On Oct. 31, among the ruins of Kibbutz Be’eri, Israel Defence Forces personnel brief a delegation of Conservative rabbis and lay leaders from the United States, Canada and Britain, which was on a three-day solidarity mission organized by the Fuchsberg Jerusalem Centre. (photo by Boaz Pearlstein)
WARNING: Extremely graphic reporting.
Since Hamas’s Oct. 7 cross-border assault on multiple army bases, kibbutzim, cities and a music festival in the Gaza Strip periphery, staff at the Israel Defence Forces’ Shura base have been working around the clock to identify the remains of the 1,100 civilians and 315 IDF soldiers, reservists and police officers massacred by jihadi terrorists. With so many bodies, the victims were initially kept in refrigerated milk trucks in the morgue’s parking lot. Plain wooden coffins are stacked in the corridors, waiting for a positive identification so the remains may be released to their families for burial at a military or civilian cemetery. Only then can Judaism’s seven-day period of mourning begin.
A month on, the sickly smell of death lingers. Pathologists at this normally quiet IDF logistics centre and home base of the military rabbinate corps – located on the outskirts of Ramla, a mixed Jewish-Arab city not far from Ben-Gurion Airport – continue their painstaking, harrowing but holy forensic mission.
Dismembered limbs and badly decomposed bodies continue to be delivered. The human remains are sniffed out under the rubble of destroyed buildings by IDF canine units, staff told a 33-person Oct. 31 delegation of Conservative rabbis and lay leaders from the United States, Canada and Britain.
Initially, it is often impossible to determine if the remains are those of victims or perpetrators, Col. Rabbi Haim Weisberg, head of the IDF’s rabbinic division, told the religious leaders. Many are mutilated with limbs and heads dismembered, making the ghoulish jigsaw puzzle even more complex.
“We are in an abnormal situation and that is why it is taking so much time to identify the bodies. In most cases, we have had to identify people via deep tissue DNA or dental records because there is nothing left,” he explained.
The complex identification process has been compounded because so many of the victims were not Israeli residents.
Pathologists can take several hours to assess a body, photograph it and document the fatal wounds. Out of respect for the dead and their families, the IDF is not releasing those photos.
Weisberg spoke not only about whole bodies but also about charred and incomplete remains, including what in one case turned out to be a corpse so severely burned that only a CT scan revealed it was a mother and baby bound together in a final embrace.
The grisly job is complicated by uncertainty over the tally of victims. According to constantly updated data from the IDF, more than 1,400 Israelis and foreigners were murdered. Some 238 people are believed to be held hostage by Hamas inside the Gaza Strip and the fate of dozens of others is unknown. Some may be held inside Gaza by other terrorist groups, like Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or even by individuals. Others may still be among the dead, yet to be identified by the staff at Shura.
When drafted, all IDF recruits provide samples of their DNA and fingerprints, and have their teeth X-rayed. The army does not rely exclusively on identification made through a soldier’s twin dog tags kept in their combat boots and worn on a chain around the neck.
According to halachah (Jewish law), fallen soldiers are buried in a coffin in their blood-soaked uniform. They are not ritually washed in the tahara ceremony – the Jewish tradition of purification of the dead – nor are they wrapped in shrouds. The intention is that God should be angered by witnessing the fallen defenders among his Chosen People. Personal effects like a cellphone, watch or wallet are washed of blood and then returned to the family of the deceased. Artifacts that cannot be cleansed of blood are buried with the deceased.
By contrast, civilian dead are ritually washed and wrapped in shrouds. Generally, in Israel, they are interred directly in the ground without a coffin.
While dental records can allow straightforward identification of dead soldiers, that information is often unavailable for civilians. Many dental offices in the city of Sderot near Gaza were destroyed, and with them their files.
Ritual washing is tasked to male and female reservists who have volunteered for the mitzvah (commandment) of chesed shel emet (true kindness).
Women soldiers perform tahara for the hundreds of girls and women who were murdered. The team is working in shifts around the clock. Among them is Shari, an architect living in Jerusalem whose surname may not be released under IDF security regulations. She volunteered for the unit when it was established more than a decade ago to ensure that the modesty of female recruits killed in action was protected.
“We saw evidence of rape … and this was also among grandmothers down to small children,” she stated.
Shari said she and the other volunteers received specialized training from the IDF, which prepared them practically and mentally to care for the bodies of the dead. Until Oct. 7, she had not been called for active duty.
“I’ve seen things with my own eyes that no one should ever see,” she said, describing how she took care of the dead women. Many were still dressed in their pajamas. Their bodies had been booby-trapped with grenades, and the remains bore evidence of extreme brutality.
Shari’s duties begin with opening the body bags to remove the dead person’s clothes, jewelry and any other personal possessions in order to return them to the families.
“The only colour among the blood and dirt was their nails, beautiful manicures, painted the brightest colours,” Shari said, adding, “Their nails made me weep.”
“We gathered this group of 33 Jewish communal leaders from across North America to witness the horrors our brothers and sisters have suffered,” said Dr. Stephen Daniel Arnoff, chief executive officer of the Fuchsberg Jerusalem Centre – a home for Conservative and Masorti Judaism in Israel, which organized the three-day solidarity mission. Located in Jerusalem, the centre offers opportunities to study, pray and explore within an egalitarian and inclusive setting, creating multiple pathways for finding personal and communal meaning.
The solidarity group included the first civilians to tour the devastated remains of Kibbutz Be’eri, where terrorists went house to house slaughtering the inhabitants. Wearing flak vests and helmets, the clergy and communal leaders recited the El Male Rachamim and Kaddish prayers for the dead as soldiers continued their search for human remains.
“We literally saw the blood of our people crying out to us from the ground,” said Arnoff.
“It is our moral obligation to make sure that the world knows what happened there.”
Gil Zohar is a writer and tour guide in Jerusalem.
These past weeks have been nothing we diaspora Jews have known for generations. We feel pain, anguish and horror. If our hearts are not just broken, but shattered, how can we begin to imagine theirs, in Israel, when we are here and not there?
As citizens of the world, we fail to comprehend how human beings can be filled with a type of venom so potent to allow themselves to commit acts of such savagery. We want to turn our eyes away from the pictures that serve as testament to the Hamas terrorists’ brutality, but we are forced to look, we must look.
We try to capture in our minds snapshots of the land we love; the rich and wonderful places we have visited on times spent there and the vitality of the strong, diverse and beautiful people that crowd Israel’s usually bustling streets.
We WhatsApp, email and call family and friends to check on their safety. We are without words. We don’t have the vocabulary. It is hard to put together sentences or know what to ask. We type and erase, erase and then type again. Of course, they are not OK, we know they are not, but grasping the depth of their despair we cannot know for we are here: we are not there.
