The Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program

Blog Post Intro

The Azrieli Foundation, Concordia University’s Institute for Canadian Jewish Studies, and the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre announce a symposium in honour of the publication of the English translation of Rabbi Pinchas Hirschprung’s memoir Fun Natsishen Yomertol: Zikhroynes fun a Polit (1944). Published by the Azrieli Foundation as The Vale of Tears, translated by Vivian Felsen, Hirschprung’s memoir is a moving account of his escape from Nazi persecution.

Blog Post

The symposium, entitled “1944: a Moment in the Life of a Community,” will examine three major aspects of the life of the Montreal and, more generally, the North American Jewish community in 1944. Subjects to be examined include Orthodox Judaism, Yiddish culture and the Yiddish press, and the attitude of the North American Jewish community toward refugees from Nazi persecution. The symposium will conclude with the official book launch of The Vale of Tears.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Concordia University, Montreal

1455 de Maisonneuve Boulevard, West

Hall Building • Room 767 (Metro: Guy-Concordia)

9:00 am to 5:15 pm

Event is free but pre-registration is required.

TO RSVP for the book launch please email:

For further information:

Participants include: Pierre Anctil (University of Ottawa), Franklin Bialystok (University of Toronto), Esther Frank (McGill University), Maxine Jacobson (Independent Scholar), Steven Lapidus (Concordia University), Jack Lipinsky (Author and Educator, Toronto), Rebecca Margolis (University of Ottawa), Richard Menkis (University of British Columbia), Ira Robinson (Concordia University), Kalman Weiser (York University).

Symposium Schedule:

8:30am -9:00am

Registration and Coffee

9:00 am -9:15am


9:15 am -11:15 am

Session 1: Yiddish Culture and Press

Pierre Anctil (University of Ottawa) “Coming to terms with the tragic events of 1944 from a Montreal perspective”

Rebecca Margolis (University of Ottawa) The Keneder Adler and Yiddish community life in Montreal, 1944.

Esther Frank (McGill University) “Rochl Korn: a Montreal Yiddish Poet in Transition”

Kalman Weiser (York University) "’One of Hitler's Professors:’ Jewish scholars of Yiddish confront Franz Josef Beranek”

11:15am - 11:30am

Coffee Break

11:30am - 1:00pm

Session 2 Refugees from Nazi Persecution

Richard Menkis (University of British Columbia) “Encounters Overseas: What Canadian Soldiers learned about the Holocaust in 1944”

Franklin Bialystok (University of Toronto) “Canadian Jewry in 1944: What was known? What was reported? What was done? What Could Have Been Done?”

Jack Lipinsky (Associated Hebrew Schools, Toronto) “The Emerging Outline of a New Era: the ‘Lisbon Refugees’ arrival in Toronto”

1:00pm - 2:00pm


2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session 3 Orthodox Judaism

Steven Lapidus (Concordia University) “Memoirs of a Refugee: The Travels and Travails of Rabbi Pinchas Hirschprung”

Ira Robinson (Concordia University) “1944: a Year in a Montreal Orthodox Rabbi’s Life”

Maxine Jacobson (Independent Scholar) “Modern Orthodoxy in the 1940s”

3:30pm - 3:45pm

Coffee Break

3:45pm -5:15pm

Session 4 The Vale of Tears, book launch