M-01_april 9.indd - The Canadian Jewish News

MONTREAL EDITION APRIL 9, 2015 • 20 nisan, 5775
Iran nuclear deal: what
does it mean for Israel?
Obama and Netanyahu differ
on whether region will be
more or less secure.
PAGES 21, 22, 23, 24
Canadian prisons are home to some 200 Jews. From kosher food to prayer services and religious
counselling, a small, but dedicated group of rabbis are ensuring their needs aren’t forgotten. PAGE 8
Talmud Torah-Herzliah rend
hommage à des soldats
morts de Tsahal
Le Projet “Mezzouzot Shalom.”
Are ‘No dogs, no
Jewish groups back Play explores
Jews’ signs a myth? hijab court motion good and evil
Pesach – Yizkor
Candlelighting, Havdalah TIMES
Montreal Ottawa Toronto Winnipeg
7:34 p.m.
7:15 p.m. 7:24 p.m. 7:36 p.m. 7:56 p.m. 8:05 p.m.
7:39 p.m.
8:40 p.m.
8:21 p.m.
8:30 p.m.
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They’re synonymous with era
of anti-Semitism, but there’s no
proof they ever existed. PAGE 7
At issue is right to wear religious
attire in judicial system. PAGE 12
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
production says people aren’t
one or the other. PAGE 25
Canada Post Publication Agreement #40010684
Nenshi buys bread, and Noah learns a lesson about Twitter
Chametz fit for a mayor
In what’s believed to be a first for a Canadian mayor, Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi
bought the chametz from members of a
shul in his city. Rabbi Shaul Osadchey of
Beth Tzedec Congregation approached the
country’s first big-city Muslim mayor with
the idea at a recent interfaith event, the Calgary Herald reported. About 40 families in
the 600-member Conservative synagogue
had sold their chametz by March 30. The
rabbi said the aim was to get more of them
to take part than the 20 who normally do
so annually. The chubby-cheeked Nenshi
joked he was disappointed he wouldn’t get
to take possession of the food. “I was hoping
to fill the entire office with bread and pasta.”
including one from 2010 that read “South Africans know how to recycle like Israel knows
how to be peaceful.” Comedy Central said
it was unfair to judge Noah based on a few
jokes, and Noah himself tweeted: “To reduce
my views to a handful of jokes that didn’t
land is not a true reflection of my character,
nor my evolution as a comedian.”
Anne Frank died earlier than thought
The Boca Raton Synagogue in Boca Raton,
Fla., has set a world record for the world’s
largest tallit, which is 40 times larger than
a standard prayer shawl.
The value of a Russian-based Genesis PhilAnne Frank died of typhus in Bergen-Bel- anthropy Group’s grant to Danish Jews to
sen earlier than previously believed, say re- increase security at Jewish sites in the wake
searchers who looked into the last months of February’s shul attack in Copenhagen.
of the teenage diarist and her sister and
concluded they died some time in Febru- Quotable
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi
ary 1945, not March 1945. The Anne Frank
ceed Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show. House in Amsterdam made the claim March
The Anti-Defamation League and B’nai 31, the 70th anniversary of the official date
Brith both urged Noah to avoid making dis- of the sisters’ deaths set by Dutch authorities
Dear: ...................................................................................................................................... Day: .......................................................
tasteful jokes with Jewish stereotypes on the after the war. The researchers used archives Ukrainian Jews are part of the
show. After
named host
by of the Red Cross, theyour
political nation.
fax 30
back by
Comedy Central, Noah came under fire for Service and the Bergen-Belsen Memorial, as
well as
survivor testimonies.
past tweets
women, Jews,
vice-president of
we willnuse —the
as Kyiv-based
shown below.
B1E3R 2 0 1 1
JOuCl yT O
Sun. June 16
Feldman Messias
Comic’s tweets haunt him
Two Jewish groups expressed concerns over
tweets about Jews and Israel by Trevor Noah,
31, the South African comic chosen to suc-
Inside today’s edition
Letters 3
Rabbi2Rabbi 4
Perspectives 7
april 9, 2015
Mon. June 17
OK as is
the World Jewish Congress. See page 30.
OK with corrections
Revise as indicated
About Town 27
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Cover Story
Opinion 10
News 12
Arts Scene Travel Parshah 28
Books 29
Columnist Mark Mietkiewicz takes a look
at Holocaust humour in Jewish & Digital.
Cover photo by shutterstock
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to the Editor
The importance of dialogue
Allow me, with great respect, to react to
Rabbi N. Daniel Korobkin, who, in his
March 26 exchange with Rabbi Lisa Grushcow, (“The value of interfaith dialogue”) is
skeptical, indeed negative, about interreligious dialogue.
What is the fundamental Jewish objective
in Christian-Jewish dialogue? To counteract anti-Semitism. Period. Everything else
is secondary, a means to that end.
Dialogue helped bring about the Second
Vatican Council, which abolished Catholic
teaching and preaching of anti-Semitism.
Dialogue was instrumental in moving
the Carmelite convent, with its conspicuous cross, away from Auschwitz.
Dialogue includes Holocaust education.
For close to 40 years, we have prevailed on
Christian churches, of many denominations, to devote a regular Sunday service
to commemorating the Shoah. If I, and
Holocaust survivors, were unable to set
foot in a church, how would we carry out
that education?
Dialogue also allows us to defend the
State of Israel. We are not always success-
ful, but no other Canadian church has
followed the lead of the United Church
[which endorsed a boycott on goods produced in the West Bank].
We had 19-1/2 centuries of anti-Semitism. We have had close to 70 years of
dialogue, and at least here in Canada,
although anti-Semitism has not completely disappeared, it is no longer the
mainstream, pervasive, discriminatory
phenomenon it was before World War II.
This fall, the Christian-Jewish Dialogue of
Montreal will be holding a conference to
mark the 50th anniversary of the Second
Vatican Council. Dialogue is a major asset
to the Jewish community.
sistently, my pleas, on behalf of Canadian
Jewish Congress, to provide temporary
sanctuary to specific Jews trapped, along
with 4,500 of their fellow co-religionists, in
their own country of Syria.
No amount of pleading, in letters and in
face-to-face meetings with ministers and
government officials, ever resulted in a
positive response. All I was able to get were
statements that they were “monitoring the
situation” in that country, which was a Jewish prison.
Only when there were Conservative
governments in office was I able to get
minister’s permits for Jewish refugees. In
addition, ministers such as Ron Atkey and
Barbara McDougall went out of their way
to assist in the endeavour to free Syrian
Tories also aided refugees
Judy Feld Carr
Victor C. Goldbloom
The column “Canada failed the Pusama
family” by Bernie Farber (March 26) deals
with a human tragedy, indeed.
It may well be that government inaction
is to blame. Nevertheless, Farber should
refrain from contorting that unhappy episode into a political party advertisement.
I have never been a member of any political party. However, I recall, with great
pain, successive Liberal governments that
practised what Farber now characterizes as
“no mercy” and “cruelty” in rejecting, con-
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A recipe for school growth
Contrary to the report, “Jewish high
schools struggle with enrolment,” (March
26), I am very proud to say that Montreal’s
Herzliah High School has been experiencing a very real increase in enrolment
over the last three years. For this current,
as well as for the coming academic year,
our classes at all levels are full to capacity.
With this good news though, there are
specific directions that Jewish schools
should consider to reignite the passion for
Jewish education in our community.
First, it is essential to ensure that classroom education is on trend with cutting-edge pedagogic practices. Combined
with this, Jewish schools should be accredited by the Canadian Association of Independent Schools. This process requires
a deep introspection in pedagogy, governance, financial management, fundraising
and more.
Equally important, boards of directors
should be constantly seeking ways for
schools to demonstrate to the community
the value in attending a Jewish high school.
Finally, elementary schools must be advocating to their parents the many benefits of a Jewish high school, as we know
that Jewish identity-building and Israel
advocacy can best be accomplished in a
Jewish secondary school environment.
Lawrence Kutler, Head of School
Talmud Torah-Herzliah
Letters to the editor are welcome if they are brief and in English or French. Mail letters to our address or to
[email protected] We reserve the right to edit and condense letters, which must bear the sender’s name,
address and phone number.
april 9, 2015
Family Moments
Partners in our own redemption
Is the lesson of the Exodus that God will do all the heavy lifting for us or that we must
show initiative, courage and faith before God will act?
holy Blossom Temple, toronto
Congregation Beth Tikvah, MONTREAL
Mazel tov to Ruth Levy on your 90th birthday.
Love from Richard & Cheryl, Phillip & Geneviève,
Ron & Marian, Robert & Patti and grandchildren.
We honour you today on your 95th birthday
with much love and great respect. You are an
inspiration to all of us! Your Montreal Family
Mazel tov and happy 90th birthday to Nathan
Katz from your children and grandchildren.
Email your digital photos
along with a description of 25
words or less to [email protected]
thecjn.ca or go online to
www.CJNews.com and click
on “Family Moments”
Mazel Tov!
Rabbi Splansky: Our Sages teach that we should “wear
out our lips by saying the word dayeinu,” which means
“it would have been enough for us” (Leviticus Rabbah
35:12). The most famous example of that effort is the
song written more than 1,100 years ago that we sing at
the seder. No less than 15 stanzas drive home the point:
“If God had brought the plagues upon the Egyptians,
but had not given us their wealth, dayeinu!… If God had
split the sea for us, but did not bring us through it onto
dry land, dayeinu!
Rabbi Fishman: Classically understood, Dayeinu is a
chance to keep asking for more while saying thank you.
But perhaps we could look at the song from a new perspective – maybe the words actually mean what they say.
So underserved were the Hebrew slaves that had God
done nothing more for them than take them out of
Egypt, it would have sufficed. With each stanza, then,
we are left feeling overwhelmed by gratitude to a greater
power that keeps going above and beyond.
After a while, however, we realize that the greater the
gift, the greater the dependency.
Rabbi Splansky: The 14th-century Spanish commentator Abudarham asks if we really mean what we say
when we say dayeinu. Would it really have been enough
if God had brought us to Mount Sinai, but not given us
the Torah? Would it really have been enough if God had
brought us out of Egypt, but not into the land of Israel?
On its surface Dayeinu is a pile-on of gratitude, but
underneath may be the implied request for more. We
can’t help but want more from God’s outstretched and
open hand. We praise the Creator of the fruit of the vine
and we drink deep from the four cups, but our story isn’t
complete until Eliyahu drinks from his cup, too. Ours is
an insatiable desire that human history will yet give way
to complete redemption.
Rabbi Fishman: What our Sages are most wary about
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is an omnipotent God outshining His people and not
leaving any room for them. Perhaps, like a rich uncle
who keeps spoiling his nephew, our tradition was able
to turn around and say “Enough already! You have given
us so much, but now let us discover our destiny for
Rabbi Splansky: Similarly, we begin Pesach with the
Haggadah’s rendition of how we came to freedom by
way of God’s miracles and wonders. Our sages who
constructed the Haggadah wrote Moses out of the
narrative. But we end Pesach with the Torah’s account
that includes Moses, Miriam, and the “mixed multitude”
driving toward change.
Rabbinic legend drives home the point that redemption requires human initiative. With Pharaoh’s army at
our backs and the sea before us, Moses raised his staff,
and nothing happened. The sea was unchanged.
Then, a man named Nachshon ben Aminadav stepped
into the water while declaring God’s power and might.
The waters rose to his knees, his hips, his neck, filled his
throat. He was all but drowning in his faith when the sea
flung open. An ordinary man forced the miracle.
The Yiddish expression, “Be a Nachshon” means “Take
initiative.” It may also come with theological undertones, as Yiddish expressions often do: to be a Nachshon
is to be active in faith that God will act.
Rabbi Fishman: One of the few songs Paul McCartney
and John Lennon wrote for Beatles drummer Ringo
Starr was With a Little Help from My Friends. I believe
that is a fitting title for God’s relationship with us.
