In 1985, we, a group of Holocaust survivors proudly watched the unveiling of the Toronto Holocaust Centre (Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre). Alongside our peers, we relished in the joy of this momentous milestone knowing that we had ensured the lessons and legacy of the Holocaust would not be forgotten here, in our adopted home, Toronto. We held high hopes that the tragedy which we faced would be used as a cornerstone in educating others about the dangers of hatred and bigotry. We were grateful that the memories of our murdered loved ones would not only be in vain but could help promote a more peaceful and just world—a world where our children and grandchildren could grow up with diversity, education and most of all, freedom.
We are proud Canadians. We are grateful to this country that became our home after the war and allowed us to rebuild our lives, thrive, and create a bright future for our families. After enduring the worst forms of persecution, we found solace in a place that allowed us to live freely and peacefully, being who we are, proud Jews.
We know firsthand of the dangers of antisemitism. We were there. We were witnesses. Today, we are compelled to speak out against the alarming events of antisemitism we have witnessed here, at home, and abroad over the past months. It pains us greatly to once again see a rise in hate crimes of any kind. Jews being attacked in the streets—targeted simply for being Jewish. This is a reality we never thought we would be faced with again in our lifetime.
We stand for equality. We stand for peace. We stand for education. We stand for humanity in all its forms. It is our plea to you to stay educated and well informed about the history, about the current reality and be on guard for our civil society through understanding, acceptance and advocacy. It is on us, each and every one of us, to protect our democratic rights and freedoms that allow those of all backgrounds, races, ethnicities and religions to live peacefully and prosperously in Canada.
We are grateful to those in the Canadian government and other sectors of Canadian society, including business, academia, religious, and civic, who have taken a stance on these issues, calling out all forms of racism, antisemitism, xenophobia, hatred and especially, the misuse and minimalization of the memory of the Holocaust.
Take it from those who know firsthand, the dangers of unchecked hatred can and will destroy if we allow it. We are still hopeful that together, as a unified society, we can and will build a better tomorrow.
Canadian Holocaust Survivors & Educators
Elsa & Howard Chandler
Judy Weissenberg Cohen