Special to The Jewish Post & News
An autograph book that reflects an artist’s life in the Theresienstadt ghetto and transit camp, once belonging to Holocaust survivor and Danish violinist Mænni Ruben, has reemerged in Victoria, BC.
Ruben’s unique perspective on the Holocaust is chronicled in his autograph book as the war is ending and survivors are being liberated.
His is a story not only of survival, but about enduring friendships, and the music and art that held them together under grim circumstances. With ethereal drawings from artist Hilda Zadikow, life in Theresienstadt is brought alive and forms a significant part of Ruben’s keepsake.
Besides the concerts and recitals that happened in Theresienstadt, many of the people in Ruben’s autograph book participated in the historic 1944 Red Cross concert, and a Nazi propaganda film.
Ironically, Ruben never set foot in Canada, having died in 1976 in Copenhagen, but his wife Susi did. After living in Victoria for 26 years, arriving with her second husband Dr. Avi Deston, she gave the book to Rabbi Harry Brechner of Congregation Emanu-el preceding her death in 2018.
“When the rabbi showed the book to me last year, I could see right away that it was special and should go to a museum. It is in remarkable condition for being 75 years old and is a tremendous addition to Holocaust studies,” says Project Coordinator Janna Ginsberg Bleviss. “I was fascinated by the book––who were these people and what happened to them? Reading the pages filled with optimistic greetings, illustrations, and pieces of music was like finding a hidden treasure, waiting to be opened. I wanted to discover who these people were and hear their stories.”
With the understanding that it would leave the Victoria Jewish community once gifted to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Ginsberg Bleviss decided to develop a compelling visual narrative from the book.
“Despite the horrors of being in a camp, these people survived. The emotion behind their inscribed messages speaks to friendships, and the power of music and art that held them together in these dreadful times. I knew these stories had to be told,” explains Ginsberg Bleviss.
The book depicts hope and optimism about the future, of friendships formed through the war, and at the camp. Ruben and his friends, some of whom were top-of-their-field musicians, artists, and intellectuals, survived the Holocaust, and many returned to successful careers in the performing arts. One of the musicians, 109-year-old pianist Alice Sommer Herz, became the subject of the Academy Award-winning documentary, The Lady in Number 6.
“There is a huge educational value to these pieces for students learning about the Holocaust, or for researchers who want to continue exploring the stories of these most interesting people during an important time at the end of the Second World War,” says Rabbi Brechner. “We want the book to stay in Canada” and it will soon become a permanent part of the CMHR.
An introductory video of the Theresienstadt Autograph Book, the exhibit panels, and the replica book with translations and accompanying notes are available at https://terezinautographbook1945.ca
The Theresienstadt Autograph Book is sponsored in part by . Established in 2016, the project is dedicated to Holocaust remembrance and education.
Founded in 1863, is a progressive, Conservative, egalitarian, and inclusive synagogue, and Canada’s oldest one in continuous use.
Post script: After reading that the Autograph Book will be coming to the CMHR, I reached out to Dr. Jeremy Maron, who is Curator at the CMHR, to ask him how the CMHR plans to incorporate this precious artifact into its collection –and when it might arrive. Here is how Dr. Maron responded:
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights has indeed accepted this artifact for acquisition after it was generously offered by Janna Ginsberg and her congregation in Victoria.
To clarify, we are not bringing this item in as a stand-alone exhibition. We have accepted this historical object as part of our permanent collection, which means we are committed ensuring its long-term preservation, as well as providing access in order to share this book and Ruben’s story with our visitors. With this in mind, this book will likely be on display in the future in our Examining the Holocaust gallery, but we do not have dates in mind yet.
The book will require some conservation work in order to ensure its long-term preservation and viability, and its delicate condition will also inform how often (and how long) the item will be on display. So in short, the object will be part of the museum’s permanent collection, and will be on display at times. But we do not yet have display dates planned for it yet. Once it does go on display, it would just be for specific periods, not permanently, which will protect it from continuous light exposure and ensure its ongoing preservation.