Yes there can be miracles, but first there needs to be
a partner that God can call upon, even rely upon. God
would rather a partnership than a dictatorship. God
is looking for someone, who can show initiative and
courage. God would rather see humanity transcend and
overcome human nature than perform acts that defy
human nature.
Thus, what begins with God ends with man. In a saga
that sets the God of history against the most powerful
nation on earth, the true test of freedom is whether we
mortals wish to take the plunge.
Perhaps God, too, can sing these lyrics looking for someone to love: “Do you need anybody?/I need somebody to
love/Could it be anybody?/I want somebody to love.” n
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april 9, 2015
President Elizabeth Wolfe
Editor Yoni Goldstein General Manager Tara Fainstein
Managing Editor Joseph Serge News Editor Daniel Wolgelerenter
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Directors Steven Cummings, Michael Goldbloom, Ira Gluskin, Robert Harlang,
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From the Archives | Passover campaign
Seen is the cover of a
Moess Chittin Fund
campaign pamphlet
issued by a coalition of
Canadian Jewish relief
organizations just after
World War II. (Recent
research has established
that the photograph used
is a stock image of refugees
in France in 1942.)
Canadian Jewish Congress CC National Archives
SeeJN |Clearance sale
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, seen in his office April
2 with Chief Sephardi Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, left, and Ashkenazi Chief
Rabbi David Lau, right, during a ceremony to sell the chametz of the
State of Israel to Arab Israelis before the Passover holiday.
Guest Column
From disputation to dialogue
Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
his past weekend, as Jews around the world observed Passover, western
Christian communities marked Pâques, known in English as Easter. Eastern
Christians will celebrate next Sunday.
This timely coincidence should remind us of the history of Jewish-Christian relations and help us realize how much has changed since the 1965 Vatican’s Nostre Aetate (“In Our Era,” Pope Paul VI’s declaration on the relation of the Church
to non-Christian religions), which reframed the relationship of the Church with
the modern world and re-conceptualized the relationship of the Church to the
Jewish People.
Although their spring dates often overlap, in 325 CE, the Church determined
that Easter would no longer be dependent on Passover. Tragically, throughout
the Middle Ages, European Jews experienced the Christian Holy Week as a time
of physical danger and persecution, accusation and assault. In contrast, this
season is now a time for Christians to note the Jewish roots and context of Jesus.
Six hundred years ago, the Disputation of Tortosa pitted a team of Jewish scholars against leaders of the Catholic Church. That encounter, and there were many
others, sought to compel Jews to accept the arguments of their adversaries. In
more recent years, notwithstanding moments of disagreement, the two religions
have moved from disputation to dialogue, from conflict to conciliation.
Over the past 50 years, the Church has affirmed the teaching of the Apostle
Paul that the divine covenant with the Jewish People is eternal. The Church has
condemned anti-Semitism, affirmed that the “spiritual patrimony common
to Christians and Jews” should lead to “mutual understanding and respect,”
accepted the continuity of the living Covenant between God and the Jews, and
recognized the existence of the State of Israel as a manifestation of divine blessing for the Jewish People.
A year ago, Pope Francis made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, travelling to
the land of the people into which Jesus was born. Already known for personal
humility, modesty and a commitment to social justice, this Pope demonstrated
remarkable solidarity with the Jewish community in the wake of the 1994 terror
attacks in Buenos Aires and was involved in a joint Jewish-Catholic organization
called Tzedakah (justice and charity). He has pledged to continue the values
articulated in Nostre Aetate.
Last year, I joined with an imam, a priest and a minister to bring Jews, Muslims and Christians to the Holy Land. We travelled the Path of Abraham because
Israel is the biblical and national homeland of the Jewish People, the spiritual
birthplace of Christianity and the location of Muslim sacred sites. Our faiths are
inextricably linked by ties of history, geography and theology. These ideals have
been reaffirmed by Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, who has
enjoyed a yom tov meal in my sukkah and who treasures a gift from the Toronto
Board of Rabbis, A Jewish Commentary to the New Testament.
It would be an important gesture of solidarity for Canadian Catholic religious
leaders to travel to Rome and Jerusalem with rabbis and significant lay leaders
from the two communities. This would advance the mutual understanding and
respect that already exists between our faiths. n
Baruch Frydman-Kohl is the Anne and Max Tanenbaum Senior Rabbi of Beth
Tzedec Congregation in Toronto and the co-chair of the Canadian rabbinic caucus
of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
YONI will return!
APRIL 9, 2015
‘No dogs, no Jews’: no evidence
Ron Csillag
he phrase has burrowed into the
Canadian Jewish consciousness.
Community leaders, politicians, local
history buffs and yes, journalists, almost
reflexively deploy the words to illustrate
the horrible prejudices Jews encountered
in Canada from the 1930s to the ’50s.
The oft-cited message, repeats the Canadian Encyclopedia’s entry on anti-Semitism, appeared on signs in many places:
at public parks and beaches in Toronto,
outside resorts and hotels in the Laurentians and Ontario’s cottage country, and
in the vacation areas of Manitoba and
British Columbia.
A few years ago, a Jewish candidate
for public office uttered the “no dogs or
Jews” meme. As recently as a few weeks
ago, the Centre for Israel and Jewish
Affairs (CIJA), in a press release, recalled
that “signs in public parks went so far as
to declare: ‘No dogs or Jews allowed.’ ”
There’s a problem, however, and it
may shock you: there is no proof that
such signs existed. Several top Jewish
historians don’t recall ever encountering
evidence of them in their research, with
one acknowledging the signs could be an
urban myth.
Pundits often say: “The absence of
evidence is not evidence of absence.”
True. But logic also tells us that given
the voluminous files at various archives
brimming with photographic and documentary material confirming rampant
anti-Semitic attitudes in Canada in that
era, wouldn’t there be verification of the
most insulting example, the sign declaring “No Dogs or Jews”?
There’s not one.
The Canadian Jewish Congress national archives in Montreal and the Ontario
Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family
Heritage Centre in Toronto hold photos
of signs from the era with the following
messages: “Christians Only – Jews Not
Allowed”; “No Jews Wanted;” “Jews Not
Allowed”; and several examples of “Gentiles Only.”
They were found in Jackson’s Point,
Ont.; Forest Hill Lodge near Burleigh Falls,
Ont.; the Mossington Park Resort on Lake
Simcoe; the Cawthra Mansions Tea Rooms
in Toronto; Lakeside Point in Scarborough;
Musselman’s Lake beach in Ontario; and
Pleasant Valley Ranch in Oshawa.
There’s one ominous number from the
Quebec resort town of Ste. Agathe, north
of Montreal, warning Jews to “scram
while the going is good.” (The French
message says the village is French-Canadian, “and we will keep it that way.”)
The Jewish Public Library in Montreal also
has no record of signs referring to dogs.
The signs were said to be on two Toronto beaches: Sunnyside and Kew. The City
of Toronto’s online archives produced
no evidence, while the response from
archivist Liam Peppiatt to an inquiry a
few weeks ago was: “I cannot seem to find
anything in our database that reflects
what you are looking for.”
Toronto attempted to eliminate “Gentiles Only” signs starting in 1932, when
the Jewish alderman John Judah Glass,
chairman of the parks commission,
succeeded in forbidding the erection
of any signs on city property without
commission approval. Ontario’s 1944
Racial Discrimination Act banned racist
signs and symbols (and would be used to
overturn covenants forbidding the sale of
land to Jews).
Several years ago, the late Stephen
Speisman, the foremost historian of
Jewish Toronto, wrote an irate letter to
the Toronto Star complaining of an earlier
writer’s charge that the “No dogs or Jews”
signs were myths. Speisman replied: “Although I am not aware of any photograph
Toronto attempted to eliminate Gentiles Only signs like this one in 1932. ONTARIO JEWISH
depicting such signs, there are enough
long-time Toronto residents who claim to
have seen them to suggest they may have
existed,” (emphasis added). With due respect to Speisman, that’s a lot of waffling.
The writer of the original missive added
that in a 1994 letter to him from Pierre
Berton, the popular historian had said:
“There is no evidence whatsoever – and
I looked into this some years ago – that
there was ever a sign in Toronto saying
‘No dogs or Jews allowed.’ ”
Gerald Tulchinsky, in Canada’s Jews:
A People’s Journey, noted the “no dogs”
signs “allegedly” existed. Historians
Lita-Rose Betcherman, Allan Levine and
Frank Bialystok (and others) have written
that the signs did exist (they were “displayed prominently,” said Bialystok) but
none provided references or examples.
Ira Robinson, chair of Concordia University’s Institute for Canadian Jewish
Studies, said he could find “no visual evidence of ‘No dogs and Jews’ on the same
sign.” Such signs, he added, “may be an
urban legend, but it is one solidly based
on evident and pervasive anti-Semitic
attitudes in both English and French
Canada in that era.”
Other Jewish academics said they had
no knowledge of such signs, or just never
researched them.
In their 1987 book The Riot at Christie Pits, Cyril Levitt and William Shaffir
depended heavily on research by the late
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Ben Kayfetz, an expert in the history of
Ontario Jewry. Both authors said Kayfetz
claimed never to have seen such a sign
and that he doubted their existence.
There is “no hard evidence” to prove
these signs existed, the authors concurred in a footnote.
However, “when challenged, several of
our respondents emphatically asserted
that they had seen them with their own
Irving Abella, co-author of None is Too
Many, said he had no “personal knowledge” of such signs, though he, too, had
met “many people who remember seeing
But memories can be notoriously
muddy and conflate or combine different events. At resorts, on beaches and
in public parks, there were doubtless
signs reading “No Dogs” and others with
some variation of “no Jews” or “Gentiles
only.” Over the decades, these two warnings could have morphed into a single
declaration. CJC archivist Janice Rosen
concurs: “I agree that there were separate
signs and that memory fused them.”
In no way does the issue of whether such signs existed detract from the
virulent anti-Semitism of the era. But it’s
better to set record straight.
It’s time to bring the dogs in. ■
Ron Csillag is a freelance writer in
Cover Story
april 9, 2015
Easily shunned: Canadian Jews behind bars
Lauren Kramer
Pacific Correspondent
When Rabbi Zushe Silberstein heard that
the Jewish inmate standing before him in
a Montreal jail was due to be released in
just three days, he didn’t hesitate.
“My daughter is getting married this
weekend,” he said. “I would be honoured
if you could attend the wedding.”
The prisoner stared at him with unbelieving eyes, certain he had misheard. A
rabbi inviting a newly released prisoner to
a family wedding? It seemed impossible.
But in the next breath, Rabbi Silberstein
was offering to help arrange a suit if needed. It was clear his invitation came from
the heart.
The conversation between the two men
occurred two years ago, and that weekend, the ex-convict did indeed attend the
“No one knew where he came from, and
at the wedding he danced with presidents
of synagogues, family and friends, just like
anyone else,” Rabbi Silberstein recalls. “At
one point he approached me, clearly emotional, asking what kind of gift he could
give the bride and groom. I told him, “The
Correctional Service Canada said as of March 31, 2014 there were 177 offenders who identified
themselves as being Jewish. SHUTTERSTOCK photo
gift you’ll give will be a promise that never
again will you go back to jail.’ He gave that
gift and he’s leading a straight life now.”
The encounter was nothing extraordinary for Rabbi Silberstein, who heads
Chabad Chabanel in Montreal and regu-
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larly visits Jewish inmates in Quebec jails.
“We bring them food and sandwiches, we
daven, put on tfillin with them and celebrate Jewish holidays with them,” he says.
There’s a seder at Pesach, a Megillah reading on Purim, menorahs on Chanukah
and services on Rosh Hashanah.
But it’s not just about pushing spirituality, he insists.