We turn to the media to tell us what they know, or what they think they know. We scroll at an accelerated pace through social media and, if brave enough, we post our thoughts and then we wait; we wait for response.
We try not to judge, but we do judge those people we thought could understand our anguish. Why haven’t they reached out? Why haven’t they written? Do they find it harder to find the words than we do?
We go to gatherings and rallies thinking how can we even begin to feel afraid? We are not in harm’s way, for we are here and not there, and, yet, we catch glimpses of the helicopter hovering above and the uniformed police and security guards stationed outside our community institutions. Some debate going to classes on university campuses, sending precious children to school and attending synagogue services. We measure the size of the protests that take place on the streets of our home.
As the days go by, we try to go back to some sort of normal, feeling guilty that we actually can, because we are here and not there. This time, however, something feels eerily different. Things are not the same. Until now, perhaps we lived under the illusion that we are safe, protected and fully accepted because we are here and not there. We have tricked ourselves into believing that double standards do not exist, that under-the-surface bias toward us cannot lurk. But we know better now that it can, and it does, and it is painful and lonely and real.
We must not be complacent, as we cannot fade into the masses. We must put on our own armour of pride, strength and morality and endure all that lies ahead. And, while we go on, we do so having to sit with the uncomfortable truth that, while we are not there, we are not really here either.
Danita Dubinsky Azizais a member of the Winnipeg Jewish community and wrote a book about her experiences as a third-generation Canadian living in Israel from 2008 to 2012, Finding Home: A Journey of Life Lessons in the Land of Israel. This article was originally published in the Winnipeg Jewish Review.
Members of the North Central BC Jewish community were joined by supportive residents from all backgrounds, local print and broadcast media were in attendance, and a segment of the gathering was broadcast live on local Global news. Many local dignitaries attended as well, including Todd Doherty, member of Parliament, Cariboo-Prince George; Shirley Bond, member of the Legislative Assembly, Prince George-Valemount; Simon Yu, mayor of Prince George; Trudy Klassen and Garth Frizzell, councilors, City of Prince George.
Several hundred people gathered for a second night of vigils, as elected officials, diplomats and allies convened in support of Israel and Jewish community. (photo by Pat Johnson)
For the second night in a row, Jewish Vancouverites and allies came together Tuesday for a vigil to mourn those murdered in the worst terror attacks in Israeli history, and to demonstrate solidarity with survivors, families of the victims, and all the people of Israel. The grief that was inevitable at the powerfully emotional event was made additionally anguished by the news several hours earlier that Ben Mizrachi, a young Vancouver man, was confirmed dead, one of about 260 victims murdered at a concert for peace in southern Israel Saturday morning.
In moderate rain at Jack Poole Plaza on Vancouver’s Coal Harbour waterfront, several hundred people gathered to hear from friends of Mizrachi, as well as from elected officials of all government levels, rabbis, a Holocaust survivors, and others.
Ben Mizrachi remembered in friends’ emotional testimony
Maytar and Rachel, who graduated alongside Mizrachi in 2018 from King David High School, shared memories of the young man they called “the life of the party” and “a true hero,” who died helping an injured friend at the scene of the attack.
Mizrachi had served as a medic in the Israel Defence Forces, having volunteered as a lone soldier.
“We understand that, during the attack, Ben stayed back with a wounded friend, keeping himself in danger to care for another,” said Maytar. “He used the training that he learned from his time as a medic with the IDF to tend to wounded people at the festival before he died. That was who Ben was. He was a true hero.”
She spoke of Mizrachi’s contributions to the King David community, to his friends and family.
“He was adored by everyone and known to students much younger and older than he was,” she said. “Everyone knew and loved Ben Mizrachi. Ben was a role model to his three younger siblings and valued his close and loving relationship with his family.”
She shared the memories of a fellow student, Eduardo, for whom young Ben became his first friend after moving here from Mexico City.
“Ben welcomed him, befriended him and taught him how to speak English,” Maytar said. “He told us that ‘Ben was much more than a friend, he was my brother and the type of personality that will cheer you up and make you smile.’ He had such a huge heart and you knew you could always count on Ben.”
She continued: “In school, Ben was always the first one dancing at any assembly and the last one cleaning up at the end, even when he cooked — and he loved to cook.”
He could be found in the kitchen at Beth Hamidrash on Shabbat helping to prepare the kiddush, Maytar said. “His kindness extended to every part of his life from such a young age. We all remember that, if we ever had a gathering on Saturday, the party wouldn’t really start until after Shabbat, when Ben would arrive. He was always the life of the party. This past weekend, that’s what he was doing. He was at a party with his friends. He was doing nothing wrong.”
Their friend Rachel spoke of Mizrachi’s commitment to his identity.
“Ben was always extremely proud of his Jewish identity and of being an Israeli citizen,” she said. “He loved to share his love of Judaism and he often invited friends to join him and his family for Shabbat services and meals. As a teammate of Ben, we played on multiple sports teams together and he proudly wore his kippah at every game. In Grade 12, Ben was the president of our NCSY [the youth wing of the Orthodox Union] chapter. He was involved in student council, he led weekly prayer services at our school. After high school, he was proud to join the IDF as a lone soldier. He was so proud to be a soldier in the army and to continue living in Israel after his service.”
Rachel then read a message from one of Mizrachi’s teachers at King David, Irit Uzan.
“Ben always stood out from the crowd,” Uzan wrote. “His happy disposition was infectious. He lit up a room with his positive energy and amazing sense of humour. When things got hard for the students, he always found a way to lighten the mood. He encouraged his peers by sharing his own struggles, but it was what he did beyond his studies that always impressed me. He reached out and offered a helping hand wherever it was needed, be it with a peer, a teacher, a staff member or his own family. He wasn’t asked, he just always knew what to do. Ben’s visits to school to catch me up on his life events were visits I always looked forward to. On his last visit, he seemed more eager than usual and I learned this was because he wanted me to know that he had decided to study engineering in Israel. He was so proud of this.”
In tears, Rachel concluded: “Ben, we are so proud of you and we will always miss you. Please pray for Ben’s family, for all the families who have lost their loved ones, as well as those wounded. Keep believing in the state of Israel and continue to be proud of our Judaism, like Ben always was. May Ben’s memory be a blessing.”
Rabbi Shlomo Gabay, spiritual leader of Mizrachi’s shul, Beth Hamidrash, led the vigil in El Maleh Rachamim, the prayer for the soul of the departed.
Reflections from a survivor
Marie Doduck, a child survivor of the Holocaust who was born in Brussels and came to Canada as a war orphan in 1947, reflected on the terrible echoes of the past the current news brings. She and 30 other Vancouverites who survived as Jewish children during the Second World War gather and, Doduck said, speak about their pasts and the present.
