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Ellin speaks at the Edmonton Holocaust Education Week Kristallnacht commemoration Nov. 7, 2019
November 7, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm EST
Edmonton’s Jewish community is about to mark a solemn anniversary: the 81st anniversary of “Kristallnacht”, the Nazis’ “Night of Broken Glass” that took place on November 9, 1938. Kristallnacht heralded the beginning of the Holocaust that killed six million Jews during World War II. Kristallnacht also comes just before Remembrance Day, when the world commemorates the Canadian soldiers who put on a uniform but didn’t come back from war. Now a new book by journalist Ellin Bessner shows how those two events are closely related: as Canada’s tiny wartime Jewish community mobilized for that war, sending nearly 17,000 Jewish personnel to defeat Hitler, and rescue the survivors of the Holocaust.
For these fighting Canadian Jews, the war was a “double threat”: not only were they fighting the enemy, and to save their brethren, but they served at great personal risk should they be captured and their Jewish faith discovered. They also had to overcome widespread antisemitism at home, in the barracks and on the battlefield. Some of Edmonton’s most prominent Jewish residents served in WWII, including Justice Samuel Lieberman, Hollywood movie director Arthur Hiller, and Rabbi Jacob Eisen, who became the RCAF’s Canadian Jewish chaplain in London.
Bessner will be the keynote speaker in Edmonton on Thurs. Nov. 7, at the community’s Kristallnacht memorial event, at 7 p.m. Her new book “Double Threat: Canadian Jews, the Military and WWII“ published by the University of Toronto Press, tells this important Canadian story of courage and diversity. Books will be available for signing and sale: Audrey’s Books.