“My main thrust has always been to tell
these marginalized Jews, ‘You’re not alone,
you’re not forgotten. There’s someone out
there who cares about you.’ We’re there
to comfort, to advise them and to show
them the Jewish community cares about
them… Chabad is at the forefront of this
care, here and everywhere else,” Rabbi Silberstein says.
Fifteen years ago, the rabbi founded
Maison Belfield as a halfway house for
up to six men at a time, offering newly released Jewish inmates shelter, food, clothing, therapy and reintegration assistance.
Aiding Jewish prisoners is a consuming
task and one he takes seriously.
“The [late Chabad] Rebbe [Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson] teaches us
not to forget any Jew, no matter where she
or he may be,” he explains.
“If there’s a Jewish person in need, we
must care for them. It’s why my children
and I have more than once travelled 14
hours to help one single Jew in jail. My
Shabbos table often has former inmates
gathered around it.”
Over the 30 years Rabbi Silberstein has
been involved with Jewish prison chaplaincy, he’s seen all kinds of Jews behind
bars, “from a prominent lawyer to children from dysfunctional homes to people
with substance abuse issues and those
who are highly affluent,” he says. “Nobody is immune to falling into this kind
of situation.”
He refused to disclose the number of
Jews presently incarcerated in Montreal,
saying only “one is too many” and acknowledging that High Holiday services
and Passover seders in the jails see an attendance of up to 10 people.
Correctional Service Canada (CSC) said
that as of March 31, 2014, there were 177
offenders who identified themselves as
being Jewish, representing 0.8 per cent of
the total prison population. That was up
from 159 in April 2005.
CSC engages Jewish chaplains who
regularly provide religious services, religious education programs and one-onone counselling with Jewish inmates, said
CSC spokesperson Julie O’Brien. “If a Jewish offender has a rabbi, the chaplain will
put the two in contact.”
Chaplains may approve kosher diets
for inmates who require them, a religious
dietary policy that was first formalized in
1992. It’s a policy Rabbi Silberstein was
very much involved in.
“Thirty years ago, the provincial government refused to allow kosher food,
and we had to pay $30,000 to provide it to
Jewish prisoners,” he recalls. “Eventually,
under threat that we’d go to the Supreme
Court of Canada, the federal and provincial governments eventually provided
that kosher food at government expense,
after the minister saw that we were serious and would not give up. Today, in
Quebec’s prison systems, we have excellent co-operation for the needs of Jewish
O’Brien says the CSC ensures spiritual
accommodation to assist offenders in
practising their religion or spirituality as
fully as they desire within the correctional setting, up to a level generally available
to people in the community. The Jewish
community also has representation on the
Interfaith Committee on Chaplaincy, an
advisory group on religious and spiritual
practice for inmates in CSC institutions.
Rabbi Ronald Weiss, director of chaplaincy services at Jewish Family & Child in
Toronto, says that over the past 20 years,
he and his team of chaplains have worked
with federal, provincial and municipal
correctional institutions across Ontario.
“I feel we do a good job within the constraints placed upon us in meeting the
needs of those Jews in jail,” he says. “The
institutions by and large are very understanding and will do what they can to
meet legitimate and reasonable requests.
But individuals in custody are not happy
campers – they’re legitimately unhappy
with their situation. I wish we could do
more for them, but we’re not lawyers,
we’re not able to put up bail or sign on
as surety. There are specific rules within
which we have to operate.”
Continued on page 20
APRIL 9, 2015
Finding plenty in simplicity
Mira Sucharov
hen I was in Winnipeg several weeks
ago to deliver a talk at the University
of Winnipeg, my cousins took me on a
stroll on the frozen Assiniboine River.
It was a crisp, sunny day, and we
popped into several warming huts along
the way that had been installed as part of
an international design competition. One
in particular caught our eye. Made of galvanized and painted corrugated steel in
bright colours embedded in a snow drift,
the hut included tubular openings protruding at various angles through which
kids were keeping warm by climbing and
laughing and sliding.
As we remarked on it, we heard a man
quip that the “flying children” part was
unintentional. We turned around, and
there was Jason Halter, one of the installers of the hut, who had worked with archi-
tect Kevin Weiss’s Weissbau design team
on the project – made by Canada Culvert.
Turns out Jason is a fellow Jewish
Winnipegger (I too spent my childhood
there), who now lives in Toronto, where
he runs a design company – with Anita
Matusevics – called Wonder Inc. And
while the jungle-gym aspect of the hut
may have been unforeseen, there is a
great deal of ecological intentionality –
even infused with Jewish values, it turns
out – behind Halter’s own work. As we
spoke, I stayed warm in my deep-freeze
winter boots, and Jason kept steady on
hockey skates, a pair of DJ-style earphones around his neck.
As Jason explained, the warming-hut
structure – while itself not actually
recycled – gives a nod to his current
focus on simple and accessible “adaptive reuse.” One of his latest projects is
transforming shipping containers into
small homes. Jason is passionate about
the environmental possibilities of this –
he sees it as an innovative way to develop
more affordable housing. He calls it
“micro architecture.” With each container costing roughly $2,500, put four
together and you’ve got an inexpensive,
1,280-square-foot house. Wonder Inc.
works with Stor Stac in Toronto to retrofit
the container for domestic use by spraying foam insulation, installing drywall
and cutting out relevant openings.
Given that shipping containers are
meant to withstand the rough, salty
waters of an ocean journey, their
high-iron-concentrated steel form is well
suited to housing. He explained that the
containers naturally turn orange with
rust, making this form of architecture a
contemporary statement about freezing
the passage of time.
Jason’s personal story is also one about
the passage of time. His paternal grandmother, Rhoda Lechtzier-Halter, was the
first Jewish girl born in Western Canada, in
Winnipeg, in 1881. By the time he was born
in 1966, there was an active and well-integrated Jewish community in Winnipeg. He,
along with many other Jewish friends, attended University of Winnipeg Collegiate,
while playing in Jewish hockey leagues.
Jason describes his work – and his
“intensity and creative energy” – as being
informed by Jewish values. “Inclusiveness
and compassion are what I understand
my Jewish roots to be. You always feel like
an outsider. The type of work I do is on
the fringe.”
Jason might see himself as working on
the margins, but that fringe is increasingly
coming to find the centre. A September
2014 article in The Atlantic about a university professor in Austin, Texas, endeavouring to live in a retrofitted 36-squarefoot dumpster – replete with home decor
items – captured the imagination of many
on social media, who helped it go viral.
And visit Vipp’s website – the company
that’s known for its trash bins – and you’ll
see it marketing its “Vipp Shelters” to urban
hipsters who want all the design chic that
any architecture magazine peddles.
On one foot (or boot or skate), as the
old talmudic saying goes, we didn’t get a
chance to delve into the entire problem
of housing and homelessness. But one
could say that this was a good start, helping us enter the Passover season thinking
about finding plenty in simplicity. ■
It does not seem to bother Beinart that
his call to “punish” the lawfully elected
government of Israel places him shoulder
to shoulder alongside the haters of the
Jewish state. He has substituted wishful
thinking for reasoned judgment. This is
not surprising since the ideology that
provides him with the framework for
solving Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians – American liberalism – and that
he unquestioningly embraces does not
mesh with the facts-on-the-ground of the
region, the irrefutable, harsh reality that
he refuses to acknowledge.
The essence of that reality can be
glimpsed in the following abbreviated list:
1. At least three times since 2000, Abbas has
rejected signing a peace treaty with Israel.
2. Like his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, he cannot concede – among other things –that Israel
is the sovereign state of the Jewish People.
3. Like his predecessor, Abbas has repeatedly violated the Oslo accords of 1993.
4. Three times since the summer of 2005,
when Israel unilaterally left the Gaza Strip,
the Jewish state has been at war with the
genocidal, Islamist leaders of Gaza.
5. Abbas has entered into a unity pact
with those same Islamist leaders.
6. Time and again, through its incitement
against Israel, its collaboration with
Israel’s rabidly violent enemies and its
hostile actions against the Jewish state,
the Palestinian Authority (PA) has shown
its indifference to trying to win the confidence of a majority of Israelis.
In a real sense, therefore, it was Abbas’
PA that effectively “elected” Netanyahu’s
centre-right, 30-person list.
Beinart ignores this. He is slavishly captive to his ideology. Indeed, the ideology
itself seems more important to him than
the human beings for whose betterment
he claims his ideology stands.
Beinart’s repeated pronouncement of
love for Israel reminds one of the Peanuts
cartoon in which the often-testy Lucy
dramatically professes her long-lasting
and abiding love for all humanity. Then,
noting the doubting look on Charlie
Brown’s face, Lucy clarifies her bombastic proclamation by stating that “it’s just
people I can’t stand.”
At every opportunity, Beinart proclaims
his love for Israel. Perhaps, like Lucy, it’s
simply the Israelis he cannot stand. ■
Mira Sucharov is associate professor of
political science at Carleton University.
Ideology’s captive
Mordechai Ben-Dat
he people of Israel selected their lists
of new legislators almost a month
ago. Benjamin Netanyahu’s list received
the most support among Israelis – 25 per
cent – entitling his centre-right party to
30 members in the 120-seat Knesset and
enabling him to undertake the task of
cobbling together a governing coalition.
The president of the United States was
clearly unhappy with the results. Ceaselessly, for nearly two weeks after the election he and his officials publicly pilloried
Netanyahu whenever possible.
They justifiably criticized the Israeli
prime minister for patently expedient,
ethnically inappropriate remarks he made
prior to the election in an 11th-hour appeal for their vote. But they unjustifiably
criticized him for remarks he made that
were appropriate, self-evident and truth-
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ful concerning the viability of reaching a
two-state solution with the Mahmoud Abbas-led Palestinian leadership, especially
in light of the current violent, unsettled
circumstances in the region. President
Barack Obama wilfully distorted the full
context of Netanyahu’s remarks, ignored
his subsequent elaboration upon his original comments and resumed a personal
campaign of ostracizing Netanyahu.
Some of our American coreligionists
were also very unhappy with the results
of the Israeli elections, none more so,
it seems, than the political commentator Peter Beinart. He was so angry with
“Jewish Israelis” for not voting the way
he wanted that he urged Jewish Americans to “punish” the Israeli government
for not adopting Obama’s peace plan. In
a March 19 article in Ha’aretz, Beinart
suggested a list of punitive measures that
he, like-minded Jewish Americans and
the American government can – indeed
must – implement until, presumably,
Jewish Israelis finally behave the way he
knows is best.
“Israelis have made their choice. Now
it’s time to make ours,” Beinart wrote.
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The State of Israel is a wondrous dream come true
Rabbi Jay Kelman
hen God brought back those
who returned to Zion, we
were like dreamers.”
Who would have, could have, believed that after 1,900 years – and a
mere three years after the greatest
tragedy in Jewish history – the Jewish
People could become sovereign in
their land? Throughout most of our
exile, Israel was a distant place – physically, spiritually and, perhaps most
important, conceptually.
Much of the opposition to Zionism
was based on the notion that the mass
return of the people to their land was
something that had to await the messianic period. Re-establishing a Jewish
state was considered otherworldly, the
stuff of dreams, something we dare
not try to implement in practice. The
Holocaust “cured” most Jews of this
way of thinking, but for the Jew living
the nightmare of Auschwitz, the idea
of the State of Israel was inconceivable
even as a dream. Its creation would be
a miracle as great – and likely greater
– than any other in Jewish history. The
return to our land, against all odds,
allowed the people of Israel to turn
the greatest of dreams into reality. As
David Ben-Gurion famously remarked,
in Israel, believing in miracles is the
mark of a realist. The thrice recited
prayer “to the city of Jerusalem [please]
return in mercy” is being fulfilled before our very eyes.
The world is a much more scary
place than it was 10 years ago, or even
last year. The Jewish state and the
Jewish People (and they are one and
the same) are singled out for hatred
more than any other. Missiles in the
thousands – and perhaps hundreds of
thousands – are pointed toward Israel.
Yet the Jewish People have never been
stronger, and we can and must confidently move forward.
