TORONTO — As Canadian national director of the always emotional March of the Living, Eli Rubenstein has seen his share of sorrow and joy.
Mariane Pearl and Eli Rubinstein
This weekend, he will be honoured for his years of work and dedication helping thousands of people to never forget the atrocities of the Shoah and to practice tikkun olam.
Ve’ahavta, Toronto’s non-profit Jewish humanitarian organization, will present him with its annual Tikkun Olam Award in the field of education at its second annual Starry Nights gala, to be held Nov. 16 at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel.
Rubenstein, who has headed the Canadian march for the past 20 years, also assists Ve’ahavta in organizing its annual Passover seder for the homeless.
The March of the Living website says that one of the march’s main goals is to “never again allow any kind of racial discrimination directed by any individual or group in society against another to gain strength. Though Jews have been primarily the victims of racism, this goal also relates to racism expressed by Jews towards others. The diminution of the dignity of any member of the human family is a cardinal violation of Jewish ethical teachings.”
Speaking to The CJN last week, Rubenstein said he was “humbled” by the award, but added that “the real credit should go to the Holocaust survivors. They’re the people that educated me. They rebuilt their lives from the ashes of the Holocaust. It’s their courage that inspired me to do what I do.”
Avrum Rosensweig, Ve’ahavta’s founding director, singled out and saluted Rubenstein for his ongoing “contributions in the field of education and for opening the eyes of many people to the reality that remembering can lead to change.”
Furthering the topic of remembrance, this year’s gala keynote speaker will be renowned journalist and activist Mariane Pearl.
Pearl, the wife of slain Jewish journalistDanielPearl – the Wall Street Journal reporter who was beheaded by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002, prompting her to launch a personal campaign of tolerance and peace between nations – is scheduled to hand out six awards Sunday evening, as well as talk about her continuing quest to remember her husband and her attempts to address the injustices in the world.
Ve’ahavta expects Pearl’s talk to stir her audience’s “consciousness… and her strength and resilient spirit will inspire us as she delivers a message of justice and hope,” the gala website said.
With its ability to bring in high-profile guest speakers, Ve’ahavta’s Starry Nights gala is quickly becoming a major community event.
Last year’s inaugural keynote speaker was Elie Wiesel.
Others being honoured withTikkun Olam Awards at this year’s gala are doctors Norman Epstein and Acol Dor, co-founders of Canadians Against Slavery and Torture in Sudan, who will receive Ve’ahavta’s humanitarian award.
Holocaust survivor Judy Cohen will receive the remembrance award.
John Kelsall, president of Health Partners International of Canada, will receive the medical award, and student advocate Danny Richmond will get Ve’ahavta’s student affairs award. A last award for philanthropy will be announced at the ceremony, Ve’ahavta said.
“All the people we have chosen for Tikkun Olam[Awards] are role models for our community and the world. They exemplify community and decency in a very powerful way,” Rosensweig said.