אני כמו רבים אחרים נדבקתי בוירוס הקוביד ואחרי פחות מיומיים חזרתי אל עצמי. אינני יודע איך נדבקתי וממי אך בעצם זה לא משנה. באוקטובר אשתקד קיבלתי את החיסון השלישי של פייזר וידעתי שהוא לא מונע לחלוטין את האופציה להידבק בקוביד. אבל הוא יכול לעזור במניעת אשפוז או במניעת סיבוכים קשים
מכל מקום בשבת בערב עת חזרנו מאירועי פסיבטל הג’אז הבינלאומי של ונקובר הרגשתי עייף. לא הבנתי עדיין מה הבעייה. בראשון הייתה לי אפס אנרגיה ובילית את רוב הזמן במיטה, בניגוד לאופי האנרגטי שלי. הרגשתי גם שיש לי קצת חום. החלטתי לבצע בדיקת קוביד עצמית והיא יצאה שלילית. ביום שני הרגשתי כבר יותר טוב אף הפעם הבדיקה הייתה חיובית – כך שגם אני נדבקתי בוירוס הקוביד
ההרגשה הכללית היא שהקוביד משבש את כל מערכות הגוף. מתקיף בעיקר את כל המקומות הרגישים כמו הגרון ומערכת העיכול, ואת המקומות החלשים אצל כל חולה ובמקרה שלי הגב והרגליים
ביום שלישי הרגשתי כבר מצויין ורק התאבון שלי לא חזר למצבו הטבעי, כך שאני אכלתי פחות בימים האחרונים
אני שומע כמעט כל יום על חברים, מכרים או בני משפחה שנדבקים בקוביד וזה הפך כמעט להרגל בימים אלה
ישראל מתרחקת מקנדה: אל על תפסיק לטוס מתל אביב לטורונטו
חברת התעופה הישראלית אל על החליטה על ביטול שלושה קווים לערים מרכזיות בעולם החל מסוף חודש אוקטובר הקרוב: טורונטו, ורשה ולבריסל. זאת, במסגרת רה-ארגון בחברה והתאמת לוח הטיסות לביקושים שאחרי מגיפת הקוביד. בחברה הגיעו למסקנה שלטורונטו, וורשה ובריסל יש ביקושים נמוכים כך שאין כדאיות כלכלית בהפעלתם. ייתכן שבעתיד הקרוב תבטל חברת אל על קווים נוספים, או שתכריז על שינויים בתדירות של חלק מהקווים הפעילים כיום
ישראלים ויהודים רבים גרים בטורונטו והטיסה הישירה במטוסי בואינג שבע שמונה שבע, הייתה מאוד נוח העבורם. עתה עליהם להסתפק רק בטיסות של חברת התעופה הקנדית אייר קנדה
לפי נתוני רשות שדות התעופה של ישראל (רש”ת) בחודש מאי האחרון, טסו בקו בין תל אביב לטורונטו בטיסות הלוך ושוב עשרים ושלושה אלף נוסעים
באתר של אל על מופיע עדיין מידע בדבר הטיסות לטורונטו, למרות שכאמור החברה הישראלית לא תטוס לשם מנובמבר, במסגרת קמפיין השיווק, “ברוכים הבאים לטורונטו. למרות שאתם בקנדה, בטורונטו תרגישו לגמרי ‘אמריקה’, עם אפשרויות בילוי אינסופיות ואינספור אטרקציות מרתקות לגדולים ולקטנים שלא ישאירו לכם סיכוי לשעמום: פארקי שעשועים, גני חיות, מתחמי מדע ושלל מוזיאונים, קניונים ענקיים, מרכזי מסחר אינסופיים, שווקים ובוטיקים, בתי מלון ברמה הגבוהה ביותר, היצע קולינרי מגוון, המגדל הגבוה בעולם שאם תעלו לפסגתו תוכלו להעיף את החלומות שלכם הכי גבוה שרק אפשר וזוהי רק רשימה חלקית ביותר”
בקהילה היהודית הגדולה בטורונטו מוחים על צעדה זה של אל על. רבים חתמו כבר על פטיציה הקוראת לאל על לחזור בה מהחלטתה, ולא להפסיק את הטיסות הישירות בין תל אביב לטורונטו. שתי הסיבות העיקריות שעולות מן הפטיציה: הרגשה של ביטחון כאשר טסים עם אל על, זה נוח יותר שיש עוד חברה תעופה פעילה בקו תל אביב לטורונטו. גם במשרד התיירות בישראל מוחים על החלטת אל על, ומציינים כי דווקא מדי שנה יש גידול במספר הקנדים שמגיעים לביקור בישראל. לפני פרוץ מגפת הקוביד כמאה אלף קנדים ביקרו בישראל (בשנת אלפיים ותשעה עשרה)
Editors from three Canadian Jewish publications gathered on May 11 for a wide-ranging and passionate online discussion about the state of Jewish media in the country.
Yoni Goldstein of the Canadian Jewish News, based in the Toronto area, Bernie Bellan of the Jewish Post and News in Winnipeg and Cynthia Ramsay of Greater Vancouver’s Jewish Independent examined such topics as the economic viability of Canadian Jewish media, antisemitism, and the ability to balance an array of differing opinions within the community. All three publications have a long-standing history of Jewish journalism, with the Post and News and the Independent able to trace their beginnings to 1925 and 1930, respectively. (Though the JI started as a mimeo in 1925, the newspaper began five years later.)
Goldstein led off by explaining the recent manifestation of the CJN, which, founded in 1960, is the baby of the group. The paper closed in mid-2013 and again in April 2020, but reopened each time. The current version restarted in January 2021 with a reduced staff and a focus on online media.
When introducing his paper, Bellan noted that the Post and News readership skews to an older demographic yet endeavours to be as inclusive as possible. “With the advent of the internet, there are so many different news sources that it is hard to establish a clear identity for a lot of Jewish media,” he said. “You have to change with the times and know your audience.”
Ramsay, too, addressed the fine line between keeping established readers interested and also bringing in a younger audience. “We celebrate Jews in the community whether or not they are doing something specifically Jewish. We want to look forward and also respect the past. We try to be a window to the world and not be too insular.”
Moderator Bryan Borzykowski, the president of the CJN, next pressed the panelists on staying relevant in an age when connections to Jewish organizations are waning.
“One of the positive sides of the digital age is that you can dive in and see what sorts of stories people are engaged in,” Goldstein responded, highlighting the numerous subjects CJN offers in its podcasts, from politics to arts, sports to humour.
