It isn’t every day that a Holocaust survivor comes to town. Abe Silverman is set to come to the St. Albert Salvation Army Church on Monday evening to talk about a matter that is very near and dear to his heart, and to the hearts of all Jewish people.
“My passion is making the case for Israel and bringing to Israel a message that is not often brought to them in the press,” he said. “I devote much of my time speaking to whoever will listen, answering their questions, and bringing the message of Israel and the Israeli experience and the importance of the state of Israel to the survival of the Jewish people.”
Silverman was born in a Jewish ghetto in during the Second World War.
“I wore the yellow star as decreed by law for the first three years of my life. I’m one of only 11,000 survivors in a city of 35,000 Jews.”
Silverman later escaped Romania with his family to spend two years in a Displaced Persons’ Camp in the United States as they waited for Israel to become a state. When that happened in 1948, they went to board a ship but he was discovered to have tuberculosis, which necessitated him to be sent for treatment at a sanitarium in Switzerland.
It was there when his father’s aunt found them.
“She brought us to Canada. I grew up on a Jewish farming colony in southern Saskatchewan.”
The family later moved to Winnipeg, and he came to Edmonton in 1966.
Despite the distance from Israel, his passion has always been close and he has travelled there more than 30 times and he noted that he many Israelis in his circle of friends including members of the Israeli military and government, in journalism, “in just about every walk of life.”
With them in mind, he hopes to make his case to more and more people here.
“Israel is the recognized national home of the Jewish people. They have rights to that land biblically, historically, archaeologically, and morally. I give examples of the great efforts that the Israeli people have made to try and make peace with their neighbours, mostly without positive results.”
The talk, he continued, will be about the future as it relates to the possibility of a two-state solution, which he supports.
“I am a supporter of the two-state solution; however, I also am a pragmatist and understand the difficulties of creating a two-state solution.”
The entire subject is a contentious one and he has had much experience talking with people who take the opposing position.
When asked how he deals with such arguments, his answer was simple.
“Facts. I deal with truth and facts. Facts and truth that can easily be checked by any member in the audience if they’re so inclined. The problem is that too often people who have that kind of position are not interested in the truth. They’re interested only in their emotional and their political beliefs.”
This isn’t his first time that he has offered a free talk in St. Albert. He has reached audiences of 50 or more at Rotary clubs and the United Church in the past. He said that it doesn’t matter how big the group is as long as they have willing ears.
“I’m not interested in numbers. I’ll even speak to two people if that’s all there is. That’s fine for me. Even if I can reach one or two people, I’m quite satisfied. What matters is that I’m being given the opportunity to bring what I believe is a very important message. Whatever the numbers are, I’ll be a very happy camper.”
Silverman will be giving his presentation at the Salvation Army Church on Monday from 7 to 9 p.m. Attendance is free but people are encouraged to reserve their spots by calling 780-458-1937 first as seating is limited. The church is located at 165 Liberton Dr.