To mark Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel on April 18), the Beth Israel Synagogue Congregation is hosting an exhibition called ‘Shoah: How was it Humanly Possible?’ on April 17 and 18.
Also known as the Shoah (the Hebrew word for “catastrophe”), the Holocaust was the genocide of European Jews during World War II. Between 1941 and 1945, Nazi Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered an estimated six million Jews across German-occupied Europe, comprising around two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population.
Last fall, the Beth Israel Synagogue Congregation brought a Holocaust education photo exhibit designed for teenage viewers to Peterborough. While the exhibit included real stories of children’s lives during the Holocaust, it omitted any graphic and violent content.
Both teenagers and adults visited the exhibit, and many adults who provided feedback said they wanted to learn more about the Holocaust, as violent and horrifying as it was, and to understand how it could ever have happened.
Created by the Jerusalem-based Yad Vashem: The World Holocaust Remembrance Centre, ‘Shoah: How was it Humanly Possible?’ is an exhibit that explains how hate was allowed to spiral into an unprecedented systematic genocide aimed at annihilating all Jewish people.
The exhibit’s panels feature explanatory texts, original photographs, art and documents, as well as quotes from the victims, survivors, and rescuers. The exhibit addresses all major historical aspects of the Holocaust, beginning with Jewish life in pre-Holocaust Europe and ending with the liberation of those few Jews still alive in concentration and extermination camps.
Unlike last fall’s exhibition, ‘Shoah: How was it Humanly Possible?’ contains violent and graphic content and is intended for mature viewers.
“The showing of this particular exhibit in Peterborough is very timely,” reads a media release from the Beth Israel Synagogue Congregation. “Statistics Canada lists Peterborough as having had the second highest rate of reported hate crimes out of all metropolitan areas across the country in 2021. Peterborough’s hate crime rate had already increased by 126 per cent between 2019 and 2020. While this all very scary, there is reason to believe that the caring and welcoming folks in our community can reverse these trends.”
With the Ontario Ministry of Education making Holocaust education mandatory in schools starting in Grade 6 this fall, this exhibit can also provide parents and other adults with the information necessary to discuss the topic with children.
‘Shoah: How was it Humanly Possible?’ will be available for viewing from 2 to 8 p.m. on Monday, April 17th and Tuesday, April 18th in the lower hall of Beth Israel Synagogue at 775 Weller Street in Peterborough. There is no admission cost.
In addition to the exhibit, the Beth Israel Synagogue Congregation is also hosting two other Yom HaShoah events. There will be a commemorative candle lighting service from 6:30 to 7 p.m. on Monday April 17th, and a webinar entitled “Fight or Die: 80th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising” will take place from 3 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18th.
For more information about how the Holocaust education, visit jccpeterborough.com/events/education/holocaust-education.