One of the basic characteristics of
a dream is the rapid pace at which
time moves. While there may be much
happening in a dream, the dream itself
lasts mere seconds. The State of Israel
has been in existence only 67 years.
Yet in that historical blink of an eye,
Israel has done what others have not
accomplished in thousands of years.
Torah, technology, science, art, music,
innovation, agriculture and medicine
– you name it, and Israel is a world
leader. For a country with less than .1
per cent of the world’s population, this
is unbelievable, even for a dream.
The Talmud was greatly interested in
the study of dreams, discussing their
meaning and significance. Considering
the role they play in biblical history,
this is not surprising. Long before
Freud, our sages surmised that dreams
reflect reality – or if not actual reality, then the reality of our wants and
desires: “A man is shown in his dreams
only what is suggested by his own
thoughts” (Brachot 55b). Furthermore,
the Talmud teaches that “hakol holech
achar hapitaron,” all occurs according
to the interpretation.
Nowhere is such interpretation more
necessary than it is in regard to Israel.
Sadly, not all recognize the tremendous gifts that God has blessed us
Israel is not a perfect country. It’s run
by humans, so how could it be otherwise? But it is a more perfect country
than most, and perhaps it is more
perfect than all. One can look at Israel
and see division, challenges, political
deadlock, social unrest and enemies
all around. Yet one can interpret those
as the inevitable growing pains of a
young, dynamic, booming country.
Should we not all be awestruck by all
that Israel has accomplished? The rust
of 1,900 years of exile does not come
off overnight. Yet so much has been
scraped off, revealing amazing beauty
If we want to see even more beauty,
we must properly and positively interpret this most amazing of dreams,
so that the greatest of dreams may
continue to turn to reality. n
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Celebrating the special moments
Norma Baumel Joseph
write this column on March 27.
You will read it during Passover. I
mention these dates because they are
significant to me both personally and
communally. And I believe that the
lessons I take from them are worth
Fifty years ago, on March 27, 1965, I
married Rabbi Howard S. Joseph. Fifty
years have passed, 50 years of a faithful, committed and loving relationship. It seems quite strange not only
because of the rampant rate of divorce
today, but because I am hard-pressed
to locate such a long time span. Could
it really be so many years?
I recall my father telling me that he
could not imagine how he had aged,
that in his head he was still a young
man though the calendar said he was
85. Now it is my turn to experience
that same dislocation. How could time
have passed so swiftly that I cannot
catch my breath? It has been a wonderful, adventurous life but there have
also been many challenges. I never
thought I would leave the United
States. I never anticipated how much
I would grow. I never understood how
miraculous long-lasting love is. I never
appreciated how much I would learn
from my husband. And it all happened
so quickly.
Consequently, I value the ability and
necessity to celebrate these special
moments. Celebrations help to mark
the passage of time, to locate our
transformations and perseverance.
They make the private public, and in
doing so, they generate a community
of family and friends.
Correspondingly, we need the celebrations of our heritage that take place
via holiday cycles.
Passover is the quintessential holiday
for this type of experience. Passover
marks the transformation of a group of
slaves into a nation of free citizens. My
marriage ceremony 50 years ago converted two individuals into one new
entity; so, too, this holiday marks the
creation of a new national unit. Before
the Exodus, we were only a series of
families. After it, even before Sinai, we
became a people, united in history and
legacy. We are not united politically
or even in all our ritual practices. We
are certainly not uniform in opinions.
But we do comprise a unit, a known
grouping of individuals. And that is
celebrated most significantly through
this holiday. Passover makes public
our unique history and pride in our
esteemed heritage.
And of course, it marks the transition
of winter into spring (which we really
need already). The natural element of
our Jewish holidays is also a very important aspect of commemoration and
tribute. Remembering who we are is
aided by locating our existence within
the cycle of the seasons. The ritual of
the seder seems to be especially geared
to stimulating this mindfulness. Celebrating the design of the seasons and
the gifts of new agrarian cycles seems
particularly appropriate.
Marking the passage of time through
these rituals and ceremonies seems
to me to be both ideally Jewish and
incredibly necessary. How else can we
grasp both our finitude and our eternal
survival? The holidays link us to the
past of our ancestors and bind us to
the future of our inheritors. Celebrations of birthdays and anniversaries do
the same. They all help to freeze frame
our experiences and punctuate moments in our lives. In some sense, they
stop the flow of time while celebrating
Finally, it is very important to me that
the Passover process takes place in the
domestic space. Of all our holidays,
this one enables a sense of Jewishness that includes the private space of
home with the public recognition of
We sanctify ourselves and our history
through this process of celebration.
The public and private aspects of our
lives can thus combine together to
mark our own individual and communal existence and purpose. n
april 9, 2015
Cotler abstains from Syria vote in House of Commons
Janice Arnold
[email protected]
Irwin Cotler broke ranks with the Liberal Party and abstained from voting on the
Conservative government’s motion to extend and expand Canada’s military role
against ISIS because he says it gives Syrian
President Bashar Assad too much say over
the situation.
On the other hand, Cotler has long called
for military intervention against jihadist
extremism, and specifically in Syria to stop
what he considers war crimes perpetrated
by the Assad regime.
Federal MPs voted 142-120 on March 30
in favour of extending the mission for up to
one year and authorizing air strikes in Syria
on ISIS targets. The Liberals and the oppos-
ition New Democratic Party did not support
the original mission or its extension.
Cotler aide Michael Milech said some
other Liberal MPs were absent for the vote,
but Cotler was the only member of the party
to be present in the House of Commons and
to abstain.
Similarly, Cotler abstained in October on
the government motion to approve a Canadian combat role in the U.S.-led coalition’s
campaign against ISIS.
At that time he abstained mainly because
he could not abide any co-operation with
“My main concern has always been the
protection of civilians in Syria and Iraq. In
October, I was unable to support the government’s motion because of the prime
minister’s statement that Canada would
Irwin Cotler
give a veto to the criminal Assad regime,”
Cotler said in a statement made in advance
of the March 30 vote.
“I remain unable to support the government in this matter because its proposed
expansion of Canada’s mission continues to
allow Assad to assault Syrian civilians with
impunity. Moreover, the government’s lack
of clarity in October has only been compounded by a lack of forthrightness since.”
However, Cotler is not opposed to military
“I have been a longstanding proponent – together with my Liberal colleagues
– of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P)
doctrine… It is because of international
inaction three years ago against Syria’s
criminal Assad regime that radical jihadists – including ISIS –have been able to
take root, develop, and engage in a campaign of abhorrent brutality.”
Cotler, who has represented Montreal’s
Mount Royal riding since 1999, is not running in the election later this year. n
Jewish groups back motion on religious attire
Janice Arnold
[email protected]
Jewish groups are watching with interest if
a court will render an opinion on whether
Quebecers’ religious attire affects their access to justice.
Constitutional lawyer Julius Grey is scheduled to present a motion in Quebec Superior Court on April 30 seeking a legal opinion
clarifying the right to wear such clothing as
hijabs, kippot and turbans in the province’s
judicial system.
Grey and fellow Montreal lawyer Mathieu Bouchard filed the motion on behalf
of Rania El-Alloul, the Muslim woman who
was told in February by Quebec Court Judge
Eliana Marengo to remove her hijab or her
petition to get back her impounded car
would not be heard. El-Alloul refused and
the judge postponed the case. The matter
was settled in March and the vehicle was
Grey said this matter is about freedom of
religion, equality and access to the courts.
“We are asking to establish a principle, a
principle that is a legal one: that you cannot
refuse to hear a litigant because of a hijab, a
turban, a kippah,” Grey was reported saying.
“A judge has to sit and judge between all
the people who come, and we would like
that to be made clear to all.”
B’nai Brith Canada and the Centre for
Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) said it supports the motion for clarification on Quebecers’ rights. Both organizations felt the
judge had no legal grounds to turn away
El-Alloul from her court because she was
wearing a traditional head scarf.
Marengo’s refusal to hear El-Alloul if she
wore her hijab is “an apparent violation of
religious freedom protected by the Quebec
and Canadian Charters of Rights,” said lawyer Allan Adel, national chair of B’nai Brith’s
League for Human Rights.
“A legal principle needs to be established
that a judge cannot refuse to hear a litigant
because he or she may be wearing a hijab,
turban or kippah.”
David Ouellette, CIJA’s associate director
for Quebec public affairs, told The CJN that
Marengo’s decision was “wrong-headed
and a denial of justice which should not be
allowed to stand as a legal precedent.”
It has no basis in law and went beyond
even the Parti Québécois proposed charter
of values, Ouellette pointed out. That charter would only have banned judges from
wearing religious symbols on the grounds
that they represent the state and should be
– and look – neutral.
Ouellette said he has never heard of someone wearing a kippah being turned away
from a court in Quebec. n
Students remember fallen soldiers at Shabbat dinners
CJN Staff
On recent Friday nights, Shabbat was
made especially meaningful by young Jewish Montrealers.
Hillel Montreal launched a program
called Or Le’nefesh, which means “light to
the soul.” The initial idea was to have 66
“do-it-yourself” Shabbat dinners hosted
by students across the city, with or without
their families.
Each dinner was to be in memory of one
of the 66 Israel Defence Forces soldiers
who were killed during Operation Protective Edge last summer.
The initiative was funded by the Gross,
Segel and Spatzner families so that Hillel
Montreal could offer subsidies to the hosts
if they needed it. Each host received a basket with an educational guidebook, participant booklets, Shabbat candles, grape
juice, challah baked by its Challah for Hunger volunteers, a memorial candle and a
biography with photo of a soldier.
“We aimed for 66, but we had 85 – and
more than 800 Shabbat guests,” said Hillel
Montreal associate executive director Bev
Participants dedicated their Shabbat
meal to “light up the lights of each soldier’s
soul,” thus fulfilling the Jewish value of
Kavod HaMet, honouring the dead.
“Our tradition teaches us that lighting
candles brings light from darkness and
hope from despair,” Shimansky said.
Hillel Montreal executive director Jeff
Bicher said the organization tries to inspire
students to make a commitment to Jewish
life, learning and Israel.
“This project resonated on all levels. And
it is proof that not only is Hillel a global
movement, but Jews are a global people,
and a ripple on the other side of the world
makes waves here.”
Elyse Wieskopf, senior engagement associate at Hillel Montreal visited the homes
of five students who hosted dinners. “Five
beautifully set Shabbat tables, five empty seats in memory of a fallen soldier and
42 students doing Shabbat their own way.
This is what I witnessed.
“I was incredibly moved by the thought,
care and level of preparation that went into
each meal – whether it was reciting the
Prayer for the Soldiers of Israel while gathered around a lit memorial candle with 18
other students, participating in discussion
about the history of modern-day Israel, or
having an emotional late-night conversation over fresh danish… I could not have
Staff-Sgt. Omer Hay, one of the 66 Israeli
soldiers who fell in last summer’s conflict
in Gaza, was remembered at a communitywide Shabbat dinner hosted by university
been more proud of our student hosts who
stepped up to facilitate these meaningful
Shabbat experiences for their friends.
“While the streets of the McGill ghetto
were filled with students running to and
from parties, it was an honour to catch a
glimpse of the ways our millennials, the
next generation, are keeping the traditions
of our religion and culture, each with their
own flavour and spin.”
Participants shared their thoughts on
Twitter and Instagram using #OrLenefesh,
#LightUpTheLights and #HillelMontreal
“The Or L’Nefesh Shabbat experience…
allowed me to come together with my
friends on a regular Shabbat and turn it
into something a little more,” said McGill
University student Rayna Lew. “We were
honouring a soldier around our age, which
made the issue all the more tangible and
brought it closer to home.
“It was a meaningful night of discussion,
food, laughs and memories. Thank you
to Hillel and the generous donors for enabling me to host this special night.”
