by Marnie Bondar and Dahlia Libin
(AJNews) – It is our honour to serve as co-chairs of Calgary Jewish Federation Holocaust and Human Rights: Remembrance and Education (HHRRE) department, providing world-class Holocaust and human rights programming that is made in Calgary and proudly shared with our community partners in Edmonton, Winnipeg, and elsewhere.
While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly created programming challenges, it also afforded some unanticipated and positive new opportunities. We successfully delivered the Holocaust Education Symposium online for two years, adding a fall semester option for the first time ever. With the support of our many partners in the public and separate school districts, as well as charter and private schools, our annual symposia inform and empower over 10,000 Alberta students and teachers each year.
Dedicated professionals and volunteers have been active in our Second Voices project. In addition to five previously available presentations, second and third generation volunteers are now making school and community presentations where they share the survivor testimonies of Bronia Cyngiser, Sid Cyngiser, Eva Davis, Oscar Kirschner, Benek Herman, and Sonia Kravitz. As well, our valued partners at Yad Vashem are providing meaningful and insightful tours and programs to school and community audiences.
We are devoted to building and maintaining partnerships with other impressive organizations and individuals. One example is the phenomenally successful Holocaust Education Series we have organized in partnership with the Calgary Public Library over the past two years. With the support of the library and philanthropists including The KSW Calgary Holocaust Education & Commemoration Endowment Fund, and the participation of various professionals and community volunteers, we have had the thrill of bringing world-class authors and scholars to huge audiences in Calgary, Edmonton, and beyond. Meanwhile, the HHRRE department now proudly provides corporate presentations about the Holocaust, antisemitism, and racism. None of our work could have happened without the support of our community and – in particular – the skilled staff at Calgary Jewish Federation and the micro-community of talented and dedicated volunteers who inspire and energize us each and every day.
Lastly, these ever-helping hands and hearts breathed life into our amazing project, Here to Tell: Faces of Holocaust Survivors – even in the midst of a health crisis. This extraordinary photographic exhibit opens at the Glenbow at The Edison on May 27, thanks to the enthusiasm and support of Nicholas Bell, Glenbow CEO and Melanie Kjorlien, VP Engagement and COO. Copies of the beautiful Here to Tell book are literally flying out the door, so be sure to purchase your copy at the Glenbow. We look forward to seeing you at the exhibit which runs through to July 3, and will later travel to other” We are grateful to everyone who has played a role in Holocaust education and remembrance, especially the brave and inspiring survivors who are the beating hearts of EVERYTHING we do.
Our community has really come together to bear witness – from generation to generation – ensuring that those who perished at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators are never forgotten. Let us move ahead and continue to liberally plant seeds of hope, humanity, and responsible citizenship at every opportunity. We owe no less to our survivors, and to our children – the fourth generation in whom we have a sacred duty to cultivate the Jewish pride and resiliency that is their birthright.
There are exciting things to look forward to, including a third season of programs in conjunction with the Calgary Public Library and some incredible surprises – stay tuned!
Todah rabah to everyone who is taking part in this community-building and life-changing journey. We feel your love and send it back to you a hundredfold.
Marnie Bondar and Dahlia Libin are Co-Chairs, Holocaust and Human Rights: Remembrance and Education department of Calgary Jewish Federation.