Undoubtedly, this artifact marks a valuable and unique addition to the permanent collection of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The written entries offer direct, first-hand insights from people as they were living their day-to-day lives in Terezin. The musical entries in particular speak to the persistence of artistic and cultural expression that people strived to retain during a gross violation of human rights (and the importance that music played in the life of Ruben himself). It also conveys the cultural vibrancy that existed within Terezin, which affords consideration of how the Nazis used Terezin for propaganda purposes to deflect attention from atrocities that they were committing elsewhere (and within, beneath the guise prepared for international visitors).
Legal Roadmap: Canadians Working Down Under in Australia
Australia’s sun-kissed shores, vibrant cities, and dynamic job market attract many Canadians looking to expand their horizons. The allure of working Down Under is strong, but before you can exchange the chilly Canadian winters for Australia’s summer beaches, there’s a significant legal pathway to navigate. This post will guide you through the necessary steps to ensure that your Australian work experience is both enjoyable and compliant with local laws. One essential element is securing an Australian visa for Canadians, but there’s much more to consider. Let’s dive in.
Understanding Australian Work Visas for Canadians
The first port of call for any Canadian looking to work in Australia is to secure the correct visa. The Australian visa for Canadians is not a one-size-fits-all; there are several options depending on the nature and duration of your stay.
Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417)
Many young Canadians (18 to 30 years old, with a recent extension to 35 for some applicants) choose the Working Holiday visa. This visa allows you to work and travel in Australia for up to 12 months, with the possibility of extending it for a second or third year if certain conditions are met, such as undertaking regional work.
Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (Subclass 482)
If you have skills in particular occupations that are in demand, you might qualify for the Temporary Skill Shortage visa. This requires sponsorship from an approved Australian employer and has both short-term and medium-term streams.
Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186)
For Canadians with significant work experience who are being offered a permanent role in Australia, the Employer Nomination Scheme visa may be suitable. It allows you to work in Australia permanently, and your occupation must be on the relevant list of eligible skilled occupations.
Skilled Independent Visa (Subclass 189)
This visa is for invited workers and New Zealand citizens with skills Australia needs. For Canadians, it means you’re not sponsored by an employer or family member or nominated by a state or territory government.
Securing an Australian Visa for Canadians
Assess Your Eligibility
Your first step is to determine which visa fits your circumstances best. Assess your skills, qualifications, and the purpose of your stay in Australia to identify the right visa subclass.
Gather Necessary Documentation
Once you’ve determined the visa you need, compile all the necessary documentation. This may include proof of qualifications, work experience, health insurance, and police checks.
Most visa applications can now be made online via the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs website. Ensure all information is accurate and that you include all required supporting documents to avoid delays.
Processing times can vary depending on the visa type and the volume of applications received by the Department of Home Affairs. During this time, keep an eye on your application status and be prepared to provide additional information if requested.
Upon approval, you’ll receive your visa grant number and the date your visa starts. Make sure to comply with all visa conditions and keep a copy of your visa grant notice.
Preparing for the Australian Workplace
Understanding the legal framework is vital, but it’s just as important to prepare for the cultural shift in the workplace.
Australian work culture might be more casual and laid back than you’re used to in Canada. However, this doesn’t mean that Australians do not work hard. It’s a balance, with a strong emphasis on work-life harmony.
Employee Rights and Obligations
Familiarize yourself with Australian labour laws. The Fair Work Ombudsman provides resources outlining your rights and obligations as an employee in Australia, including fair pay, work hours, and workplace safety.
Leverage social platforms like LinkedIn or local Canadian-Australian business associations to build your network and find job opportunities.
Once you arrive, there are a few practicalities to take care of:
Tax File Number (TFN)
You’ll need to apply for a TFN for taxation purposes. Without it, you’ll be taxed at the highest rate.
Australian Bank Account
Open a local bank account to manage your finances efficiently. Some banks allow you to open an account from Canada up to three months before you arrive.
Consider short-term accommodation while you get your bearings. Research the housing market in your chosen city to find something more permanent.
