decline in the population of  Toronto’s Jewish community, these are important challenges that must soon be addressed by the organizers of Holocaust Education Week.

Holocaust Education Week’s program this year also includes events dealing with the fate of European Roma and Sinti during the Holocaust, the Tutsi genocide and its aftermath, as well as the untold story how twenty-five to thirty thousand Jews were issued life-saving certificates of Salvadoran citizenship, facilitating in one of the most successful rescue operations of World War II.

The entire week’s program can be viewed at:

http://holocaustcentre.com/Programs/Holocaust-Education-Week-2011

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