Hillel is built on values of inclusivity and anti-hate, educating younger generations and a dedication to lifelong learning. It is important that we continue to share stories and difficult conversations. As Elie Wiesel said: “Only in remembering what happened to us, can the world assure that it will not happen to others.”
Hillel Ontario’s nine university campuses hosted survivors, speakers and installations with the goal to educate the public about the Holocaust and to commemorate the six million Jews who were senselessly murdered.
Our staff and students have taken the time to reflect on some of the most impactful programs and experiences throughout Holocaust Education week.
Reflections from McMaster Hillel
During Holocaust Education Week, McMaster Hillel hosted several events to engage and educate both the Jewish and the greater McMaster community about the Holocaust. We were extremely fortunate to hear Holocaust survivor, Elly Gotz, share his story with us. Everyone who attended was inspired by his strength and positive outlook on life.
Beth and Judith, McMaster Hillel staff
Reflections from Guelph Hillel
Guelph Hillel created an exhibit, placed inside a cattle car replica, to teach university students and faculty about the horrors of the Holocaust and ensure that we continue to remember so that nothing like the Holocaust ever happens again. Over 900 people flowed through the cattle car installation over the five days, including students who had never heard of the Holocaust; some who were not aware that instances of antisemitism still occur today, and others who were shocked about the horrors of which they had just learned. Despite the cold, it was a meaningful experience to speak with professors and fellow students to share the hatred and pain we still experience today.
Dana Aronowitz, Guelph Hillel student leader
Reflections from Hillels Waterloo and Laurier
Hillels Waterloo and Laurier were joined by Max Eisen as our annual Holocaust speaker. 130 students, staff, and community members attended the event to learn more about the intricacies of the Holocaust. Every survivor’s story is different and by hearing individuals speak, we can better understand the particulars of the Holocaust and the many ways terror or assistance can play out in a diverse milieu. Max took the time to speak with every student who came up to him afterwards and sold out of his memoir within minutes! It is people like Max and the students who helped put this event on that inspire us to do the work we do and continue to fight antisemitism through Holocaust education and other meaningful programming.
Cora Miller, Hillel Waterloo staff
Reflections from Hillel Ryerson
Members of Hillel, along with the Ryerson Student Union and staff at Ryerson University were privileged enough to hear the testimony of Holocaust survivor Nate Leipciger. Before Nate shared his inspirational story, there was a candle lighting ceremony to commemorate the ethnic and political groups that were persecuted during the Holocaust. We, at Hillel are truly grateful to Nate and all the other Holocaust survivors, for taking the time to speak to and educate our students.
Ben Brenman, Hillel Ryerson student leader
Reflections from Hillel York
At York, our experiential workshop led by Professor Belarie Zatzman, a professor of Theatre Studies here at York, was particularly memorable. Professor Zatzman brought a replica of The Heart From Auschwitz, a heart-shaped booklet made of purple fabric, embroidered with an F on its front cover. The heart is a birthday card given to a twenty-year-old girl – Fania Fainer – while she was still a prisoner at Auschwitz. Fania preserved the Heart throughout the waning stages of the Holocaust, even managing to keep it safe during a death march she was forced to go on as the Soviets approached the camp.
To engage with the Holocaust through a material object was fascinating, and our discussion helped us understand just how powerful a statement it was to create this object and to give it as a gift. Professor Zatzman provided us all with a meaningful, evocative and fascinating exploration that all who participated in will not soon forget.
Evan Goldenthal, Senior Jewish Educator