“Tell Them Not to Hate”: Words of Witness and Sacred Imperatives by Rabbi Victor Hillel Reinstein, and edited by Richard Kool is a new release published by the University of Victoria Libraries ePublishing Services. It can be downloaded for free on UVicSpace: https://dspace.library.uvic.ca/handle/1828/13021
From the Editor, Dr. Richard Kool: For those of us growing up in families profoundly touched by the Holocaust, there seemed to be two situations: either our parents rarely said anything about their experiences, or they often or always spoke of their experiences. In the former situation, we knew something was wrong: grandparents, uncles, and cousins were missing from our lives and we didn’t know why. They weren’t spoken of: we didn’t know what had happened, and knew we weren’t supposed to know. Or, we knew about those grandparents, aunts, cousins: we knew about them and we knew exactly what happened to them; we knew about their murders at the hands of the Nazis and other European anti-Semites. My family’s secrets were hidden until 1994, when, at the Victoria Yom Ha’shoah service, I realized I needed to understand what happened to my mother. Rabbi Reinstein’s influence at that time was an important part of my journey to uncovering her history as a Dutch teenager in hiding. Hearing Victor’s talk in Victoria in January 2020, I realized I still owed a large debt to him. This elaboration of his presentation, featuring images of the people he spoke about, is an offering of gratitude to him for all the gifts he’s given me and my entire family. About this project: Dr. Jordan Stanger-Ross,, Department of History, University of Victoria Rabbi Victor Reinstein visited Victoria in 2020 as a guest of the Defying Hatred Project at the University of Victoria. The project collaborated with Congregation Emanu-El to explore the local Jewish community’s responses to acts of hate and expressions of anti-Semitism and racism. Led by myself and fellow-historian Lynne Marks, political scientist Matt James, Germanic and Slavic Studies professor Helga Thorson, and Victoria Shoah Project member Frances Grunberg, the project was dedicated to critically examining the history and current possibilities of defying hatred in Victoria. When I met Rabbi Reinstein in Boston in the summer of 2019, I discovered (as many had before me) the warmth and depth of his reflections on these topics. This story, I felt, had to be told back home, in Victoria. Funds from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada made the visit possible.
Rabbi Reinstein was born near Boston, MA, in 1950. He was the rabbi of Congregation Emanu-El in Victoria, BC Canada from 1982 to1998. He then returned to the Boston area and, along with his wife Mieke, founded the Nehar Shalom Community Synagogue in Jamaica Plain, MA. Drawing from Torah and Jewish life, the “vision and the way,” he seeks at the core of his work to help fulfill God’s hope for a world of justice and peace. As founding rabbi, he stepped down from his role as the active rabbi of Nehar Shalom in June, 2020.