“In a World with Racism, Genocide and Xenophobia
Antisemitism Remains Unique”
Artist, Author (*1930)
Born in Czechoslovakia in 1930 to a Czech mother and a Polish father, Maxwell Smart immigrated to Poland as an infant. Maxwell lived the normal life of a young boy until his life was sent into turmoil by the Nazi invasion and WWII. He survived, and later went on to become a prolific artist whose works are included in collections across North America. He is also an author whose first book is about to be published.
Surviving the Holocaust
In 1942, the Nazi’s and their Ukrainian cohorts entered Buczacz, Poland, which is now part of Ukraine, and they, and 1000s of collaborators, turned on their Jewish neighbours killing and looting whoever they could. In a matter of days the lives of the Jewish population were turned into a living hell. Maxwell and his family were forced from their homes and made to live in ghettoes. By some miracle Maxwell was able to escape the city and the liquidation of most of his family. His mother, father and sister who was only 6 at the time died at the hands of the Nazi killers. All told only 3 family members, including himself, were able to escape death and survive with the other 60 dying horrible deaths, sometimes in front of his young eyes. Following his escape, he survived day to day hiding in forests, living in small bunkers and, by luck, finding refuge with a farmer who risked certain death by concealing him and allowing him to stay on his farm. During this period, he suffered severe privation including hunger, cold, illness, loneliness and fear. With rags on his feet, starving, and repeatedly escaping death from the Nazis and the Ukrainian thugs he was sharply aware that at any moment he could be found and killed or tortured. This meagre, impossible existence continued for years with Maxwell only being able to survive by his wits, determination and cunning. Finally, in 1948 at age 17, Maxwell arrived in Canada as a war orphan with nothing in his pocket and only a desire and a drive to create a new life for himself.
HIS LIFE IN CANADA
Maxwell was married soon after his arrival in Canada. He quickly took on many challenging business ventures before finally settling on real estate as his main occupation. Maxwell developed many real estate projects across Montreal, most which he still owns. His first wife, Helen, passed away in 1984 and in 1995 he married his present wife, Tina. He has 3 children, Lorne, Faigie and Anthony.
Maxwell always had a passion for art and painting even as a child in Europe. With his life finally settled in Canada he was able to turn to painting with vigor maintaining 2 studios and a permanent gallery. A visit to his gallery is a trip into a surreal world of paintings and sculpture that can leave you breathless. Maxwell has hosted many charitable events in this gallery. At a vernissage at his gallery in 2006, he donated all the proceeds of over $50,000 to the Jewish General Hospital. He continuously donates the proceeds from the sale of his paintings to numerous charitable foundations in the city of Montreal.
Maxwell is extremely prolific having painted over 1,200 works in the past 40 years. While many have been sold he still has a private collection of over 600 pieces. His paintings tend be very large and are always bright and explosive in nature. The paintings sometimes take cues from Riopelle and Jackson Pollack and freedom and escape are ongoing themes in his works. Maxwell has been included in the prestigious book Guide Vallée with other well-known Canadian artists and his art is part of many private and public collections including that of the Royal Bank of Canada where the painting “White Dahlias” adorns their head office in Montreal.
After 75 years, Maxwell is still haunted by his past. In 2010, inspired by those who had already stepped forward to tell their harrowing tales as well as by Professor Dina Porat, Maxwell decided to face his demons and write a book that would detail his life. Professor Porat is former Head of the Department of Jewish History at Tel Aviv University, and currently leads the University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, Antisemitism and Racism, and Chief Historian of Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, in Jerusalem. This book is intended to tell his story but also to bring awareness to the world of the evils of Anti-Semitism and of racism. In his book you can see the result of these evils when they are not confronted and exposed.
