With the recent rise of antisemitic conspiracy theories coming into light thanks to an angry racist rapper, the timing of Holocaust Education Week couldn’t be better. The week starts on Nov 2nd and runs until Nov. 9th with events put on by the Toronto Holocaust Museum (opening spring 2023).
Before the start of the week, I got to sit down with the executive director of the Toronto Holocaust Museum, Dara Solomon to chat about why remembering the past is so important. Solomon has been working for the museum since 2017 and had a lot to say on the topic.
The social isolation and uncertainty that came with the pandemic created what Solomon described as “the perfect environment for people with extremist ideas to unleash” their hatred. This hatred and antisemitism were on the rise during the pandemic which has been hard for certain communities around Toronto.
Though Solomon herself never had to deal with the antisemitic views being spewed at her, for a while she was hearing reports of it from others every day. She and her colleagues at the Toronto Holocaust Museum would hear from their partners that children were often a victim of hatred, which is not only sad but incredibly scary.
Solomon worries that kids will start to feel uncomfortable claiming their Jewish identity, which is something not seen for decades. There is a worry that the “peacefulness of our multicultural society is at risk” meaning the Toronto we have grown to know and love might be changing.
And this is why Holocaust Education Week is so important. Without being able to teach our kids the truth about our past we might unwittingly make the conspiracy theories and hatred stronger. “The problem is that the hatred on the internet is becoming normalized,” Solomon said reflecting on the work the museum does. With all their films, panels and school programs, the work of the Toronto Holocaust Museum might be needed now more than ever.
If you are interested in attending an event during Holocaust Education Week there are many to choose from, but the one Solomon recommends is Hear it Here First. It is a reading of memoirs by the survivors themselves and one read by Jake Epstein (from Degrassi: The Next Generation) who will narrate the story of the late Morris Schnitzer. The event runs on November 5th at 8 pm at Leah Posluns Theatre (4588 Bathurst Street).
For more information on events please check out the Toronto Holocaust Museum website.