June 30, 2023
Shabbat Shalom | Candle Lighting: 8:58 PM EDT
A Note from Michael Levitt
Allyship Against the Toxic Scourge of Hate
At a time of growing hate and division in society, it’s of paramount importance today to combine efforts to counter this toxic scourge. As I often state, hate against one of us, is hate against us all, and only by working together can communities effectively combat hatred and intolerance. To that end, our team at Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center has been increasingly focused on collaborating with diverse communities and building allyship.
Just this past week, we engaged with leaders in the Canadian Chinese, Japanese and Sikh communities, as part of our commitment to bridgebuilding, presenting the Jewish community as an ally and expressing our interest in working together as part of a joint effort to combat hate. Last Friday, our Director of Allyship and Community Engagement Dan Panneton attended a national remembrance ceremony commemorating the centenary of Canada's racist 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act, which prohibited most forms of Chinese immigration to Canada until 1947. Hosted by the Senate of Canada and the Action! Chinese Canadians Together Foundation, it allowed FSWC to engage with leaders in the Chinese community and Canadian government and stand together against anti-Chinese racism.
This week, FSWC also met with a representative from the Canadian branch of the World Sikh Organization to discuss possible future collaborations and participated in the first annual “We Are Canada” event hosted by the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre and Judge Albert Wong, which brought together different cultural communities to honour Asian Canadians and other visible minorities who have served Canada by enlisting in the Canadian Armed Forces. The event offered an opportunity to connect and establish relationships through shared experiences (some of them traumatic), hopes for the future and a commitment to combatting racism and discrimination in all its forms.
This week's relationship-building opportunities followed last week's meeting with the Alliance of Genocide Victim Communities, which includes organizations representing the Tigray, Uyghur, Tibetan and Rwandan communities, to discuss our respective organizations' work and possible collaboration. At the same time, our Wiesenthal Campus Advocacy Fellowship is moving full speed ahead, bringing together post-secondary students of diverse religious backgrounds to gain an understanding of historical and contemporary antisemitism, build skills to combat hate on campus and become human rights advocates. This program includes a visit to Israel to gain deeper insight into the reality of the world’s only Jewish state.
All this to say, FSWC is devoting greater efforts to allyship as a tool to combat antisemitism and other forms of hate. As no one organization can do this alone, we look forward to further fostering these important relationships as we stand in solidarity with all communities targeted with the poison of hate.
Community Update. FSWC launches new search for witnesses for upcoming trial against former Nazi guard
FSWC is, once again, seeking witnesses for an upcoming trial against a former Nazi guard who worked at Sachsenhausen concentration camp between April 1943 and March 1945. In collaboration with Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi-hunter, Efraim Zuroff, we’ve put out a call for survivors of the camp and relatives of victims. Please share this important request widely with your friends and family.
Earlier this week, FSWC was pleased to receive a letter from the Canadian Chief of the Defence Staff responding to our the concerns we had expressed over a sergeant who was found guilty by a court of making a series of deeply offensive jokes about Jewish people and the Holocaust while serving as an instructor in the Canadian Army. In the letter, General Wayne Eyre confirmed that the sergeant's behaviour is being closely monitored and he is no longer "employed in an instructional role." This is in addition to the remedial measures applied by the Army and “severe reprimand” and $3,000 fine put forward by the military judge.
FSWC spoke out on a series of disturbing incidents and other issues, in Canada and beyond. Following an antisemitic and anti-Black graffiti incident at a school in Peterborough, FSWC reached out promptly to the school to offer support and educational programs for students and staff. The day prior, FSWC spoke out against swastika flags that were openly displayed by a group of neo-Nazis outside a synagogue in the US state of Georgia.
For the latest from FSWC, we encourage you to follow our social media channels.
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) is horrified by Wednesday’s heinous stabbing attack inside a gender studies class at the University of Waterloo, which left a professor and two students with serious injuries. Waterloo Regional Police have stated that the attack appears to have been a “hate-motivated incident related to gender expression and gender identity.”
FSWC's Director of Allyship and Community Engagement, Dan Panneton, issued a statement in response to the attack.
Education Update. Story of Simon Wiesenthal shared with students across Ontario
Funded, in part, by the Ontario government, FSWC recently published the book, The Long Road to Justice: The Story of Simon Wiesenthal, written and illustrated by our very own educators, Daniella Lurion, Melissa Mikel and Elena Kingsbury. The book has been shared with elementary school students across the province, with more than 2,000 copies distributed this past month. Prior to its publication, students at Beaumonde Heights Junior Middle School in Etobicoke provided feedback on the book and two of the students came up with its title.
Last week, we visited the school to present the published book and thank the students for their involvement. Each student in grades 6, 7 and 8 received a copy of the book, and the students who proposed the eventual title were asked by their classmates to sign the book. These two students also sent a note our way through their teacher following our visit to the school: “We wish to express our gratitude for including our names in your latest book,” they wrote. “It is an honour to be a part of your writing and a testament to the care and attention you put into the book's creation. We are grateful for the inspiration that you have provided and will cherish this moment for years to come.”
This week’s conclusion of the 2022-2023 school year, marked another impactful year for FSWC’s education team. Over the past ten months, the team delivered 1,168 educational programs to more than 36,700 students and more than 1,200 professionals across seven provinces. This includes virtual programs, in-person workshops and workshops on the Tour for Humanity mobile education centre, which travelled across Ontario, visited Quebec and, for the first time ever, spent an entire month on the east coast in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In addition to our daily workshops, FSWC’s annual Freedom Day, Speaker’s Idol and National Holocaust Education Conference proved, once again, hugely successful.
Simon Wiesenthal Around the World
2023 FSWC Sponsors
Fred and Linda Waks and Family