Bellan said he features newcomers to Winnipeg in his paper, whether they are from Russia, Israel or elsewhere in Canada. “We want them to know that the established Jewish community welcomes them and we want them to feel integrated in the community,” he said.
“As long as you are writing a paper that is in this moment and not dwelling on the past, then you are relevant, and your readers will decide that,” said Ramsay.
Borzykowski asked about revenues, particularly during a pandemic, which has challenged further the solvency of media in general.
“Most of our money still comes from advertising. For now, it is great because we are small, lean and we are able to ‘pivot’ quite easily. I don’t have to get OKs to do anything. And our community has been very supportive,” Ramsay said.
For the CJN there are three money planks, according to Goldstein: advertising, subscriptions and donations. The publication hopes to be able to provide tax receipts to donors in the future.
Bellan credited a loyal local subscriber base and an attachment that former residents of Winnipeg have towards the city as reasons that place his paper in an enviable position when it comes to sustainability. “There are probably more Jewish ex-Winnipeggers in the world than there are current Jewish Winnipeggers,” he noted.
Balancing the range of opinions readers have on issues, such as Israel, was the next phase of the discussion. Ramsay welcomes a diverse selection of views on the Jewish state, with the ground rule being the recognition of Israel’s right to exist. “We had to bring the readership along to the concept that you don’t have to be afraid if someone does not agree with you on Israel,” she said.
Goldstein brought attention to the number of reputable publications based in Israel, which, from the CJN’s perspective, would not be worth competing against. Instead, when the publication does run an Israeli story, it will likely have a Canadian connection, he said.
Bellan’s Post and News presents a vast spectrum of views on the Holy Land, from running pieces by a Palestinian scholar to a hawkish opinion writer, and Bellan stated that differing views on topics can contribute to the vibrancy of a publication.
When questioned about reporting on antisemitism, Goldstein said it could be seen as one of the key reasons for the existence of Jewish media in that it will cover the topic in a more sensitive and journalistically appropriate manner than the mainstream press.
Bellan said his paper has taken note of the recent increase in antisemitism, especially in universities, and has published a lot more articles on the subject of late.
Ramsay emphasized that, while acknowledging and dealing with the topic of antisemitism, the Independentdoesn’t write from a position of fear or panic, but rather one of pride in celebrating Jewish identity.
No present-day conversation of modern media would be complete without the mention of “fake news” and what responsible publications can do to prevent it.
“The challenge is to build trust with audiences,” Goldstein said. “You have to build your reputation as being honest and rigorous in your reporting.”
In Winnipeg, the anti-vaccine movement became a problem for Bellan as his main columnist is one of its adherents. Bellan’s response was to counter with facts and chronicle his own battle with COVID-19 without denying anti-vaxxers space in his paper.
Ramsay stressed the importance of fact-checking and sourcing material while, at the same time, providing room for as many views as possible. That said, she said she does censor material, such as that from anti-vaxxers, which could harm public health.
Borzykowski ended the evening by noting that the CJN is a national paper and touching on the possibility of collaboration between the CJN and local Jewish newspapers across the country.
Congregation Etz Chayim in Winnipeg hosted the event, with Monica Neiman supplying the technical support.
Sam Margolishas written for the Globe and Mail, the National Post, UPI and MSNBC.
An ongoing controversy in Canada’s largest school district took a more bizarre turn this week.
Last spring, the student equity advisor of the Toronto District School Board compiled and released a compendious assemblage he called “resources to educators.” The materials, issued via email by Javier Davila, were a hodgepodge of anti-Israel propaganda, and included outright antisemitic content and the glorification of suicide bombings.
The “resources,” for example, claim that Palestinians “have been legitimately resisting racism, colonization, and genocide since the 1920s to the present day by any means necessary: general strikes, demonstrations, armed struggle, and martyrdom operations (called ‘suicide bombing’ by Zionists).” Davila’s materials also included a link to the website of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a group that is banned in Canada. Bibliographical recommendations include children’s books that characterize Israelis as thieves and murderers.
The materials Davila distributed are intended to guide teachers in educating students about the Arab-Israeli conflict. They were not vetted by senior officials in the school board and, when controversy ensued, Davila was put on leave but then reinstated. Despite the absence of even a slap on the wrist, he moderated a panel in June with the tagline “How can we educate about Palestine if we can’t even say it?”
Not only is Davila free to “say” Palestine, he is also, evidently, free to distribute whatever material he chooses to Toronto teachers. Which brings us to this week.
Alexandra Lulka is a Toronto school trustee who is Jewish and represents a heavily Jewish district of the city.
“I was outraged to discover that some of this material justifies suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism,” she wrote on social media during the conflict in the spring between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. “This is reprehensible. These materials were provided by an employee from the TDSB equity department, the very department that should be countering antisemitism and violence, not fanning the flames.”
The school board’s integrity commissioner investigated Davila’s materials and found they did indeed contain antisemitic content and promote terrorism – and then called for Lulka to be censured because, the commissioner’s investigation declares, it was the purview of the school board, not Lulka, to determine whether the content was unacceptable. The commissioner went further, condemning Lulka for not pointing out positive aspects of Davila’s “resources.”
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs criticized this part of the situation in particular.
“It is astonishingly unreasonable to compel a Jewish trustee calling out Jew-hatred to also highlight positive elements in the resources. The recommendation to censure her for not doing so is misguided and must be rejected,” said CIJA’s vice-president Noah Shack in a statement. “Punishing Trustee Lulka is contrary to the values of an educational institution purporting to engender learning and mutual respect.”
Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre also drew a contrast between what should have happened and what did happen.
“This outrageous process against TDSB Trustee Alexandra Lulka is just the latest manifestation of the institutional antisemitism afflicting the TDSB,” said Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, the centre’s director of policy. “Not only is the investigation and its findings unjust, but it’s ridiculous that the person who calls out a transgression is being punished but the person responsible for the transgression was not.”
We are familiar, by now, with antisemitism being downgraded by the very people who are appointed (or self-appointed) to monitor and combat racism and bigotry. The Toronto case, which presumably will have been decided Wednesday (after the Independent goes to press), is a step beyond. It threatens to condemn the very people who stand up against antisemitism, even as a perpetrator of what the integrity commissioner acknowledges was anti-Jewish racism gets off scot-free.
This outcome is problematic, not only for the potential danger it presents to Jewish students in Canada’s largest school district. It encourages teachers to miseducate students on a sensitive and complex international issue with very real consequences for intercultural harmony here at home.