“For all the years we have been sharing our stories, for all the years we’ve been teaching tolerance, we know the worst that can happen,” she said. “But it always seems to happen to us. I spend my life as an educator, I share my story and the stories of the Holocaust so that people know and so that the world will remember, so that never again will children lose their childhood to hatred and to violence. And now, this week, I see children being taken from their parents in Israel. I’m reliving what I experienced as a child and it is horrible. I’m watching the news and hearing the sounds that were so terrifying when I was young, the sirens, the bombs falling. I’m seeing warplanes and bomb shelters and I cannot sleep at night.
“I’m seeing it all happen again,” Doduck said. “I see people who do not want peace treating us as if we are not human. I see the children captured. I cannot understand how they use children, how they use women and men like we are nothing. It is unthinkable. It is impossible to believe that humans can do this to other humans. The one place where we are safe they want to destroy. They want to do what the Gestapo did to us in the Second World War.”
With emotion, Doduck posed the question, “Does the world stand for us?”
“I don’t see them standing for us,” she said. “I see it happening again. I am reliving what I went through as a child and all we want, and all we have ever wanted, was peace.”
Support from Ottawa
Harjit Sajjan, president of the privy council and minister of emergency preparedness, spoke on behalf of the federal government.
“I know that everyone’s heart is broken because of this brutal terrorist attack, a targeted attack on the Israeli people,” said Sajjan, who is member of Parliament for Vancouver South. “All of you have witnessed and have seen the news and the atrocity that has taken place. Myself and my colleagues here … stand here with you. But I don’t speak here just as a minister but [I am] also speaking to you as a Canadian, as a human being. It hurts so much when we see images from what has just taken place. Your community has gone through this far too often. When we say enough is enough, sometimes those words seem like they have no meaning. But when we come together like this, it gives me hope that we can get through this.”
Across Canada and elsewhere, rallies, public statements and social media comments have celebrated the terror attacks, some, like the president of the Ontario wing of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, lauding them as “the power of resistance around the globe.” Hours before a Jewish community vigil Monday, a rally celebrating the violence was held in the same Vancouver Art Gallery location. Along with many speakers at the Tuesday event, Sajjan condemned the expressions of support for the terror attacks.
“Anybody who glorifies what has just taken place, the atrocities that Hamas has committed, I’m here to say that we denounce you and I denounce you,” he said.
Sajjan referenced his military career, from which he retired with the rank of lieutenant-colonel.
“Over the last two decades, whether in politics or even before, [in] my other job in the military, I’ve seen atrocities committed all over the world,” he said. “And your heart breaks every single time. And you think, what can we do? One thing that always gives me hope is that I look back and remember where I live, in Canada, that we come together, we support one another. That’s how we get through this.
“I remember visiting Entebbe [Uganda] where, you know all too well, when Israeli citizens were taken captive and they were rescued at that time, I went to go pay my respects and remember what took place then. To see the atrocities committed over and over again is something that we all feel today. One thing I’m here to tell you: that we stand by you, we call for the captives to be released, we want humanitarian aid to be flown into all those people who are caught in the middle. But one thing is for sure: our government is with you.”
Other federal officials present were Joyce Murray, member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra, and Parm Bains, member of Parliament for Steveston-Richmond East.
Message from the province
Selena Robinson, British Columbia’s minister of post-secondary education and future skills, brought greetings from Premier David Eby and the provincial government. She also emphasized the presence of officials from both sides of the legislature.
“All of government and all members of the Legislative Assembly stand with me, they stand with all of you, against the horrific violence that was perpetrated by Hamas, a terrorist organization, an organization committed to indiscriminately killing and indiscriminately wiping out the Jewish people,” she said. “As a Jew, I have never in my life experienced a more frightening time. To see and bear witness to the carnage, to the babies, to the children, to young people at a concert.
“The stories that Jewish families have been telling for generations all come swarming back,” Robinson continued, her voice breaking. “The stories of pogroms in Russia and Poland at the turn of the 20th century, the Einsatzgruppen, the Nazi mobile death squads, going house to house killing everyone in their sights during the Holocaust. That is what happened this weekend. This is not a path to peace and it’s not the path to freedom. The Palestinians and the Israelis deserve to raise their families without fear, to grow old with dignity, but this vicious depravity is not the answer. It is not a path for peace for anyone. These last days have been so difficult and there are more hard days to come. So, we ask all of you to please be kind, be thoughtful, be supportive and to take care of each other.”
Opposition leader stands with community
Kevin Falcon, BC United party leader and the province’s leader of the opposition, was scheduled to hold a townhall in Kamloops Tuesday night but he cancelled the event and drove to Vancouver to be present for the solidarity gathering, he said, “Because I think it is important that all public officials stand united in saying … without equivocation, without moral equivocation, to be very, very clear, that we stand with you.”
Condemning terrorist brutality is “something that ought to be really easy,” he told the crowd. “But, unfortunately, in this day and age, it doesn’t seem to be easy for some people to come together and denounce unequivocally the violence and slaughter of innocent civilians in Israel, and to remember the right of that country and those individuals to defend themselves as a fundamental right because we cannot forget.
“We stand with the community and we want you to know that,” he said.
In addition to the government cabinet minister and opposition leader, other provincial officials present were cabinet ministers Brenda Bailey, Murray Rankin, Sheila Malcolmson and George Chow, parliamentary secretaries Mable Elmore and Susie Chant and members of the Legislative Assembly Henry Yao and Michael Lee.
Mayor condemns antisemitism
Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim was flanked by city councilors Sarah Kirby-Yung, Peter Meisner, Lisa Dominato, Mike Klassen and Rebecca Bligh as he expressed solidarity with the Jewish community and promised zero-tolerance for antisemitism.
“What happened this weekend in Israel was absolutely horrific,” said Sim. “Our hearts are broken, just like yours…. Vancouver is a city of love, Vancouver is a city of peace, Vancouver is a city of inclusion. This is a place where we celebrate our differences in culture and religion. So, it’s absolutely disturbing and incredibly disgusting, in the city that we live in, the city that we are so proud of, that people were actually celebrating what happened. They are celebrating Hamas. That’s not right. Israel has a right to exist. Israel has a right to protect itself. At the City of Vancouver, we stand for all communities, including the Jewish community — especially the Jewish community, during this incredibly brutal time. You are our brothers and sisters, you are our neighbours, you are our friends, you are our family. Let me be very clear — let us be very, very clear — we will not stand for any antisemitic acts or acts of hatred in the city of Vancouver. We mourn with you, we stand with you, we love you and we will always be here for you.”
Dylan Kruger, a Delta city councilor was also present.
Gathered together as one
Tuesday’s vigil was organized by the Rabbinical Assembly of Vancouver, the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
Rabbi Jonathan Infeld of Congregation Beth Israel, and the head of the rabbinical assembly, spoke of the relentlessness of antisemitism.
