Holocaust Memorial Observance
Sunday April 30, 2017
Capital Community Church
71 Downing Street, Fredericton
The Annual Fredericton Holocaust Memorial Observance will take place on Sunday April 30, 2017 at 3:00 pm. This year the service and reception will be co-sponsored by Sgoolai Israel Synagogue and the Capital Community Church. The keynote speaker is Gershon Willinger.
Gershon Willinger is a child survivor of the Holocaust. He was born in Amsterdam in 1942 to Jewish parents who had fled Nazi Germany. Although he and his older sister were fated to survive the Holocaust, their parents did not. They were murdered in Sobibor when Willinger was 10 months old. His remarkable journey of survival began as an infant of five months when he was hidden with a non-Jewish family who belonged to the Dutch resistance. Willinger was transported to and interned in several concentration camps, Children’s Home at Camp Westerbork, Bergen-Belsen, Auschwitz and Theresienstadt. In 1945, he was liberated from Theresienstadt by the Soviet Red Army. He was only three years old. “My first clear memory was liberation from Theresienstadt and the long journey back to Holland in an army truck,” he reminisced.
Back in Holland the turbulent years continued. He was shuffled between foster homes, an orphanage and a sanatorium. Willinger was adopted eventually by foster parents. His sister was adopted by an aunt and moved with the family to the US. Willinger immigrated to Israel when he was 18. He lived on a kibbutz and served as a paratrooper in the Israeli army. After completing his military service, he studied social work specializing in rehabilitation of young offenders and street gang youths. Willinger completed his education in the US where he earned a Master of Science degree. He met his wife Jane in London. They married in Israel and afterward came to Canada in 1977. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Until retirement Willinger was employed as a social worker assessing and treating abused and neglected children. He is a speaker for the Holocaust Centre of Toronto and the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre. He also volunteers with elderly Holocaust survivors at Baycrest, Toronto’s largest Jewish Home for the Aged.
We look forward to your presence on this solemn occasion.
On behalf of Committee Co-chairs:
Dr. Israel Unger, Pastor Jack Leaman, and Pastor Raymond Woodward