Their Legacy, Our Responsibility

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 10:34am

One would think that the grandson of four Polish Holocaust survivors would have an in-depth knowledge of the Shoah, but it was quite the contrary. The Holocaust was a topic that was never discussed when I was growing up. When it was introduced, it was in the most unconventional way, through satire film and television. I knew this was just a facade draped over the painful truth.

During trips to Europe, I visited many Holocaust sites including concentration and extermination camps, museums and memorials. I began to develop an understanding of the Holocaust and of my family's closely guarded history. As a third generation descendant of Holocaust survivors, I had a responsibility and desire to learn and do more.

My involvement in Holocaust education and remembrance began as National Chair of the Canadian Young Adult March of the Living, followed by my current role as Chair of the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre in Toronto. My position as Chair has provided me the opportunity to work closely with USC Shoah Foundation and further the existing partnership between the two organizations. This relationship afforded me the privilege of working with Dr. Stephen Smith and his remarkable team.

In 2016, the Neuberger Centre and eight other Canadian organizations partnered with USC Shoah Foundation as part of the Preserving the Legacy initiative, which uses USC Shoah Foundation’s infrastructure to digitize, index and integrate Holocaust testimony taken by other organizations around the world into the Visual History Archive®. Without this initiative, more than 1,200 testimonies might have never been brought to light.

During a recent visit to USC Shoah Foundation, I viewed the Neuberger Centre's collection of 400 testimonies in the Archive. In addition, I was captivated by the filming of Holocaust survivor Eva Kor for the New Dimensions Testimony program. This interactive recording technology will allow students and the general public to better understand the human story behind the Holocaust and the impact it had on real families.

As we observe Yom HaShoah and Genocide Awareness Month, the Holocaust and its place in history remains as relevant in the future as it is today. I am proud to support USC Shoah Foundation as it continues to revolutionize the methods of teaching the Holocaust and finds new engaging ways to carry on the legacies of the survivors for future generations.

Shael Rosenbaum