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November 1, 2013
Ontario honours Holocaust survivors at Queen`s Park

TORONTO – “We smile through our tears.”

These words, spoken by Fay Kieffer, summed up the courage and determination for which she and nine other Holocaust survivors were honoured by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem last week at Queen’s Park.

Wynne, who had to wipe away her own tears during the event, presented certificates to Kieffer, along with Martin Baranek, Joe Betel, Helen Bleeman, Judy Cohen, Alzbeta Friedmann, Frank Junger, Joe Leinburd, Bill Nightingale and Rose Zimmerman for the “outstanding achievements and contributions” they have made to Ontario.

Addressing the honourees directly, Wynne said they had experienced “a horror most of us struggle to contemplate. You embraced your new lives here in Ontario and you made sure that every day mattered. You started families, you built businesses and you enriched your communities immeasurably. You have shown our province what is possible through your determination, strength and grace. You are wonderful role models and shining examples of the tenacity of the human spirit.

“We must never forget the Shoah. As more time separates us from the events you had to endure, teaching our young people about what happened has never been more important. It would be tempting, perhaps, to banish such horrifying events from your memories forever, if that were possible, but instead you relive these painful chapters of your lives over and over for the benefit of others.”

Ontario Citizenship and Immigration Minister Michael Coteau and York Centre MPP Monte Kwinter took turns reading biographies of each honouree. Israeli Consul General DJ Schneeweiss also paid tribute to the survivors, as did Master of Ceremonies Israel Mida, board member, Canadian Society for Yad Vashem.

The Bialik Hebrew Day School Choir sang a medley of songs as well as the Canadian and Israeli national anthems.

Following the ceremony, Yaron Ashkenazi, executive director, Canadian Society for Yad Vashem, accompanied the survivors to the legislature, where Kwinter recited kaddish in memory of those who were murdered in the Holocaust.

Pictured: Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne with Holocaust survivors for their contributions to Ontario last week at Queen’s Park.

www.jewishtribune.ca
 
 
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