Concordia University student Erica
Szwimer said her evening was dedicated
to Lt. Nathan Cohen, who lost his life just
before he was to marry his fiancée Tal. “In
his honour, we carried out a tradition of
breaking a glass and wishing a mazal tov to
him and his family, to mark the union that
was not to be.” n
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Herods-Canadian jewish News-quarter page.indd 1
08/03/15 14:38
april 9, 2015
Jewish authors from near and far at Blue Metropolis
Janice Arnold
[email protected]
Jewish writers from several countries, including Israel, are taking a part in the 17th
edition of the Blue Metropolis International
Literary Festival, and the late Mordecai
Richler will also be getting his due.
The festival will be held April 20-26 at Hotel 10 and other venues.
City University of New York professor
André Aciman, who was born in Egypt in
1951 and wrote the memoir Out of Egypt;
Latvian-born fiction writer David Bezmozgis of Toronto, a Scotiabank Giller Prize and
Governor General’s Award nominee, and
Liana Finck of New York, the young author
of the graphic novel A Bintel Brief take part
in a round-table discussion entitled “Old
Country, New Country: Jews in Transit” in
which they will talk about their characters’
and their own migrations.
Finck will also give a workshop on comics,
drawing on her own exploration of Jewish
immigrant life in New York inspired by letters to the advice column of Yiddish Forward newspaper in the early 20th century.
A new discovery for many Montrealers will
be 31-year-old German Jewish author, Olga
Grjasnowa, who was born in Baku, Azerbaijan. She left with her family for Germany
in 1996, and has also lived in Poland, Israel
and Russia. Her debut novel All Russians
Love Birch Trees has received international
She will give a writing workshop in German at the Goethe Institut and be interviewed in English by Will Aitken about her
novel, whose protagonist is a young immigrant woman in Frankfurt “for whom
the issue of origin and nationality is
The two Israeli writers, whose appearance
is sponsored by the Israeli consulate, are
Eshkol Nevo and Assaf Gavron.
Nevo, who spoke via Skype at last year’s
Blue Metropolis, is a grandson of Israel’s
third prime minister, Levi Eshkol, who
served during the Six Day War.
Nevo, who was born two years after his
famous elder’s 1969 death, is one of the
more luminous Israeli literary writers today, a master of portraying the ambiguities
of contemporary Israel life.
He is the author of three novels, including
the most recent Neuland, which has been
translated into English.
Both of Nevo’s appearances during the
festival will be at the Jewish Public Library.
He will speak in Hebrew on April 19 and in
English the following day.
Gavron, 46, an Israeli Prime Minister’s
Eshkol Nevo Moti Kikayon photo
Award winner, is the author of the recent
novels The Hilltop, set in the West Bank,
and Croc Attack. He teaches creative writing
at Bar-Ilan University and Sapir College in
One of Gavron’s claims to fame is that he
translated Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint
into Hebrew.
Gavron will be interviewed about The Hilltop by Shelley Pomerance at a session titled
“The Wild West Bank” on April 25, as well as
take part in a discussion called “Writers on
Hate” along with American writer Russell
Banks and others earlier that day.
Charles Foran, who wrote the most comprehensive biography to date Mordecai: The
Life & Times in 2010, will lead walking tours
of Mile End, highlighting the colourful and
now trendy neighbourhood where Richler
grew up and in which some of his novels
are set.
Foran will also take part in a discussion
with two translators of Richler’s work into
French, Lori Saint-Martin and Paul Gagné.
There will also be a discussion on “Mile
End in Fiction” by three writers in whose
work the district figures, including Brooklyn’s Sigal Samuel, author of the forthcoming The Mystics of Mile End.
This is the debut novel by Samuel, who
was born in Montreal and received a master’s of fine arts in creative writing at the
University of British Columbia in 2012. She
is a writer and editor of The Forward, and
former senior editor at The Daily Beast.
The Mystics of Mile End, scheduled to be
published in Canada by Freehand Books in
May, is a surrealistic tale about a dysfunctional Montreal family living in a Mile End
of hipsters and Chassidim, filled with oddball characters haunted by the past and its
Visit bluemetropolis.org.for more info. n
Friendship Circle’s 13th celebrated with special bar mitzvah
Janice Arnold
[email protected]
What better way to celebrate a 13th anniversary than stage a real bar mitzvah? That’s
what the Friendship Circle (FC), a non-profit
group that provides social and recreational
programming for special-needs children
and adolescents did at its recent gala dinner
held at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim.
Jacob Mogil, one of the more than 100
youngsters who benefit from the FC, recited the prayers under the watch of Rabbi
Yossi Paris, who founded the organization
in Montreal with his wife Sima, and with
the encouragement of Rabbi Leibel Rodal,
FC’s assistant program director. Looking
on proudly were the Summit School student’s parents, Jeffrey and Elizabeth Mogil.
There were two cantors: David Guber,
chazzan of Beth-El Congregation, and Steven
Abadi, a 16-year-old FC volunteer who hopes
his powerful voice will take him places.
Jacob had an audience of 500 guests, who
had come to support FC, and they hoisted
him on a chair and danced the hora after the
Those 100 youngsters, who live with developmental and/or physical challenges,
and the nearly 400 teen volunteers from
40 high schools and colleges who are their
friends were the stars of the evening.
FC, whose flagship centre is in Bloomfield, Mich., near Detroit, is inspired by
the teaching of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Schneerson that no child
should be excluded from the community
and that all should feel valued.
A cornerstone of the non-sectarian program is encouraging able teens to volunteer as “friends” of the special-needs kids,
thereby developing in those teens empathy,
a sense of responsibility and an appreciation of determination.
As Hebrew Academy student Gabby
Cons said, the FC is “a place where differences don’t matter, where we witness miracles every day. When I’ve had a hard day
at school, my buddy Maxwell invigorates
me…I can shift the focus to what really
matters in life.”
The parents and siblings of those with
disabilities are also cared for – given not
only respite, but also the message that they
do not have to be isolated.
“Each of these children is a beautiful diamond,” said Sima Paris. “Their souls are
born whole and pure…They radiate love and
goodness…They teach us that our intrinsic
value is much deeper than what we can do.
“The teen volunteers learn to look past
the outside, to see the inner beauty.”
Rabbi Yossi Paris puts tfillin on bar mitzvah
boy Jacob Mogil as his parents Elizabeth and
Jeffrey Mogil look on.
The FC’s centre in Côte des Neiges, in the
former Chevra Shaas synagogue, is a hub of
activity throughout the week, with sports,
cooking, yoga, dance and art. The teen
volunteers also visit their “friends” in their
home. The accent is on having fun.
Sometimes the parents of volunteers are
motivated to give time themselves, like Raquel
and Shmulik Spiegelman, who teach first aid,
following in the footsteps of their daughter Naomi, a Royal West Academy student.
“It’s so amazing,” Raquel Spiegelman said.
“My daughter brought some of her friends
from school, who had no idea what the FC
was, now they are volunteers and learning
about all the Jewish things at the same time.”
The FC began modestly with a handful
of children and volunteers, who met in
the basement of Pomerantz House on Van
Horne Avenue, where Chabad gave free
Hebrew lessons. Through the dedication of
the Paris couple and generosity of philanthropists, the FC obtained its own spacious
building, and has grown rapidly.
Current president Josh Cummings said
the FC has had an impact on hundreds of
people thanks to the dedication of staff,
volunteers and supporters.
A poignant moment during the evening was when Linda Shapiro Zunenshine,
mother of Robbie, who has enjoyed the FC
for years, related how ill he was five months
ago after a heart procedure. “It was touchand-go more than once,” she said. “The
Paris’ gave us the friendship to endure.”
But Robbie is fine now, and he led the FC
Choir in singing One Small Candle.
The evening also recognized 13 people
who have been particularly devoted over
the years, some right from the beginning,
for giving their time and/or money: Douglas Avrith, Lindsay Fazekas-Benhamron,
Pearl Bratin, Gabby Cons, Fred Dubrovsky,
Lynn Smolkin Kauffman, Paul Lieberman,
Larry Reznick, Greg Sigler, Manya Stendel,
Abie Sterner, Molly Wolanski and Linda
Shapiro Zunenshine. n
Benefit concert
Zubin Mehta, conductor
Michelle deYoung, mezzo-soprano
OSM Women’s Chorus
Chœur des enfants de Montréal
andrew Megill, OSM chorus master
Mahler, Symphony no. 3 in D minor
For the
first time
at Maison
Music director of
the israel PhilharMonic orchestra
and the forMer Music director
of the osM (1961 to 1967)
PuBlic Partners
transPorteur officiel
Partenaires PuBlics
tickets also on sale at
april 9, 2015
‘Mezzouzot Shalom’
un Projet remarquable
Elias Levy
[email protected]
La Residence stegeR
Retirement canada
L’École Talmud Torah-Herzliah a pris der­
ment une initiative remarquable:
honorer la Mémoire des 66 jeunes et braves
soldats de Tsahal tombés au combat l’été
dernier durant l’Opération Bordure Pro­
Cette Opération militaire fut lancée par
l’Armée d’Israël contre les terroristes du
Hamas à Gaza pour faire cesser les attaques
de roquettes quotidiennes contre les villes
Pour honorer le courage inouï et la
Mémoire de ces jeunes recrues de Tsahal
morts au champ d’honneur, l’École Talmud
Torah-Herzliah a initié le Projet Mezzouzot
“La mort de ces 66 jeunes soldats de Tsahal a bouleversé et attristé profondément
tout le peuple d’Israël et les Juifs de la Di­
aspora. Pour rendre hommage à ces grands
héros d’Israël, nous avons décidé d’appo­
ser 66 Mezzouzot sur le seuil des portes des
classes de notre École. Ainsi, l’admirable
héritage et la Mémoire de ces jeunes soldats
de Tsahal, qui ont donné leur vie pour dé­
fendre leur patrie, seront perpétués à l’École
Talmud Torah-Herzliah afin que nos élèves
et ceux qui les succéderont se souviennent
des sacrifices incommensurables que ces
jeunes Israéliens ont faits pour protéger
le peuple d’Israël”, nous a dit en entrevue
l’initiateur de ce beau Projet, David Azer­
ad, Directeur des Études juives de l’École
­Talmud Torah-Herzliah.
Larry Kutler, Directeur général de l’École
Talmud Torah-Herzliah, est convaincu que
le Projet Mezzouzot Shalom contribuera à
promouvoir et à renforcer l’Israel Advocacy
-la défense de la cause et des droits d’Is­
raël- auprès des élèves du niveau Primaire
et du niveau Secondaire de Talmud Torah-­
“Israël est aujourd’hui l’objet de viru­
lentes attaques et de fielleuses campagnes
de boycott dans les Institutions académi­
ques post-secondaires et les Universités du
Canada et des États-Unis, dit-il. À l’École
Talmud Torah-Herzliah, les Programmes et
les activités visant à sensibiliser nos élèves
à la défense des droits très légitimes d’Israël
sont prioritaires.”
Les plaques commémoratives dédiées aux
66 soldats de Tsahal tués durant l’été 2014
au cours de l’Opération Bordure Protectrice,
qui seront apposées à l’entrée des classes
près de chaque Mezzouzah honorant leur
Mémoire bénie, rappellera chaque jour aux
élèves de l’École Talmud Torah-Herzliah
“l’importance de défendre avec conviction
Israël face aux attaques virulentes de ses
ennemis”, ajoute Larry Kutler.
“Nous souhaitons que quand nos élèves
Larry Kutler (à gauche), Directeur général de
l’École Talmud Torah-Herzliah, et David Azerad,
Directeur des Études juives de cette Institution
scolaire montréalaise. Photo : Elias Levy
arrivent au Cégep et plus tard à l’Université
ils aient le background sioniste nécessaire
pour réfuter les thèses mensongères mar­
telées par la propagande palestinienne.”
