A synagogue is known by many names. Most frequently it is known as a Bet Tefilah, “a house of prayer. Sometimes it is known as a shul, sometimes an esnoga or kahal, but on August 25th Congregation Beth-El became a most important embodiment of another powerful understanding of the name Synagoge. This time, the main sanctuary of Congregation Beth-El became a Bet Knesset, a “house of assembly” as nearly four hundred participants, members of the Cote Saint-Luc Men’s Club, members of Congregation Beth-El and special guests from the community crowded the sanctuary to listen to a stirring and enlightening presentation by the Honourable Professor Irwin Cotler.
His speech, entitled “Holocaust, Antisemitism, Genocide and Human Rights Today: WHAT CAN WE DO?” brought Professor Cotler’s passion and commitment to human rights to bear on a topic that was ripped from today’s glaring headlines of BDS, Israel bashing and unbridled international hatred.
A long-time admired and appreciated speaker for the Cote Saint-Luc Men’s Club, Professor Cotler described his perception of thirteen lessons to be derived from the Shoah and the need for each and every member of the audience to stand up for everyone’s’ human rights making “Never Again” a reality and not merely a slogan.
The event was organized by the Cote Saint-Luc Men’s Club in conjunction with Congregation Beth-El. Rabbi Steven Schwarzman, spiritual leader of Congregation Beth-El welcomed the guests and Sydney Kronish, President of the CSL Men’s Club introduced the guest speaker. Bill Surkis, 1st Vice-President of the club thanked Professor Cotler and Bernie Green, Program Chairman of the Club presented Professor with a plaque marking the event. Cantor David Guber, flanked by two Torahs proudly held by Mannie Young, 2nd Vice-President and Jack Lackman, Chairman of Hospitality for the Club delivered a powerful and stirring “Avinu Shebashamayim” a prayer for the safety and well-being of Israel and led the audience in a moving and heartfelt Hatikvah.