1944: A Moment in the Life of a Community

November 29, 2016

The Azrieli Foundation, Concordia University’s Institute for Canadian Jewish Studies, and the Montreal Holocaust Museum held a symposium in Montreal in honour of the publication of The Vale of Tears, the English translation of Rabbi Pinchas Hirschprung’s memoir Fun Natsishen Yomertol: Zikhroynes fun a Polit (1944).

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


8:30 AM - 9:00 AM
Registration and Coffee

9:00 AM - 9:15 AM

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”

11:15 AM - 11:30 AM
Coffee Break

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
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”

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
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”

3:30 PM - 3:45 PM
Coffee Break

3:45 PM - 5:15 PM
Session 4: The Vale of Tears, Book Launch

The Association for Canadian Jewish Studies published a special edition of their journal devoted to articles stemming from the conference.

An adaptation of the foreword, written by the Azrieli Foundation's Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program's Jody Spiegel and Arielle Berger, can be found here.

View the full issue.