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JLSA Commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day

U of T Law reflects on Holocaust survivors’ stories

On January 27, U of T Law’s Jewish Law Students’ Association (JLSA) commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day with two virtual ceremonies for faculty and students to listen to Holocaust survivors’ stories. The annual remembrance day marks the anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camps and the death of six million Jews and other minorities who were victims of the Holocaust.

Holocaust survivor Howard Chandler, invited by JLSA Co-President Dahlia Horlick (2L), was the first to share his story. Chandler was born on December 5, 1928 in Wierzbnik-Starachowice, Poland. After being forced into a labour camp at the start of the war, he was sent to Auschwitz in 1944, later ending up at Buchenwald in 1945 until he was liberated. Chandler recounted his time in the camps and reiterated how important it is for others to hear his story. 

Joelle Chandler introduced her grandfather before he began his talk. She remarked how much of an honour it was to see her Zaidy (“grandfather” in Yiddish) share his experience during a time when, in the face of rising Anti-Semitism, Holocaust education is needed more than ever. 

“[My grandfather] is a very experienced speaker,” Joelle stated. “Even so, it is not easy to revisit such horrific memories and speak about them. He does this for the future, for a more humane world. We are unfortunately the last generation of students to be able to hear first-hand testimony from survivors, and we must take these opportunities to listen and to learn so that we can become witnesses and stand up against hate in all forms.”

JLSA Co-President Julia Gauze (3L) said that Joelle’s introductory remarks highlighted the generational impact imposed by the Holocaust. Gauze stated that, “Holocaust remembrance is about that legacy and making sure that these survivors’ memories live on.” She also wanted to thank the Jewish Graduate Student Initiative, who helped organize the event.

U of T’s JLSA was further invited to participate in an evening program led by Osgoode’s JLSA, in conjunction with other JLSAs across Ontario. Eva Meisels, born in 1939 in Budapest, Hungary, spoke about her time in the Budapest Ghetto. Meisels eventually found a safe house and, with false papers obtained from Raoul Wallenberg, was able to escape the camps. Her speech was accompanied by commentary from Toronto Mayor John Tory and former Attorney General Professor Irwin Cotler.

Dean Jutta Brunnée, Assistant Dean Brittany Twiss, and many others were in attendance at the ceremonies. According to Gauze, U of T’s JLSA was pleased to see faculty members in attendance alongside students of different backgrounds. “It’s on all of us to remember the Holocaust and to learn lessons from the past so that this never happens again,” she commented.To learn more about International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has a page dedicated to information about the Holocaust and stories from survivors. 

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