Depending on the visa, you might need to maintain health insurance coverage for the duration of your stay. Research Australian health insurance providers and select a suitable policy.
Abiding by Visa Conditions
Ensure you fully understand the conditions of your visa. Working longer than permitted or outside of the terms could lead to visa cancellation.
Understand your tax obligations. Canada and Australia have a tax treaty to prevent double taxation. However, it’s wise to consult with a tax professional.
Consider consulting with an immigration lawyer or registered migration agent to assist with complex visa applications or issues that arise while in Australia.
Embrace the Australian Experience
Working in Australia can be a life-changing experience. By following this legal roadmap, you’ll be well-equipped to embrace the Australian lifestyle and work culture. Remember, securing an Australian visa for Canadians is your golden ticket to an incredible personal and professional journey Down Under. Prepare thoroughly, respect the local laws, and immerse yourself in all the adventures that await.
Why don’t the Palestinians of Gaza rid themselves of Hamas?
By JACK LONDON I am Jewish. I am sickened by and angry about the unprovoked invasion of Israel by Hamas and its brutal murders, rapes, dissection and kidnappings of Israeli babies, children, women, and men. I am offended by the ignorance and distortion of the region’s history. I am offended by the policies of the CBC and other journalists who use the word “militants” to describe “terrorists.”.Militants do not rape, murder and amputate the heads of babies. Terrorists do. Hamas and terrorism are synonyms. They are not freedom fighters; they are oppressive cruel despots and thugs who have subjugated and sacrificed their own people. I am mortified that a group of 38 Liberal MPs, (perhaps led astray by Prime Minister Trudeau’s own jump to a wrongful judgment of Israel’s responsibility for the deaths in a Gaza hospital parking lot), have authored a demand that Israel desists from pursuing the leadership and mechanisms of Hamas’s terror these many years. Just what is the alternative when cowardly terrorists use civilian populations as shields behind which to hide, plot and act out their nefarious brutality?
Most of all, I ask myself why it is that the Palestinian population of Gaza has not itself found the desire, courage, or capacity to stand up, demand elections and exorcise its malevolent Hamas government?
I am not a Pollyanna automaton about Israel. I don’t agree with Israel’s ultra-orthodox sects whose members fail to serve their country and, replicating the past, inhibit their future. I do not support suggestions by some Israeli settlers of the West Bank to introduce apartheid-like policies into Israel’s existing principled democracy. Apartheid was, is and must remain an antonym to Israeli ethics and democracy. I condemn the recent retaliatory murders of some Palestinians by a few settlers on the West Bank. I fear and oppose the recent attempts by PM Netanyahu and his fascistic coalition partners to take uninhibited control of government by reducing judicial expertise and oversight of Israel’s basic laws. Netanyahu’s coalition has been, for the moment, sidelined by the recent formation of the Unity War Coalition, but it will be back in control. It is anti-democratic and increasingly and rightly disrespected in the Jewish Diaspora. Moreover, Netanyahu and his coalition conservatives have been so focused on their radical, self-serving, anti-democratic restructuring of the essential liberalism of Israel, they failed to fulfill their primary responsibilities: anticipation of, protection from and defense against inevitable attacks by Hamas throughout its modern existence and its allies. Tragic!
Nevertheless, Israel has been a shining light of democracy, innovation, education, science, business, progress, inventiveness, peace, humanism and a haven for Jews and others suffering persecution around the world. Absurdly, these strengths inflate the historic conscious or unconscious anti-Semitism of much of the world for whom anti-Zionism is just a synonym for anti-Semitism. But, Jews are the historical citizens and governors of the land of Israel. Read the voluminous histories and the Bible, check the archeology, and study the scholarly works. On the other hand, a Palestinian People has never existed or held governmental control of the land of Israel. Arabs have lived on the land, named Palestine by the world’s superpowers in 1929, but they were never rulers or governors of a state. The governance for centuries had been Ottoman and, later, British.