Chaque don de 1 800$ permettra de placer
une Mezzouzah sur le seuil de la porte d’une
classe de l’École Talmud Torah-Herzliah qui
jouxtera une plaque commémorative dans
laquelle sera inscrite une courte biographie
du soldat défunt honoré ainsi que le nom
de la famille, ou des familles, ayant parrainé
cette Mezzouzah.
“Chaque Mezzouzah rappellera chaque
jour à nos élèves l’importance de protéger
Eretz Israël et le fait que des jeunes soldats de
Tsahal, un peu plus âgés qu’eux, ont sacrifié
leur vie pour assurer la sécurité et la liberté
d’Israël et du peuple juif”, dit David Azerad.
Le Projet Mezzouzot Shalom sera dédié
aussi à une remarquable jeune ensei­
gnante de l’École Talmud Torah-Herzliah,
Sarit Malka, décédée brusquement il y a
quelques mois.
Sarit Malka était la Coordonnatrice du
Projet éducatif Haï Gesher qui permet
chaque année, après les fêtes de Pessah, à
des jeunes collégiens israéliens de séjourner
à Montréal pendant plusieurs semaines et
de participer pleinement à la vie estudian­
tine de l’École Talmud Torah-Herzliah.
“La très regrettée Sarit Malka, une éduca­
trice hors pair, vouait un grand amour à
Israël. Elle aurait été très heureuse d’être
associée au Projet Mezzouzot Shalom”, dit
Larry Kutler.
Les familles des soldats de Tsahal honorés
seront prochainement contactées afin de
les informer que la Mémoire de ces êtres
chers sera gravée à tout jamais à l’École
­Talmud Torah-Herzliah.
Une cérémonie spéciale au cours de
laquelle seront apposées les Mezzouzot
aura lieu bientôt à l’École Talmud Torah-­
Pour plus d’informations sur le Projet
Mezzouzot Shalom, contacter l’École Talmud Torah-Herzliah. Tél.: 514-739-2291,
ext. #221. E-mail: [email protected] Site
Web: www.utt.qc.ca/mezuzot-mezzouzot n
Réflexions sur
l’antisémitisme en France
De gauche à droite: Charles Barchechath, président du Comité “Conférences” d’Or Hahayim,
Glen Feder, Michelle Whiteman, Coordonnatrice de l’I.S.G.A.P. au Canada, et Charles Asher
Small, Fondateur et Directeur de l’I.S.G.A.P. Photo: Elias Levy
Elias Levy
[email protected]
L’universitaire américain Glen Feder vit à
Paris depuis quelques années. Détenteur
d’un Doctorat en Philosophie politique de
l’Université Paris IV-Sorbonne et Diplômé de
l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales
de Paris et de l’Université de Chicago, ce
spécialiste de l’antisémitisme et de l’idéolo­
gie des mouvements radicaux islamistes est
Chercheur associé à l’Institute for the Study
of Global Antisemitism and Policy (I.S.G.A.P.),
un Centre d’étude international spécialisé
dans l’étude de l’antisémitisme contempo­
rain. Glen Feder est conseiller du gouverne­
ment américain en matières de législations
antiterroristes et de Sécurité nationale.
Fondé en 2004 par un universitaire réputé
natif de Montréal, Charles Asher Small,
l’I.S.G.A.P., dont le Président honoraire
est Élie Wiesel, écrivain renommé et Prix
Nobel de la Paix, a établi des Partenariats
avec plusieurs prestigieuses Universités
américaines, européennes et israéliennes.
L’I.S.G.A.P. vient de créer, en collabora­
tion avec l’Université Sorbonne de Paris, le
premier Programme d’étude sur l’antisé­
mitisme à être offert dans une Université
Le 9 janvier au matin, Glen Feder venait de
dresser sa liste d’épicerie pour la semaine.
Comme tous les vendredis, il s’apprêtait à
aller faire ses emplettes dans un magasin
d’alimentation juif, L’Hyperca­sher, situé près
de son domicile, à la Porte de Vin­cennes.
Retenu par la rédaction d’un Rapport de
recherche, il décida de faire ses courses à
L’Hypercasher plus tard dans la journée. En
début d’après-midi, un Djiha­diste français,
Amedy Coulibaly, prit en otages les clients
de L’Hypercasher qui faisaient leurs achats
avant la tombée du Shabbat et assassina
froidement quatre d’entre eux.
En France, l’antisémitisme a pris ces
n ières années des “proportions
démesurées”, rappela Glen Feder au cours
de la conférence qu’il a donnée à la Congrégation Or Hahayim de Côte Saint-Luc.
La multiplication des actes antisémites
ces dernières années a plongé la Commu­
nauté juive de France dans “un grand
désarroi”. Aujourd’hui, beaucoup de fa­
milles juives envisagent de partir défi­
nitivement de France. Après avoir atteint
un sommet en 2014, l’Aliya des Juifs de
France devrait de nouveau battre un record
en 2015: quelque 15 000 Juifs français émi­
greront cette année en Israël.
“La France est en train de perdre sa Com­
munauté juive. Si cette tendance migratoire
des Juifs français perdure, dans une dizaine
d’années, il n’y aura plus de Juifs en France.
Ce phénomène, très néfaste pour la France,
pays où les Juifs vivent depuis plus de 1 000
ans, semble inéluctable”, a dit Glen Feder.
En France, l’antisémitisme émane prin­
cipalement de deux sources: l’islam radical
et l’extrême gauche, a constaté cet observa­
teur averti des scènes politique et sociale
“La combinaison des idéologies très ra­
dicales prônées simultanément par les
islamistes fondamentalistes et les militants
de l’extrême gauche française nourrit un
antisémitisme très virulent, qui est relayé
via le Web et les Réseaux sociaux. C’est ce
qui explique la popularité dont jouissent
deux antisémites patentés, Dieudonné et
Alain Soral, qui attaquent les Juifs sans am­
bages, malgré le fait qu’en France une légis­
lation sanctionne sévèrement tout propos
antisémite ou négationniste.”
Le gouvernement socialiste français a
adopté une série de mesures très fermes
pour combattre l’antisémitisme et assurer
la protection des Institutions et des lieux de
culte juifs dans toutes les villes de France.
“Le renforcement des mesures de sécurité
aux abords des synagogues, des Centres
communautaires et des Écoles juives, ce
n’est pas une solution à long terme. Ces
mesures, même si elles sont importantes,
ne pourront rassurer les Juifs français
que temporairement. Entre-temps, iro­
niquement, en France, le nombre d’actes
antisémites ne cesse de croître chaque se­
maine”, rappela Glen Feder.
Ces mesures supplémentaires de protec­
tion coûtent mensuellement à l’État français
25 millions de dollars U.S., précisa-t-il.
Suite à la prochaine page
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Further information call 416.485.8000
april 9, 2015
Le grand désarroi des
Juifs de France
We extend our deepest condolences to
Rina, Larry and Rachel
on the loss of your beloved daughter and sister
Jackie Lea Fisher Z’’L
May you be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem
and may her memory be a blessing
Crohn’s and Colitis Canada Montreal Gala co-chairs and committee
and the Quebec staff
Chabad of the Town invites you to a
APRIL 24 - 25
Iron Dome
Ari Sacher
of Rafael Advanced
Systems Defense
Friday, April 24
Dinner: 6:30 PM
Topic: Iron Dome - the inside story
Saturday, April 25
Services 10:00 AM followed by Kiddush
Topic: Looking for G-d in all the wrong places
Seudah Shlishit & Lecture: 7:30 PM
Topic: Torah and science, are they compatible?
Dinner $40
Seudah Shlishit $20
Sponsor $180
Venue: Chabad of the Town
4054 Jean Talon W.
RSVP & Info contact Chana:
T 514-342-1770
W www.Chabadtmr.com/irondome
E [email protected]
Co-sponsored by Charles & Lucille Shemie, Simon & Tara Ahdoot
Suite de la page précédente
La Communauté juive de France est “très
bouleversée” par les attaques violentes
dont elle a été la cible ces derniers mois, a
­observé Glen Feder.
“On n’avait pas entendu crier “Mort aux
Juifs” dans les rues de Paris depuis la fin
de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Cet été,
pendant la Guerre à Gaza entre Israël et le
Hamas, des manifestants survoltés, Musulmans et non-Musulmans, ont clamé sans
la moindre gêne des slogans ouvertement
antisémites, attaqué des synagogues et vandalisé des commerces juifs.… En dépit des
paroles de réconfort émanant des autorités
publiques, les Juifs de France se sentent
seuls et désarçonnés.”
Le 11 janvier dernier, plusieurs millions de
Français ont défilé dans les rues de France
pour dénoncer la tuerie barbare qui a coûté
la vie aux journalistes de Charlie Hebdo.
“Beaucoup de Juifs français se demandent
pourquoi il n’y a pas eu autant de Français
qui ont manifesté dans les rues après les assassinats répugnants du jeune Ilan Halimi,
en 2006, et de trois enfants Juifs cruellement
tués à l’entrée d’une École israélite de Toulouse, en 2012?”
La conférence de Glen Feder a été organisée
par la Congrégation Or Hahayim en collabo­
ration avec l’I.S.G.A.P. et la Commu­nauté
Sépharade Unifiée du Québec (C.S.U.Q.).
Charles Barchechath, Président du
Comité “Conférences” de la Congrégation Or Hahayim, présenta Glen Feder et
modéra la période de question qui a suivi
sa conférence. n
American political science professor Glen
Feder, who lives in France, recently spoke at
Congrégation Or Hahayim in Côte St-Luc
about the increase of anti-Semitism in
Two new appointees to regional health body
CJN Staff
Two senior administrators of Jewish healthcare institutions have been named to top
posts at the new regional body that now
administers these institutions and others
in central West End Montreal.
Beverly Kravitz was appointed director
of human resources, communications and
legal affairs, and Carrie Bogante director of
finance of the Centre integré universitaire
de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS) du
Centre-Ouest-de-l’Ile de Montréal.
Kravitz, a lawyer, had been director of human resources at the Jewish General Hospital (JGH) since 2007, and more recently
took on the additional position of director
of legal affairs.
After 15 years practising law, she joined
the staff of the JGH Foundation in 2002,
serving as director of planned giving and
strategic planning, as well as general counsel. She also was responsible for the annual
Weekend to End Breast Cancer fundraiser.
“Ms. Kravitz and Ms. Bogante will be an
integral part of the management team for
Montreal’s new west-central health-care
region [which came into existence on
April 1],” said Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg,
former JGH executive director, whose appointment as president-director general of
CIUSSS Centre-Ouest was announced in
Among the accomplishments Kravitz
is most proud of is the recognition of the
JGH as one of Montreal’s Top Employers in
2013, 2014 and 2015.
“I echo the sentiments of Ms. Kravitz in
Beverly Kravitz
that we are living through a period of great
change in our health-care system,” Rosenberg said, “and we recognize that this transformation is affording us an extraordinary
opportunity to re-imagine the way all staff
contribute to the provision of care and
medical services to our patients.”
Bogante, a chartered accountant, had
been director of finance for 13 years at the
Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric
Centre and Jewish Eldercare Centre. Previously, she worked with health-care clients
at the accounting firm Richter.
She sees Bill 10, the major health-care reorganization legislation passed in February, as “a historic change” and “welcomes
this new challenge as an opportunity to develop the finest patient experience” at the
nine institutions under this CIUSSS.
In addition to the JGH, Maimonides and
JEC, this body administers Mount Sinai
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Among those attending the Sports Celebrity Breakfast were, from left, Serge Savard, Peter
Mahovlich, Mayor Denis Coderre, Guy Lafleur, Mitch Garber and P.K. Subban.
John Zimmerman photo
Janice Arnold
[email protected]
Teammates from the glory days of the
Montreal Canadiens reunited to support
seniors much less fortunate than they are
at the 11th annual Sports Celebrity Breakfast benefiting the Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors (CJCS) on March 29.
