Winnipeg holds first Holocaust Remembrance Day event
Like others across Canada, Winnipeg’s Jewish community commemorates the Holocaust at various times throughout the year, with programs in the spring during Shoah Week and in November to mark the anniversary of Kristallnacht.
But this year, for the first time, the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg is joining communities across Canada in marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The commemorative day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in November 2005. The UN designated Jan. 27, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-birkenau death camp, as the day on which it urges every member state to honour the memory of the Shoah and develop educational programs to help prevent future acts of genocide.
The Winnipeg program is built around an appearance by Endre Farkas, a Canadian author and child of Holocaust survivors, reading from his book Never, Again, which is about the theft of innocence by forces over which there is no control.
In the book, Farkas tells about how his parents, Eva and Sandor, had their youth stolen during World War II. In 1956, their child, Tomi, has his life violated by the Hungarian Revolution. There will also be performance excerpts from his play Surviving Wor(l)ds, which revisits the terrors of the Holocaust through the stories of Farkas’ parents and his own journeys.
“We are very excited about participating for the first time in International Holocaust Remembrance Day,” said Shelley Faintuch, the federation’s community relations director and associate director local partner services for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).
“This is also the first time that we are working with the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre,” she added. “That is part of our outreach initiative. We feel that the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre has a larger role to play in the community. It was [WJT artistic director] Ari Weinberg who suggested that we feature Endre and Never, Again.”
She said Weinberg will also take part in the program in a performance role.
Weinberg said he’s looking forward to working with Farkas. “My first directorial experience – when I was in Grade 11 – was directing a scene from Surviving Wor(l)ds,” he says. “I am really excited to be helping to introduce Surviving Wor(l)ds to a Winnipeg audience.”
The evening, co-sponsored by CIJA, will include remarks from Winnipeg MP Jim Carr, Canada’s minister of natural resources, and a candlelighting ceremony, which is traditional at Shoah memorial programs.
“We’ve had a number of inquiries from the Jewish and general community before the program, but we weren’t sure what to expect in terms of attendance,” Faintuch said, noting that many Jewish Winnipeggers head to Florida or California in the winter.
“We regularly commemorate the Holocaust at other times during the year. We are hopeful that this new commemoration will be well supported.”
We regularly commemorate the Holocaust at other times during the year. We are hopeful that this new commemoration will be well supported Jewish Federation CEO Shelly Faintuch