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CAEF Bulletin - November 22, 2019



In a shocking turn around, Canada’s representative at the General Assembly voted with the Arab Bloc, the despots and the anti-Zionist EU members, against Israel. Read our letter and sign the petition to Prime Minister Trudeau and Government.


Holocaust Education Week Adds a Samurai Theme

By Daniel Bordman, Communications Coordinator, CAEF and Risa Suzuki

The Holocaust Education Week in the Greater Toronto Area is the leading event of its kind, and this year it included a surprising, but not identified Samurai theme. The Opening address on the 3rd of November featured Nobuki Sugihara, son of Samurai Chiune (Sempo) Sugihara who rescued 6000 Jews during the Holocaust. Similarly, one of the concluding events on the 10th featured Rev. Zenji Nio, the only North American to be conferred the status of “Samurai”, to highlight the Code of chivalry known as Bushido, which he has achieved.

At the event which was attended by prominent Jewish leaders including the Israeli Consulate's Director of Government Relations, Mr. Jordan Falkenstein, Israel Mida from the Board of Directors of the Yad Vashem and Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rev. Zenji Nio spoke powerfully of the lessons of the Holocaust including the need for Jews to forge alliances with other communities. The way to foster compassion and empathy, he stated, is by relating to the pain and suffering of others. Rev. Nio, founder of the Indo-Japan Samurai Center, referenced the genocides faced by his own Samurai ancestors that had prompted him to join the fight against Jew-hatred. Nio explained how the Samurai of Japan preserved India's Buddhist culture after it was made extinct in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and the Maldives. He referred to this as a noble act repeated when the Japanese helped preserve the Mir Yeshiva during the Shoah.

Jordan Falkentein spoke about how the Israeli Consulate has prioritized community outreach, and had invited Rev. Zenji Nio as a special guest to attend the Righteous Among the Nations event at the Israeli Consulate in association with the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem. Similarly, Japanese commentator Mikiko Isac, who teaches at Concordia University and has represented Japan at the UN Commission on the Status of Women, said that although born and raised in Japan, she was "blown away" by Nio's presentation, and learned many new aspects of the Samurai culture.

This theme of diverse voices speaking to Holocaust education was further illustrated by other distinguished speakers including Raheel Raza, President of Muslims Facing Tomorrow and winner of the Medal of Valour Award from the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, and a close friend of Rabbi Abraham Cooper;  Shaan Taseer who helped rescue Asia Bibi and bring her to Canada; and Rev. Majed El Shafie of founder of One World International,  who has been a major voice for Yazidi victims of extremism.

The Destruction of Greek Jewry and the Miracle of Zakynthos

By Doris Strub Epstein, Toronto Co-Chair, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, and Board Member, Kulanu Canada.

For over 2,300 years there has been a Jewish presence in Greece, one of the countries with the longest continuous presence of Jews in the world, outside of Israel.  Yet out of the 71,611 Jews that lived in Greece before the war, 58,886 were murdered in the death camps - a destruction rate that exceeds 85 percent.

In the largest community, Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece with 56,000 Jews, 96 percent perished in Auschwitz.

But on the small Greek island of Zakynthos, the entire community of 275 Jews was saved; the only one in all of Nazi occupied Europe to have survived the Holocaust with every life intact.

On Sunday night, November 10th, at the Lodzer Synagogue, a packed audience watched a stunning documentary, Life Will Smile, the unknown story of how the island's 35,000 residents risked their lives and saved their Jewish neighbours from certain death at the hands of the Nazi conquerors.

Andria Spindel, Executive Director, CAEF, Shirley Anne Haber, Founder, CAEF, Steven Priovolos, film producer, Alan Herman, Director, CIJR
Andria Spindel, Executive Director, CAEF, Shirley Anne Haber, Founder, CAEF, Steven Priovolos, film producer, Alan Herman, Director, CIJR

When asked by the German commander to submit a list of names of all the Jews in Zakynthos -every man, woman and child- the Mayor Loukas Karrer and Archbishop Chrysostomos wrote down two names - their own.  Their leadership inspired the rest of the population to rescue the Jews.

The story is told by Haim Konstantini, , who was ten years old when the island was taken over by the Nazis; and he relives his memories of an idyllic childhood where everyone – Jews and Christians- lived together in harmony, sharing bread, joys and sorrows together.  His dynamic retelling of the details of this communal existence brought it all to life.  Konstantini returned to Zakynthos from Israel to do the film at 83, and died a year later, apparently very happy with his story being told.

The Consul General of Greece, Victor Maligoudis, in his opening remarks, explained that the government of Greece is taking an active role in promoting Holocaust awareness especially through legislation and education.  The foundation of the Holocaust Museum of Greece in Thessaloniki in 2018 is a milestone.  The  Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos  Mitsotakis announced that the government would join a  growing number of countries, including Canada and the US, that have officially adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), definition of antisemitism.   Greece will chair the IHRA for the year 2021.

Simple Truths

Israeli cartoonist, Yaacov Kirschen, depicts in a simple picture a major message about the week’s events, and tongue in cheek, states a fact. Here are two recent cartoons with significant messages for all of us to consider.


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