7th Annual Victoria International Jewish Film Festival

Whispers of Silence 'Live' Panel Discussion

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Stream began October 20, 2021 2:00 AM UTC
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Beyond Labels: talking about intergenerational impacts of the Shoah

While our parents and grandparents may have been victims of the Shoah, they were/are much more than victims. And while there is intergenerational transmission of trauma, so has there been transmission of strength, of purpose, of humour, of the transcendent power of love. The panelists will reflect on the message of Whispers of Silence in their own experiences, which contravene the simplistic message that it is only the trauma of the Shoah that is passed along from parent to child.


Aarón Cohen, director of the documentary Whispers of Silence has a degree in Journalism and Communication from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. UNAM (1973-1977).  Founder and director of the companies Imagen Audiovisual (1978-1992), Weisz and Cohen Producciones (1992- 2003), Cohen and Cohen Creatividad and Momentum Films. (2003-).  For more than 40 years he has been dedicated to the production of photography, multimedia shows, videos and documentaries.  Among the events in which he has participated as a video producer are the Aviv Festival and The March of Living. He has produced events for various institutions of the Jewish Community of Mexico. He has directed Holocaust-themed documentaries such as Anne Frank, Righteous Among the Nations, Lawyers without Rights among others for the Tuvie Maizel Jewish and Holocaust Historical Museum.  He is the director of the documentary Heaven in Auschwitz and and Whispers of Silence.

Esther Bejar, director of the documentary Whispers of Silence, has a degree in Communication from the Universidad Iberoamericana with a specialty in Communication Research. (1973-1977).  She worked for the television network Televisa in the press and photography department. (1974-1978).  For more than 40 years she has worked alongside her husband Aaron Cohen Hop in the companies they both founded.  She has produced audiovisual material, videos, multimedia shows for companies and institutions of the Jewish Community of Mexico.  From 1996 to 2000 she produced the television program "Through the Mirror" with the writer Guadalupe Loaeza for channel 40.  She produced the audiovisual material for the permanent exhibition at the Jewish and Holocaust Historical Museum "Tuvie Maizel."  She has conducted interviews with survivors and children of Holocaust survivors. She is the producer of the documentary Heaven in Auschwitz and Whispers of Silence.

Thomas Laboucan-Avirom is currently the In-House Legal Counsel for his First Nation, the Woodland Cree First Nation located in northern Alberta.  He graduated from UVic Law and Osgoode Hall in Toronto and was lucky enough to spend some of his education in Belize working with the Mayan Leaders Alliance on their land struggles and in Aotearoa (New Zealand) to learn from the Maori scholars there where he could.  After finishing his articling year in Yellowknife with his firm Olthuis, Kleer, Townshend LLP, Thomas moved back to his Nation located at Cadotte Lake, Alberta and has been there now for almost two years.  Thomas was also an elected student leader at Law School and was proud to be a part of the Victoria Jewish community as well as helping revive the National Indigenous Law Students Association.  Thomas is proud to have a Jewish father from Far Rockaway, New York City and a Nehiyaw mother from the Woodland Cree First Nation and is honoured to be a part of the panel and virtually with you all. Hiyhiy/Toda/Thank you. 

Nathan Kelerstein was born and raised in Mexico City, and he moved to Canada 23 years ago.  His father, Isaac, was a holocaust survivor from Poland, who emigrated to Mexico after the war to be reunited with his father. Nathan is a member of the Victoria Shoah Project and is interested in Holocaust education and remembrance projects. He is an engineer by profession, and his passions are also music, photography and film.

Charlotte Schallié is a Professor and Chair of Germanic and Slavic Studies at the University of Victoria. Her teaching and research interests include post-1945 diasporic and transcultural writing/ filmmaking, memory studies, Jewish identity in contemporary cultural discourse, and teaching and learning about the Holocaust.

Richard Kool (Moderator) is a member of the second generation, and a professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability at Royal Roads University.  He has worked as a secondary school teacher, as an educator and head of public programs at the Royal BC Museum, as head of Interpretation for BC Parks and in the Biodiversity section of the BC Ministry of Environment.  Rick is also on the board of Victoria’s historic Congregation Emanuel where he holds the position of Cemetery Director, and has been involved in Holocaust memorialization for more than two decades through his work with the Victoria Holocaust Remembrance and Education Society and the Victoria Shoah Project.