By: Faiza Amin
Toronto’s 33d annual Holocaust Education Week is underway.
The week-long event started Sunday and runs until Nov. 9. Thousands of participants have signed up to take part. Timed on the anniversary of Kristallnacht in 1938, when Jewish synagogues and businesses in Germany were targeted by the Nazis, the week is considered one of the largest educational forums in the world.
The week of educational activities brings together the different communities in Toronto who aim to commemorate events that took place during the Holocaust, marking the extermination of six million European Jews during the Second World War.
Rachel Libman, head of programs and exhibitions at Toronto’s Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, says the event was founded by Holocaust survivors and volunteers who wanted to share their experiences.
“They wanted to offer programming in different venues across the city to commemorate the Holocaust, to remember the Holocaust and to also offer new things to learn,” Libman told Humber News in a phone interview.
This year Canada is chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which is an intergovernmental body dedicated to educating the world on the Holocaust.
“We decided to focus on narratives, national narratives and personal narratives,” said Libman. “It’s about what stories people tell and how their stories affect your life and develop your life.”
The event will include the narratives of Holocaust survivors as well as the children of Holocaust survivors.
One of those people is Rochelle Rubinstein, the daughter of Holocaust survivors who later moved to Canada.
Rubeinstein’s mother was held at Auschwitz. She’s the inspiration behind Rubeinstein’s passion to take part in events that promote educating people on historical events.
“My mother was a survivor educator,” Rubinstein told Humber News. “She wanted to promote the discussion about how these things can happen.”
Listen: Rubinstein on her mother
Rubinstein, a Toronto-based printmaker, painter, and fabric artist, is also the Artist-in-Residence for this year’s Holocaust Education Week. She will feature her work at the Mon Ton Window Gallery and has transformed her personal studio into a pop-up gallery in honour of the week of remembrance.
“I thought it would be interesting to make it less academic and more hands-on, and just have a conversation about it,” said Rubinstein.
Listen: Rubinstein on her art