Left to right: Drew Carnwath, Measha Brueggergosman and Sam Rosenthal are the main creatives behind the podcast The Christie Pits Riot. (photo by John Ebata)
On Aug. 16, 1933, Toronto experienced what is viewed as one of the worst race riots in Canadian history. Earlier this fall, the Hogtown Collective, an immersive theatre company, released a four-part podcast that recreates the events of that summer evening 88 years ago.
The eponymously named podcast, The Christie Pits Riot, is seen through the eyes of its 12-year-old protagonist, Joey Rosenbaum. Created by Sam Rosenthal and Drew Cranwath of Hogtown Collective and set amid the circumstances of the Great Depression, Hitler’s rise to power in Germany and escalating ethnic unrest within Toronto, the series also contains an interactive walking tour through the neighbourhood where the riot took place.
The centre of the conflict is a baseball diamond in Christie Pits Park. Tensions began festering during a playoff between two local teams, the Harbord Playground, consisting mostly of Jewish and Italian players, and St. Peter’s, a club sponsored by a local church. Fights erupted and a full-on riot ensued. There were many injuries, but no fatalities.
The mass brawl, which lasted six hours, started after the final out of the second game of a quarterfinal pitting Harbord against St. Peter’s. Two nights earlier, at the first game, a swastika had been displayed by some fans. In the weeks before these games, troubles in Toronto had been brewing more broadly between some Jewish residents and antisemitic groups, primarily those calling themselves the Swastika Club.
A number of Jewish boys and young men who had heard about the swastika incident at the first game rushed to destroy the swastika unfurled at the end of the second. Supporters of both sides, including the Italians, who supported the Jews, joined in the melee.
In the podcast, narrated by Rosenthal, the listener gets a snapshot of life in the city at the time and follows Joey through his day – running errands for his father’s drugstore – along Bloor Street, near the ballpark.
“We wanted the audience to be able to access this story through an emotional, not just historical, perspective,” Rosenthal told the Independent. “Making our hero a young boy allowed us to show the world from his perspective.
“Exploring the deeper issue of systemic racism and antisemitic behaviour can be challenging,” he added. “Our young hero doesn’t understand hatred the way an adult might, so his character provides a means of asking questions about antisemitic racism. We also wanted a way to keep things rooted in the present simultaneously, so as to be able to draw clear parallels to the same problems and issues” that still exist.
The first three instalments take the audience through Depression-era Toronto, with the final episode coming to a head at the fateful game. When the riot breaks out in the story, we find Joey trying to get his friend Rachel home. They are helped along the way by Nala – voiced by Juno Award-winning soprano Measha Brueggergosman – who encourages Joey to stand up for what he believes.
In addition to providing her vocal talent, Brueggergosman was the podcast’s musical supervisor.
In releasing a theatrical production during the pandemic, the creators spotted a chance to provide audiences with a safe and tangible way to experience where the riot happened via the walking tour.
“To look out at Christie Pits Park and imagine what it would be like being in the middle of 1,000-plus people fighting is a terrifying thought, and so it makes the story land in a more visceral way if one can actually be there while listening in,” Rosenthal said. “Since my grandfather owned a store at the corner of Bloor and Manning, the walking tour is a perfect addition to share some of my family history within the broader scope of this chapter from Toronto’s history.”
Several scenes in the story are situated in the drugstore operated by Rosenthal’s grandfather from the early 1920s until the late 1950s. Rosenthal’s father, Joseph, grew up in the neighbourhood and worked there. Joseph was born after the riot, and knew about it from his own father.
“My dad shared many stories of being a young boy in a deeply divided antisemitic Toronto,” said Rosenthal. “When he told me there were once signs posted at the Balmy Beach Club that said, ‘No Jews or Dogs,’ and that there were Swastika Clubs in the 1930s, I felt compelled to tell this story. My father and his friends were often brutalized or threatened whilst walking home from school. I wonder how many Toronto residents know this about our city’s past, and why it seems still entrenched in our present.”
Rosenthal’s hope for the production is that younger listeners not only learn that the riot was a dark chapter in Canadian history, but see it as a way to honour previous generations who paved the way for the diverse culture that Toronto is celebrated for today.
The Christie Pits Riot is available online from multiple providers. The Anchor app can be used by anyone interested in taking the guided walking tour through the Toronto neighbourhood where the riot transpired – the app can be found at hogtownexperience.com.
Sam Margolishas written for the Globe and Mail, the National Post, UPI and MSNBC.
המפגינים צועדים ברחוב רובסון מלווים בכוחות המשטרה שסגרה את הכבישים הסמוכים בדאון טאון ונקובר (רוני רחמני)
הסכסוך הקשה במזרח התיכון בו מעורבת ישראל בימים אלה כולל ארגון הטרור החמאס, ישראלים יהודים וערבים בישראל ופלסטינים וכוחות הביטחון בשטחים – הגיע כצפוי גם לקנדה. הפגנות רבות משתתפים נערכו בימים האחרונים מצד תומכי הפלסטינים ומצד תומכי ישראל, בערים המרכזיות של קנדה. במרבית הפגנות נשמר השקט והסדר בצורה מכובדת, אך במספר אירועים בעיקר באלה שבטורונטו ומונטריאול, הותקפו אזרחים יהודים תומכי ישראל על ידי אזרחים מוסלמים שתומכים בצד הפלסטיני. המשטרה ביצעה כבר מספר מעצרים והיא מנהלת חקירה מואצת לעצור חשודים נוספים באלימות הקשה שהופנתה נגד אלו שתומכים בישראל.
בחלק מהפגנות התמיכה בפלסטינים החזיקו המפגינים כרזות עם דברי נאצה ושנאה מבישים נגד ישראל והיהודים בכלל, בהם: צלבי קרס, “ישראל פעלת נכון, היטלר יהיה גאה בך”, ישראל=נאצים”, “מוות לישראל”, “מה ההבדל בין ישראלי לנאצים” ועוד.
ההפגנה הגדולה ביותר התקיימה על ידי תומכי הפלסטינים בטורונטו ונכחו בה למעלה מחמשת אלפים משתתפים. באותה הפגנה נעצרו כבר על ידי המשטרה המקומית שלושה אזרחים מוסלמים, שתקפו קומץ של מפגינים יהודים שעמדו מולם, וכאמור מעצרים נוספים צפויים בימים הקרובים. המפגינים היהודים ספגו אבנים ובקבוקים, ואחד מהם אף הוכה במקלות, הוא נפגע בראשו ונזקק לטיפול רפואי דחוף. ואילו בהפגנה של תומכי ישראל במונטריאול נאלצה המשטרה המקומית להפעיל גז מדמיע לפזר בכוח אזרחים מוסלמים, שביקשו לפגוע באזרחים יהודים שהפגינו בעת שנערכה הפגנה בעד הפלסטינים.
