Thursday marks the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp where more than a million people were killed.

The day is commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

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“It’s really important that we understand the tragedy of what happened, and try to educate so that we do not let it happen again,” said Debbie Fitzerman, president of Kingston Jewish Council.

Apart from Yom HaShoah, a more religious Holocaust Remembrance Day held in the Jewish community in the spring, the day is planned to honor Holocaust victims through awareness, education and information campaigns.

“Every number had a name and each of these victims was a real person who had a real life and a family and a job,” said Yos Tarshish, director of Queen’s University’s Hillel, a Jewish campus organization. .

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“A big part of what we think about is, ‘How do we preserve their memory,’ and ‘How do we think about their memory?'”

Tarshish says the day is a time to remember.

“We talk a lot about ‘never forgetting.’ I think there’s a downside to it, which is ‘always remember’, and it kind of goes hand in hand.

The day of remembrance comes at a time when some people are comparing COVID-19 vaccine mandates to the conditions of the Holocaust.

“There is a lot of education that needs to be done because these comparisons are not only wrong, but they are offensive and they are honestly honest,” says Rabbi Erin Polansky of Beth Israel Congregation.

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“And the more misinformation and rhetoric like this we hear, the more insecure it becomes for Jewish people and any minorities.”

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Fitzerman says it’s incredibly disturbing to see people wearing yellow stars and holding up signs that relate current times to those of the Holocaust.

“It’s incredibly upsetting,” Fitzerman says. “I do not think people know that Jews were forced to wear yellow stars to identify them so that no one would do business with them.”

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“It was a way of knowing who they were so they could be gathered and sent to death camps,” she adds. “All this – it just shows that education is so important that you do not forget.”

Online Events in Honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day is held around the world to cultivate and educate awareness.

The Queen’s Hillel will hold its final event of a week-long educational event on Friday, January 28, encouraging students to have open discussions with their roommates around a Shabbat meal.

The message of local Jewish leaders in Kingston, Ont., Is to listen and learn.

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