In May of 1960, SS Lieutenant Colonel Adolf Eichmann was captured by Israeli agents in Argentina.
His subsequent trial in Jerusalem by an Israeli court electrified the world. The public debate it sparked on where, how, and by whom Nazi war criminals should be brought to justice, and the international media coverage of the trial itself, was a watershed moment in how the civilized world in general and Holocaust survivors in particular, found the means to deal with the legacy of genocide on a scale that had never been seen before.
The trial also brought to the public’s consciousness another important factor when speaking about those who – either directly or indirectly – contributed to the death of six million innocents – accountability.
So, it’s appropriate that, this year, as we commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the Eichmann trial, “Accountability” is the theme of the 31st annual Holocaust Education Week (HEW), presented by UJA Federation’s Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Center.
This year’s HEW, chaired by Joyce Rifkind and Annette Metz-Pivnick, offers approximately 130 no-charge, fascinating, educational programs across the Greater Toronto Area and in smaller Jewish communities across Ontario.
The official media sponsors of HEW 2011 – which runs from November 1 to 9 – are CTV and the National Post. CTV’s CP24 won the Adrienne Clarkson Award for Diversity (RTNDA Awards) for their coverage of HEW in 2010.
“Holocaust Education Week is one of the most important and vital collaborative events that our community organizes,” says UJA Federation President & CEO, Ted Sokolsky.
“As the years go by, this event continues to educate both young and old on the harrowing experiences of the past, while instilling the importance of ridding society of the evils of hatred, bigotry and intolerance. We trust that this year’s Holocaust Education Week program inspires our community to continue to support our work and stand up for humane values and respect for the inherent dignity of all.”
“This year marks the 50th anniversary of a pivotal moment in the history of Holocaust remembrance, not only the Eichmann trial but the horrific testimony of approximately 100 survivors whose words and memories reach us from that courtroom a half century ago,” says Metz-Pivnick. “Holocaust Education Week 2011 is an opportunity to reflect on the issue of moral responsibility past and present.”
Opening Night took place on Tuesday, November 1 at Toronto’s Holy Blossom Temple and will feature award-winning historian Deborah E. Lipstadt, the director of the Rabbi Donald A. Tam Institute for Jewish Studies and Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, Atlanta.
She is the author of "Denying the Holocaust" (1993) and "The Eichmann Trial" (2011). In 1996, British Holocaust denier David Irving sued Lipstadt for alleged libel. Three courts found for Lipstadt concluding that Irving was a Holocaust denier, an anti-Semite and a racist.
Dr. Lipstadt will provide an overview of the trial and analyze the dramatic effect that the survivors’ courtroom testimony had on a world that had until then regularly commemorated the Holocaust but never fully understood what the millions who died and the hundreds of thousands who managed to survive, had actually experienced.
Dr. Lipstadt will be introduced by HEW Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. Michael R. Marrus, Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor Emeritus of Holocaust Studies at the University of Toronto.
“The theme of accountability for HEW resonates for all time and for all places,” says Rifkind. “We are all accountable for our behavior no matter when the action occurred. In light of those who would deny the Holocaust, it is important that we continue to educate people and hold those responsible and those who stood by to be accountable for their behavior.”
The Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, chaired by Honey Sherman, is dedicated to preserving the memories of the victims, honoring the legacies of those who survived and educating the community so that the Holocaust will serve as a warning to future generations about the dangers of anti-Semitism, racism, intolerance and apathy.
Led by Executive Director Mira Goldfarb, the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre engages over 70,000 students, educators and members of the public through a vast array of programs and events each year. In its much larger future home in the Jewish Museum of Canada, the Centre will launch a world-class array of new programming, exhibitions and resources.
“As the daughter of Holocaust survivors, I am honored to chair UJA’s Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, which presents Holocaust Education Week,” says Honey Sherman. “With each passing year, our responsibility to teach younger generations the horrors of the Shoah, and the dangers of racism, intolerance and hate grow.”
Honey and Barry Sherman, along with Elizabeth and Tony Comper, founders of FAST (Fighting Anti-Semitism Together), are lead sponsors of HEW 2011. FAST is a coalition of non-Jews dedicated to funding education and projects that encourage non-Jews to speak out.
Indeed, accountability is incumbent upon us all.
Reprinted with permission from Shalom Life