ההפגנות של שני הצדדים בעד ונגד ישראל נערכו בין היתר בערים הבאות בקנדה: טורונטו, מונטריאול, ונקובר, קלגרי, אדמונטון, אוטווה, ויניפג, הליפקס וסנט ג’ונס.
אני עקבתי מקרוב אחרי הפגנה של תומכי הצד הפלסטיני שנערכה בוונקובר ביום שבת האחרון. כחמש מאות מפגינים בהם אזרחים מוסלמים, ילידי קנדה, אינדיאנים, תומכי המרקסיזם ואפילו קבוצה של ארגון שמאל יהודי קיצוני “הקול היהודי העצמאי” – השתתפו בה. תחילה התכנסו מאות מפגינים בכיכר שממול האולפנים של רשת השידור הציבורית הקנדית הסי.בי.סי, ברחוב המילטון בדאון טאון. לאחר סדרה של נאומים וקריאות נגד ישראל שנמשכה למעלה מחצי שעה, החלו המפגינים לצעוד באישור המשטרה כמובן, אל עבר הקונסוליה האמריקנית בעיר, שנמצאת ברחוב פנדר בדאון טאון. רחבות שלמים נסגרו על ידי השוטרים הרבים שנכחו במקום, והצועדים ללא התפרעויות עשו את המסלול מאולפני הסי.בי.סי, אל רחוב רובסון, משם לרחוב ג’ורג’יה ומשם המשיכו בהמוניהם עד לבניין בו שוכנת הקונסוליה האמריקנית.
בין סיסמאות הרבות של המפגינים בעד הפלסטינים, לאור פעולת צה”ל בעזה, שנאמרו בהפגנה או שהופיעו על שלטים בהם החזיקו הצועדים: “אין צדק אין שלום”, “לשחר את פלסטין”, “פלסטין תקום בין הנהר לים”, “הפסיקו את שפיכות הדם”, “הפסיקו את ההפצצות”, “הפלסטינים הם מפלסטין”, “יש לעצור את המלחמה”, “יש להציל את שייח’ ג’ראח'”, “רציחת ילדים איננה נחשבת להגנה עצמית”, “הגידו במפורש את השם פלסטין”, “שתיקה היא אלימות”, “יש לחקור את פשעי המלחמה שמבצעת ישראל”, “יש לתת הגדרה עצמית לפלסטינים”, “יש להחרים את ישראל”. על הדלת הכניסה לקונסוליה האמריקנית שהייתה סגורה בעת ההפגנה, נכתבה הסיסמה באדום: “יש לשחרר את פלסטין, יש להפסיק את רצח העם וכן יש להפסיק את הכיבוש”.
בתגובה לתקיפת המפגינים היהודים בטורונטו, ציינו בארגון המרכז לענייני ישראל והיהודים בקנדה: “אנו מגנים בחריפות את ההתקפה והשנאה שהופנתה נגד יהודים. אין הצדקה לאלימות פוליטית ואלה ששונאים את ישראל שונאים גם את קנדה”.
Toronto’s Beth Tzedec Congregation, one of the largest Conservative synagogues in Canada, announced last month that its rabbis will officiate at same-sex marriages.
While Beth Tzedec is not the first Conservative synagogue in Canada to sanctify same-sex weddings – Beth David and Beth Tikvah, also in Toronto, have already done so – the development has generated a surprising amount of interest, said synagogue president Debbie Rothstein.
Reaction from synagogue members has been “overwhelmingly positive,” she told The CJN soon after the announcement was made. “I’ve received a couple of concerns; we know change is hard. It’s not even been 24 hours, but (reactions) have been unbelievably positive and supportive.”
In fact, Rothstein said she had heard from members who were surprised this was not already a policy at the synagogue. “People were ready for this change to be made,” she said.
The decision is the culmination of decades of study by the Conservative movement and the synagogue, said Beth Tzedec’s senior rabbi, Steven Wernick.
In 2006, the Conservative movement passed a number of resolutions welcoming LGBTQ Jews into the community, and lifted a ban on ordaining gays and lesbians, based on the principle of kavod habriut, honouring all God’s creations, Wernick said. “Halachah is a living, evolving process of living a meaningful Jewish life. In 2021, to be fully welcoming of the LGBTQ community, to be willing to welcome and officiate at same-sex weddings, is a moral imperative,” he said in an interview.
In 2012, the Conservative movement’s committee on Jewish law and standards approved two model wedding ceremonies, as well as guidelines for a same-sex divorce. Rabbis can adapt the marriage ceremonies for the couples.
In 2017, as part of its strategic planning process, Beth Tzedec formed a task force for LGBTQ inclusion. It has participated in Pride Shabbat, Pride Month and other programs.
Beth Tzedec now has gender-neutral bathrooms, and has worked with Keshet, an international organization that advocates for LGBTQ equality in Jewish life, to examine its policies and the language it uses.
Officiating at same-sex weddings is the culmination of the task force’s work, Wernick said. “One of the things that we heard loud and clear is that you can’t claim to be fully welcoming until you’re doing same-sex weddings,” he said.
The same-sex weddings will differ slightly, and will be called brit ahavim – a covenant of love – rather than the traditional term, kiddushin (betrothal).
Even in a double-ring ceremony, kiddushin is not an egalitarian framework, and so the Conservative movement has developed other “covenantal ceremonies” that are more appropriate to same-sex weddings, Wernick said.
But there will still be all the trappings of a traditional wedding: a chuppah (canopy), a ketubah (marriage contract), wine, blessings and the breaking of a glass. “It’s going to be a holy and wholly Jewish ceremony, in both senses of the word,” he said.
Same-sex weddings will only be offered to couples who are both Jewish, Wernick said, pointing out this was not a decision about interfaith marriages.
Since the recent announcement was made, the rabbi said he has received several emails from families who are personally affected. Some shared that they were not able to get married in the synagogue, as they might have wished. The parent of a transgender child expressed to the rabbi how “meaningful it was that his child now had a place at Beth Tzedec where he can be validated and loved as a child of God.”
While Beth Tzedec is not, as mentioned, the first Conservative synagogue to bless same-sex marriages, Wernick said he expects it will also not be the last. “Beth Tzedec has traditionally been considered one of the leading congregations both in Canada and around the world. I would imagine we will be influencing other congregations to do the same.”
