Upcoming Holocaust Education programs will have an impact across Alberta

A virtual tour of Yad Vashem on Feb. 20 will take visitors behind the scenes at Israel's Holocaust Museum.

by Maxine Fischbein

(AJNews) – In addition to the January 27 live virtual conversation with Ben M. Freeman, author of Jewish Pride, Jewish community members and the community at large can look forward to a series of Holocaust-related programming organized by Calgary Jewish Federation in conjunction with the Calgary Public Library:

A tour of Yad Vashem will take attendees behind the scenes at Israel’s Holocaust Museum on February 20. Those who enjoyed last year’s virtual tour should plan to participate, say Calgary Jewish Federation Holocaust Education and Commemoration Co-Chairs Marnie Bondar and Dahlia Libin, as this tour will concentrate on different parts of the museum’s collection.

Rebecca Donner, author of the critically acclaimed biography All the Frequent Troubles of Our Day: The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler, will speak on March 22 about the story of her remarkable great-great-aunt, Mildred Harnack.

On April 24, former Mossad agent Avraham Avner will speak about Israel’s hunt for Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann.

All of these programs have been made possible through the generous financial support of the Isadore and Florence Burstyn Memorial Fund, KSW Calgary Holocaust Education & Commemoration Endowment Fund, and donors to the Human Rights and Holocaust Education Fund at the Calgary Public Library Foundation.

The Jewish Federation of Edmonton and the Edmonton Public Library are partnering on the January 27 program and are eager to continue working closely with Calgary on programming in the future. Dr. Colin Muscat, who chairs the Jewish Federation of Edmonton Holocaust Education Committee, told AJNews that he “…appreciates the generosity of Marnie Bondar and Dahlia Libin” in sharing Calgary Holocaust programs and encouraging Alberta-wide initiatives.

Yom HaShoah

Yom HaShoah begins on Wednesday, April 27. Organizers in both Calgary and Edmonton are hoping that their respective communities will be able to come together in person, COVID permitting. Jewish Federation of Edmonton is currently considering a socially-distanced commemoration at the Holocaust memorial site on the grounds of the Alberta Legislature. In Calgary the theme of resistance will be explored on Yom Hashoah and in related programming throughout Shoah Week.

Holocaust Education Symposia

The Jewish Federations in both Edmonton and Calgary have traditionally organized in-person Holocaust symposia for high school students and teachers. When COVID-19 closed the door in 2020, a window opened thanks to Calgary Jewish Federation’s swift transition to a virtual spring symposium which they opened to students in Edmonton and other locations throughout the province.

When Calgary added a fall virtual symposium this past November, Jewish Federation of Edmonton recruited participation from nine Edmonton and area schools including Stony Plain and Spruce Grove. A total of 4,900 Alberta students from 95 schools participated in the first-ever fall symposium.

There will be a spring Holocaust Symposium. Details are pending.

Here to Tell:  Faces of Holocaust Survivors

Here to Tell: Faces of Holocaust Survivors will be featured at the Glenbow Museum satellite location from May 27 through July 3. Produced by Calgary Jewish Federation’s Holocaust Education and Commemoration Department, the exhibit features evocative black and white photographs of Holocaust survivors who made Calgary their home, or are otherwise connected to the city, and a short but powerful film about the making of the exhibit. A companion hardcover book will be launched in conjunction with the exhibit and available for purchase.

Here to Tell was designed to travel and has already garnered international interest.

For more information including volunteer opportunities, go to www.heretotell.com.

They Didn’t Know We Were Seeds

Jewish Federation of Edmonton is working with Edmonton Public Library toward Holocaust-related programming including an exhibit featuring 18 captivating paintings by Saskatchewan artist Carol Wylie whose subjects include nine Holocaust survivors and nine residential school survivors. It is anticipated that They Didn’t Know We Were Seeds will be displayed at the Edmonton Public Library in September 2022.

