Why Support the Spirit of Hope Benefit
FSWC inspires and empowers Canadians to raise their voices for freedom, democracy and human rights. We have educated over 100,000 Canadian students through our dynamic, award-winning Tour for Humanity mobile education classroom and our unique Holocaust and diversity training at the Tom & Anna Koffler Tolerance Training Centre.
Simon Wiesenthal said, "Freedom is not a gift from heaven, we must fight for it each and every day." We carry this important message forward by motivating hundreds of students to take action and create positive change through special education events such as Freedom Day, Speakers Idol and Wiesenthal Scholarship programs.
FSWC motivates educators to strengthen Holocaust workshops in the classroom as a way to counter antisemitism and all forms of hate. Our Holocaust Certificate Course for educators provides teachers with the history of the Holocaust along with meaningful lessons to integrate into their classroom. A number of Ontario school boards have joined FSWCâ€™s initiative to recognize International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27th. FSWC has also launched a new website, www.neverforgetme.ca, a collection of survivor testimonies for use in educational settings.
FSWC educates major Canadian leaders with a sphere of influence annually through our Compassion to Action mission to Poland and Israel. Numerous education Directors, superintendents and trustees, political leaders, Chiefs and Deputy Chiefs of Police from across the country including leaders with the OPP and RCMP have returned from our mission with a comprehensive understanding of the importance of Holocaust education and its continued relevance today.
FSWC works tirelessly to counter messages of antisemitism, hatred and intolerance through specialized training programs for front-line professionals such as police, educators and politicians. Strategic dispersion of information to our intelligence sources and top lay leaders through intelligence briefs affect thousands of Canadians.
Countering antisemitism and defamation of Israel, confronting the international campaign to boycott, divest and sanction (BDS) Israel and addressing issues of hate and intolerance through published articles, press releases, media alerts, online campaigns, policy development and daily news reports are some of the ways that FSWC carries out its daily advocacy work.
Antisemitic acts continue to dominate Statistics Canadaâ€™s reported religious hate crimes. Because of this, FSWC works daily to publicly condemn these hateful acts through written and online media and to counter the messages of intolerance with advocacy and education.
FSWC Members have a number of ways in which to get involved, whether itâ€™s through a professionals group such as Lawyers4Wiesenthal, Doctors4Wiesenthal or Young Professionals; hosting a gentlemanâ€™s Whiskey evening or a womenâ€™s parlour event; attending thought-provoking events such as State of the Union, Women of Valour or Spirit of Hope, or joining a committee to offer feedback -there are numerous ways to be a part of the FSWC family.
FSWC works to build relationships with different racial, religious and cultural communities, opening dialogue, generating discussion and creating understanding in order to work towards TikkunOlum, creating a better world. FSWC was recently recognized by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation with an Award of Excellence for the Tour for Humanity program.
Working daily to confront antisemitism on university campuses, FSWC works to hold universities accountable for activities that are held in their facilities and demands that they identify events like Israeli Apartheid Week for what they are -acts of hatred and aggression towards Jewish students.
FSWC contributes to the Academy Award Â® winning Moriah Films division of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, producing extraordinary documentary films that have received worldwide attention. FSWC is also a co-sponsor of the new Jerusalem Museum for Human Dignity that is currently under construction in Israel.
The Spirit of Hope Benefit is one of the most iconic fundraising events in the City of Toronto bringing together top business leaders, philanthropists, community and political leaders in a celebration of the rights and freedoms championed by Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center. Past speakers have included former Prime Minister Stephen Harper; former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney; former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair; President Bill Clinton; President George W. Bush; Vice President Al Gore; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Australian Prime Minister John Howard; Sirs ElieWiesel and Salmon Rushdie, and Israeli statesman and former President of Israel Shimon Peres
Inspiring and empowering Canadians to raise their voices for freedom, democracy and humanity
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) is a non-profit human rights organization committed to countering racism and antisemitism and to promoting the principles of tolerance, social justice and Canadian democratic values through advocacy and education. Actively engaged in fostering the values of respect and acceptance, and in teaching the responsibilities of citizenship in a democratic society, we are guided by the words of Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal: "Freedom is not a gift from heaven. One must fight for it every day." Our philosophy is reflected in our many engaging educational programs, including the following:
- Fighting Antisemitism - Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center is a world class organization that fights antisemitism here at home and across the world. Antisemitism rates have increased profoundly across Canada with an average of 5 million Canadians holding antisemitic views according to our 2018 study. To counter this scourge, we track antisemitism, speak to media, work with police and educators and meet with parliamentarians. We fight antisemitism on campus and in our communities across the country. We hold hate crime seminars, educational meetings and a National Conference on the Holocaust. Many of the programs identified below are examples of the tools we implement to combat antisemitism and promote tolerance, justice and human rights for everyone.
