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Toronto event pairs young professionals with Holocaust survivors

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Dinner of Miracles event
Dinner of Miracles event UJA YOUNG LEADERS PHOTO

As Jews around the world gather to light the fifth candle for Chanukah, many of Toronto’s young professionals will convene for a night of dialogue and remembrance.

On Thursday Dec. 10, the eleventh annual Dinner of Miracles will commence at the Petah Tikvah Congregation. The event, organized by UJA’s Young Leaders, was created to foster active conversations between younger generations and Holocaust survivors.

“When Holocaust survivors come together with young people and share their stories, miracles happen. Our participants not only hear the testimonies of incredible survivors, but they leave the program with a sense of urgency to ensure that the stories live on,” Raquel Binder, co-chair of the event, told The CJN.

This year’s keynote speaker is Thomas Walther, a 71-year-old German lawyer who has supported Holocaust survivors in their testimonies against Nazi perpetrators. During the Kristallnacht pogroms, his father sheltered two Jewish families from violence. Today, Walther is a renowned Nazi hunter, and recently spearheaded the trial and eventual incarceration of Oskar Groening, otherwise known as the “Auschwitz Bookkeeper.”

READ: Canadian survivors interviewed for SS trial in Germany

Groening was a former German SS guard stationed at Auschwitz, and participated in the sorting and counting of prisoners. He was charged with 300,000 counts of aiding and abetting murder by a German court back in early 2015.

“Over 40 Holocaust survivors will be attending Dinner of Miracles. Our strong survivor community is integral to the success of this event. Joining us this year will be Max Eisen, Bill Glied, and Hedy Bohm who worked with Mr. Walther testif[ying] in the Oscar Groening trial last year,” said Binder.

The dinner, according to Binder, arose out of a necessity to provide a platform that would allow young people to reiterate the narratives of Toronto’s community of Holocaust survivors.

Rafi Yablonsky, manager of UJA Young Leaders, noted, “As a grandchild of Holocaust survivors, I grew up with the value of ‘Never Forget.’ As young professionals, the future is in our hands. Dinner of Miracles helps to ensure that our future is in good hands.”

“Holocaust remembrance and education is rapidly changing,” added Binder. “We are the last generation that has the benefit of first-hand dialogue with Holocaust survivors. Their stories are integral to ensuring that the world never forgets the horrors of the Holocaust.”