Additional Holocaust-related Initiatives

When the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem secured a Maspik (Hebrew for “enough”) grant through the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the Jewish Federation of Edmonton was one of three Canadian Jewish Federations that applied for and received ready-to-print exhibits from Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum. The multi-panel exhibits are intended for use in public spaces and are being shared with other organizations and communities, says Jenn Magalnick, Associate Director, Holocaust Education and Community Engagement at Jewish Federation of Edmonton.

To date, Stars without a Heaven: Children of the Holocaust has been displayed at two Edmonton schools and will be sent to the Calgary Public Library as an adjunct to the January 27 conversation with Ben M. Freeman. Another exhibit – Shoah: How was it Humanly Possible? – will be displayed at Edmonton Public Library in conjunction with the Freeman event. The Maspik grant was made possible by a broad coalition of Jewish organizations and is funded by the Wendy Eisen and Carole Zucker JNF Fund.

As reported last month in AJNews, The Jewish Federation of Edmonton invited members of local Jewish organizations to Shine a Light on Antisemitism during Chanukah by painting ceramic tiles with their personal reflections. An open house was held at Westridge Community League on December 5 so that additional members of the community could bring their empowering messages to the project. Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, Senator Paula Simons, Councilors Jennifer Rice and Sarah Hamilton, and Lorne Dach, the MLA for Edmonton-McClung, were in attendance. St. Albert mosaic artist Lewis Lavoie has been commissioned to turn the tiles into a mosaic that will be publically displayed in an effort to educate the greater public. The project was supported by a grant from the Jewish Federations of North America. Click here and here for more information.

A Chanukah initiative spearheaded by the Holocaust Education and Commemoration Department of Calgary Jewish Federation saw students at The Calgary Jewish Academy make latkes while their peers at the Halpern Akiva Academy made Chanukah cards. The goodies, delivered by a team of volunteers, brought smiles to the faces of local Holocaust survivors.

Calgary Holocaust survivor Fanny Wedro recently traveled to Toronto where her Holocaust testimony and image were recorded by the USC Shoah Foundation so that she can speak to future generations via hologram. In addition to sharing her story with Alberta high school students, Wedro recently spoke at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City and at the Teaneck International Film Festival where My Name is Sara – a movie depicting the Holocaust experiences of her childhood friend and fellow survivor Sara Goralnik Shapiro – was screened.

Calgary Jewish Federation continues to support next generation volunteers in sharing the Holocaust testimony of loved ones. Second Voices presentations have been completed for survivors Eva Davis, Benek Herman, Oscar Kirshner and Bronia and Sidney Cyngiser. The Cyngiser presentations were funded in both Calgary and Edmonton and will be shared by family members in each city. The Second Voices project was funded, in part, by a generous grant from the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

The Jewish Federations in Edmonton and Calgary are encouraging local participation in two international Holocaust remembrance initiatives. While neither community is organizing local March of the Living cohorts this spring, they are facilitating  the participation of teens and adults who wish to join a Toronto contingent that will spend Yom HaShoah in Poland and Yom Ha’atzmaut in Israel.

Liberation 75 and the USC Shoah Foundation are working with local Jewish Federations to connect with Holocaust survivors who have not already shared their oral testimonies. Holocaust survivors willing to be interviewed are asked to contact their local Jewish Federation office for details.

For more information on Holocaust education and commemoration initiatives in Calgary and Edmonton, go to www.jewishcalgary.org and www.jewishedmonton.org.

Maxine Fischbein is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Alberta Jewish News. 

1 Comment on "Upcoming Holocaust Education programs will have an impact across Alberta"

  1. Sonia Kaplan | Jan 7, 2022 at 9:12 am | Reply

    Can’t believe how much work the Calgary/Edmonton community is doing in keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive for future generations to learn not forget.
    A Kovat to the hard work tof the people who organize, and put their heart and soul into doing this.

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