More than 600 people, some representing three generations of a family,
came out to see former Habs star Peter
Mahovlich, a member of four Stanley Cup
championship teams in the 1970s, honoured as Sports Personality of the Year.
The event, held at the Gelber Conference Centre, raised more than $200,000
for the CJCS’s Seniors in Crisis program.
Since their inception, the breakfasts have
raised a total of $1 million.
Mahovlich, now a pro scout for the Florida Panthers, was joined by other stellar
players from the era: Guy Lafleur, Yvan
Cournoyer and Serge Savard, as well a
more recent retiree, Mathieu Darche.
But the real attraction was clearly current Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban. Young and old lined up to have their
photo taken with the $72-million contract
Other athletes and ex-athletes attending
were current Montreal Alouettes Jeff Perrett
and Kyries Hebert and former player Ben
Cahoon; former player and now technical
director of the Montreal Impact, Adam Braz,
a graduate of Herzliah High School; and onetime Montreal Expos pitcher Don Stanhouse.
Two legends of sports journalism, former Pulse News sports director Dick Irvin
and Red Fisher, who covered hockey for
the Montreal Gazette for 58 years, were
also treated royally.
Sports rapper Annakin Slayd was
Politicians out in full force included
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, Côte St.
Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather, Mount
Royal MP Irwin Cotler and D’Arcy McGee
MNA David Birnbaum.
The guest of honour was Mitch Garber, a
former radio sportscaster who today is CEO
of the online gaming company Caesars
Interactive Entertainment and Las Vegasbased casino operator Caesars Acquisition
Company, positions that have made him a
multimillionaire. He continues to maintain
his principal residence in Montreal.
Garber, 51, a Bialik High School alumnus, recalled that his late father, Steve
Garber, dropped out of school in Grade
8 and was a self-made man who owned a
pizza restaurant chain. The younger Garber got his start running a snack stand
at the Hampstead municipal pool with
money borrowed from his mother. He followed his dad’s advice to get a law degree,
even if he never practised.
Lawyer Morden “Cookie” Lazarus, a
longtime sports agent, was honorary
chair. He’s good friends with Garber and
Mahovlich, and the latter lived in his
Hampstead home for a year.
Fisher, 88, brought down the house
when he asked Mahovlich, a centre who
earned 773 points during his 16-year NHL
career and is one of only four Canadiens
to have had a 100 point-plus season,
whether he thought he should be in the
Hockey Hall of Fame.
“You’re a funny guy, a great player and
you disliked Scotty Bowman – that should
qualify you,” Fisher quipped.
The memory of the abrasive Stanley Cup-winning coach apparently still
touches a nerve.
Replied Mahovlich: “The one thing
about Scotty was that he treated us all the
same – like dogs. Only one player liked
him – Kenny Dryden… But he pushed us
to be great, so it’s OK.”
As for getting into the Hall, the former
number 20, still a hulking figure at 68,
said: “It’s enough for people to say that
I deserve to be in it. I’m fine with whatever happens. It won’t change my life a bit
whether I’m in it or not.” n
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Jews in Jail
APRIL 9, 2015
Jewish prisoners tend to be marginalized, rabbi says
There were 50 Jewish inmates in Ontario
jails 20 years ago, but today Weiss estimates the number is closer to 75.
“When Jewish inmates have needs that
come to our attention, we meet them to
the best of our ability in working with the
institutions,” he says.
In some cases, this involves making tfillin available to Jewish inmates who want
to put them on. Jail can present significant challenges to daily observance, Rabbi
Weiss says. In most cases, an inmate can
only put on tfillin under supervision because the straps are deemed a security risk
by the Ministry of Correctional Services.
Funding for visits to Jewish inmates and
to support the expenses of institutions
such as Maison Belfield in Montreal is
direly needed, Rabbi Silberstein says.
“Prayer books cost money and so does
the seder, the tfillin and the food we bring
to Jewish inmates each week,” he says.
“Our halfway house is also an expensive
proposition, with a mortgage and heating
to be paid and the costs of regular living
supplies in addition to food, clothing and
Chabad of Richmond, B.C., recently replaced its High Holiday prayer books and
was looking for a new home for its several
hundred older versions, which were still
in great condition. When Rabbi Yechiel
Baitelman posted on a Chabad site that
he was ready to pass them on, the first
request came not from Canada, but from
Rabbi Binyomin Scheiman in Illinois.
The founder of the Hinda Institute (formerly known as the Jewish Prisoners’ Assistance Foundation), Rabbi Scheiman’s
organization aids families of Jews incarcerated, arranges visitation for incarcerated Jews in Illinois jails and helps with their
re-entry process once they are released.
He jumped at the opportunity to receive
the machzorim. “We estimate there are
up to 150 Jews incarcerated in the state
Rabbi Zushe Silberstein
of Illinois and these High Holiday prayer
books are so important,” he reflected. “For
Jewish inmates, Rosh Hashanah is a time
in their life when they’re very open and repenting for mistakes they’ve made in their
lives. The prayer books are an extremely
generous contribution.”
In general, Jewish prisoners are very
marginalized within Jewish communities, sometimes even demonized, Rabbi
Scheiman says. “It’s even worse than being forgotten – they and their families are
sometimes shunned by the community.”
He works closely with the Chabad-affiliated Aleph Institute, an American organization founded in 1983 and one that has
branches in many different states. One
of its missions is to provide professional
services to nearly 4,000 Jewish men and
women in U.S. federal and state prisons
and their approximately 25,000 spouses,
children and parents left behind.
No such organization exists in Canada,
though various rabbis in different parts of
the country carry out initiatives on their
own. Rabbi Baitelman visits the roughly
six to 12 Jewish inmates in Metro Vancouver jails from time to time, and tries to
send Purim packages to them on Purim.
In Vancouver, semi-retired Jewish Renewal Rabbi Dina-Hasida Mercy has served as
the Jewish chaplain to Pacific region federal prisons since 2012 and takes weekly
excursions into B.C.’s Fraser Valley, where
there are 10 federal prisons, to meet with
the small number of Jewish inmates there
and any others who want to talk to her.
“There are definitely people in my group
that are not halachically Jewish,” she says.
A basic need they all share is for a kind,
listening ear, one that won’t judge them
and report on them, she says. She’s also
committed to practical projects, including the delivery of donated prayer books
and general Jewish literature into the federal institutions. As a woman visiting men
in jail, Rabbi Mercy says she’s never felt
physically threatened.
“The guys tend to be fairly protective
of their chaplains,” she says. “In many
ways the prisons are far safer than the city
streets, because the inmates have been
called to task for their offences and are
monitored, whereas out in the community, you have people who might still be in
their crime cycle.”
There isn’t enough support and understanding for inmates in the Jewish community and the wider community in
general, she laments. “It’s a societal perception that bad guys are put away and
should stay away, but these people need
to find jobs and take a place in the community when they come out. Many have
just committed incredibly stupid mistakes
in judgment with terrible consequences,
but they need our help to reintegrate into
What’s needed, she says, is a halfway
house based on Jewish values, a place
that might offer a job bank, educational
opportunities and perhaps even a small
business where they can get work experience. “Inmates need a way to regain their
self-sufficiency. They come out of prison
with $80, which is barely enough to get
you from the Fraser Valley into Vancouver.
As a society, we need to work on our com-
passion for people who want to rebuild
their lives, and yes, it means doing things
that are not comfortable for us.”
Rabbi Menachem Matusof, head of
Chabad in Alberta, has visited Jewish inmates in Alberta jails for the past 27 years.
He estimates there’s six to 12 incarcerated
Jews in his province at any given time and
finds funding a challenge. “The visitations
take time and the travel expenses mount,
books for inmates cost money and the
process of getting security clearance each
year is demanding,” he says.
Sometimes, there are conflicts. One year
he brought a mobile sukkah to the Jewish
women’s jail in Calgary, where an inmate
was incarcerated for murder. In an old
newspaper interview, Rabbi Matusof was
asked why he would bother doing this for
a murderer. “Murdering is a much bigger
issue than sukkah and lulav,” he was told.
“My response was this: because someone
committed a crime one time, this means
he or she should not do another mitzvah?
What does one have to do with another?
The murder was being handled by the
courts. Meanwhile, this is still a Jewish individual who needs help, and we’re here to
help them at whichever level they need.”
He describes most of the Jewish inmates
he visits as “sweet, wonderful people who
unfortunately got caught in bad situations. It’s not our place to judge,” he says.
“We need to reach out and help people
wherever they are.”
There are also schemers, and Rabbi
Matusof gets lots of requests from
non-Jewish inmates who want to speak
with him about possible conversions to
Judaism. His response is always to wait
until they are released from jail, “but once
they’re out, they no longer have interest!”
Other inmates claim they are Jewish and
want kosher meals. “We talk to them and
find out immediately if they’re telling the
truth,” he says. “Most of the time, I’m not
fooled.” ■
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Obama and Netanyahu dig in for fight over Iran
Uriel Heilman
JTA, Washington
For U.S. President Barack Obama, the
framework agreement reached April 2
with Iran is a “historic understanding”
that does more to roll back Tehran’s nuclear program than any possible alternative
and avoids the risk of a destructive war in
the Middle East.
But to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu, it’s the complete opposite: a
pact that “threatens the survival of Israel”
and would “increase the risks of nuclear
proliferation in the region and the risks of
a horrific war.”
With many of the deal’s details yet to be
worked out before the June 30 deadline for
a comprehensive agreement, the fight is
on over whether the outline of an accord
reached this week is the best the United
States and Europe can do to stop Iran’s
progress toward a nuclear weapon.
Critics say the Obama administration
should press Iran harder for a better deal.
Obama insists the agreement is the best
one possible.
“Iran is not going to simply end its program because we demand it to do so,” the
president said at a White House news conference April 2.
The agreement reached between Iran
and the six world powers – the United
States, Russia, China, the U.K., France and
Germany – has three main components:
• Iran will not develop weapons-grade
plutonium, and the core reactor of its nuclear facility at Arak will be dismantled or
removed from the country.
• Iran will reduce the number of its operating centrifuges by two-thirds, to 5,060;
won’t enrich uranium using advanced
centrifuges for at least 10 years; and will
cut its current stockpile of uranium from
some 10,000 kilograms to 300 kilograms
for 15 years.
• International inspectors will have unprecedented access to Iranian nuclear facilities and their entire supply chain.
In exchange, Iran will get relief from certain U.S. and United Nations sanctions,
and the relief will be phased in as Iran
takes steps to meet its end of the bargain.
If Iran violates the deal, those sanctions
will be restored. According to Obama, the
deal ensures that Iran’s “breakout time” to
acquiring a nuclear weapon is at least a
year and imposes strict limitations upon
Iran’s nuclear program for at least 15 years.
U.S. President Barack Obama in 2014. File Photo
Many details remain murky. It’s unclear
how fast the sanctions will disappear,
exactly what steps Iran must take in order for them to be removed, or how they
would be restored in the event Iran fails
to meet its obligations. The framework
agreement also does not say what will
happen to the uranium that Iran must
give up.
Critics say the deal allows Iran to continue working on perfecting its advanced
centrifuges so that, once the deal expires,
Tehran can more quickly assemble a nuclear weapon. In a rare statement by the
American Israel Public Affairs Committee
(AIPAC), the organization said it’s concerned that the deal could leave Iran as a
nuclear threshold state, igniting a nuclear
arms race in the Middle East.
“Some claim that the only alternatives
to this framework are capitulation or military action. We reject that assertion,” the
AIPAC statement said. “A clear alternative
to a bad deal remains the good deal that is
achieved by the application of increased
economic and political pressure on Tehran to reach an agreement that transparently does not allow Iran a path to nuclear
weapons capability.”
AIPAC called for the agreement to be
subject to review by Congress, where
there is more skepticism than in the White
House about the deal’s chances of success.