“I am standing here as a neighbour of Ben Mizrachi and his family, in sadness and in grief,” said Infeld. “I am standing here today as the father of a young man who is currently in Jerusalem. I am standing here today as the child of Holocaust survivors who never met his grandparents or aunts or uncles because they were murdered as children because of antisemitism. Never would I have imagined again in my life that we would see 40 children, 40 babies in one day, discovered, who were murdered in cold blood because of antisemitism. Never would I have imagined in my life that we would see almost a thousand Jews in one day murdered because of antisemitism. Throughout the day, I’ve been asked, what is this moment about? This moment today, together, as one people, one community, Jews and non-Jews gathered together for solidarity, gathered together to mourn and gathered together to give strength to one another. We are so grateful to our politicians and to our leaders who really, truly, are leaders. All of you sitting here today, you are the leaders. You are sending the message that there is no similarity in morality, there is no equivalence in morality, between those who celebrate murder and those who are gathered together for peace.”
Federation leader sends message from Egypt
Jason Murray, vice-chair of the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, read a message from the board’s chair, Lana Marks Pulver, who, with her husband Doug, is in Egypt, leading a group of almost 100 Canadian business leaders in a mission that was slated to travel to Israel in the coming days.
“I share this with you so you know how close I am to the situation both physically and emotionally,” wrote Marks Pulver. “There were two Israeli tourists murdered by a police officer in Alexandria [Egypt]. We continued on with our tour of Egypt much to the chagrin of family and friends. We continued because we will not allow them to win. Never again.
“As for emotion, our 21-year-old niece and 19-year-old nephew are serving in the IDF and are stationed near Gaza. We are feeling sick about what’s happening in Israel and we are feeling sick about the celebratory rallies happening in Canada, rubbing salt in our fresh wounds. How can Canadian citizens possibly justify the celebration of rape, killing and kidnapping of innocent Jews, online and in public rallies? It’s both horrifying and heartbreaking that this is happening in our own backyard. Jews throughout history have consistently proven that we are resilient. This time is no different. Israel will prevail. We as a people will not allow evil to win. Despite thousands of years of antisemitism and countless attempts to annihilate our people, we always come back stronger and more unified as a community.
“I am confident that this time is no different,” she continued. “Let us pray this all ends soon, that Israelis move forward with their lives in safety and that we as a Jewish people proudly stand in our fight against hatred and our desire to live in peace. Am Yisrael chai.”
Gratitude for allies
Ezra Shanken, chief executive officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, praised the elected officials who attended and the police who provided security at the event.
“Often, we see public officials at our events and it’s special then,” he said. “But it’s even more special now. To have this incredible representation of folks behind us and around us in this moment is not something that I take for granted, not these days.”
In addition to elected officials, Shanken noted the presence of consuls general from France, Germany and Italy, as well as representation from the consulate of the United States.
Karen James, chair of the local partnership council for the Centre for Israel and Jewish affairs, Pacific region, lauded the unity of the Jewish community.
“I have always known that we are family, but I’ve never felt it so strongly as I do now,” she said. “Tonight, we are hurting. Our hearts are broken but our resolve has never been stronger.”
Severe audio problems plagued the event, which came a night after an earlier vigil, at the Vancouver Art Gallery, planned by Daphna Kedem, who is the lead organizer of UnXeptable Vancouver, though the event was not affiliated with any group. ( To read more about the Monday night vigil, click here.) At that event, a small group of provocateurs were kept apart from the main vigil by a phalanx of police. Police were also omnipresent at the Tuesday event, while protesters were nowhere to be seen.
Speakers at the event urged people to contribute to the emergency fund for victims and to access available mental health supports as needed. Federation’s website, jewishvancouver.com, is the access point for all relevant local resources.
Jewish Vancouverites and allies came together in grief and determination in a community vigil Monday night, Oct. 9, outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. (photo by Pat Johnson)
Several hundred Jewish Vancouverites and allies came together in grief and determination in a community vigil Monday night outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. The unprecedented terror attacks in Israel that began Saturday brought a large crowd to the public venue in light rain for an emotionally charged hour of prayers, songs and shared stories of tragedy and resolve. The uncertain fate of a young Vancouver man who had not been heard from since Saturday brought the immediacy of the tragedy home. Hours after the vigil, it was announced that the body of Ben Mizrachi had been identified.
“A piece of this community is missing,” said an audience member who addressed the crowd and identified himself as Adam. “His name is Ben Mizrachi.”
Mizrachi, who graduated from King David High School in 2018, was attending a music festival in Re’im, in southern Israel near the Gaza border. An estimated 260 people were murdered as terrorists invaded the event around 7 a.m. Saturday. Mizrachi had not been in contact with family or friends since, according to news reports and messages from Vancouver friends. Late Monday Vancouver time, it was announced that he had been murdered.
“Every one of us here is feeling grief, is feeling loss,” said Adam. “We are all individuals here, but we are one nation and our nation has one heart. We will look at these candles, we will look at the light, we will look at all the universes they stole from us and we will say, this light will drown out that darkness.”
Leslie Benisz, who spent his first 10 years in Israel, spoke of his own family’s tragedy.
“I have a cousin and her husband who, unfortunately, were killed,” he said, “and, still, at this moment, we do not know the whereabouts of her four children. They were living on a kibbutz near the Gaza area.”
Benisz said his mother, who passed away in March, had advice for times like these.
“My mother used to say, ‘We have to be better than those people who hurt us. Just because they hurt us, don’t do the same thing to them. Maybe even show a level of tolerance and compassion they failed to show us, because there is a fine line sometimes between becoming a human being and becoming an animal and we have to show that we are better than that.’”
A small group of provocateurs carrying Palestinian flags, kept away from the vigil by police, screamed and taunted attendees throughout the event, including during two moments of silence, and vehicles repeatedly circled the venue, their occupants waving Palestinian flags and honking horns. A rally – ostensibly in support of Palestinians – was held several hours earlier at the same location as the vigil.
Monday’s event was organized by Daphna Kedem, who is the lead organizer of UnXeptable Vancouver, though the event was not affiliated with any group. The ad hoc vigil was organized before the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver scheduled a community solidarity event for the following evening, Oct. 10. Coverage of Tuesday’s event, which took place after the Independent went to press, is now online at jewishindependent.ca.
Daphna Kedem, one of the organizers, told the Independent that bringing the community together as soon as possible for mutual support was their priority. While awaiting notification of an event by community leaders, Kedem said, her group decided to schedule a gathering with haste.
“We are not waiting around for the community,” she said. “This is urgent and time-sensitive.”
“We are in the west, but our hearts very much are in the east,” said Rabbi Dan Moskovitz, senior rabbi at Temple Sholom. “We hold our loved ones and our families in those hearts and we come together as a community to pray and to mourn but also with resolve and resilience.”
