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Ottawa Students Learn From Survivors at Holocaust Education Dinner

200 attend annual dinner honouring Holocaust survivors

By: Sammy Hudes
Published: November 20th, 2012 in News » World
From left to right: MP Mark Adler, Adam Moscoe, MPP Yasir Naqvi, and MP Royal GalipeauPic: Lewis Novack

Close to 200 young adults were in attendance Saturday night as Hillel Ottawa hosted its annual dinner to honour Holocaust survivors at Ottawa’s Congregation Beth Shalom synagogue.

Approximately 20 survivors from Ottawa’s Jewish community were on hand to share their stories and engage with Jewish and non-Jewish students who were present from both University of Ottawa and Carleton University.

The dinner was also attended by MPs Mark Adler and Royal Galipeau, the Conservatives for York Centre and Ottawa—Orléans respectively, and Ontario member of provincial parliament Yasir Naqvi, the Liberal for Ottawa Centre.

The evening began with a havdalah service, followed by speeches from some of the politicians in attendance.

A candle lighting ceremony was then held in honour of the survivors prior to a segment in which they had the opportunity to tell their stories to the students sitting at their tables.

Adler, the first descendant of Holocaust survivors in Canadian history to be elected as an MP, spoke about the importance of preserving the memory of the Holocaust through storytelling.

“[My late father] never spoke about what happened at all. Never a word,” Adler told the crowd.

“He had the number on his arm and all of us kids knew never to ask. I know nothing. I do know however that my father always was in a great amount of pain. I could feel it,” he said. “The less we talk about what happened during those years, the stronger the Holocaust deniers get.”

Galipeau agreed, telling Shalom Life that “intergenerational meetings” such as the dinner have a “great societal purpose” that should inspire younger audiences to learn more about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism as a whole.

“Young people today have no idea how to visualize the anti-Semitism of the 1930s, as it existed in Nazi Germany,” Galipeau said.

“They don’t even have any ideas of how anti-Semitism existed in this country… We still have some countries on this planet whose purpose is to eradicate the state of Israel. It’s not because they hate the state of Israel, it’s because they hate Jews,” he said.

Naqvi, who attended the dinner for the second consecutive year, said he is amazed by the “tenacity” of survivors who are willing to tell their stories despite years of dealing with the painful memories.

“They are here today [with a] smile on their face, shoulders straight, neck up, looking into your eyes and can recite the stories and tell us what happened to them and their families,” he said. “I don’t know if I would be able to do that.”

For the second year in a row, the dinner was chaired by fourth year uOttawa student Adam Moscoe, who was awarded by Naqvi with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal in honour of his many contributions to the community.

“I thought that it would be very appropriate that a young man like Adam Moscoe also get recognized for everything he has done up to now and we know he will continue to do,” said Naqvi.

“Adam is 21-years-old and his CV is longer than mine. Adam is no longer the future of our community, he is an incredible present of our community.”

Moscoe, who was named to Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 in 2011, said this was the fourth year in a row that he had been involved with organizing the dinner and it continues to grow each year.

“Every year you don’t really expect what it will turn into,” Moscoe said.

“It’s just giving people a chance to express themselves and giving not only Jewish students but non-Jewish students as well a chance to connect to survivors,” he said. “It’s been very meaningful.”

Related articles: Mark Adler, Yasir Naqvi, Royal Galipeau, Adam Moscoe, Holocaust, survivors, Holocaust dinner, Ottawa, Canada, Carleton University, University of Ottawa, Hillel
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