Compared with the never-ending deadly damage Arab leaders in the Middle East have imposed on their own populations, I take great pride in Israel’s development and in the two million progressive and successful Arabs who, as residents of Israel, share rights equivalent to Jewish citizens, including participation in the Knesset, its governing Parliament.
Hamas, which rules in and dominates Gaza, is a Mafia-like organization of masked (always the telltale mark of terror) soldiers, first elected to office in 2007, but never since forced to stand for re-election. The leadership of The Palestinian Authority has had legitimate governance rights in Gaza and the West Bank but has been hampered and obstructed by Hamas. Both the PA and Hamas have never had any compunction about senseless provocation of Israel, which has led inevitably to the disbenefit of Palestinians who deserve better. Their hate invokes continuing hardship, peril, death, and a Kafka-like impossibility of finding their way out to the light.
It is not the fault of the Palestinian residents themselves. Arab leaders, not Israelis, authored the wars in the region which have cost their peoples dearly. Successful, learned, intelligent, hardworking, affluent, peace desiring Arabs and Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank outnumber those who are poor and hawkish. They all are victims. They suffer never ending fear and malignant infection because of Hamas’s terrorism, the ineptness of the Palestinian Authority, and absurdly evil misinterpretations of the Koran by radical Mullahs – all of which is supported by Iran and Hezbollah. They teach hatred of Jews to Arab children in their schools, thereby victimizing yet another generation of their own people.
The Palestinians who suffer in the disputed territories and Gaza are victims deserving of our caring and support. Given its seaside port and border, Gaza, which originally was Egyptian, could have flourished when Israel unilaterally withdrew its troops and settlers in 2007. It failed because of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. The failure was not because of Israel’s insistence on a blockade at the Gaza’s border with the sea; it was because of Hamas terror and Iranian malevolence that a blockade has been necessary.
The Palestinians suffer from the shortsightedness of their leaders, terrorist or not, who consistently reject available solutions that would end hostilities and would permit peace and prosperity to reign for all. Peace and viable two state options have been open to Arab leaders for decades and not taken. The United Nation’s 1948 Partition Plan, which divided the former British mandate into two states, was rejected by the Arabs who instead chose war- twice. United Nations Resolution 242 called for a land-for-peace solution. It has been offered and refused. The 1978 Camp David Accords failed. The Oslo Accords of Israeli Prime Ministers Peres and Rabin, and PLO Chairman Arafat in 1993/95, which bore the seeds of success, were sabotaged. The generous Camp David Accord of 2000 negotiated by President Clinton between Israeli Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat was quickly renounced by Arafat. Arafat likely demurred because he feared assassination from his own if he did the right thing.
Israel’s two base line conditions for peace: acceptance that Jews are a People, not only a religion, and that Israel has the right to exist as a homeland of the Jewish People, have not been honored.
My concern for the Palestinian population of Gaza, Jerusalem, and the West Bank, stems primarily from the failure of its leaders to grab the always available opportunity to secure a new, flourishing path for their people. I bemoan their timidity and shortsightedness and I fear for the never-ending disappointment and pain of their people They deserve better from their own but their own, Hamas, are illegitimate cowards and murderers.
Abba Eban, the brilliant Israeli orator, in a speech in Geneva in 1973 famously exclaimed that “Arabs never miss the opportunity to miss an opportunity.” I wish Eban had been wrong. But, though some Arab countries have moved forward into the light, my heart tells me that in the case of the Palestinians, nothing has changed. They are doomed to suffer under the crushing heels of their immoral terrorists and incapable politicians, past and present.
Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come. Israel’s intention to disable Hamas once and for all will have unhappy side effects in Gaza, Israel, and the broader Middle East. But it has no option. It is at war begun by Hamas, which must be eradicated. It cannot allow terror to win. It cannot insult the memory of the victims of the Hamas massacre and the yet unknown fate of more than two hundred hostages held by Hamas. The side effects will be many and unhappy, but there is no choice. Israelis cannot be docile while facing the barrels of guns aimed at them. It must eradicate the shooters.