Speaking above taunts and screaming from protesters on the sidelines, Moskovitz continued: “That’s what we want: to live in peace, to live in our native land in peace, to be together as human beings. Too often, the world ignores us. Too often, the silence is deafening. We who stand here today, we make our presence to call the world to conscience and to see us, to see how once again our people are in danger, our people are being killed and murdered and the world must not be silent again. We will not be silent. We are strong, we are a people with a nation now for the first time in 2,000 years and it will not slip from our grasp, it will not slip from our hearts or our minds or our prayers.”
Ofra Sixto, chef-owner of the Denman Street Israeli restaurant Ofra’s Kitchen, recounted her story of being harassed and of having her life threatened three years ago during a different time of conflict between Israel and Hamas. Then she made a prayer for those missing and for the survivors of those murdered.
“Please God, make them all come back home soon,” she said. “Please God, put solace in the hearts of the people who lost their loved ones.”
Another speaker recalled a year living near the Gaza Strip and hearing the endless sounds of explosions.
“We are here tonight to remind ourselves and our people back in Israel that we are all one country, we are all one family, we are all together in this, united,” said another speaker. “Despite the tough year it’s been, with different opinions, we are all sticking together, especially when it gets tough. That’s our biggest strength.”
She then led the vigil in the song “Am Yisrael Chai.”
“My sister was sitting 13 hours in a shelter room and the terrorists roaming her kibbutz didn’t touch their home,” another speaker from the audience recounted. “It was a miracle.”
He added: “The one thing that our enemies cannot do is put a divider between the Jewish people and eretz Israel. Please remember that. There is no Jewish people without Israel and there is no Israel without the Jewish people.”
“This horrific attack was an attack on Israel,” said another member of the audience who spoke. “Moreover, it was an attack on all of those who value human life. I know that some people are of the belief that you are left to fight this battle alone. I’m neither Jewish nor Israeli and I’d like to tell you that there are millions of people around the world standing together with you. This includes me and many, many, many others.”
“We have a very simple message to the world today,” said Rabbi Shmulik Yeshayahu of the Ohel Ya’akov Community Kollel. “When we see those guys on the other side, and we see our crowd tonight, state proudly … we are human beings. We treat people fairly. We love Israel, we love humanity, we love the civil world.… We will never let terrorism take over. This is the message of Canada and all the Western world today.”
Yeshayahu lamented the hostages taken.
“We are talking about over 100 people, many of them little kids who were kidnapped, old people who survived the Holocaust and came to the holy land of Israel to live in a free country,” he said. “We are here for them.… No human being can stand by and see those bastards take little kids and kidnap 3-year-old kids and put them in a cage. This is not acceptable in 2023 and we are not going to be quiet about it. The eternal nation is not afraid of a long journey. We will defeat them.”
Rabbi Carey Brown, associate rabbi at Temple Sholom, said the prayer for Israeli soldiers in Hebrew, while a lone soldier who had served in the Israel Defence Forces a decade ago, shared the prayer in English. Rabbi Jonathan Infeld of Congregation Beth Israel led El Maleh Rachamim, the prayer for the souls of the departed.
After the main vigil, the Independent spoke with a number of attendees.
“With the horrors that happened in Israel, and all the innocents killed, bodies desecrated, kids getting kidnapped, I just had to come and show support,” said Adar Bronstein, who moved to Canada from Israel a decade ago. “I think local Jews and Israelis don’t really protest much. We’re actually quite a quiet society overall, so, when something as big as this happens, we have to make some sort of a stand. All my friends over there have been drafted and my Facebook page is full of my friends posting about their killed loved ones. My family is there and they are terrified. It’s been very, very difficult.”
“What brought me out tonight was seeing things that I didn’t think I would ever see in my life,” said Alex Greenberg. “This is my family, this is my people. I came just to show that people in Israel have support.”
Jillian Marks was huddled in a group of young women, some hugging and wiping away tears. The alumna of Vancouver Talmud Torah and King David is now a University of British Columbia student and president of the Israel on Campus club.
“We need to show that we are together, that we support each other in these times,” said Marks. “Just being here is a mitzvah and a blessing. I think it’s quite surreal. I have people fighting on the front lines. I have people missing. I have friends missing and friends hiding in bomb shelters. I’m just sad. But I’m grateful for the community here in Canada. I’m grateful we are all together tonight.”
A small group of Iranian Canadians waved the national flag of Iran – not the flag of the Islamic revolutionary government.
Dr. Masood Masjoody, a mathematician and activist against the Iranian regime, said he came “to show support for Israel and the Israeli people.”
He said he was surprised that anyone would be surprised to see him there.
“We’ve been dealing with the regime that has been behind these heinous attacks for more than 40 years – 44 years – so we know this regime more than any other nation in the world,” he said, referring to the Iranian regime’s support for anti-Israel terrorism.
There are many organizations through which people can donate to help Israel, including the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver’s Israel Emergency Campaign, at jewishvancouver.com/israel-fund.
Downtown Jerusalem is deserted apart from Israel Border Police deployed in Zion Square. (photo by Gil Zohar)
It is Oct. 9. My wife Randi calls me while I am riding Jerusalem’s all-but-empty light rail, returning from a bat mitzvah celebration of a forlorn family of tourists from Arizona who are stuck in Israel. We simultaneously hear the air-raid siren blaring as we talk. Fighter jets are screaming overhead. With an edge of panic in her voice, Randi asks me what she should do. I calmly instruct here to follow the Home Front Command orders for civilians, which we have repeatedly reviewed. I’ve downloaded the app on my cellphone.
Our beautiful stone home in downtown Jerusalem, built in 1886, lacks a reinforced steel and concrete bomb shelter, known by the Hebrew acronym MaMaD (Makom Mugan l’Diyur), a protected residential place.
I remind Randi go to the neighbour’s basement apartment quickly but without running, and to wait there. Grabbing Bella our dog, she leaves the apartment door and windows open so that a blast from an explosion will not result in the windows being shattered and glass debris obliterating our house.
Below-grade structures make for poor bomb shelters since poison gas is heavier than air, I think. But there is no alternative. Nine Bedouin children were killed by Hamas rocket fire in the Western Negev. Their village lacked a MaMaD.
We hear the twin boom of Israel’s air defence system, the Iron Dome, intercepting a rocket barrage fired from the Gaza Strip. The strike lights up the sky. The threat is over until the next alert. The media reports that seven civilians living in towns in the periphery of Jerusalem were wounded in the barrage.
At the time of this writing, nearly 1,000 Israeli civilians have been killed, including 260 massacred at the Nova festival near Kibbutz Re’im – an all-night party in the desert. More than 130 civilians and soldiers have been taken hostage and dragged back to Gaza. Apart from 35 Israel Defence Force soldiers who fell in the line of duty, the names of the deceased have not been released.