- Tour for Humanity - Our award winning state of the art mobile human rights education centre travels to several provinces bringing Holocaust and human rights education to students of all ages, empowering them to raise their voices and take action against hate and intolerance. From big cities to small towns, the Tour for Humanity has already visited 700 schools educating some 130,000 students to date. The "bus" is fully booked throughout the year as schools and communities - utilize this impressive learning opportunity to expand learning about the Holocaust, universal genocide and most critically, inspiring historical figures (like Simon Wiesenthal, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Ghandi) who have made the world a better place.
- Education and Diversity Workshops - FSWC has developed a number of workshops to counter antisemitism, and promote tolerance and human rights. We host schools at our tolerance training centre in Toronto and visit schools across Canada to educate and advocate. We work with some 35 boards of education representing 1.5 million students - to discuss cyber hate and bullying; Canadaâ€™s tolerance timeline and history; Holocaust and survivor testimony - including antisemitism and discrimination; womenâ€™s rights and social equality; Nazi propaganda and extremism and leadership for human rights. Over the last 15 years, we have educated approximately 250,000 students.
- Compassion to Action - One of the most unique programs in the country, Compassion to Action is an executive educational journey for police chiefs, educators and political leaders to visit Europeâ€™s concentration camps - learn about places like Auschwitz and Majdanek and explore humanityâ€™s biggest question - what led to the Holocaust? The journey is one of self discovery and aims to break personal biases and ensure Canadian leaders optimize their daily decisions based on a greater understanding of humanity. The journey ends in Israel where these leaders come to understand modern Israel - its successes and challenges. In its 10th year, Compassion to Action has now sent over 250 Canadian influencers who come back to their communities invigorated and ready to tackle antisemitism and intolerance - in order to make their communities better.
- Speakers Idol and Freedom Day - Two unique programs that engage students in a celebration of Canada, of human rights and of freedom. Speakers Idol challenges students from all walks of life to make the best speech possible about changing the world through the lens of the Holocaust. Through this program, we are able to educate thousands of students about the Holocaust and antisemitism. Similarly, Freedom Day is an annual celebration of human rights that has brought together some 40,000 students over the last decade to champion human rights, stand up for Canadian values of tolerance and respect and learn from worldwide speakers who have inspired change in their own communities.
- Holocaust Education - Fighting Antisemitism: through our programs, we educate about the Holocaust every single day. We do this through Yom Hashoah memorials, workshops and educational content, curriculum development and media. We work with Holocaust survivors and many Canadian leaders to promote further understanding. We write curriculum and have recently published a website of Holocaust testimonies called www.neverforgetme.ca This work is continually expanding as antisemitism increases and further understanding is necessary across the country. Our effort keeps the memory of the Holocaust alive as we fight back Holocaust denial and ensure this terrible tragedy is never forgotten.
- Educational Films - Through our in house division and our partnership with Moriah Films, the organization promotes its Academy Award winning Films that are based on the memory of the Holocaust and global events concerning antisemitism and Israel. Our films are made accessible to schools and communities as we screen them widely to ensure these important issues are never forgotten.
- Peace and Respect - Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center continues to expands its multi-faith relationships across the country. We collaborate with faith groups to reinforce Canadians values of peace, tolerance and respect. We recently held the first interfaith Yom Hashoah event which involved First Nations, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and other faith groups in a very meaningful ceremony. We regularly speak at mosques, churches and faith based centres to bring about collaboration and friendship.
- Support for Israel - In all this, we celebrate and advocate for the existence, safety and security of the State of Israel - the homeland of the Jewish people. We attend national and international meetings to reinforce our friendship and advocate our affection for the Jewish state. Here at home, we participate in flag raising celebrations, celebrate Israelâ€™s independence day with events and organize excursions and learning opportunities to the Holy Land. We defend Israel against antisemitic motivated campaigns that aim to delegitimize, boycott, and defame the nation and place its security in jeopardy.
- Spirit of Hope Benefit: Over the years, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center has galvanized the Canadian human rights advocacy community through a growing dinner called the Spirit of Hope. Ove the years, the dinner has hosted some 40,000 attendees and over its life span has raised nearly $50 million for the programs and activities of the organization. Attended by Canadaâ€™s elite philanthropists, business leaders, politicians, diplomats, law enforcement, educators and leaders of all multi-faith communities, the dinner event has become the place to be each spring for those who promote tolerance, justice, freedom and human rights. Over the years, we have hosted world leaders like Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Shimon Peres. We have hosted Prime Ministers like Stephen Harper, David Cameron, John Howard, Ehud Barak and Jose Maria Aznar. The evening has also hosted inspiring and thought provoking journalists, thinkers and writers like Elie Wiesel and Salmon Rushdie, among others. Most recently, the dinner featured Ambassador Nikki Haley and awarded her with the FSWC Award for Human Rights. This evening has truly become inspiration and iconic under the FSWC banner.