Federation commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Next week, on January 27, we will mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a memorial day established by the UN, in 2005, after the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.  This year’s theme for the UN’s remembrance is “Recognizing the Extraordinary Courage of Victims and Survivors of the Holocaust”.  You can read more about their programming here.

In Edmonton, we are honouring International Holocaust Remembrance Day in a few different ways.  On Thursday, January 26, Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, will speak in a virtual program hosted by the Calgary Public Library, Calgary Jewish Federation and the Jewish Federation of Edmonton and the Edmonton Public Library.  She will discuss what her grandfather, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, saw first-hand in the concentration camps at liberation in 1945.  She will also explore manifestations of antisemitism today. Register here.

The Wirth Institute at the University of Alberta will host a Holocaust Memorial Concert on Saturday, February 3 at 7pm featuring the music composed at Theresienstadt (Terezin), a ghetto-labor/transit camp in the Czech Republic.  Despite horrific conditions in Theresienstadt, cultural life developed there as artists and academics shared their talents.  The concert is free and open to the public and you can learn more here.

Additionally, the City of Edmonton will light the High Level Bridge in yellow on January 27 to acknowledge International Holocaust Remembrance day and has promised to do so annually on this day in commemoration.

Although commemorative days are fleeting, our year-round efforts to support Holocaust education are ongoing and dynamic.  After several years of dedicated service as Holocaust education committee chair, Colin Muscat has completed his term.  Dr. Francie Cyngiser and Dr. Leon Kagan will share the role as co-chairs and they are off to a great start!  We are also welcoming new members to the committee so if you are interested, please reach out to holocaustedu@edjfed.org.

As we look toward the spring events, we plan to host our annual Dianne and Irving Kipnes Holocaust Education Symposium in person again this spring and we will be offering engagement opportunities with the Here To Tell exhibit that will show at the Art Gallery of Alberta beginning in late March.

In addition to supporting teachers in classrooms, we are in conversation with Alberta Education as they engage in community consultation on including Holocaust education and learning about antisemitism in the new K-12 social studies curriculum.  The new curriculum is slated for implementation in the 2025-26 school year.

As has been the case for over 100 days now, our hearts and minds are also with our brothers and sisters in Israel.  We continue to do all that we can to support them from afar and to provide opportunities for our local community to gather at this difficult time.

Shabbat shalom,