It remains unclear if Hezbollah will open a full-scale second front from Lebanon. Israel has threatened to destroy Damascus, the capital of Syria, which backs the Shi’ite terror group, should the war broaden to the north.
Families of the kidnapped, missing and 2,200 wounded civilians are begging for news. Israel remains shrouded by military censorship. Nor is the news from the 2.3 million people in Gaza any clearer. Al-Jazeera lists long-out-of-date statistics. Based on data reported by the Palestinian Health Ministry, the Palestine Red Crescent Society and Israeli Medical Services, 560 Gazans have been killed. That number is likely to rise substantially.
More than 48 hours from when Hamas attacked and war broke out at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, the IDF spokesperson announces that the army has neutralized the terrorists who overcame 22 cities and villages near Gaza. Israelis are being evacuated from the border area in anticipation of a ground invasion. Some are being housed in empty hotels near the Dead Sea.
I’ve offered our adjoining apartment. All our Airbnb guests have canceled. Apart from El Al, airlines have stopped flying to Ben-Gurion Airport.
The number of the dead, missing and wounded is surreal. The IDF has called up 300,000 reservists in the last 48 hours for what it has termed “Operation Swords of Iron.” Among them is my nephew Guy Carmeli, a Canadian-Israeli dual citizen and veteran tank gunner who lives in Herzliya with his wife Yael and 2-year-old son Oz. Randi doesn’t know of his callup. Maybe she’ll read it here. My wife doesn’t do well with stress.
A press release from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denies Egypt is trying to broker a ceasefire. The statement reads: “No message has arrived from Egypt and the prime minister has neither spoken, nor met, with the head of Egyptian intelligence since the formation of the government, neither directly nor indirectly. This is totally fake news.”
The implication? Israelis must gird themselves itself for a “long and difficult war ahead,” according to Netanyahu.
The electronic tom-tom drums uniting immigrant Israelis have been busy. As I write this, nine Americans have been confirmed dead, and 10 Brits are assumed to have been killed.
Adi Vital-Kaploun, the adult daughter of Ottawa native Jacqui Vital and her husband Yaron who live in Jerusalem, was kidnapped from her home by the Gaza Strip. Adi’s two infant children, aged 1 and 3, were also taken hostage but were abandoned at the border by their captors who felt the children would slow down the gunmen’s retreat. [On Oct. 11, after the Independent went to press, it was announced that Vital-Kaploun had been murdered by Hamas terrorists.]
There are other Canadians missing, including former Winnipegger Vivian Silver. And there are Canadians who were killed by the terrorists: Alexandre Look, who grew up in Montreal, and Vancouverite Ben Mizrachi; both young men were among those killed at the music festival near Kibbutz Re’im.
Canadian-Israeli Shye Weinstein, who was at the festival, too, documented how he and his friends fled. He described their nail-biting escape to Tel Aviv: “We only slowed down for checkpoints and bodies.”
Nuseir Yassin, who writes the blog @nasdaily, described his conflict as an Arab citizen of Israel: “Personal Thoughts: (not for everyone, feel free to skip) For the longest time, I struggled with my identity. A Palestinian kid born inside Israel. Like … wtf. Many of my friends refuse to this day to say the word ‘Israel’ and call themselves ‘Palestinian’ only. But since I was 12, that did not make sense to me. So I decided to mix the two and become a ‘Palestinian-Israeli.’ I thought this term reflected who I was. Palestinian first. Israeli second. But after recent events, I started to think. And think. And think. And then my thoughts turned to anger. I realized that if Israel were to be ‘invaded’ like that again, we would not be safe. To a terrorist invading Israel, all citizens are targets. 900 Israelis died so far.
“More than 40 of them are Arabs. Killed by other Arabs. And even 2 Thai people died too. And I do not want to live under a Palestinian government. Which means I only have one home, even if I’m not Jewish: Israel. That’s where all my family lives. That’s where I grew up. That’s the country I want to see continue to exist so I can exist. Palestine should exist too as an independent state. And I hope to see the country thrive and become less extreme and more prosperous. I love Palestine and have invested in Palestine. But it’s not my home. So from today forward, I view myself as an ‘Israeli-Palestinian.’ Israeli first. Palestinian second.”
Gil Zohar is a writer and tour guide in Jerusalem.
Editor’s note: This article is a reprint of an Oct. 7 Facebook post.
“What the heck?!” I sat up in bed and looked at my husband. There was a siren blaring.
Instinctively, I reached for my phone – but it wasn’t on my night table. I checked under my pillow, where did I put it?
Then I remembered. It was Shabbat and Simchat Torah. We had gotten home late last night after a beautiful celebration with the Torah in the small Chabad synagogue down the road. “Rabbi Heber’s Chabad,” as we called it, was filled with Jews from all over: Israel, Morocco, the former Soviet Union, and a small sprinkling of English-speakers. That night, everyone danced the “hakafot” together in unity, celebrating the beautiful gift God gave to us.
Before heading home, we hugged and told each other we’d be back tomorrow for the day celebrations, when again we’d dance around with the Torah together.
On Shabbat and Simchat Torah we don’t use electric technology, and so when the air raid siren blared, my phone was in my drawer on airplane mode.
My husband and I leaped out of bed. “You get the girls, I’ll get the boys!” I said.
The kids were already awake, all but little Leah had climbed out of bed and began running towards our shelter. My husband grabbed Leah and, within seconds, we were in our bomb shelter, door closed shut.
We were caught completely off guard. The kids were confused.
“Why didn’t you tell us there would be a siren?” my son asked.
We didn’t know. We didn’t expect it. Maybe it was just a fluke? Maybe the Israeli army assassinated a Hamas terrorist and there was going to be a couple rockets in retaliation?
The siren went on for awhile. We heard lots of explosions. When it stopped, my husband stepped out to look at the clock. It was 6 a.m. The sun would be up soon, not a chance of the kids going back to sleep. We sat on the living room couch and said the morning prayer, Modeh Ani, thank you God for returning my soul to me.
We wondered if the sirens would stop soon and if we’d be able to go to the synagogue to celebrate Simchat Torah. Moments later, we were back in the bomb shelter. Sirens, explosions, on and on and on.
During a small break, we returned to the couch and listened to the sounds of war. Early on a Saturday morning, there was no other noise pollution, and so we heard everything for miles around. Sirens in the distance, explosions, military jets taking off, first responders whizzing by.
“Mom, I hear booms, we should go back to the shelter.”
I explained to my kids how to tell if a boom is close or far. If it’s a deep sound, it’s in the distance. The higher the pitch, the closer.
Sirens again, back to the shelter.
“Mom, that boom was very close.”
It was. But it was a thud, no crashing explosive sounds after. It couldn’t have hit a building. The sirens continued, and we stayed put.