In early 2012, Congegation Shaarey Zedek in Winnipeg became what was believed to be the first Conservative shul in Canada to host a same-sex marriage.
For years at Toronto’s Beth Sholom Synagogue, “our stated position, once egalitarianism was adopted, is to do weddings without concern for gender,” said the congregation’s Rabbi Aaron Flanzraich, adding – likely echoing the policy at other Conservative synagogues – “provided both persons were Jewish.”
The Ontario region of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of Conservative rabbis, which Flanzraich chairs, is populated by autonomous congregations, and “each makes their policies in accordance with the wishes and traditions of their respective communities.”
Justine Apple, who was executive director of Kulanu Toronto, a now-defunct group for LGBTQ Jews, called Beth Tzedec’s decision “a very important step.”
“The Conservative movement is finally stepping up and opening its doors to the legitimacy of same-sex marriage,” said Apple. “Something many of our LGBTQ members and their families have been waiting for, for a long time.”
Launching within hours of each other in May, the Canadian Jewish Record and TheJ.ca come at journalism from different perspectives.
Like print media as a whole, Jewish newspapers worldwide have been struggling in recent years. The coronavirus, with its economic impacts, was the last straw for Canadian Jewish News, which announced its closure in a message to readers April 13, with the words: “Everything has its season. It is time.”
From the ashes of that flagship media outlet, though, has emerged not one but two new ventures – and rumours of a possible revival of CJN itself.
Launching within hours of each other in May, the Canadian Jewish Record and TheJ.ca come at journalism from different perspectives and the people behind them think there’s room for a range of online voices, even if a national hard-copy print media option isn’t in the picture.
The Record is the brainchild of Bernie Farber, former chief executive officer of the now-defunct Canadian Jewish Congress, and Ron Csillag, a longtime reporter and editor with CJN, whose writing has appeared in the Jewish Independent. TheJ.ca, which has been in the planning stages longer, was started by Winnipeggers Marty Gold and Ron East. The editor is Dave Gordon, a Torontonian whose writing has appeared frequently in the Independent, as well as scores of other Jewish and non-Jewish publications.
Farber and Csillag admit they don’t have a business plan beyond getting writers and editors to work for free – and they see their online venture as a stopgap that would probably cease or merge were CJN to return. The individual rumoured to be considering a rebirth of the paper opted to not comment for this story.
Farber, who was with CJC from 1984 until it was subsumed by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs in 2011 and served as its head from 2006, said they launched CJR on the fly, trying to fill a need in the immediate aftermath of CJN’s demise.
“Our goal is not to become a new Canadian Jewish News,” he said. “When and if they were able to come back up … we would find some way to amalgamate. Nothing is written in stone…. We expect to continue into the fall at this point, hopefully.”
The online news and commentary site operates under the auspices of a nonprofit organization and has no money to speak of, other than enough to cover registration fees and miscellaneous costs, said Farber.
“Everybody who wrote and who is continuing to this day to write for the newspaper is doing it pro bono,” he said. “These are skilled, professional journalists who are, for the most part, people who are used to being paid for their work and have chosen to do this as a donation at this time to the community. It really is a grand mitzvah, Canadian Jewish-style, and it’s working.”
The platform got 22,000 hits in the first week, said Farber, who serves as publisher. “It’s going up from there almost exponentially.”
The model upon which their editorial approach is based is akin to CJN, he said, with a range of opinions represented.
“We’re trying to have a big tent,” he said. “We already got into some hot water because we published a piece by Dr. Mira Sucharov. She’s a wonderful writer, she’s on the edge, people don’t like what she writes, but tough shit. People are allowed to have their opinions.”
JI readers will be familiar with Sucharov’s writing. As for coverage of Israel-related topics, Farber said they will follow a similar open approach.
“It’s not that we don’t support Israel,” he said. “We’re a news source, we’re an information source. We run opinion. We’re not going to [say] you can only write good things about Israel or good things about the Jewish community. We want there to be some spark to it where people can say, no, I disagree with that. We do have an option for feedback and we do get letters to the editor. That’s the Jewish community, right? They are vibrant, they come from all over the place and we want to be able to reflect that.”
Farber and Csillag are well-known figures in the Jewish and larger Canadian scene, which is one of the reasons, they say, that the president of York University reached out to them before releasing a much-awaited report of an investigation around a violent confrontation on campus last November between pro- and anti-Israel groups. The Record got embargoed exclusive access to the report before other media. “It demonstrates how, in a short period of time, we have become a reasonable voice in the community,” Farber said.
Csillag, the editor, said they chose, at the launch on May 21, to “flood” the site with stories to keep readers engaged and coming back. Now, the aim is to post two stories a day plus any breaking news.
“People are talking about it, people are complaining about it,” he said. “I got my first bit of hate mail, which is good. That’s when you know you’re making a difference.”
Finding writers to work for free has not been a challenge. “People have been coming out of the woodwork. I never knew that pretty much everyone on the planet was a writer,” Csillag said, laughing.
Challenges they have not ironed out, they admit, include finding reliable reporters outside Ontario and a steady source of news from Israel, since they don’t have the resources to pay for a news service.
If CJN is not revived, Farber said, “I think we have to get together with serious-minded people within the community and say the CJN is gone and we are here. We don’t have a real business model to be honest. What you see is what you get…. We would have to ramp up to a real business model.”
Farber added that Canada, with the world’s fourth-largest Jewish population at 400,000, should be able to sustain at least two national Jewish media platforms.
That confidence is shared by Gordon, who equates the situation to the old joke about the Jew who, when rescued from a deserted island, was asked why he built two synagogues on the island. One, he told rescuers, was his shul; the other was the one he would never set foot in.
TheJ.ca has been in the planning stages for more than a year. Gordon came on a few weeks before launch. Like the Record, TheJ.ca has little overhead, since everyone associated with it works remotely. They have a few investors and some steady advertising agreements. The online nature of the platform also means no printing or distribution expenses.
Gordon touts the diversity of the large stable of writers.
“One of the things that I think is our proudest asset are individuals from the widest array possible, individuals who are liberal to conservative, Jew and Arab, religious to secular,” he said. “We have four gay columnists, we have Jews of colour who are contributing, we have coast-to-coast contributors and, in that respect, I want to say that, not only do we deliver the unexpected, but we represent the previously unrepresented.”
On Israel coverage, though, they aim to determine suitability of opinions based on the “three Ds” formulated by Natan Sharansky to determine if criticism of Israel is antisemitic: delegitimization of Israel, demonization of Israel, and subjecting Israel to double standards.
