For the second time, we invited ten members of the Jewish community in Toronto to travel to Berlin and Munich in November as part of a visitor trip titled “Jewish Life in Germany” ; the trip was organized by the German Consulate Toronto on invitation of the German government in partnership with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and the United Jewish Appeal (UJA).
With over 200,000 members, the Jewish community of Toronto is the largest in Canada and the most important cultural center of Jewish Canadian life. 40% of the community are still survivors of the Holocaust, making Toronto the world's second largest home of direct Holocaust survivors after Israel.
The hesitation of some members of the group was noticeable before the trip as almost all of them had lost family members to the Holocaust; several guests have parents, who are Holocaust survivors themselves, which made the decision to visit Germany a very emotional one. One members of the group described his decision to finally visit German like this: “Germany is another important part of the puzzle to cope with the tragic Jewish past.”
Already after the first day in Germany the guests described how comfortable and safe they felt. The travelers had particularly impressive memories of their visit to Dachau Concentration Camp, where the father of one of our guests was interned. After our guest had mentioned that her father had been imprisoned in Dachau, the archivist was able to research data and information (such as the number of the prisoner barrack, etc.) about her father's stay and later escape and to present her with a very emotional and profound experience of the trip. “The trip to Germany was an eye-opener, and I must say that was the universal experience of the members of our delegation.”