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L-R: Premier Greg Selinger, Mayor Sam Katz, Rabbi Alan Green, Cantor Tracy Kasner Greaves, and Bill Weissman. Photo by Rhonda Spivak.


By Rhonda Spivak

Manitoba’s Premier Greg Selinger spoke at the annual public commemorative service for Holocaust Remembrance which took place here on the grounds of the Provincial Legislature before several hundred people April 12, 2010.

Selinger spoke of the need to use this “solemn occasion” not only to honour victims of the Holocaust, but to remain vigilant against anti-Semitism. As he said:

“Today we join with Manitoba’s Jewish community, including survivors of the Holocaust, in remembering the six million Jewish men, women and children whose lives ended brutally, simply because they were Jews.

The names that appear on the monument here on the Legislative grounds are evidence of the direct and vital connection that all Manitobans have to this atrocity.

These names, like today’s memorial, serve as a constant reminder that we must remain ever vigilant in the face of anti-Semitism and hate, both of which remain a destructive part of our world.”

Selinger’s remarks followed those of Howard Morry, Past-President and member of the executive of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg. Speaking after the Presentation of Colours by the General Monash Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, Morry said:

“We are faced here today with the impossible task of remembering six million Jews who led quiet lives just like you and I....

“The Jewish community still hasn’t recovered from the devastation of the Holocaust. The Nazis killed 4 out of every 10 Jews in the world. They killed two-thirds of the Jews in Europe. As a result there are only 12 million Jews in the world today, that’s less than there were at the beginning of the Second World War. Half of those 12 million Jews are living in Israel today - 6 million of them, who are now being threatened with a second Holocaust by someone who denies the Holocaust ever happened...,” he said.

Morry noted that on the nearby Holocaust monument the names of over 3000 Holocaust victims are inscribed:
Howard Morry
Howard Morry. Photo by Rhonda Spivak.

“The names are the names of members of the family and  friends of Holocaust survivors who came to Manitoba. The legislature of Manitoba was the first in Canada to provide designated space for a Holocaust memorial.”  

Following a performance by Amud Ha-Esh Children’s Choir, a joint initiative of Congregation Etz Chayim and Jewish Child and Family Service, Shelley Faintuch, Community Relations Director of the Federation read out a letter from Vic Toews, Canada’s Minister For Public Safety.

In his letter, Toews wrote that in remembering the Holocaust “we must never forget that there remains to this day anti-Semitic despots, terrorists and fanatics.”  As he said:

“Prime Minister Stephen Harper and our Conservative Government will always stand up to those who advocate the destruction of Israel and its people.

“Not only do we mourn what happened over six decades ago – we remain vigilant and committed to ensuring it never happens again.”

After Margaret Park School Grades 3-6 performed “Eli Eli”, Mayor Sam Katz gave moving remarks which focused on the personal history of his parents, both survivors.

Children from Brock Corydon School
Children from Brock Corydon School.
Photo by Rhonda Spivak.
“As we recognize Yom Hashoah, on April 12, 2010, it occurs to me that on this day sixty-five years ago, my father would have been free from Buchenwald concentration camp for less than twenty-four hours. He along with others survived execution, disease, malnutrition, starvation….His parents, wife  and children, identity, dignity and spirit, he had been stripped of.

“Some 300 miles away, my mother, in another Labour Camp in Stutthof, would have to endure the “evacuation”-execution of prisoners, typhoid and brutal treatment for another  30 days before the Russian Army would liberate her in May…

“By liberation [on May 9, 1945], there would be 85,000 dead of the 110,000 people deported there. My mother miraculously survived…She lost her parents and two sisters.

“After enduring the worst, my mother and father would find each other and somehow learn to re-assimilate into society having lost everything.

‘Somehow, they would come together and learn to love again.”  

Katz continued by saying that we “need to defy ignorance of hate and racism and “fight it with  education, wisdom and love.”

He noted that genocide was “not limited to Jews,” as exemplified by the genocides in Darfur and  Rwanda.

Following Katz’s remarks, grades five and six of Brock Corydon Hebrew School sang “Le Orech Ha Yam”, which was followed by a candle lighting ceremony introduced by Rita Margolis, with the participation of  Belle Millo, Phylis Laveman, John Berkowitz, Sigi Wasserman, and Walter Saltzberg.

The candle lighting service included the words, “May we be inspired to learn more about our brothers and sisters as individuals and as communities, to recall their memory throughout the year, so that they will not suffer a double death. May we recall not only the terror of their deaths, but also the splendor of their lives. May we remember never to forget. May we be inspired to understand, to value each and every human life, to try and repair the world for them, for us and for our children. May the memory of their lives inspire us to hallow our own lives and to live meaningful lives so that we may help ensure that part of who they were shall endure always.”

Gray Academy of Jewish Education students Sarah Sommer and Sari Waldman, accompanied by  Daniel Kroft sang “Lachalom.” Joe Riesen, Chair of the Holocaust Awareness Committee laid flowers. Eli Herscovitch’s “Yiddish Memories Group” performed “Kaddish,” a Yiddish song.

Rabbi Alan Green of Shaarey Zedek Synagogue led the audience in reciting a special Kaddish which inserted the names of concentration camps in between the words of the Kaddish.   Cantor Tracey Kasner Greaves of Etz Chayim Synagogue recited “El Malei Rachamim.”

The service concluded with Bill Weissmann’s blowing of the shofar, the retiring of the Colours, and  the performance of “Zog Nit Keyn Mol”  by Herscovitch’s  group.

In addition to Premier Selinger, also in attendance at the service were: Christine Melnick, Minister of Water Stewardship, Flor Marcelino, Minister of Culture Heritage & Tourism, Jennifer Howard,  Minister of Labour & Immigration, David Chomiak, Minister of Innovation, Energy and Mines,  and  Dian McGifford, Minister of  Advanced Education & Literacy.  M.LA.’s Sharon Blady (Kirkfield Park), Erna Braun (Rossmere) and Myrna Driedger (Charleswood) were also present as was Hugh McFadyen, Leader of the Opposition, and Dr. Jon Gerrard, Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party. 
Bill Weissmann blowing the shofar
Bill Weissmann blowing the shofar.
Photo by Rhonda Spivak.


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.