“In terms of Israel, we’re not going to make it a secret: we’re very pro-Israel, very Zionistic,” said Gordon. “It’s a good read to say that we are centre-right. We will still strive to maintain a kind of balance in terms of Israel reporting … we will tilt from time to time liberal but not left.”
Their aim is to post a batch of new content twice a week.
While Gordon is based in Toronto, TheJ.ca was born in Winnipeg. Marty Gold, a longtime broadcast journalist and publisher, and Ron East, a former pro wrestler and physical education teacher who has also been involved in publishing, are longtime friends who were critical of existing Jewish media.
East is son of the late Israeli military commander, author and counterterrorism expert Yoram Hamizrachi East. When Winnipeg saw an influx of Israeli immigrants a few years ago, the father and son launched a Hebrew-language publication to help the newcomers navigate their city. The 500 copies were routinely snapped up, he said.
The idea for the new media platform came after Gold and East felt that the established Jewish media and communal organizations in the city were not adequately confronting anti-Israel activity.
“There wasn’t really a pro-Israel, Zionistic platform out there,” said East. “We found that our local media here in Winnipeg, as well as when we started looking at Canadian Jewish News and others, were giving more and more room … and more and more credibility to what we would describe as anti-Israel, anti-Zionistic and, in some cases, pro-BDS Jewish movements. Those voices became louder and louder and the Zionistic pro-Israel voices seemed to be drowned out. We felt that it was important to provide a platform that would allow for those voices.”
While TheJ.ca is an online media platform, they are mooting a print digest that might be issued a couple of times a year. They are also working on a way to format content so that it can be easily downloaded and printed for people who prefer to hold their newspaper in their hands. Also in the hopper are plans for region-specific landing pages, so readers in Vancouver or Halifax, say, could access both items of national and international interest, as well as local news relevant to them.
The design of their site, said East, is particularly aimed at reaching younger readers. They credit Gordon’s experience in the field for bringing together a diverse group of writers from across the country.
The Jewish media scene has faced unprecedented challenges in recent years. The emergence of the internet more than two decades ago has undermined print media of all types, with publications for small or niche demographics experiencing particular challenges as well as advantages. The pandemic, which led to an unprecedented global economic shutdown in March, had immediate repercussions. Much of the advertising in the Independent, for example, is for upcoming community events, all of which were summarily canceled. Non-essential retailers closed, making advertising extraneous.
The Independent has continued publishing on a reduced schedule.
Winnipeg’s Jewish Post & News announced in April that it was ceasing printing, but started publishing a print edition again at the end of May.
The difficulties nearly led to the dissolution of the world’s oldest English-language Jewish newspaper, Britain’s Jewish Chronicle, which was saved by a conglomerate of philanthropists. The rival Jewish News, which had also announced its liquidation and was set to merge with the Chronicle before the surprise bailout, will, for now, continue publishing independently.
In an article recently about the state of Jewish journalism, the Times of Israel reported that New York’s Jewish Week made a dire plea for support and a leader in the American Jewish Press Association – of which the Independent is a member – acknowledged that COVID has presented a serious challenge to an already struggling sector.
The world’s third-largest Jewish community, in France, is in a different boat. In the 1980s, the French government opened radio airwaves to private groups and Jewish radio stations play a role in that country similar to the role newspapers play in most other Jewish communities.
טיול בטורונטו הוא חוויה מיוחדת, והעיר מתאימה לכל סוג טיול. לטיול עם הילדים, וגם בלי, למי שרוצה טיול שלו וגם כטיול עירוני. העיר מומלצת לכל מי שמגיע לקנדה והסביבה. טורונטו היא העיר הגדולה ביותר בקנדה וגרים בה למעלה מארבע וחצי מיליון תושבים. במטרו טורונטו גרים כשישה וחצי מיליון איש. כשישית מכל מקומות העבודה בקנדה מתרכזים בטורונטו שהוכרזה מדינה שהכי טוב לגור בה על פי האקונומיסט.
טורונטו הוקמה בשנת אלף שבע מאות תשעים ולשלוש לחופי אגם אונטריו, ונקראה בשם יורק. ארבעים ואחת שנה לאחר מכן הוכרזה כעיר ומאז היא נקראת טורונטו, שפירושו הוא: מקום מפגש בשפת המקומיים. מהמאה התשע עשרה החלה הגירה לעיר בעיקר מבריטניה, אירלנד. ולאחר מלחמת העולם השנייה גם ממזרח אירופה. בשנות השבעים החלה הגירה לעיר ממדינות אסיה.
מכל מקום בעיר תוכלו לראות את המגדל תקשורת הגבוה הסי.אן שמתנשא לגובה של חמש מאות חמישים ושלושה מטרים. הוא נחשב כאטרקציה המרכזית של העיר. מומלץ מאוד לעלות לתצפית שמגדל ולהסתכל על הנופים המדהימים שנשקפים ממנו. אם אתם חובבי ספורט אקסטרים ואם אין לכם פחד גבהים, תוכלו ללכת לנקודת התצפית הנמוכה יותר שרצפתה שקופה, ומי שזה לא מספיק לו יוכל להשתתף בפעילות שבה הולכים בגובה של שלוש מאות חמישים ושישה מטרים על המעקה החיצוני שמחוץ לבניין, קשורים ברתמה. כמו כן למגדל עצמו מגיעים במעלית שקופה שאפשר לראות ממנה את כל העיר, יש בו מרכז קניות נעים, ולמי שרוצה יש גם מסעדה במקום.
כמו בערים נוספות בקנדה גם בטורונטו החורף הוא קר מאוד, וגם כאן הקימו עיר תחתית מיוחדת שתוכל לשרת התושבים בימי החורף. העיר משתרעת על פני עשרים ושבעה ק”מ, ויש בה מגוון חנויות, מרכזי בידור, יציאות לבניינים חשובים, מרכזי קניות ועוד.
אם אתם רוצים להרגיש קצת אירופה לכו אל טירת לומה, בה תוכלו לטייל בחדרים מפוארים, במסדרונות מסתוריים, ואפילו במנהרה עתיקה באורך שמונה מאות מטרים. אחר כך תוכלו לעשות פיקניק בגנים שמחוץ לטירה וליהנות מהשלווה במקום. הטירה נבנתה במשך שלוש שנים והיא אתר חובה לכל אחד.
