One town, one destination: tonight’s ceremony in Montreal commemorates Yom HaShoah

The event highlights the Montreal Holocaust Museum’s role in “educating new generations about the dangers of racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance.”

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Yom HaShoah, a commemoration of the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust and of the Jewish resistance during that period, begins Sunday night. In Montreal, it will be marked by an event at the Montreal Holocaust Museum starting at 7 pm Everyone is welcome.

Holocaust Remembrance Day, as the event is colloquially known in English, takes on additional symbolism as the first Yom HaShoah since Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7, 2023, kidnapping about 250 people and killing about 1,200. , mainly civilians. Israel says militants are still holding about 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others.

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As the war between Israel and Hamas enters its seventh month, the death toll, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry, stands at more than 34,500, as pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel protests continue on college campuses across North America, including Montreal. and Europe, so this year’s Yom HaShoah takes place during an especially tense time for Jews.

“This commemoration has a particular meaning,” said Montreal Holocaust Museum director Daniel Amar. “The tragedy of October 7 marks the largest anti-Jewish massacre of our century.

“As anti-Semitism rises once again, commemoration is not only about honoring the past, but also about demonstrating our unity and solidarity against hate. “This is our fight.”

Yom HaShoah, first celebrated in Israel in 1951 and passed into law later in the decade, is considered by many Jewish communities around the world as their main day of Holocaust remembrance. January 27 marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day, established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005.

A recent survey of 1,100 Canadian respondents found their knowledge about the Holocaust to be limited. Fifteen percent of adults and 20 percent of people ages 18 to 34 surveyed had not heard of the Holocaust or were not sure they had. Approximately half of those surveyed could not name even a Jewish concentration camp or ghetto.

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The theme of this year’s Yom HaShoah event in Montreal is One People, One Destination. A 17-minute video that will be shown features excerpts from seven Auschwitz concentration camp survivors who provided oral testimonies to the Montreal Holocaust Museum over the years. They came from Poland, Hungary, Italy and Greece.

The testimonies remind us “of the importance of organized horror, planned extermination and the silence of nations,” say the organizers of the event.

Many people think the Holocaust affected only Jews of Ashkenazi origin, but Sephardic Jews were also affected, said Eszter Andor, the museum’s oral history and commemorations coordinator.

Seven survivors will light memorial candles.

Although the community of survivors continues to decline, “we are still interviewing, looking for survivors and child survivors,” Andor said.

The purpose of the commemoration is “to reaffirm our commitment to remember the victims, honor the survivors, and reflect on the lessons of the Holocaust to prevent future atrocities,” organizers say.

The event also highlights the museum’s role in “educating new generations about the dangers of racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance that threaten both our social cohesion and our democratic values.”

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The escalation of violence in the Middle East has typically led to a corresponding rise in anti-Semitism in Canada and around the world, according to a fact sheet from the federal government on antisemitism.

Among those expected to attend are Members of Parliament Anna Gainey, Anthony Housefather, Alexandra Mendès and Pablo Rodríguez. Pascale Déry, Minister of Higher Education of Quebec, as well as national deputies Elisabeth Prass, Michelle Setlakwe and Christopher Skeete are expected to attend.

Also expected are the mayors of Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Côte-St-Luc, Hampstead, Outremont and Ville-St-Laurent, some municipal councillors, Belgians, Germans, Hungarians, Israelis and Americans . Consuls General of the United States and Honorary Consuls of Austria and the Netherlands.

The ceremony will take place at the Montreal Holocaust Museum, 5151 Côte Ste-Catherine Rd., organized in collaboration with the CJA Federation, the Segal Center for the Performing Arts and the Communauté Sépharade Unifiée du Québec. Attendees are asked to begin arriving at 6 p.m. because people will have to go through a metal detector at the entrance.

On Monday at 11 a.m., a Yom HaShoah commemoration event will be held at the National Holocaust Memorial in Ottawa. Can be broadcast live here.

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