Jody Spiegel is the director of the Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program at the Azrieli Foundation. She joined the memoirs program at its inception in 2005, and has been the driving force behind the program’s expansion and success. Jody is a frequent speaker on survivor memoirs and the future of Holocaust education across Canada and internationally. She is a member of the Education Working Group and Canadian delegation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
Following World War II, millions of people found that they had no homes to return to or that it was unsafe to do so. To resolve the staggering refugee crisis that resulted, Displaced Persons (DP) camps were established to provide temporary shelter and assistance to refugees, and help them transition toward resettlement. The Jews in the DP camps created communities, married, started families, continued schooling, established theatres and orchestras, held sporting events and published newspapers in an attempt to rebuild and move forward after the devastation of the past years. They were among the first to research the Holocaust and initiate commemoration events. They collected testimonies from survivors, gathered written documentation and held memorial ceremonies for the victims. The survivors found themselves liberated but not free, as they tried to decide where to live and waited for permission to immigrate.
"NEVER AGAIN" - JEWISH RESPONSIBILITY IN THE FACE OF THE WORLD REFUGEE CRISIS
Elise Herzig is the Executive Director of JIAS (Jewish Immigrant Aid Services) Toronto, with 30 years of experience as a senior executive and consultant in the private and public sectors. Her lifelong Jewish community involvement includes volunteerism with organizations including Canadian Friends of Tel Aviv University, CIJA, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. Elise is grateful to be leading an agency that does the important work of welcoming, supporting, and integrating immigrants and refugees to Canada.
The session will explore our moral imperatives and responsibilities as Jewish people today, in the face of human rights atrocities around the world and a World Refugee Crisis, with over 70 million people displaced. More specifically, the session will reflect on the Jewish role in carrying out the legacy of “Never Again,” through the lens of JIAS (Jewish Immigrant Aid Services) Toronto and their experience working with Jewish constituents to bring non-Jewish refugees to safety, and help them rebuild their lives in Canada.
The session will reflect on questions such as: To whom are we responsible, and what are our priorities? How do a Jewish response to human rights violations and hands-on Jewish assistance to those suffering these violations today help to fulfill our legacy of “Never Again”?
WHERE THE HOLOCAUST CAME TO AMERICA
Judy Coe-Rapaport is the former president of the Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum in Oswego, NY. Judy has worked closely with former refugees and their families to gather information, artifacts, archival materials, videos, and photographs, and other materials pertaining to their lives before, during, and after the Shelter closed. She currently serves on the board and chairs the Museum’s Advisory Committee on Public Policy and Outreach, and lectures extensively on the personal stories of the 982 Holocaust refugees interned at Fort Ontario from August 1944 to February 1946.
Paul A. Lear is a Historical Archaeologist who has served as Superintendent of Fort Ontario State Historic Site in Oswego, NY since 1999. Lear holds an M.S. in Public Archaeology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a B.A. in Anthropology-History from SUNY Albany. He serves as Co-Chair of the 75th Anniversary Planning Committee of the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter, Chair of the Fort Ontario Conference on History and Archaeology Committee, and is on the Oswego County Tourism Advisory Board and the Fort Ontario National Landmark Committee.
Fort Ontario served as the only camp or shelter for Holocaust refugees in the United States during World War II. It is where every-day Americans and reporters first encountered the victims and their personal stories of persecution at the hands of the Nazis, and represents the first time that a group of unsponsored refugees were given asylum in the United States. This program will describe the origins and history of the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter, and the process and criteria for selecting 1,000 refugees from thousands. Topics explored will include antisemitism, isolationism, mental health, legal issues, living conditions, restrictions on movement, the controversy resulting from Roosevelt’s decision to open the shelter, and the national struggle to allow the refugees to remain in the United States after the war had ended.