Canadian Friends of Tel Aviv University will honour Maxwell and his life at a gala event, August 26, 2018, in Montreal. The goal is also to raise awareness and funds to fight the scourge of antisemitism, racism and genocide, and to spotlight how the world can combat and defeat them before spreading and impossible to stop. Maxwell’s story will empower communities and individuals to take action. The Gala funds will support Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center in its mission.
“My past can never be part of my future because hatred does not blend well with happiness. Hatred kills, it incites racism, creates anti-Semitism, hatred creates genocides and wars—it created my past and this should never happen again.”
Maxwell Smart (from his book)
Professor Emeritus of Modern Jewish History at Tel Aviv University,
Head of the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry
Dina Porat is Professor Emeritus of Modern Jewish History at Tel Aviv University, Head of the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, and holds the Alfred P. Slaner Chair for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University. Since 2011 she has served as Chief Historian of Yad Vashem.
In 2004 she was named “Best Teacher” by the Faculty of Humanities at Tel Aviv University, and in 2012 she was awarded the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Medal, by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation. In 2013, she was listed as one of the leading researchers in Israel by the daily Ha’aretz newspaper.
From 2005-2010, Prof. Porat served as Academic Advisor of the ITF, the International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research – now IHRA, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. She has been a visiting professor at many prestigious institutions of learning, including Harvard, Columbia and New York Universities. She has lectured a number of times at the Vatican on the topic of Angelo G. Roncalli (Pope Pius XXIII) and his efforts to save Jews during the Holocaust.
Her wide-ranging research deals with a range of aspects regarding the history of the Holocaust, Zionism, and antisemitism. However, her main focus has been the study of the Holocaust in Lithuania, from the viewpoint of the relationship between the Zionist youth movements, the yishuv (Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel) and Israeli society to the Holocaust and its survivors; antisemitism at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century (including Holocaust denial); and the changing relationship of the Catholic Church to the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.
Among her most prominent publications are: An Entangled Leadership: The Yishuv and the Holocaust 1942-1945 (Am Oved, 1986, Hebrew), which won the Yad Ben-Zvi and the Arie Kubovitzki awards in 1988. The book was printed in English by Harvard University in 1990 as The Blue and the Yellow Stars of David: The Zionist Leadership and the Holocaust, 1939-1945 and was nominated for the US National Jewish Book Award in 1991; and Beyond the Reaches of Our Soul: The Life and Times of Abba Kovner (Am Oved and Yad Vashem, 2000) which was awarded the Buchman Memorial Prize for outstanding achievements in the field of Holocaust commemoration by Yad Vashem. In 2009, the book was published in English by Stanford University, winning the National Jewish Book Award in 2010. In addition, she was the academic editor and wrote an introduction to Avraham Tory’s Surviving the Holocaust, which was published in English by Harvard University Press in 1990.
Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, inaugurated in May 2010 at Tel Aviv University, provides an academic framework for interdisciplinary research of European Jewry from the end of World War II until the present day. The Center offers a platform for diverse needs of researchers, students, governmental and civil service personnel, professionals, activists, and the public at large, both in Israel and abroad, and cooperates with European Jewish communities and their leaders. Contemporary European Jewry represents a fascinating and dynamic phenomenon, necessitating in-depth academic research in order to become better acquainted with its communities, and with various aspects of Jewish life in Europe. Read more
Irwin Cotler is the Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, an Emeritus Professor of Law at McGill University, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and longtime Member of Parliament, and an international human rights lawyer.
A constitutional and comparative law scholar, Professor Cotler is the author of numerous publications and seminal legal articles and has written upon and intervened in landmark Charter of Rights cases in the areas of free speech, freedom of religion, minority rights, peace law and war crimes justice.
As Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Irwin Cotler initiated the first-ever comprehensive reform of the Supreme Court appointment process and helped make it the most gender-representative Supreme Court in the world; appointed the first-ever aboriginal and visible minority justices to the Ontario Court of Appeal; initiated the first-ever law on human trafficking; crafted the Civil Marriage Act, the first-ever legislation to grant marriage equality to gays and lesbians; issued Canada’s first National Justice Initiative Against Racism and Hate; quashed more wrongful convictions in a single year than any prior Minister, and made the pursuit of international justice a government priority.