On our bomb shelter windowsill are a pair of gas masks, sitting there since the Gulf War of 1991. They’re useless now, but staring at them sent a shiver down my spine.
My husband and I looked at each other. This was no ordinary operation going on. We had already lost count, but were sure that hundreds of rockets had been fired at Be’er Sheva in the past few hours.
It wasn’t just the air-raid sirens; there were nonstop first-responder sirens, too. Way more than we ever remembered hearing during any military operation.
Finally, at 10 a.m., another break. Our bomb shelter gets very stuffy, so we were relieved to step into the living room, where we had all the windows open.
“It smells like smoke.”
My daughter was right. It did. We went out our front door and saw a thick cloud of dark smoke rising behind our home.
Our neighbour walked out of his house, followed by his teenage daughter.
“It’s the park!” she shouted. “The park behind our house is on fire!”
A rocket must have made impact there. Probably the one my son pointed out. Just a few metres away from our home.
Our neighbour looked at us, and realized we probably hadn’t seen the news.
“It’s a balagan,” he said. “They kidnapped a soldier, they’re shooting in Ofakim. Hundreds of rockets. It’s a mess.”
I didn’t process what he was saying. Shooting in the city of Ofakim? Kidnapped a soldier? I probably wasn’t understanding him right.
My son found a piece of shrapnel on the street, right next to our parked car. We went back inside. It stunk of smoke. I closed the windows.
More air-raid sirens. More explosions. Nonstop first-responders. Some sounded different – maybe military ambulances or fire trucks? Maybe there was another big fire and they were all rushing to put it out? I couldn’t imagine why else there would be so many. Just in case, I locked the doors.
More sirens, back to the shelter. We spent most of the morning in that stuffy room. It’s also our laundry room and dairy kitchenette. There were a few dishes in the sink, I washed them, tidied up a little.
We realized there was no going to synagogue today, and began prayers at home. By this time, the sirens were further spread apart, and we were
able to spend most of our time in the living room.
It was Simchat Torah. How would we do the hakafot dancing without a Torah? Without a community come together in joy?
My kids ran towards the bookshelf.
“Look! It’s Torah Ohr! Lekutei Torah! We can dance with these!”
My husband found a mini set of the five Torah books, my oldest daughter a Tanach – the complete Bible set in one.
The Simchat Torah dance goes around the bima, the table on which the Torah is read. First the congregants repeat lines from the prayer book after each other, sharing l’chaims in between, and then begin the dancing.
We gathered around our dining room table.
“L’chaim to the safety of the IDF and all of Israel!”
My husband read the first line, my kids and I repeated.
“Atah horaisah l’dat.…”
Around the table we went, my husband and I, and the kids, each taking a line, some around the table, some in the bomb shelter.
Then we began the hakafot and danced around and around the table, holding up our Torah books. My littlest had chosen a giant Torah Ohr that was almost half her size. I couldn’t help but lift her up and dance around as she giggled away.
We paused in between hakafot, and I told the children a story: After the Holocaust, a few survivors returned to Vilna, in Lithuania. On Simchat Torah, they gathered in the grand
Vilna synagogue, but all the Torah scrolls were gone. There was one child. The survivors picked him up over
their shoulders and danced around with him, “This is our Torah! This is our future!”
We finished hakafot around our table, and ate a Simchat Torah lunch.
In the distance, we heard children singing: “Anachnu maaminim b’nei maaminim!” “We are believers, children of believers! We have no one to lean on but our Father in Heaven!” We sang along.
The sounds of war were loud. Too loud. Jets, explosions – that we knew. But why were there so many first-responders?
My husband stepped outside. Maybe there was another fire? The kids followed him.
A neighbour was pacing back and forth in the street, staring at his phone. My husband asked him why all the sirens.
“The sirens are nothing. Nothing. 80 dead. 800 injured. Who knows how many kidnapped. We are at war! You don’t want to know what you will see when you turn your phone on.”
My son ran back inside: “It’s a war! It’s a war! We need to lock the doors so they don’t come and shoot us.”
I felt like vomiting.
Be’er Sheva has the closest hospital to most Gaza border communities. The nonstop first-responder sirens were ambulances. Hundreds of ambulances carrying patients to the hospital.
“Kids, let’s say Psalms. The best we can do right now is pray for the people who were injured or kidnapped, and for the IDF soldiers to be successful.”
We said Psalms. My kids kept asking when we can check our phones. We were inside and safe; I felt we could wait until Shabbat was over. I wanted to wait. I didn’t want to see.
But Shabbat and Simchat Torah came to an end, and I saw.
I still have not processed.
More than 300 dead [at the time of original writing]. Well over a thousand injured. At least 52 kidnapped.
A mass door-to-door slaughter of Jews. In 2023.
I will not process this. It cannot be real.
Three kids are sleeping in our bomb shelter. My oldest refuses. She’s in her own bed, in a much-needed sleep.
I’m still hoping this is some messed-up nightmare and I’ll wake up soon to a good world, with the same amount of Jews alive as there was before Simchat Torah began.
Bruria Efune lives in Be’er Sheva with her husband Mendy and four children. She is co-founder of Ohr Chabad, building a new community in Israel. Born in Vancouver, she is the daughter of Rabbi Tzvi and Nomi Freeman.
The Jewish community worldwide is experiencing pain and despair. Feelings of grief for the murdered, empathy for the injured, rage at the perpetrators and anguish and terror for the kidnapped are overwhelming. The deep heartbreak is palpable.
While events in the past have harmed Israelis’ sense of security and hopes for peace, these attacks seem to have shattered them. The invasion of Jewish homes, the seizing of Jewish people, young and old, reaching for their loves ones as they are dragged away – these are images hauntingly redolent of a stateless past, without a government capable of preventing large-scale, coordinated assaults on the dignity, human rights, freedom and lives of Jews. The magnitude of this terror, with the heart-rending images and videos that illustrate the dehumanization in a way impossible until recent technological advances, means this moment is uniquely affecting.
Israeli politicians and military strategists have largely aimed to “manage” the conflict. Now, there will be calls for a lasting resolution. Israelis will not tolerate a second experience like this. After a decade and a half of successive skirmishes and wars with Hamas, many, including top military officials, are warning this will be the last.
A resolution to the status quo is something everyone – even Hamas terrorists – agree on. What that resolution will look like is where differences emerge. The approach Israel takes will affect not only the reality there but, secondarily, the world’s attitudes and approaches to Israel … and to Jews, as is often the case. There is fear and anger and understandable calls for retribution – actions that, at press time, were partly being tempered by the presence in Gaza of an estimated hundred-plus hostages from Israeli villages and towns.
