Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day
DJ Schneeweiss, Consul General of Israel
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Ladies and gentlemen, Friends, Survivors,
We live in a time when the Holocaust is passing from living memory into history.
Aware of the danger that the passage of time may diminish the importance of historic events, our Jewish traditions help us turn history back into memory - taking our people's journeys and fashioning them into memories of our own:
o The Pesach Hagadah on Seder night, which we all just celebrated, and where many a Holocaust survivor no doubt told their grandchildren their own personal story of liberation…
o The breaking of the glass under the chupa at the height of our joy,
o The Friday night Kiddush and the Yomtov Yizkor
o The annual Yom Hashoah ceremonies in Israel and around the world. And more.
By keeping history alive, we also - I believe - keep ourselves alive in history. We acquire for ourselves a better sense of the import of current events and the imperative of impacting upon them.
This determination not to be defined by what our enemies say and do, but rather to build and create and defend and inspire and contribute, is one of the defining features of modern Israel, the nation-state of the Jewish people, which I so proudly represent here today.
The theme chosen for this year's Holocaust commemoration by Yad Vashem, Israel's world-leading Centre for Holocaust Remembrance, is "Jews on the Edge: Between Annihilation and Liberation" – a theme which resonates, I believe, with every Jew.
Seventy years ago, in 1944, the Jews of Europe who had survived the war thus far, stood on the edge between horror and hope - profoundly aware of the horrors of the camps yet aware too, of the tantalizing possibility that they might be spared.
Thankfully today, in 2014, our people are free of the cruelty of not knowing which way the pendulum of fate will turn.
Today, the Jewish people as a whole lives in unparalleled circumstances of individual and collective freedom and security, with sovereignty in our ancient homeland and acceptance around the world.
Yet even today, in this age of liberty and opportunity, many of us worry that the evil winds of that earlier time may be returning.
There are too many incidents; too many signs in too many places that Jews may not be as secure as we would hope. Particularly in Eastern Europe and the Muslim world, but elsewhere as well, too many political groups who seek to whip up hostility and hatred towards our people.
Israel continues to do everything in its power to ensure that Jews everywhere do not have to live on the edge. We work with local communities and governments across the world to combat anti-Semitism and promote Holocaust education and establish the safeguards that will protect us all.
Israel's strength and security itself is also part of this battle, providing strength and security to Jews everywhere, while offering a safe haven for any who seek it.
Indeed, one of the central purposes of Israel's existence is to ensure that "Never Again" is not just a slogan, but a fundamental truth in international affairs, and we will never, never lose sight of this moral and historic obligation.
In these efforts, Canada is always there, by our side, indeed, often taking the lead.
Canada's understanding and commitment to the fight against anti-Semitism and the need to perpetuate the memory of the Holocaust as a means of safeguarding democracy is unparalleled, and we thank the Harper Government, as well as the relevant provincial authorities, for their unwavering determination in these matters.
Allow me to commend the organizers of today's ceremony and those who engage all year round in the crucial labor of Holocaust commemoration and education and the fight against anti-Semitism and xenophobia.
Israel stands together with you and with all the members of this great community, as together we commemorate the tragedies and horrors of our past, and reaffirm our determination to be ever vigilant and to learn and apply the lessons so that they will never be repeated.
We stand and fight together to ensure that Jews never again have to live on the edge, but can stride into the future with confidence, and without fear.