Avi Benlolo is the CEO of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center and the guiding force behind the annual Spirit of Hope Benefit, Freedom Day, Speaker's Idol, the Tolerance Training Center, "Compassion to Action" Holocaust education missions, the pioneering Tour for Humanity mobile Tolerance Education Center (www.tourforhumanity.com), and he has produced top educational videos like "Unless" and "Never Again". His programs which focus on human rights are attended by over 100,000 people every year. Over the span of his twenty-four-year career, Mr. Benlolo has raised over $75 million for human rights advocacy and programs. His Canadian and global network is extensive; ranging from top Canadian business leaders to international thought and political figures Shimon Peres, Elie Wiesel, Salman Rushdie, Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, David Cameron, Brian Mulroney, Stephen Harper, Condoleezza Rice, John Howard and Rudy Giuliani. Highlights in his career included travelling with former Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Israel, chatting with Shimon Peres and meeting Mikhail Gorbachev. Most recently, he was asked to testify to Parliament about Bill-C51 and published a chapter in the new book, "Tackling Hate" - among Canadian and international thought leaders. In 2017 the Senate and President of the University of Haifa conferred on Mr. Benlolo its highest accolade, Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris Causa) for "promoting tolerance and democracy, and outstanding accomplishments in support of Holocaust education and combating antisemitism". The Avi Benlolo Scholarship Fund in National Security was established at the university in his honour. In 2016, Mr. Benlolo was awarded the Order of Vaughan from the City of Vaughan for his humanitarian effort and he was proud to receive the Canadian Race Relations Foundation Award of Excellence for the Tour for Humanity, a program of FSWC which he founded. The Lieutenant Governor of Ontario awarded Mr. Benlolo with the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal for service to Canada and his community. In 2018 The Government of Canada awarded him the Canada 150 pin for his contribution in human rights. In 2015, The Canadian Jewish News selected Mr. Benlolo among "The Jewish community's movers and shakers – Influencers …who make the Jewish community tick". Among many features, Mr. Benlolo has been interviewed for his contributions by Lifestyles Magazine, We Are Associated magazine, J-Space, Celebrate Vaughan and other publications. In 2016 he participated in a Roundtable on Countering Racism at the Lieutenant Governor's Suite, Queens Park, Toronto. A disciplined athlete, Mr. Benlolo believes that excellence can be achieved through strength, endurance, conviction and unending passion for one’s core beliefs. For more information, you can visit www.fswc.ca
Rev. Zenji Nio is a motivational expert and philanthropist and Founder of the Sempo Center for Human Rights and Holocaust Remembrance -- the world's first non-Jewish organization combating antisemitism -- in honor of the Samurai Sempo Sugihara who rescued 6000 Jews during the Holocaust. Zenji has empowered over a million people worldwide and has delivered soaring speeches alongside and praised by the world's top professors (including from Universities of Oxford, Harvard, Yale, Berkley, George Washington, Tokyo, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Toronto, Ryerson, Concordia, Wilfred Laurier, Indian Institute of Management and Nagpur University which honored him as an "eminent international level thinker"). Zenji's inspirational speeches at the world's top forums -- from the National Museum of India to the Council that liaisons with the White House -- have also been praised over the years by several Canadian Cabinet Ministers including Federal Ministers of Defence, Finance, Immigration, Citizenship, Multiculturalism and Status of Women as well as Canada's Ambassadors to China, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and the Middle East. He has also been honored by several Mayors across the GTA on several occasions as well as by high-level leaders of India -- home to one of the world's oldest Jewish communities. Zenji is also the spiritual and motivational coach for a record number of Olympic athletes and Para-athletes from all over the world and has been profiled by media giants -- including the BBC, CBC, Olympics Media in association with the New York Times, Sirius FM, Times of India, National Post, Hello Magazine, Indian Express, Hindustan Times and Hitavada that dubbed him "a world-renowned authority who travels the world -- when he speaks the world listens". Furthermore, Zenji's lifelong track record of social service, ever since he was a child onwards, has been praised by Nobel Laureate Saint Teresa and President of India Abdul Kalam as well as proteges of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr, senior advisors to President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well as President Barrack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Zenji has also helped raise millions for national and international charities endorsed by the likes of the United Nations, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan among others and was also the only visionary ever chosen from Japan as "one of the world's most inspiring people" by the Neerja Bhanot Foundation. Zenji was also lauded as "the world's foremost expert on the original Buddhist manuscripts" by the Indian Express and hailed as "the only contemporary expert from the oldest lineage of the Buddha" by the Times of India. He was this cited by a United Nations report for being "an authentic voice for the peoples of Tiger Asia nations including Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea" due to his rare Buddhist expertise -- and he has been especially honored by the Japanese due to his landmark projects in Tokyo. Zen's Samurai Museum at North America's biggest ever sporting event the Toronto Panam Games was lauded as "the biggest attraction in the Athlete's Village" by the National Post. Zenji has been invited to speak at City Hall and Queen's Park and has met 4 Canadian Prime Ministers and 2 Lieutenant Governors. His Compassion Foundation works to empower the most marginalized members of society across the world -- from victims of poverty and oppression to people with disabilities and individuals seeking rehabilitation. After personally visiting Jerusalem and Anne Frank's House in Amsterdam as well as attending events by the FSWC -- and witnessing Antisemitism being committed against Olympians, Zenji joined this noble mission by helping to organize this conference. For more, please visit www.SempoCenter.org, www.Olympics.guru, and www.RevNio.org
Celebrated author, Broadcaster, Television Pundit and one of Canada's most influential Social Media commentators Tarek Fatah attended the Congress along with many faith and community leaders all eager to join the Campaign against Antisemitism in all forms. Fatah has over 400,000 followers on Twitter and his TV appearances have been viewed by over 100 million people. Fatah has also spoken alongside Indian intellectual and Harvard Professor Subramanium Swamy and both of them as well as Zenji were invited to speak at major events by the Foundation that promotes ties between Canada and India.
Fatah was joined by other leaders each bringing something unique and special to the table in the spirit of cooperation. The discussion was far more poignant and powerful than most standard Interfaith meetings striking the balance between optimism and realism, between asking tough questions and yet underlining the same with respect, compassion and harmony. From the Aga Khan Museum to the Yonge Street Mission, a diverse team of participants made the Congress a great and meaningful success!
For a full list of participants, please click here.