History has shown one thing to be sure of, and to brace for – the window of empathy for Israeli victims will inevitably close. The author Dara Horn wrote that “people love dead Jews.” What the world seems to welcome far less enthusiastically are Jews, and a Jewish state, that are very much alive, with agency in the world. As Israel’s response rolls out, we can expect much of the nascent public sympathy to evaporate.
We cannot predict the mayhem and pain that seems imminent for both Israelis and Palestinians in the coming days, weeks, months and possibly years as a result of this radically changed circumstance. However, the temptation to assert that “this changes everything” is almost certainly false. Some things will remain the same.
There is a core of intolerance and hatred at the heart of opposition to the Jewish presence in the region and to Jewish national self-determination. Peace has rarely seemed further away.
Not incidentally, some of the central values of Israeli society – providing affected individuals and families with support and resources in times of crisis – have been left to individuals and various networks of mutual aid. The governmental and political failure goes beyond not having been prepared for the terrorist attacks but extends to the aftermath. Families have been left by their government with little communication or intelligence on their lost, possibly dead, loved ones. Among all the sacred things left in ruins today, this may prove to be one of the most shattering remnants from this time. That, at least, was something that Israelis could rely on – and even that has been ripped away.
For Jewish Canadians, this conflict is at once so far away and so close and, for some of us – like the family and friends of Ben Mizrachi, the young Vancouver man murdered Saturday – so very close. Wherever we are, we must be there for one another, across all lines of geography, affiliation, background and, yes, politics. Right now, a resolution forced by military might be the preference of the most vocal people. The middle of a war can be a hard time to talk about peace. A moment of agony and outrage is a difficult moment to encourage reflection and restraint. And yet, lasting peace and justice depends on what happens next and how our institutions react. We cannot control the actions of others, as psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankel suggested, we can only control our responses to these events. This is the choice each of us makes as we assimilate the inhumanity around us and reflect on our deeply held values.
אזרחים רבים של קנדה הביעו זעם וכעס והזדהו עם הקורבנות פיגועי הטרור הקשים שפקדו את פריז, ביום שישי האחרון. יש שהגיבו באמצעי המדיה השונים ואילו אחרים שפקדו מוסדות צרפתיים או כאלה שמזוהים עם צרפת, ועמדו דקת דומיה לידם לזכר הקורבנות שניספו בפיגועים.
אזרחים של ונקובר הגיעו לבניין בו ממוקמת הקונסוליה הצרפתית ברחוב פנדר בדאון טאון, עמדו דקת דומיה בכניסה, הניחו זרים ותמונות של פריז, והדליקו נרות נשמה. פעילויות דומות התקיימו בכל רחבי קנדה. מבני ציבור רבים הדליקו נורות בצבעי הדגל הצרפתי ודגלי קנדה הורדו לחצי התורן.
רמת הכוננות הבטחונית בקנדה הוגברה והמשטרה הפדרלית (האר.סי.אם.פי) פועלת בשיתוף עם סוכנויות הביון והריגול הקנדיות, וסוכנויות משטרה אחרות, למניעת אפשרות של פיגועי טרור מקומיים. עם זאת בשלב זה לא התקבל שום מידע ממשי על אפשרות של פיגועי טרור בקנדה.
במקביל הוגבר הלחץ על ראש הממשלה החדש מטעם הליברלים, ג’סטין טרודו, לחזור בו מהחלטתו להפסיק ולהפציץ מטרות של דאע”ש בסוריה ועיראק. כידוע טרודו הודיע חד משמעית בקמפיין הבחירות שלו שאם יבחר לראשות הממשלה, הוא יחזיר את מטוסי חיל האוויר הקנדי הביתה, והצבא יתמקד רק באימון כוחות צבאיים מקומיים שנלחמים בדאע”ש. טרודו עוד הודיע שהממשלה תגביר את העזרה ההומנטרית למדינות ואזרחים שסובלים מהלוחמה במזרח התיכון.
נבחרת הנשים הלאומית של קנדה בכדורגל נחלה כשלון צורב באליפות העולם המונדיאל, שנערכה בחודשים יוני ויולי בקיץ. עתה מברר כי מהבחינה הכספית המונדיאל הכניס לקופתה של קנדה סכום שיא של 493.6 מיליון דולר. הסכום כולל גם את המונדיאל לנשים על גיל 20 שנערך בחודש אוגטס אשתקד באדמונטון, טורונטו מונטריאול ומונקטון. ההכנסות משני הטורנירים היו גבוהות בשיעור של 46 אחוז המתחזיות המוקדמות שפורסמו בחודש פברואר אשתקד. הנתונים מתפרסמים על ידי ההתחדות לכדורגל של קנדה שנעזרה בחברת המחקר ‘סטים פרו’.
משחקי המונדיאל לנשים שהתקיימו בשש ערים: ונקובר, אדמונטון, ויניפג, אוטווה, מונטריאול ומונקטון. מספר הצופים בששת האצטדיונים הגיע לשיא מבחינת אליפות הנשים ועמד על 1,353,506. הצלחתה של נבחרת ארצות הברית בטורניר שבו היא זכתה, הביאה כמאה אלף אוהדים אמריקנים שחצו את הגבול לקנדה, לצפות במשחקים. אין ספק האמריקנים היוו את אחד הגורמים המשמעותיים בהכנסות הגבוהות של המונדיאל. גם אחוזי הצפייה במחשקים בטלוויזיה והשימוש במדיה החברתית בעת הטורניר שברו שיאים.
חברת אורבנקורפ (בבעלות אלן ססקין) הפעילה בתחום הנדל”ן בטורונטו פרסמה בימים אלה טיוטת תשקיף להנפקה ראשונה לציבור של אגרות חוב. ההנפקה תתקיים בתקופה בשבועות הקרובים והחברה מקווה לקבל דירוג מקומי.
ססקין פועל בתחום הנדל”ן במשך יותר משלושים וחמש שנים וחברתו אורבנקורפ פעולת בתחום הנדל”ן בטורנטו יותר מעשרים וארבע שנים. החברה נחשבת לאחת הבולטות בעיר, היא פועלת בעיקר במרכז טורונטו ועוסקת בפיתוח, שיווק פרוייקטים למגורים, בהשכרה של נכסים מניבים וכן בייזום והפעלה של מערכות גיאותרמיות בפרוייקטים שהיא בנתה. אורבנקורפ בנתה עד היום לפחות חמשת אלפים וחמש מאות דירות מגורים, והיא פעילה כיום בשנים עשר פרוייקטים שונים. בין השנים 2012 ו-2014 הרווח הנקי המצרפי של החברה עמד על כשלושים וארבעה מיליון דולר. אורבנקורפ צופה כי בין השנים 2016 ו-2018 יגיעו הכנסותיה לכשלוש מאות ותשעים מליון דולר, והרווח המצרפי הגולמי צפוי להגיע לכשבעים מיליון דולר.