Jack R London C.M, Q.C, LLM (Harv)
Author: “Serendipity: My Path Through Life and Law” (Heartland Associates Great Books).
Former Dean of Law, University of Manitoba;
presently, Senior Counsel to a Winnipeg Law Firm
A Winnipeger at heart speaks from the heart from Jerusalem: Solly Dreman, Ph.D.
Posted Oct. 31, 2023 By SOLLY DREMAN Israel is faced today with a crisis of historical proportions with a threat not only to its existence but to the free democratic world at large. The horrendous events of Shabbat October 7th in which 1400 citizens, men, women and children and infants were slaughtered, decapitated and raped, 3400 injured and 239 taken hostage in Gaza or declared missing has shocked the nation, shaken Israeli citizens’ confidence and is threatening not only Israel but the free democratic world .
There is no question that this was a genocide of historical proportions and an act of pure evil designed like the Holocaust to ultimately exterminate the Jewish people world-wide. This is the professed aim of Jihad, but the reactions of the international community extend beyond Islam and the cries of the woke international community for “the massacre of the massacred” echoed in recent mass demonstrations, hate crimes, support of leading university administrators and their students is unforgivable. Even more shocking is the support of so called liberal progressive Jews, even rabbis, against Israel in support of a “Free Palestine”.
As a Winnipegger who made Aliyah to Israel in 1964 and has been a part of the main stream of Israel’s life as a clinical psychologist dealing with central issues in Israel like war and terrorism, immigration, death and dying and families in crisis, I have been exposed to some of the main streams in Israel’s development. I am proud of being an Israeli and being part and parcel of this young, dynamic, nation state. I am, however, deeply concerned with the fate of our nation, which is the ultimate saferoom for the Jewish people in times of crisis.
As a Winnipegger I am very proud of my origins and even wrote a book: “A Personal Odyssey:
From Winnipeg to Jerusalem” (link attached). Winnipeg is a great supporter of Israel and in the Yom Kippur War in 1973 donated more per capita than any other city in North America. Bernie Bellan just wrote me that in the current war efforts Winnipeg has raised over 3.6 million dollars for Israel’s war efforts, which is indeed commendable. In these fateful days Israel badly needs the continued and unconditional support of world Jewry. Knowing Winnipeg’s Jewish community well I am certain Israel can count on its continuing support for Israel as the continuing homeland for world Jewry.🙏
Solly Dreman made Aliyah to Israel in 1964. He is a Fulbright Scholar (University of California Medical School, 1977) and Professor Emeritus in Clinic Psychology at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. He was the Brigade Psychologist of the Jerusalem Brigade on the Suez Canal in the Yom Kippur War in 1973
Post script: I asked Solly whether, given his extensive experience as a psychologist, he could offer any tips to Israelis that might help them in the current situation. Here is what he wrote back:
1. Unprecedented rates of volunteering on the home front such as offering psychological assistance, hosting refugee families from the south and north, providing food and clothing for both civilians and soldiers, etc. Being active is therapeutic and diminishes self concern and anxiety.
2. The media: Too much exposure, particularly to graphic portrayals of violence exacerbates anxiety. Too little exposure and lack of information also promotes uncertainty and anxiety. Need a moderate level of exposure.
3. Social support as displayed in whatsapp groups, zoom meetings, meetings with friends when exposure to threat is minimal are important and prevalent.
4. Parents, should present their children a confident but not invincible stance like “For sure we will win!”. They should not be afraid to admit that they are also anxious because this will prevent their children from expressing their emotions.
5. Information about victims on the home and battle front should be conveyed to children and family at large because, particularly in Israel, war and grief are intimate and the facts on the warfront will ultimately be revealed. Failure to disclose realities on the ground will create a confidence gap.
6. Routine and activity should be encouraged such as physical activity, school when there are adequate safe rooms and family and social visits when the security situation permits.
7. Contact with families of victims is important. As a brigade psychologist in the Yom Kippur War many families complained that friends avoided them because it was difficult for them to confront death and dying. This was very painful for deceased families