Posted in News on March 12, 2017
Posted in In the News on March 12, 2017
ladies and gentlemen,
and may I include all of you when I address you most sincerely as – My dear friends!
It was November 3rd when Rabbi Eli Rubenstein asked me whether I would be willing to come at Hanukkah and speak to you all in Toronto. My diary was already well filled with appointments for the days before Christmas. But a diary does not necessarily reflect all the expectations and wishes of people with whom I am bound in love and affection. So it is the ties of affection which have brought me to meet you here today.
You wish me to describe the Groening trial, including the events leading up to it, its planning and execution.
But I would like to start by sharing with you some remarks concerning my own spiritual connection to the guiding principle of Hanukkah.
Read the full speech:
Posted in In the News on January 30, 2017
Jewish Federations of Canada – UIA stands in solidarity with the Muslim community following an act of terrorism that left six people dead and eight others injured after a shooting at a Quebec City mosque Sunday night.
“Our thoughts are with the families of the victims of this tragedy. In these unprecedented times, we must stand together against hatred and violence. The Canadian Jewish community stands in solidarity with the Muslim community of Quebec City and Canada as they struggle to deal with the aftermath of this act of terrorism in the days to come.”
– Julia Berger Reitman, Chair of Jewish Federations of Canada – UIA
Rabbi Reuben Poupko, co-chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs-Quebec said “the Jewish community is horrified by the murderous shooting at the Sainte-Foy mosque. Nothing justifies the murder of innocent civilians assembled in a place of worship. Our thoughts are with the victims and their relatives, as well as all our fellow Muslim citizens.”
David J. Cape, Chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), issued the following: “Last night’s deadly attack on the mosque in Ste-Foy, Quebec is horrifying and repugnant. Canadian Jewry stands in solidarity with the Muslim community and we say unequivocally that an attack on any of us is an attack on all of us. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the victims and their families.
“We call on Jews across the country to join our Muslim brothers and sisters and all Canadians of good faith and participate in solidarity vigils from coast to coast. Standing together, our determination to reject this hatred, will be the most powerful response to intolerance and violence.
“There is no room for such acts of hate in our society, and we are confident that Canadian law enforcement will bring the perpetrators of this heinous attack to swift justice.”
Prime minister Justin Trudeau affirmed on Twitter the values the Jewish community shares with Canada “Such senseless violence has no place in Canadian society. We will not close our minds. We will open our hearts.” Read his full statement here
Canada has always been a country that celebrates diversity and multiculturalism and espouses the values of peace and tolerance. Solidarity vigils are scheduled in communities across the country. Contact your local federation for details on events in your area.
Posted in From the Desk of the National Director on July 20, 2016
It was the 1990 March of the Living. Thousands of young people from around the world had gathered on Holocaust Remembrance Day in the ruins of Auschwitz-Birkenau for our closing ceremony.
Elie Wiesel began to speak. The crowd hung on his every word. As he approached the end of his remarks, his voice filled with indignation, then despair:
“How can one not be concerned with anti-Semitism? We were convinced that anti-Semitism perished here. Anti-Semitism did not perish; its victims perished here.
“Children of the Jewish People, do you ever see what I see here? I see so many children and so many parents, and so many teachers and so many students. I see them. Forever will I see them. I see them walking in their nocturnal procession, wandering, crying, praying.
“Forever will I see the children who no longer have the strength to cry. Forever will I see the elderly who no longer have the strength to help them. Forever will I see the mothers and the fathers, the grandfathers and grandmothers, the little school children, their teachers, the righteous and the pious. From where do we take the tears to cry over them? Who has the strength to cry for them?
“Years and years ago, I saw… I cannot tell you what I saw. I am afraid. I am afraid that if I told you we would all break out in tears and we would not stop. I see a young girl…”
And then suddenly, Elie Wiesel shook his head and walked off the stage, unable to share his story. It was just too heartbreaking for him to continue.
Posted in From the Desk of the National Director on July 18, 2016
On July 10, I walked with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau through the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau where, at age 15, I confronted death for the first but not for the last time.
It all started three days earlier when Eli Rubenstein, the Canadian director of the March of the Living, asked me if I would consider accompanying the prime minister to Poland. I was excited to go – this was a unique opportunity and privilege not afforded to many survivors of the Shoah.
Over the last 26 years I visited Poland, a free and democratic country many times. I visited the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau over 30 times on the March of the Living, and on many other occasions. However this was different: not only would I be there with my wife Bernice, my daughter Arla Litwin and my granddaughter Jennifer Green, but I would be there with the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of our beloved and wonderful Canada – a country where I established a new life, were I obtained an education and achieved a successful career, where my wife and I were blessed with a beautiful family of three daughters, three special son-in-laws and nine terrific and gifted grandchildren.
In 1935 Nazi Germany declared all German Jews as Untermentchen (less than human), removed their citizenship and abrogated their human rights. In 1939 Nazi Germany invaded Poland and did the same to the Polish Jews, including me. In 1942 at the Wannsee Conference, they condemned me to death for being born a Jew. In 1943, I was shipped to Auschwitz-Birkenau destined to my death in a gas chamber.
Trudeau asked me how I managed to survive. I told him “my father snapped me from the jaws of death by his courageous intervention at the last moment at the risk of his own life.”