Azrieli Foundation launches inaugural series of Holocaust Survivor Memoirs (Canada)

    November 21, 2007, 7 p.m., Bloor Cinema, 506 Bloor Street West Toronto

               with author readings and special guest speaker

                             DR. RUTH WESTHEIMER
     To reserve free tickets call 416-916-8619. Doors open at 6.30 p.m.

                         PRE-LAUNCH PRESS CONFERENCE
                 with Dr. Ruth Westheimer and memoir authors
                     10 A.M. WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 21, 2007
     Mayfair Room, Intercontinental Hotel, 220 Bloor Street West Toronto

    Canadian philanthropic Foundation publishes new memoirs by Holocaust
    survivors who came to Canada. Books to be donated to libraries across
    Canada and beyond.

    TORONTO, Nov. 21 /CNW/ - The Azrieli Foundation, a philanthropic
organization dedicated to promoting initiatives in education, research, the
arts, and commemoration of the Holocaust, celebrates the launch of The Azrieli
Series of Holocaust Survivor Memoirs with readings by authors, and family
members of authors. Dr. Ruth Westheimer, pop-culture figure, human rights
advocate, psychosexual therapist, filmmaker, Holocaust survivor and memoir
author is the special guest speaker. Joe Schlesinger, veteran CBC journalist
and a Holocaust survivor, will be the master of ceremonies. Musical interludes
will be performed by cellist William Findlay and guitarist Bill Bridges.
Attendees will receive a complete set of memoirs.
    The only program of its kind, the Azrieli Series of Holocaust Survivor
Memoirs was established to preserve and share the written memoirs of those who
survived the 20th century Nazi genocide of the Jews of Europe and who later
made their way to Canada. Memoirs will be made available to libraries across
Canada as well as Holocaust memorial institutions around the world, and other
interested readers later this month.
    Dr. Ruth said, "I'm honoured to be a part of this project. It is really
high time, in fact maybe the last opportunity, to get survivors of the
Holocaust to tell their stories. I'm also delighted to be taking part in this
event as a tribute to the memory of my entire family who perished during that
    David J. Azrieli, the Canadian-based architect, real estate developer and
philanthropist, conceived the program after writing his memoirs about escaping
the Nazis, and which were published by Yad Vashem, the Israel-based Holocaust
memorial and education centre. Mr Azrieli said, "Writing my own memoirs about
this dark period in history was not easy, even with the support of my family.
As a result, I felt an obligation to seek out and preserve the written works
of other Holocaust survivors. These unique historical documents offer insights
that can be provided only by those who lived through it."
    Azrieli Foundation Chair and Executive Director, Dr. Naomi Azrieli
explains, "The program is guided by the conviction that each survivor of the
Holocaust has a remarkable story to tell, and that such accounts have an
important role in education about tolerance and diversity."
    Intended for a broad audience, the series gives readers the opportunity
to bear witness to the Holocaust through the eyes of fellow Canadians. The
books reflect the diversity of experiences, geographic locations, perspectives
and writing styles. They describe the lives and communities in which the
authors lived before the war, how they survived the relentless persecution
through their own bravery and the courageous acts of others, as well as the
author's eventual arrival and life in Canada.
    Over 170 memoirs have been submitted to the program so far. The Program's
Manager, Tamarah Feder, herself the daughter and granddaughter of Holocaust
survivors said, "We are honoured to be working on preserving and sharing these
memoirs, and we look forward to launching a new series of memoirs each year.
Each is intensely compelling and inspiring. These memoirs are written not by
victims, but by the victorious."
    Naomi Azrieli pointed out that, "In reading these remarkably moving and
inspiring memoirs, we are reminded that while the targets of the German Nazis
and their collaborators have a shared history, the details of their survival
are different from each other."
    Simone Veil, first president of the European Parliament and survivor of
Auschwitz was the keynote speaker at a similar launch in Montreal recently.
Said Mme Veil, "For us, for survivors, these stories represent our vigilance.
We will not be around for very long. This vigilance will now pass on to our
children and grandchildren, and I believe that what you are doing will
contribute to ensuring that the truth will not be distorted, in this country
as in any community."
    The program benefits from the scholarly assistance and guidance of York
University's Centre for Jewish Studies, headed by Holocaust scholar, Professor
Sara R. Horowitz. The original manuscripts submitted to the program will be
preserved at York University's Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections
and made available to interested scholars.
    Sir Martin Gilbert, historian, official biographer of Winston Churchill
and historical cartographer, provided maps for each of the memoirs.

    The first series is comprised of six memoirs, including:
    -   Getting Out Alive by Tommy Dick, formerly of Calgary. Currently
        available in English only.
    -   The Violin by Rachel Shtibel and A Child's Testimony by her husband,
        Adam Shtibel, of Toronto. Published in one volume, available in
        English and French.
    -   Bits and Pieces by Henia Reinhartz of Toronto. Available in English
        and French.
    -   Spring's End by John Freund of Toronto. Currently available in
        English only.
    -   Cachée by Marguerite Elias-Quddus of Montreal. Currently available in
        French only.

    About the Azrieli Foundation

    The Azrieli Foundation was established in 1989 to realize and extend the
philanthropic vision of David J. Azrieli, C.M., C.Q., MArch. The Foundation's
mission is to support a wide spectrum of initiatives in education and
research. The Azrieli Foundation is an active supporter of programs in the
fields of Jewish education, the education of architects, scientific and
medical research, and education in the arts. The Azrieli Foundation's many
well known initiatives include: the Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Publishing
Program, which collects, preserves, publishes and distributes the written
memoirs of survivors in Canada; the Azrieli Institute for Educational
Empowerment, an innovative program successfully working to keep at-risk youth
in school; and the Azrieli Fellows Program, which promotes academic excellence
and leadership on the graduate level at Israeli universities. Programs
sponsored and supported are located in Canada, Israel and the United States.

For further information:

For further information: to confirm your attendance at the press
conference and to schedule interviews with Dr. Ruth Westheimer and the memoir
authors: Tamarah Feder, Program Manager, The Holocaust Survivor Memoirs
Publishing Program, The Azrieli Foundation, Tel: (416) 322-5928, e-mail:,

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