This past Wednesday afternoon I had the opportunity to join close to 100 other participants to listen to the testimony of Holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter. This virtual program, In Conversation with a Survivor speaker series, is presented in partnership with the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights.
The impact of Pinchas’ testimony was profound; articulate, emotional and raw. It is difficult to process the pain Pinchas endured, seeing his mother and sister being led away for the last time, or witnessing his best friend Yaacov being selected by a Nazi officer, for almost certain death. It is near impossible to fathom the strength and sheer will to survive that Pinchas must have summoned as a boy, in the face of such hate and evil raining down and tearing apart his life, the lives of his family and so many other Jews in Poland. But through it all, Pinchas has been a source of strength not just to the generations of family he has built in Canada but also for our broader Jewish community.
As I listen to survivors of genocide share their stories on our bi-weekly speaker series, I am struck by a common thread that seems to connect them all; their desire to make the world a better place. Neither hate nor anger defines them, but rather a profound sense of the role they must play in educating future generations to stand up and ensure that such horrors never again can take hold in our society. To me, that is the most important lesson they can teach us all, especially our youth, and I am immensely proud of the efforts of FSWC to support them in this crucial work each and every day.