Sunday, April 07, 2013

Holocaust Memorial Sunday Night Sheraton Hotel St. John’s

Philip Riteman is a Holocaust survivor now living in Nova Scotia. (CBC)

The annual Holocaust Memorial Service will take place Sunday night in St. John's, with guest speaker and Holocaust survivor Philip Riteman.

Riteman was 15 when he and his family were taken by the Nazis from their home in Poland to Auschwitz.

He was the sole survivor of his family, as both of Riteman's parents and all seven of his siblings died while they were in concentration camps.

After liberation, Riteman was contacted by his mother's sister who lived in Newfoundland. Although Canada was not allowing Jewish immigration at that time, Newfoundland was not yet part of Canada and Riteman was allowed to enter.

He arrived in 1946, learned English and started selling clothing door to door. Riteman has been awarded honorary doctorates by Memorial and St. Thomas Universities and has received the Order of Nova Scotia.

Riteman authored the book Millions of Souls: The Philip Riteman Story, and has spoken about his experience to audiences across Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as across North America.

Sunday's event is open to the public, and starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland.

Some of our Jewish friends don’t like to have the mass slaughter of the Unborn mentioned in the same breath as the Jewish holocaust, as though in some way it might lessen the horror and reality of events like Auschwitz. However, not doing so would actually be an injustice to the reality of all other holocausts and genocides perpetrated by mankind.

When we honour the memory and suffering of men like Philip Riteman—as well as all Jewish victims of that atrocity—it ought to be an occasion to remind ourselves to be on guard against all similar evils perpetrated on our fellow man. Otherwise the next holocaust is just around the corner, once again conveniently ignored by society, and the target could be you or me.

Except that today it is already here and the screams of the victims are silent.

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