Jan. 12, 2018
By Tevy Pilc
B'nai Brith Canada
Building on its history as a Holocaust education leader, B'nai Brith Canada has launched a free Holocaust education program, connecting survivors with high-school students across Canada.
Recently, survivor Irene Kurtz spoke to more than 300 students and faculty members at Middlefield Collegiate Institute in Markham, Ont. The province has a policy of mandatory Holocaust education, which is taught in Grade 10 history.
In Winnipeg, B'nai Brith recruited another survivor, Cantor Moshe Krauss, to speak to students at Shaftesbury High School after a student was targeted with antisemitic messages online.
This week, survivor Faigie Schmidt Libman spoke to a Grade 11 class at Earl Haig Secondary School in Toronto. The opportunity to have Faigie speak was a no-brainer for teacher Jamie Cheslo, whose course is called "Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity." Cheslo described Faigie's talk as exceptional and highly informative.
"B'nai Brith has designed a program that is accessible to Canadian high schools lacking the time and resources to provide comprehensive and meaningful Holocaust education," said Robin Grossman, who serves as coordinator of B'nai Brith's Seniors Outreach Centre and Holocaust Education program.
"Our goal is to provide a free, easy-to-access program that gives secondary students the invaluable opportunity to have a survivor or child of a survivor speak to students and faculty and assist them in learning many valuable lessons, including the potential negative consequences of being a bystander and the value of tolerance."
Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B'nai Brith Canada, believes the program is vital.
"With incidents of Holocaust denial quadrupling in 2016 compared to 2015, it's essential that high school students learn of the atrocities of the Holocaust directly from survivors before this opportunity is lost," Mostyn said. "Their stories need to be told, and our youth needs to hear and remember them."
"I am inspired by the stories we hear from members of our Seniors Outreach program," Grossman said. "They are aware that Holocaust denial is on the rise, and now more than ever feel motivated to do what they can to help. B’nai Brith is thankful to the schools that have participated in our program for welcoming these survivors and encouraging them to share their experiences. We hope to provide more opportunities to engage in Holocaust education with schools throughout Canada."
Are you a teacher? Request a Holocaust survivor to speak in your classroom by contacting Robin Grossman at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 1-844-218-2624 x134. Please visit bnaibrith.ca/holocausteducation for more information.