אם אתם אוהבים הופעות לכו אל גן המוזיקה. ההופעות בו מתקיימות בדרך כלל בקיץ (בין החודשים יוני לספטמבר) ואם אתם נמצאים בחודשים האלה בטורונטו אל תפספסו אותן. הגנים הוקמו על ידי הצ’לן הצרפתי-סיני-אמריקאי יו-יו מה. ההופעות הן בחינם ומתקיימות מתחת לכיפת השמיים כמובן.
אם אתם אוהבים את הסיקסטיז לכו לטייל בשכונת קנסינגטון מרקט. מדובר בשכונה היפית, צבעונית, עם אווירה שמזכירה את מסן פרנסיסקו של שנות השישים. יש כאן את החנויות עם הבגדים הכי מיוחדים, אנשים שאפשר לראות רק בשכונה הזו, אוכל אורגני וואווירה מיוחדת.
אחרי שחוויתם את האווירה המיוחדת בשכונת קנסינגטון לכו אל השכונה הקרובה והלא פחות מיוחדת – צ’יינה טאון. יש בה מסעדות סיניות מעולות, חנויות עם מוצרים מהמזרח, חנויות רהיטים, סופרמרקטים ייחודים ועוד. עדיף להגיע לצ’יינה טאון באמצע השבוע.
מדי שנה בחודש ספטמבר נערך פסטיבל הקולנוע המפורסם של טורונטו. הוא נמשך עשרה ימים, פתוח גם לקהל הרחב ומגיעים אליו למעלה משלוש מאות אלף איש. בהם אנשים מתעשיית הקולנוע מרחבי העולם. הפסטיבל החל בשנת אלף תשע מאות שבעים ושש, והוא נחשב לאחד מפסטיבלי הקולנוע החשובים בעולם, לצד פסטיבל קאן והפסטיבל בברלין. הפסטיבל מסמל את תחילת המרוץ לקראת האוסקר. האירוע מדגיש את הקולנוע עצמאי ואיכותי, בנוסף לקולנוע מיינסטרימי הוליוודי.
Vancouver writer Aren X. Tulchinsky at the Aug. 16 unveiling in Toronto of Project Bookmark Canada’s plaque honouring his novel, The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky. (photo by Lisa Sakulensky)
The Canadian Literary Trail has a new bookmark – one honouring The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky by Vancouver writer Aren X. Tulchinsky. The 25th such plaque to be erected by Project Bookmark Canada across the country, the unveiling took place Aug. 16 in Dominico Field at Barton Avenue and Christie Street in Toronto. Tulchinsky took part in the ceremony.
“Last October, I received a phone call from Laurie Murphy, executive director of Project Bookmark Canada, letting me know my historical novel The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky was nominated for a bookmark,” Tulchinsky told the Independent. They chose to unveil the plaque on Aug. 16 because it is the day on which the 1933 riot in Christie Pits took place.
Surprised and thrilled to hear that Project Bookmark Canada and the City of Toronto would be erecting the plaque in honour of his book, Tulchinsky said, “I was particularly struck by the timing, when, right now, we are all being called upon to make sure that dark chapters of our history do not repeat themselves.”
He explained, “My novel is about a fictional Jewish Russian immigrant family, living in the Kensington Market neighbourhood in the 1930s and ’40s. The main character, Sonny Lapinsky, is a Jewish boxer. He is 9-years-old … when the riot in Christie Pits occurs and, on that night, he discovers he has boxing talent and goes on to become a professional boxer. That same night, tragedy strikes the Lapinsky family.
“Many Canadians are not familiar with the 1933 riot, which involved 15,000 people and is the largest race riot ever to occur in Canada. A group of British- and German-Canadian young men, members of the Swastika Club, set off the riot when they unfurled a huge, black and white swastika flag in Christie Pits during a packed amateur league baseball game on a hot August night. The Project Bookmark plaque in Christie Pits will bring greater awareness to this piece of Canadian history and, of course, to my novel.”
Project Bookmark Canada was founded by writer Miranda Hill in 2007, with the first plaque being unveiled in 2009 – for Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion, at the Bloor Street Viaduct in Toronto. There are bookmarks from British Columbia to Newfoundland. Vancouverites have easy access to Bookmark No. 12, which commemorates Wayson Coy’s The Jade Peony, at the southeast corner of Pender Street and Gore Avenue in Chinatown.
“Visitors are encouraged to read their way across Canada, online and in person,” said Project Bookmark board of directors president Hughena Matheson in the press release about Tulchinsky’s honour. “A launching place for conversation, collaboration and learning, the bookmarks provide a unique reading experience and a deeper understanding of the country and its people.”
“I think Project Bookmark Canada is an important organization,” said Tulchinsky. “Their goal is to get people to read Canadian books. It is vital to celebrate our unique Canadian history and, sadly, our country is constantly in the shadow of the U.S., with American books filling our bookshelves. With the loss of small independent bookstores across the country who used to promote Canadian authors, and with people buying books online from huge American corporations, many excellent Canadian books go unnoticed. As a Canadian and as a writer, I applaud the work Project Bookmark Canada is doing to bring Canadian stories to the forefront.”
At the Aug. 16 unveiling, Tulchinsky read the excerpt of his novel – published under the name Karen X. Tulchinsky – that appears on the plaque. “It is the moment when, in 1933, the Swastika Club unfurled a huge swastika flag at the ninth inning of an amateur league baseball game in the park. All summer, the Swastika Club had been bullying Jews on the beaches of Toronto. On this day, they upped the ante and brought their antisemitism to the west side of town, which was mostly Jewish and Italian immigrants. After a summer of being kicked off the beaches, young Jewish men fought back. And, interestingly, the Italian men in the park joined the Jews in fighting against the Swastika Club and their allies, in what became the largest race riot ever to occur on Canadian soil.”
“Our past president, Don Oravec, spoke at the unveiling and said the novel was on his radar as a potential bookmark,” Project Bookmark’s Murphy told the Independent of how The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky was selected. “When Daniel Gelfant made an official submission to us to consider the book and its variety of Toronto settings as potential bookmarks, the wheels were set in motion. The board’s national bookmark advisory committee reviewed the proposal and approved it for development. Councilor Joe Cressy made a motion to the City of Toronto to provide funding in support of a bookmark for the Christie Pits ball field, on the anniversary of the riots in 1933. It was approved, and subsequently developed. Additional funds were raised by individual donors attending a bookmark fundraiser on Aug. 15, complete with a boxing demonstration by the author and the Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club at Jazz Bistro.”
