The Holocaust Monument and the Miracle of Chanukah

Edmonton Jewish News

The project of the National Holocaust Monument is moving along. In terms of fundraising, we have surpassed the government’s generous matching grant. We have procured the finest team in the world, headed by Gail Lord and featuring world-renowned designer Daniel Libeskind. We plan to light the eternal flame in the spring, with the completion of the monument scheduled for summer 2016. The message of the monument is one of memory of the victims but hope for the future.

Following the defeat of the Greeks by the Hasmoneans, we entered the Holy Temple in Jerusalem to find our Sanctuary in disarray. In an attempt to destroy the soul of the Jewish people, the Greeks had defiled everything. We searched and searched until finally one small cruse of oil was discovered containing enough oil to last just one day. We celebrate eight days and nights of Chanukah to commemorate the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days.

By the end of WWII, our people were utterly crushed. The Nazis had not only come close to our complete physical annihilation, they had almost entirely destroyed the soul of the Jewish people.   But while others might have languished for generations in self-pity, we picked ourselves up out of the ashes and began to build families and institutions and make incredible contributions to the new lands in which we found ourselves.

Our beloved country of Canada had one of the highest rates of acceptance of Jewish refugees, Holocaust survivors with nowhere to turn. They came with nothing and became some of the greatest contributors to the Canadian economy and society. Despite their efforts to defile our soul, we refused to allow the Greeks or the Germans to destroy us. We searched and searched for that lone cruse of oil that would bring light to the darkness we had experienced.

Likewise, the citizens and leaders of Canada would not allow their future to be dictated by the attitudes of the past. Today, Canada stands at the forefront of combating human rights abuses around the world. Our government recognizes the challenges that Israel faces on a daily basis and has become its strongest supporter and ally in the world, defending it from the constant onslaught of those who wish to undermine Israel’s legitimacy and ultimately destroy us.

The National Holocaust Monument reflects our past, present, and future. As one enters, one is overcome by the concrete structure and confused by the unclear path to take through the maze of the configuration.   During this journey, one comes face to face with the Holocaust through pictures, images and memories.

But as one climbs the stairs to the second level (there will be a glass elevator available), one sees a ray of light shining through the darkness. This one small cruse of oil is what makes our monument uniquely Canadian.   Emerging through the cracks, one immediately encounters a clear view of Parliament Hill and the Peace Tower. At this point, one remembers how many Holocaust survivors came to Canada, built their lives here and became an integral part of the fabric of our nation.

At the same time, one is reminded that this monument represents Canada’s commitment to the future, to ensuring that such atrocities never happen again to any people anywhere in the world. One feels comforted by the thought of the haven Canada has provided for the Jewish people and continues to provide for persecuted peoples across the globe.   There is not a nation on the planet that reflects these values the way Canada expresses and acts upon the conviction to uphold morality and welcome the stranger and the needy.   The light of Chanukah, the light of hope and freedom, burns bright in this country.

There are still opportunities to be part of this historic project.   We are overwhelmed by the generosity of the Canadian people and we appreciate every contribution, however small or large. Current donations range from ten dollars to one hundred seventy five thousand dollars. Donations of twenty five thousand and up will be recognized on the monument in perpetuity and may be paid in installments over time.

We have gone to great lengths to ensure that the monument is protected and accessible year-round. Your participation in the project will enable us to have ongoing educational resources and technological advances, maintaining the role and relevance of the monument for generations to come.

The monument and its message belong to all Canadians. Become a part of its eternal flame and encourage your family, friends, neighbours and colleagues to take part! For more information, go to www.holocaustmonument.ca.