Baruch Cohen, who passed away recently at the age of 98, was a special human being
Born in 1919 in Bucharest, Romania, he survived the Holocaust by spending many months in forced labor. In this excerpt from a video by the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre he describes what he calls the ‘Bucharest Kristallnacht’: three days of looting, destruction and killings carried out by the Iron Guard in Bucharest in 1941.
On Sunday, November 25 , Councillor Dida Berku and David Anidjar, with Co-Chair, Adina Weiner, and former Chair Jaclyn Leebosh, organized a special tribute to Baruch at Beth Zion Congregation. Mark Bergman spoke about his grandfather Baruch. This was all part of the 22nd annual Romanian Holocaust Commemoration which Baruch organized. “It was Baruch Cohen's dream to have young people continue this ceremony and in his honour it is happening again this year,” said Councillor Berku,
Dana Ionescu, a historian researcher who is working on gathering the stories of local survivors and promoting a museum in Romania, spoke as well. She is a doctoral student in the Sociology Department at the Université du Québec a Montreal and a Research Fellow at the Centrul de Istoria Evreiolor si Ebraistica (Jewish History Centre) in Iasi, Romania.
Baruch spent the last 29 years of his life as a devoted volunteer for the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR).
Anidjar said he was recruited about 10 years ago by Baruch to recite a poem at this commemoration when he was a student at Herzliah High School. “Baruch's vision was to get young people involved in the act of Holocaust Remembrance, and he always had a lot of affection for the students he recruited,” Anidjar said. “About six years ago I got involved in organizing the ceremony, and have been chairing it for five years now. This event is not officially run by any organization, so every year it depends on the initiative of young people in the community to stay alive. Thankfully we have a team of dedicated individuals who organize this together. Every year, we reconvene for a couple of months to put this together. This year we will even have a choir of Grade 6 students from United Talmud Torah.”
Anidjar is now a McGill graduate who works as a freelance writer. “While writing has always been an important part of my life, my greatest passion is for serving the community and bringing people together,” he said.
Baruch Cohen was the husband and best friend of Sonia Lift for seventy-six years. His late daughter Monica was married to former D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA Lawrence Bergman.