When he first started writing the novel, Tulchinsky, who was born in Toronto, said it “was loosely based on stories my grandfather had told me about his escape from Russia before the Second World War and his early days in Toronto, where his first home in Canada was in the Kensington Market area.
“When I started researching the Jewish community in 1930s Toronto, I discovered the riot that pitted young Jewish men and their Italian allies against the Swastika Club and their gentile allies…. As a Canadian Jew, I knew immediately that I would tell my story against this backdrop, an important piece of our history that had not yet been told in fiction. So, I created a fictional family, with four sons, all of whom get involved in the riot in different ways. On the night of the riots, one of the brothers is permanently injured in a way that shatters the family, especially the main character, Sonny, whose guilt over what happened to his brother causes a rift between him and his father, that sends the family into turmoil.
“The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky, which takes place … when Hitler first came to power in Germany, and continues through the Second World War years, is about antisemitism in Canada,” he said. “It’s about how hatred only leads to more hatred and violence. At the risk of sounding like the Vancouverite I am, I believe the only cure for hate is love. Sadly, history tends to repeat itself and, today, in 2019, we are seeing a rise in hate crimes in Europe, the U.S. and here in Canada against Jews, Muslims, South American migrants and the LGBTQ community. We are witnessing the president of the United States taking children away from their asylum-seeking parents and imprisoning them in what can only be called concentration camps. The themes in my novel, sadly, are just as relevant today as ever. I hope people see the parallels in the fascism that swept the world in the 1930s with what is happening today. I just keep hoping that humans will find a better way forward that does not repeat the mistakes of our past.”
And Tulchinsky continues to examine that past.
“I am currently working on a new novel, set in 1930s Berlin, in which I follow fictional characters (Jewish and non-Jewish) as Hitler first comes to power. In the story,” he said, “we watch as the Jewish characters are systematically stripped of their civil rights, then their livelihoods and, eventually, their lives. For my research, I have read hundreds of books on the Holocaust and the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s and I can tell you there are many policies the Trump administration is pursuing in the U.S. that are taken directly from Hitler’s playbook. In the current climate, with antisemitism, racism and homophobia on the rise, I feel particularly driven to finish and publish this new novel.”
As a teenager in the United States, I was in a public high school marching band. My parents worked to make sure our family was together for an early Friday night Shabbat dinner, even when football games were on Friday night. We did a careful balancing act of observance and negotiation. I wanted to play in the jazz ensemble – and I did – but, in order to do that, I also had to commit to marching band. Sometimes, during the High Holidays, it was a precarious compromise.
One week, there was a Friday night without a football game. My parents planned to have a “normal” Shabbat dinner and attend services as a family. My band director had us all in a line formation on the field. He asked if we could substitute a practice during that time. He said, if you had a conflict, to step out of line and explain.
In front of the whole marching band, I had to step out of line. I spoke as loudly as I could (just short of shouting) so that the director and his assistants could hear me in the stands. I said my parents expected me at Friday night dinner at home, and to attend services. I needed to go. This was a religious obligation I’d been skipping for band. In true teenage bluntness, I noted that he wasn’t proposing an alternate rehearsal on Sunday morning instead, was he?
There was silence, and the band director nodded and said, “Right, no rehearsal Friday night.” While I recovered, shaking, I was set upon by other band members. A couple of non-Jewish friends supported me and mentioned how brave I’d been. To my surprise, the few other Jewish members – all slightly less observant than my family – weren’t so kind. They were angry at me for being “too Jewish” and drawing attention to them, too.
This experience came to mind when I read the news last month. The Canadian federal election is scheduled for Oct. 21 and this date conflicts with Shemini Atzeret. An Orthodox Jewish candidate in Ontario, Chani Aryeh-Bain, and another Orthodox activist, Ira Walfish, brought up this concern a year ago – in August 2018. It was ignored.
The advance polling dates are also problematic because they fall on Shabbat and Sukkot. Yes, there are ways for observant Jews to vote, despite these scheduling conflicts. However, this schedule interferes with the Orthodox candidate’s ability to campaign, as well as affecting her entire community in Toronto’s Eglinton-Lawrence riding.
Shemini Atzeret is not a big deal observance for many of us, and one news article demonstrates this by proclaiming it is the “Orthodox” Jewish community that has an issue. However, I was first struck by this candidate’s bravery in confronting this issue. That admiration was reinforced by the thousands of comments at the bottom of the article.
Some would say these comments are downright antisemitic, but I saw the majority of them as ignorant. There were many who derided religion, commented specifically on Judaism, and even one believing Christian who bemoaned how Canada had become a heathen country. (Say what?!)
In some ways, we are lucky in Canada. Our children can go to public or private schools in which they can experience Jewish community, culture and religious practices. We can relish the rich diversity of our particular community, as well as maintain our citizenship on equal footing with other Canadians. However, this opportunity to isolate ourselves comes at a cost.
When we separate ourselves, we lose the opportunity for everyday interactions with non-Jewish Canadians. The informal education that comes from attending school, sports, work and social activities with all kinds of people is invaluable. While I found it a burden to be the token Jew in my school classroom, it gave me a great chance to educate myself and explain our holidays and our traditions. Most of my classmates and bandmates knew about Judaism because they knew me.
Many get upset about ignorance or intolerance. That’s understandable, but I was taught that basic education makes a big difference. When a church or organization asked for someone to speak about Passover or Chanukah or Jewish practice, my family stepped up. I was the kid explaining the seder to the Methodists, or the sole Jewish teenager who invited all her friends to Shabbat dinner each week. My parents had an open door policy and a lot of extra dessert for whomever came over on a Friday night.
We’re lucky to live in a country that celebrates diversity. However, we should offer educational outreach whenever it’s helpful, so that we can live in peace with our neighbours. We can explain why there are obstacles to voting or campaigning in the middle of the fall holiday season, and why this is an issue. Also, instead of forcing some of us to feel uncomfortable and “too Jewish,” we can embrace each other as “Am Echad,” “One People.”
Even though the election date will not change, the situation is a learning moment for us as Jews and Canadians.
Reggae may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I end this as I began it, with music. If we’re truly one people, with “one love, one heart,’” we should love all of our Jewish community. We stand up for what we need both to practise Judaism and our voting rights, as each of us sees fit. In Bob Marley’s religious (but not Jewish) words, “Let’s get together, and feel all right.”
Joanne Seiffhas written regularly for CBC Manitoba and various Jewish publications. She is the author of three books, including From the Outside In: Jewish Post Columns 2015-2016, a collection of essays available for digital download or as a paperback from Amazon. See more about her at joanneseiff.blogspot.com.