A leading Parliamentarian on the global stage, he has been Chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Group for Human Rights in Iran; Chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Group of Justice for Sergei Magnitsky; Chair of the All-Party Save Darfur Parliamentary Coalition; Chair, Canadian section, of the Parliamentarians for Global Action and Member of its international council.
An international human rights lawyer, Professor Cotler has served as Counsel to prisoners of conscience including Andrei Sakharov & Nathan Sharansky (former Soviet Union), Nelson Mandela (South Africa), Jacobo Timmerman (Latin America), Professor Saad Eddin Ibrahim (Egypt) and he was Chair of the International Commission of Inquiry into the Fate and Whereabouts of Raoul Wallenberg. He was a Member of the International Legal Team of Chinese Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo, and more recently became international legal counsel to imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, Venezuelan political prisoner Leopoldo López, and Shi’ite Cleric Ayatollah Boroujerdi in Iran. A feature article on him in Canada’s national magazine – Maclean’s – referred to him as “Counsel for the Oppressed”, while the Oslo Freedom Forum characterized him as “Freedom’s Counsel.”
He is the recipient of thirteen honorary doctorates, where he has been recognized as “a scholar and advocate of international stature” (as cited in his various honorary doctorates). He has been named an Officer of the Order of Canada, an Officer of the National Order of Quebec, and is the recipient also of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He has been awarded the Canadian Bar Association’s President’s Award; was the first Canadian recipient of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation’s Centennial Medal; the first recipient of the Romeo Dallaire Award for Human Rights Leadership; the recipient of the Sir Zafrullah Khan Award for Distinguished Public Service; the recipient of the Dalhousie University 2015 Ethical Leadership Award; and one of the recipients of the 2015 Sergei Magnitsky Human Rights Award.
He was elected 2014 Canadian Parliamentarian of the Year by his colleagues, and in 2015 received the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Inaugural Human Rights Award.
In its citation, the Law Society recognized
“The Honourable Irwin Cotler’s tireless efforts to ensure peace and justice for all. In his varied roles as law professor, constitutional and comparative law scholar, international human rights lawyer, counsel to prisoners of conscience, public intellectual, peace activist, Member of Parliament, and Minster of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Mr. Cotler has been a leader and role model. Through his advocacy work both in Canada and internationally, he has transformed the lives of many”
Recipient of several awards including
Born and educated for the most part in Montreal and at Saint Dunstan’s University, now known as The University of PEI, Father John Emmett Walsh was ordained a Roman Catholic priest May 21st 1966. He spent three years in Rome at the Pontifical Biblical Institute and one year at Hebrew University in Jerusalem where he completed a Licentiate in Theology (U de M) and a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture (Rome) Diploma.
Father Walsh might be best known for his 15 years on CJAD Radio Montreal; The Father John Walsh Show on CJAD Sunday afternoons and his commentary Sundays after 8:30 AM newscast. Nonetheless he has been an influential member of the Montreal community as a serving member of the Ethics Committee of the Verdun General Hospital for 15 years. As well as on a wide variety of other community organizations including serving as chaplain of Police and Fire Departments in Lachine and Dorval, Co-founder of Walk of Courage for research and treatment of Prostate Cancer and Honorary member of Cote St. Luke Senior Jewish Men’s Association.
He has been the recipient of several awards including Ezechial Hart Award and Friendship Award, Jerusalem Prize and the Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award and a Gord Sinclair — National Award for Broadcasting and an International Gold Medal for broadcasting at the New York Festival with 42 countries competing and recipient of Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. He was appointed to the Order of Canada December 29, 2017.
Father enjoys painting with pastels and with acrylics on his downtime.
