The Ottawa Jewish community, the community at large, and humanity itself, has lost a beautiful soul.
David Shentow, who passed away June 12, will be remembered as an intelligent, engaging, and kind human being. He had a brilliant sense of humour. He was strong, resilient, and righteous. He adored his wife Rose and his family, and he loved and appreciated the beauty of life.
David was a Holocaust survivor – a survivor who courageously dedicated himself to openly and honestly sharing his personal story of loss and survival. Like many survivors, he did not speak about his experiences until the early 1980s, when Holocaust deniers began to surface in Canada. This made him realize that he had an obligation to share with others what he had witnessed during the war.
David and Rose became actively involved in the Coast to Coast March of the Living (MOL) program. They travelled alongside MOL students in 2002, 2006, 2008 and 2012. Each time, David returned to Poland – to Treblinka and Auschwitz – where his entire family perished. With each experience, his wounds were reopened. Yet, David felt a responsibility to share his story on the hallowed grounds where the atrocities took place in order to instil in others the importance of remembering the tragedy of our past.
David’s commitment to Holocaust education went beyond the March of the Living program. He spoke to students of all ages and ethnic backgrounds in schools throughout Ottawa. Each time he shared his story it was with a genuine sense of shock, horror and disbelief over the profound transgressions against humanity he had lived through. David often expressed his belief that it was a miracle he survived. Yet, in his survival, he kept alive the stories of millions who perished.
David was a witness to a tragic period in the history of mankind. In sharing his story, he has passed on the torch. We are now the witnesses. It is now our duty and responsibility to commit ourselves to Holocaust remembrance and education and to speak out against racism, hatred and discrimination against any individual or group of people. This is David’s legacy and the greatest honour we can give to a man who devoted his life to remembering our past with the hope of creating a better world for generations to come.
Zekher tzadik livrakhah – May the memory of this righteous one be a blessing.
Karen Palayew is Ottawa chair of March of the Living. For more information visit www.marchoftheliving.org.