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May 29, 2015 / 11 Sivan, 5775
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B’nai Brith Canada: ‘Silence Is Not An Option’

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But closing your eyes won’t make the boogeyman go away. But organizations like B’nai Brith Canada are there to shoo him away – as far away and for as long as possible. For they know he is always lurking.

Several months ago, an elderly Holocaust survivor wrote a letter to Jewish Press columnist and Holocaust survivor Rebbetzin Jungreis, expressing her wrenching concern over her grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s future. Sleep eluded her as she worried about her young descendants growing up in a world where violent attacks against Jews were on the rise, and where Israel bashing – anti-Semitism given a new coat of paint – was rampant. She knew that if it happened once, it could happen again. That is why a child who almost drowned is terrified of water; why a woman who was mugged is afraid to go out; why a cancer patient in remission is wary of every cough, or headache. It happened once, it could happen again.

Awareness is a blessing as well as a curse. You are vigilant and alert, but it is a burden to have your eyes wide open. It is for the distraught bubby; and it must be for Dr. Frank Dimant, executive Vice President of B’nai Brith Canada and CEO of the organization’s Institute for International Affairs and the League for Human Rights – and the son of Holocaust survivors.

As it is for me, the daughter of a mother and mother who walked out of the death camps of Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen, the only members of their immediate families to do so.

There are things in one’s life that force you to open the eyes you’d rather keep blissfully shut. For me, one of the most traumatic events took place a couple of years ago; incredibly at my granddaughter’s “graduation” from pre-nursery.

She and her classmates were standing in front of their doting parents and grandparents, singing with great gusto, their faces aglow with the beauty that radiates from a child who knows he or she is loved and cherished and safe.

Suddenly, I was hit with the realization that there had been beautiful children just like these, with names like Malka and Dovid and Suri, who decades ago sang to kvelling parents and grandparents. Then I saw them as they were in those hideous photos from the ghettos that cover the walls of Holocaust museums. Ragged, cold, forlorn, bewildered, orphaned and abandoned, eyes dull with hunger and disease. I saw my granddaughter and her friends in these photos – and I could barely control my horror, because if a malicious hurricane of evil had thundered once before…it could happen again.

To help get its mission across, “not to allow silence to prevail,” B’nai Brith Canada publishes a weekly newspaper, the Jewish Tribune, which has become the largest Anglo Jewish publication in Canada. The publication will soon be available on public transportation, such as the subways and buses, and will be an invaluable resource to educate the general public.

In addition to monitoring anti-Semitism it has a 24 hour hotline where people can report anti-Semitic incidents, whether a slur or job discrimination, it is an organization that, to quote Dr. Dimant “cares about amacha” (the nation). We provide a voice for a large segment of the Jewish community.” It provides a myriad of social services and financial help to the elderly, the poor, struggling immigrants and Holocaust survivors.

B’nai Brith Canada is funded through donations and fundraisers. For more information visit www.bnaibrith.ca.

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