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Holocaust Survivor Shares the Light

Friday, 29 November, 2013 - 1:59 pm

As part of the calling of Chanukah: "to advertise the Miracle"- to share the message of the festival in the most public way, we put a special effort into having government officials attend the annual lighting at the Legislature. This year, we had a difficult time… 

The office of the Premier was open to the idea of having Premier Clark attend the Menorah Lighting this year, but later informed us that she would be out of the country. We were then bumped from one Ministerial office to the next.  Each office apologized for the minister being out of town since there were to be no more fall sessions this year at the Legislature.

Days before Chanukah, we were contacted by the secretary of the Honourble Don McCrae, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovations, who informed us that the Minister was graciously willing to represent the Government at the annual ceremony.

This year, we had a great occasion - Dr. Peter Gary, a holocaust survivor, who has been an inspiration for many in our community, lit the Menorah in honour of both his upcoming 90th birthday this spring and his oratorio, "A 20th Century Passion" to be performed on March 2, 2014 at the University of Victoria.

Since his arrival on the Island, Dr. Gary had been giving talks at schools across the province. While there, he had shared his horror experiences at the concentration camps and inspired children to stand for tolerance, acceptance, love, and respect.

 When Minister McCrae arrived at the lighting, I informed him that Dr. Gary would be lighting the Menorah. As I started to describe who Dr. Gary was, the Minister was overwhelmed with excitement. "I know him very well", he said. "I had been a principal of a School in the Comox Valley for many years and Peter spoke at my school several times!"

I was amazed by the Divine Providence of the fact that after all the trouble we had in finding a government representative to attend the Chanukah Lighting, we had Minister McCrae lighting the Menorah this year. Before I had a chance to say anything, I saw the Minister giving a warm hug to his old friend.

 While the Minister was talking, he put his notes aside and dedicated his talk on behalf of his personal experience with the ‘light’ spread by Dr. Gary. No wonder then that the next morning, the Times Colonist newspaper headline read: "Holocaust Survivor Shares the Light".


Comments on: Holocaust Survivor Shares the Light

shelley Nitikman wrote...

Rabbi, that is a very heart warming story. Thanks for your persistence in getting that to happen as it did. But I'm wondering about the candle lighting on Salt Spring? We attended the ones held here over the past couple of years and found the ceremony very special and expected we'd be able to participate in it again this Chanukah. Is there any chance that will happen?
Shelley Nitikman and Cliff Jones