Toronto: $10M goes to Holocaust centre
Jun 17, 2008
Nicole Baute Staff reporter-The Star
A 79-year-old Toronto builder and Holocaust survivor has quietly donated $10 million for a new Holocaust centre in the city's north end.
The Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre will be part of the Sherman Campus, a Jewish community services complex being built on Bathurst St. north of Sheppard Ave. W. It is slated to be finished in 2011.
Michael (Chaim) Neuberger lost his entire family in the Holocaust: his parents, sister and four brothers. He survived, tucked away with nine other Jewish youngsters in secret rooms and closets by a non-Jewish Polish family.
While a generous member of Toronto's Jewish community, Neuberger is a private person and was reluctant to make this large donation public, said Ted Sokolsky, United Jewish Appeal Federation president and CEO. In the end he agreed to allow the centre, which will replace the current Holocaust Centre that sees 60,000 annual visitors, to be named after him and his late wife. "He went out of character for this," said Sokolsky. "It's not in his nature to be flashy. He likes to work behind the scenes."
Neuberger came to Canada at the age of 18 in 1948 with 80 other Jewish orphans sponsored by the Canadian government. Within years he found success in the city's booming building business – and can still be found working in his office.
Sokolsky said Neuberger's career path is common amongst Holocaust survivors living in Toronto.
"These are people who have been through hell and back," he said yesterday after a ceremony for the Lipa Green Building, part of the new Sherman Campus. "Their response to that hell has been to create and to make something happen," he said. "... There's this innate desire to rebuild for the future."
While plans are still in their infancy, Jennifer Ritter, the director of the existing Holocaust Centre of Toronto, said the new centre will incorporate multimedia and technology in innovative ways and look at expanding the museum's small but powerful exhibition, Young Voices of the Holocaust.
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