Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued the following statement on Jan. 27 to mark the United Nations’ annual International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust:
“On this solemn 67th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the largest Nazi concentration camp, I join Canadians and the international community in commemorating the millions of men, women and children, who suffered, died and lost loved ones during one of the most heinous chapters in human history.
“Through indescribable atrocities, the fundamental and universal principles of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law were desecrated during the Holocaust.
“As we mourn those who were murdered by the Nazis more than six decades ago and honour the legacy of those who survived, let us use the lessons of the past to remind us of the importance of tolerance, and inspire us to take a stand against hatred and discrimination, including antisemitism in all its forms.
“We must never allow the crimes of the past to be repeated or forgotten.”
Prime Minister of Canada
* * *
I was terribly troubled by the article “The indigent survivor: a global emergency” (Jan. 12), by Dov Harris, regarding the state of Holocaust survivors, one-third of whom live in poverty. I wish to act to try to improve this situation. However, in his excellent article, the writer has not explored how we might act. I wasn’t aware of the survivors’ shortfall and the difficulty in meeting the needs of so many impoverished survivors. I would like to ask Harris for direction and guidance, and perhaps we can establish a small group of interested members of our community who can try to do something. I imagine there were many upset readers who would like to be part of the solution, but we can’t act on our own.
* * *
Gov’t funding cut in Israel
That was a nice photo of Henry and Julia Koschitzky being honoured for their contribution to the latest charity, sending food to hungry Israelis (“Koschitzkys honoured at Leket Israel benefit,” Jan. 19). The poor and needy do indeed enable us to earn the reward of doing good deeds, as it is written that “charity redeems from death.” Perhaps this is the key to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s program of cutting government funding – he is increasing the opportunities for North American Jewry to do good deeds, as it says in Pirkei Avot: “The Holy One, Blessed be He, wanted to make Jews meritorious, so he gave them more opportunities for doing mitzvot.” North American Jewry already pays for Israel’s ambulance service, universities and museums. Perhaps, next we will be asked to pay for other underfunded institutions, ranging from the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to the Galilee Fire Department.
* * *
Filmmaker seeks uncle’s friends
I’m a documentary filmmaker developing a film exploring the life of my great uncle, Sam (Shlomo) Stern, who immigrated to Palestine from Toronto in 1933 at age 21 and helped found Kibbutz Ginossar on the Kinneret.
Sam was born in 1912 in Lagov, a shtetl in the Kielce region of Russian Poland. He joined his siblings in Toronto when he was 12, studied accounting and was groomed to begin a career in his brother Moishe’s dairy. Instead, he chose to help rehabilitate the Jewish homeland, where he died at age 27. When Sam left Toronto for the Yishuv, he was accompanied by five friends: David Weis, Saul Borkofsky, Joshua Wohlgelernter, Jay Helfand and Harry Goldstein. Sam died defending Ginossar during an attack in 1939, but what became of the others? I’d be thrilled to locate any of these men, who would now be in their 90s, or any of their relatives with memories and information. Anyone with information can contact me by leaving a message at 514-528-5615 or by e-mailing me at email@example.com.