Virtual Remembrance Day speech to the Probus Club Etobicoke Thursday Nov. 19, 2020

As the world commemorates the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, and Holocaust Education Week, Canadian author and journalist Ellin Bessner comes to the Probus Club Etobicoke club to say we still have work to do to fight the rise of antisemitism in our time.

Bessner is the author of “Double Threat”, published by the University of Toronto Press, about the contribution of Canada’s tiny wartime Jewish community to defeating the Nazis. When the prime minister of the day, Mackenzie King, called the Second World War a “double threat” for Canadian Jews,  he meant that not only was freedom and democracy at risk but, so was the survival of the Jewish race from Hitler’s Final Solution. Canada’s wartime Jewish community sent over 17, 000 men and women to defeat Hitler and rescue survivors of the Holocaust.

Continue Reading →

Hidden heroes: Canada’s Jewish men in uniform in WWII. Ellin speaks to the Applewood Probus Club for Remembrance Day 2020

As we mark Remembrance Day and 75 years since the end of the Second World War, Toronto author and journalist Ellin Bessner brings us the story of some Canada’s hidden war heroes. 

Bessner’s book “Double Threat: Canadian Jews, the Military and WWII” published by the University of Toronto Press — paints a nuanced picture of how and why Canada’s tiny wartime Jewish community overcame widespread antisemitism at home and on the battlefield, to help defeat Hitler and rescue the survivors of the Holocaust. It is an important Canadian story that has not been comprehensively told before.  

Nearly 17, 000 signed up, or approximately 40 per cent of all eligible Jewish Canadian men served in uniform in the Second World War. They fought in all the major battles, from Dunkirk to D-Day, and beyond. Yet unlike their comrades, Jewish personnel faced a double threat: they served at great personal risk, should they be captured by the enemy, and their religion be uncovered.  

In Ellin’s lively interactive presentation, she’ll introduce you to some of the most high profile Canadian Jewish men and women who enlisted, including federal politicians like Barney Danson, Senators David Croll and Jack Marshall, entertainers Monty Hall, and Wayne and Shuster, and CFL football stars like Eddie Kushner of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Continue Reading →

Remembrance Day event at the Probus Club of Milton, Ontario with Ellin Bessner Nov. 4, 2020

As the world commemorates the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, and Holocaust Education Week, Canadian author and journalist Ellin Bessner comes to the Probus Club of Milton to say we still have work to do to fight the rise of antisemitism in our time.

Bessner is the author of “Double Threat”, published by the University of Toronto Press, about the contribution of Canada’s tiny wartime Jewish community to defeating the Nazis. When the prime minister of the day, Mackenzie King, called the Second World War a “double threat” for Canadian Jews,  he meant that not only was freedom and democracy at risk but, so was the survival of the Jewish race from Hitler’s Final Solution. Canada’s wartime Jewish community sent over 17, 000 men and women to defeat Hitler and rescue survivors of the Holocaust.

Bessner has spent nine years researching and interviewing the veterans and their families, to piece the untold stories together.  Her message to audiences is that “Remembrance is an active verb” and we must carry the torch of those who fought for our freedom.

Continue Reading →

Ellin speaks to Rose Reisman’s monthly lecture series ‘Rosebuds’ in Toronto, on Monday Nov. 18, 2019

Although the Second World War was a man’s war, and 17,000 Canadian Jewish men served, a tiny but important group of 270 Canadian Jewish women dared to overcome their family and community’s disapproval, the lower pay, and sexual harassment, and joined the Canadian forces after 1941. That is when the government allowed women to enlist. They served in many jobs at home, and behind the front lines, overseas.

Continue Reading →

New exhibit about Jewish WWII soldiers at Veterans Affairs Canada

Canada’s 17,000 Jewish soldiers who served in WWII are finally getting their due at Veterans Affairs Canada. A new web exhibit two years in the making has gone live on the government website Remembering Those Who Served.

Continue Reading →