Recipient of awards:
Professor Alan M. Dershowitz is a Brooklyn native who has been called “the nation’s most peripatetic civil liberties lawyer” and one of its “most distinguished defenders of individual rights,” “the best-known criminal lawyer in the world,” “the top lawyer of last resort.” He is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School, joined the Harvard Law School faculty at age 25.
He has also published more than 1000 articles in magazines. Professor Dershowitz is the author of 36 fiction and non-fiction works with a worldwide audience, including the New York Times #1 bestseller Chutzpah and five other national bestsellers. His autobiography, Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law, was published by Crown, a division of Random House.
His writing has been praised by Truman Capote, Saul Bellow, William Styron, David Mamet, Aharon Appelfeld, A.B. Yehoshua, Elie Wiesel, Richard North Patterson, and Henry Louise Gests, Jr. More than a million of his books—translated in many languages have been sold worldwide.
He has also been the recipient of numerous academic awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship for his work on human rights, a fellowship at The Center for the Advanced Study of Behavioral Sciences and several Dean’s Awards for his books.
He has been the subject of two New Yorker cartoons, a New York Times crossword puzzle, and a Trivial Pursuit question. A Sandwich at Fenway Park has been named after him—pastrami, of course.
He is married to Carolyn Cohen, a PhD psychologist.
DINNER CHAIR / PRÉSIDENTE DU COMITÉ DU DÎNER
Shirley Stern was born in Montreal to Clara and Elo Wagman, who immigrated to Canada from Poland in 1932.
The Wagmans bought Saint Laurent’s Hebrew Delicatessen in 1948, and it was there, in May 1954, that Shirley met Edward Stern. Luck was with both of them the day Shirley stepped in to replace an ailing waitress and served Edward’s table. Edward was taken with her. He asked Shirley out, and seven months later, the couple married, and their story continued.
Today, Shirley is the very proud mother of four children and their respective spouses – Errol and Rhona, Robin and Danny, Derek and Kirsty, and Richard and Marnie – and the even prouder grandmother of 13 grandchildren.
Jewish education has always been a priority for Shirley. Edward and Shirley made sacrifices to send their children to Jewish day schools, even when times were difficult. Shirley remains a staunch advocate for Jewish education. A generous contributor to Montreal’s Federation CJA, Shirley takes seriously her commitment to Community. Beit Halochem is among her special interests, and she is also a lifetime member of Hadassah WIZO.
Shirley was a loving and admirable partner to (the late) Edward Stern, who was born in Jerusalem in 1930. Growing up in Tel Aviv, his passion for aviation, led him to service as an Israeli Air Force Spitfire pilot in the 1948 War of Independence.
A visionary entrepreneur, Edward immigrated to Canada in 1953, determined to accomplish his goals. A man of principle and action, he soon had a family, owned a successful taxi company and started to invest in real estate.
In 1973, Maxwell Smart was searching for an experienced business partner to further his own real estate ambitions. Edward, at the time, was already building homes in Repentigny and amassing construction, development, and banking acumen, coupled with his courage and decisiveness seemed to be a perfect fit for Max and his own skills and goals. He approached Edward to purchase his second property together, and Edward agreed without hesitation. This was the beginning of many real estate projects they undertook together, and the two men forged an exemplary partnership which lasted for 25 years!
In 1975, Edward Stern reached a new milestone and founded Olymbec. Never forgetting its humble beginnings, the company continues to thrive and sustain his legacy. With the help of two of his sons, Derek and Richard, Olymbec has become a leading force in commercial real estate, managing a diverse portfolio of industrial, office, retail and residential properties in Canada and the United States.
The Stern and Smart families have been good friends and neighbours, for many years. Shirley was a close friend of Maxwell’s late wife, Helen, and she later became Tina Smart’s good friend as well.
A truly beshert family success story!
COMMITTEE / COMITÉ
SUPPORTERS / SUPPORTEURS