GTA students to get Holocaust lesson

  • October 24, 2006

TORONTO - There aren’t many Holocaust survivors left, but Catholic schools throughout the Greater Toronto Area are making sure as many of their students as possible have the chance to meet people who lived through the genocide.

Of 16 GTA schools that will host talks by Holocaust survivors during the 26th annual Holocaust Education Week Nov. 1-9, 13 are Catholic.

“What students get out of it is that history is not just abstract for them. It’s not just words on a page. It’s an actual event that living people participated in,” said Toronto Catholic District School Board chair Oliver Carroll.

The Toronto board encourages its 201 schools to participate in Holocaust Education Week every year, Carroll said. Toronto’s Holocaust Education Week is the largest event of its kind in the world. Last year more than 14,000 people participated.

Just one parish in the archdiocese of Toronto is participating in this year’s program. There will be a screening of Sister Rose’s Passion at St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin parish, 670 Sheppard Ave. E., at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8. The movie is an Academy Award-nominated documentary about Dominican Sister Rose Thering’s 50-year battle against anti-Semitism among Catholics.

The film at St. Gabriel’s will be followed by Holocaust survivor Inge Spitz speaking about how she made it through the Second World War under the protection of nuns.

The Catholic lay movement L’Arche is sponsoring a handful of events, including a screening of Sister Rose’s Passion at its Dayspring Chapel, 11339 Yonge St., 7:30 p.m., Nov. 6. The film will be followed by a presentation from Canadian Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton. Hamilton was one of the authors of the United Church’s declaration on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, “Bearing Faithful Witness.”

L’Arche Toronto will welcome Dutch Holocaust survivor Ada Wynston at 186 Floyd Ave., 7 p.m., Nov. 8. From age six to eight, Wynston was hidden from the Nazis by Dutch-Reform Christian families. In total, 73 members of her extended family were murdered in Sobibor and Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps.

The relationship between Polish Catholics and Jews will be explored by Andrew Rajcher at Holy Blossom Temple, 1950 Bathurst St., 4 p.m. Nov. 5. Rajcher has been working with young Poles in Poland to establish a Catholic-Jewish youth dialogue there. He also founded a Polish-Jewish dialogue group in Melbourne, Australia.

Volker Schlondorff’s film about the real life story of Fr. Henri Kremer, who went to Dachau resisting Nazi attempts to have him persuade his bishop to go along with Nazi plans to do away with Holland’s Jews, will be shown at the Goethe Institute. The Ninth Day will be screened at 168 King St. W., 6 p.m. Nov. 2.

Dr. Norman Epstein will bring the issue of genocide up to date with a lecture entitled “Never again, again! Darfur, the first genocide of the 21st century. Can Canada make a difference?” at the St. Michael’s Hospital Paul Marshall Lecture Theatre, 30 Bond St., at noon, Nov. 2.

The full program of more than 100 events is on line at

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