A message from the Shoah
On our way to the death camps in Transnistria, I saw messages left behind on the walls of the empty Jewish houses with the following words, “We are being killed. If you survive, please tell the world what happened to us, say Kaddish for us and don’t ever forget us.”
When I read these messages at the age of 12, I took an oath that day that if I survived I would to the best of my ability fulfil their last wish. I believe that most of the survivors of the Holocaust carried within their hearts and minds the need to tell their stories but there was no one ready to listen. It took 20 or 30 years, starting with the Diary of Anne Frank and the books of Eli Wiesel, before the Holocaust story took on a life of its own. Personal testimonies, documentaries, Holocaust education centres, thousands upon thousands of books and the establishment of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem brought to the attention of the whole world to what really happened to the Jewish People. The loss of six million, including 1.5 million children, was forever recorded into the darkest chapters of human history, never to be erased.
No sooner was the truth brought to the attention of the world, then the deniers started to discredit the story of the Holocaust. But the evidence was everywhere. Auschwitz Birkenau, the gas chambers, the crematoriums, the hundreds of other concentration and death camps, the mass graves at Babi Yar are all a stark reminder of what really happened.
The survivors, the witnesses to this greatest tragedy in the history of the Jewish People, have fulfilled their duty to tell the world what really happened. But in time, all the survivors will be gone to their eternal resting places. Who will then speak for them? The legacy that they left behind will be inherited by their children, grandchildren and future generations who will protect this legacy and make sure the last wish by those who perished will be honoured and never forgotten.
Leizer Hoffer, past president of Transnistria Survivors Association
Responses to Schulich
An open letter to Seymour Schulich:
We, a group, of Hasbara Fellowships student leaders and recent alumni of York University, are writing in response to the story in The CJN, (“Jews should stop ‘whining’ about York U, benefactor says”).
We acknowledge your generosity toward Israel. You have donated tens of millions of dollars to Israel, and invested in its economy. There is no doubt that you are a devoted Zionist and proud supporter of Israel. For that we are deeply grateful.
For us, students and recent graduates of York, and Hasbara Fellows, York has been home to a staggering amount of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda in recent years, from boycott, divestment and sanctions votes to hateful graffiti to incendiary speakers, and much more.
We know all this because we have experienced it first-hand. We know the challenges facing Jewish students at York, and we are offended by your comments that we leave our identity at the door and accept that the solution for defeating anti-Semitic propaganda is to minimize our Jewishness.
Not only do we find the comments offensive, but they are not a solution. Hiding our identities as Jews will not satisfy the demands of anti-Semites, as history attests well. We ask that you apologize for your comments and that you use your power and influence at York to ensure that this university becomes a safe and welcoming place for all its Jewish students.
Robert Walker, national director, Hasbara Fellowships Canada
Ariella Daniels, campus adviser, Hasbara Fellowships Canada
Rena Silver, president, Hasbara at York
13 other signatories
How could we Jews have been so obtuse? Jews should just fit in, not stand out. Forget the Magen David around the neck, do not wear kippot or have hair with payot around the ears, and of course do not associate together in groups with other Jews. And I nearly forgot, do not take “arts courses” for a bachelor degree, as you will have too much free time to create problems that do not exist.
What else should we avoid? Do not make enough money to fund a school in a university with your Jewish name on it, since that only feeds the urban myth that Jews have all the money.