Carleton University’s Zelikovitz Centre for Jewish Studies hosted “If Not Now, When? Responsibility and Memory After the Holocaust”, a public conference in recognition of Canada’s assumption of the Chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (formerly the ITF) held April 24 and 25, 2013.
The conference’s opening title “If Not Now, When?” references one of the most well known ethical aphorisms from the Jewish tradition. It signals the conference’s focus on responsibility and memory after the Shoah as not only a question for the Jewish people, but for the whole world.
“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”
–Rabbi Hillel the Elder, Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers 2:4
This urgent call to responsibility for self may not be delayed. Thus this key refrain was heard throughout the conference as we brought together parliamentarians, survivors, scholars and community leaders to remember and reflect critically on the painful lessons of the Shoah.
The purpose of this conference was to bring together Canadian parliamentarians, senior Holocaust studies scholars, survivors and other public figures around the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (formerly ITF) mandate of remembrance, education and research. As per our hope, this conference generated further public discourse on the importance of Holocaust education and the preservation of Holocaust memory.