While Obama does not need congressional approval for the deal, he promised
that he would brief members of Congress
and welcomed a “robust debate” on the
deal. Congress could scuttle the agreement with a veto-proof majority prepared
to vote against the deal or if it approves
new sanctions on Iran.
Republican Senator Bob Corker, the
chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said after the deal’s
announcement that the United States
“must remain clear-eyed regarding Iran’s
continued resistance to concessions, long
history of covert nuclear weapons-related
activities, support of terrorism and its current role in destabilizing the region.”
Corker is the lead sponsor of a bill that
would require congressional review of the
nuclear deal.
House Speaker John Boehner, who was
in the Middle East last week and held a
joint news conference with Netanyahu,
said Congress must be allowed to “fully
review the details of any agreement before
any sanctions are lifted.”
In his news conference Obama acknowledged the battle he’ll face in Congress.
“The issues at stake here are bigger than
politics; these are matters of war and
peace,” the president said.
The U.S. administration also faces skepticism from Sunni Arab allies in the Middle
East who feel threatened by Iran’s Shiite
regime and fear that America is reaching
out to Tehran at the expense of its friends
in Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf and elsewhere. Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates
and Saudi Arabia have expressed alarm
similar to Israel’s about Iran’s nuclear program.
In a nod to those concerns, Obama said
he had invited the Saudi king and the leaders of half a dozen Gulf countries to join
him at Camp David later this spring to discuss regional concerns. Obama also lifted
a freeze on U.S. military aid to Egypt that
had been in place since 2013, when the
military deposed the country’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi
of the Muslim Brotherhood, and installed
Abdel Fatah Sisi in his place.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia are the main
Arab power centres in the Middle East and
rivals of Iran; both countries are expected
to pursue nuclear weapons of their own if
they believe Iran is on a quick path to the
With the recent overthrow of Yemen’s
U.S.-allied president by Shiite Houthi rebels aligned with Iran, Tehran’s allies now
control four capitals in the region: Sana
(Yemen), Damascus, Baghdad and Beirut.
Critics say the new agreement will enhance Tehran’s ability to further threaten
and destabilize the region. The deal does
not address Iran’s support for terrorism or
the threats Iranian officials continue to lob
toward Israel. In addition, they say, Iran’s
track record of lying, obfuscating and failing to fulfill previous commitments to allow inspection of its nuclear facilities does
not bode well for its future compliance.
While Iranian and Western negotiators
engaged in marathon sessions in Switzerland last week in an attempt to meet a
self-imposed March 31 deadline for an
agreement, the outline they presented
April 2 – two days late – is still missing
many key elements.
“Those details matter,” Obama said.
“Our work is not yet done.”
But the president said if a deal can be
made and Iran follows through, “we will be
able to resolve one of the greatest threats
to our security, and to do so peacefully.”
Continued on page 24
april 9, 2015
Nuclear deal leaves Israel with few options
Mitch Ginsburg
From an Israeli security perspective, the
framework deal reached in Switzerland on
April 2 with Iran will require three central
efforts – in the realms of intelligence, diplomacy, and, perhaps, in Israel’s regional
The latter may be the most pressing.
Israel has sat on the fence since the Arab
Spring melted into sectarian war in March
Recently, a resident of the Israeli town
of Majdal Shams, a Druze Assad loyalist,
went to great pains, primarily via Facebook, to show that Israel was not merely an
implacable foe behind a thick steel fence,
but an active agent in Jabhat Nusra’s battle
against Bashar Assad and Iran’s Hezbollah
henchmen. Sudki Makat, a former security
prisoner who has been re-arrested, posted
videos, primarily against a dark night backdrop, of border regions where, he claimed,
without providing evidence, Israeli troops
were meeting with members of the Al
Qaeda affiliate.
A senior military source confirmed in
March that there have been debates within the Israel Defense Forces’ General Staff
regarding Israel’s posture and which side
it should prefer in the battle that still rages
in Syria, but said that the prevailing understanding is that the forces run by Iran’s
al-Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, a highly competent operative and
one of the most influential regional actors,
are a more dangerous foe.
The immediate repercussions of the
world powers’ deal with Iran – and Iran will
surely portray the results as a glorious victory and vindication – is not a sprint to the
bomb, but rather an emboldened posture
across the region.
Iran-backed forces currently control four
Arab capitals: Damascus, Beirut, Baghdad,
and Sana in Yemen. Incredibly, even while
its diplomatic chiefs were seated around
tables in Lausanne, Iran aided – some say
initiated – the Houthi overthrow of the
Yemeni leadership.
With the deal in hand, Iran will likely take
more strident steps. Israel, of course, will
have to act to defend its immediate interests, such as the Iranian attempt to set up a
Hezbollah front along the northern Golan
Heights, as occurred in January. But it may,
at least covertly, also have to increase the
aid it provides to its allies as borders melt
and the balance of power shifts more to-
ward Tehran.
Diplomatically, the overt rift with the
Obama administration is troubling in too
many ways to detail here. But the key, from
a security perspective, relates to understandings that might, at a future date, enable a military strike against Iran’s nuclear
facilities. Today, that option is off the table.
Israel cannot act now in open defiance of
the entire world. That window closed, as
then-defence minister Ehud Barak warned
it would (albeit for different reasons),
sometime in early 2012. And while many,
including the past two army chiefs of staff
and the former heads of the Mossad and
Shin Bet, were against a strike then, the
debate has always been about timing, not
Israel is quite certain that the regime in
Tehran will, as it has for the past two decades, begin cheating on the agreement
when the time seems right. It will likely be
a careful and well-calibrated advance.
In order to thwart such a move, Israel needs
rock-solid intelligence. With a deal in hand
and a presumed one-year buffer between
Iran and the bomb, convincing the world
powers of a violation so significant that it demands action will be a Herculean task.
It bears mentioning that in the summer of
2007 the prime minister of Israel reportedly
showed up in the Oval Office with photos
stolen from the computer of Ibrahim Othman, the head of the Syrian Atomic Energy
Commission; the three dozen colour
photos, the New Yorker reported in 2012,
depicted a North Korean-made plutonium
reactor near the Euphrates River. Israeli
commandos, at great risk, had collected
soil samples from the site. And still president George Bush, an uncommonly strong
advocate for Israel, did not agree to launch
a military strike.
He did, however, according to his own
account, agree to let Israel do what it felt
At this stage, for Israel to possess a credible military option against Iran’s nuclear
program – and it is crucial that it possess
one – the prime minister might want to
weigh carefully how much effort he puts
into rousing opposition to the deal in Congress during the coming months. And how
much he invests in reaching an accord with
the administration, alongside the nuclear
deal, that would cement Israel’s ability to
act in the event of flagrant violations. n
Times of Israel
uc,f, vcuy vbak
SEPTEMBER 24, 2014 • 29 ELUL, 5774
To Your Health
The past and
the future are
we are headed, the future
builds upon what has come
before. Rosh Hashanah is an
TribuTe To israel
Made in Canada
for all its achievements
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appropriate time to reflect on
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and, equally, to look forward
to what lies ahead in the
new year. With that in mind,
The CJN asked Canadian
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and academics from across
the political and religious
spectrums to examine
Jewish history as a means to
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and at times controversial
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might expect to find 5, 10,
sheds light on what we
collection of essays that
and at times controversial
result is a diverse, insightful,
for Judaism and Israel. The
predict what the future holds
Jewish history as a means to
spectrums to examine
the political and religious
and academics from across
Jewish writers, thinkers
The CJN asked Canadian
new year. With that in mind,
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uc,f, vcuy vbak
To Your Health
Netanyahu, Obama differ over Iranian nuclear deal
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to U.S. airwaves to criticize the
framework agreement between Iran and
the world powers on Iran’s nuclear program, as U.S. President Barack Obama
defended the deal while reassuring Israel
that it stands by the Jewish state.
Netanyahu appeared on April 5 morning
news programs on ABC, NBC and CNN.
“The entire world celebrated the deal
with North Korea. It deemed to be a great
breakthrough. It would bring an end to
North Korea’s nuclear program. You’d have
inspectors. That would do the job. And
of course everybody applauded it, but it
turned out to be a very, very bad deal, and
you know where we are with North Korea,”
Netanyahu told NBC’s Meet the Press.
“I think the same thing would be true in
the case of Iran, except that Iran is a great
deal more dangerous than North Korea. It’s
a militant Islamic power bent on regional
domination, in fact, bent on world domination, as it openly says so. They just chanted ‘Death to America’ a few days ago on the
streets of Tehran, the same streets where
they’re rejoicing right now.
“Don’t give the pre-eminent terrorist
state of our time the access to a nuclear
program that could help them make nuclear weapons. It’s very bad for all of us,”
Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu told CNN that under the deal,
Iran’s nuclear infrastructure will remain
in place, with “not a single centrifuge destroyed, not a single nuclear facility shut
down, including the underground facilities that they built illicitly. Thousands of
centrifuges will keep spinning, enriching
uranium. That’s a very bad deal.
“They’re getting a free path to the
bomb,” Netanyahu said.
Democrat Jewish Senator Dianne Feinstein told CNN’s State of the Union that the
agreement does not threaten Israel’s survival and that Netanyahu should “contain
himself, because he has put out no real alternative. In his speech to the [U.S.] Congress – no real alternative. Since then – no
real alternative.”
Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama
defended his pursuit of a diplomatic resolution of the standoff over Iran’s nuclear
program and vowed to defend Israel.
In a lengthy interview April 4 with columnist Thomas Friedman of the New York
Times, Obama acknowledged that Israel
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Benjamin Netanyahu being interviewed on
U.S. television ISRAEL SUN PHOTO.
“is right to be concerned about Iran,” noting
the regime’s denial of the Holocaust and repeated threats to eliminate the Jewish state.
Still, Obama reiterated his view that a negotiated agreement with the Islamic Republic is the best strategy to prevent the country from acquiring a nuclear weapon while
“sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody
messes with Israel, America will be there.
“There is no formula, there is no option,
to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear
weapon that will be more effective than
the diplomatic initiative and framework
that we put forward — and that’s demonstrable,” Obama said.
Obama called the opportunity to reach
an agreement with Iran a “once-in-alifetime opportunity.” Comparing his
engagement with Iran to his diplomatic
opening with Cuba, Obama asserted that
the United States could pursue detente
with Tehran without risking its core strategic interests.
Obama spoke at length about Israel’s
concerns about Iran, acknowledging that
Israel is more vulnerable to Iran than the
United States and that Israel is right to be
worried about the regime’s expressed desire to destroy the Jewish state and its denial of the Holocaust.
“But what I would say to [the Israelis] is
that not only am I absolutely committed
to making sure that they maintain their
qualitative military edge, and that they
can deter any potential future attacks,
but what I’m willing to do is to make the
kinds of commitments that would give
everybody in the neighbourhood, including Iran, a clarity that if Israel were to be
attacked by any state, that we would stand
by them,” Obama said. “And that, I think,
should be… sufficient to take advantage
of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to
see whether or not we can at least take the
nuclear issue off the table.” n
Israel’s security cabinet
opposes deal with Iran
Israeli man fakes
his own kidnapping
Continued FROM page 21
The Israeli man who faked his own kidnapping said he did so because criminals were looking for him due to his
massive gambling debts.
Niv Asraf, 22, was found alive on April
3 in Kiryat Arba.
Asraf told interrogators, according to
reports: “I got mixed up in gambling
and owed tens of thousands of shekels. The debt grew and grew because I
couldn’t pay back what I owed. Criminals are chasing after me and won’t
let up. I was afraid to tell police about
them and my salary from work is not
enough to pay the amount they want,
so I panicked. I didn’t mean to stage
a kidnapping. I took a sleeping bag
and some canned food in order to disappear for a few days.”
april 9, 2015
The story contradicts a version offered by Asraf ’s accomplice, Eran
Nagaukar, who said his friend staged
the kidnapping to get the attention of
his former girlfriend.
Asraf remained in jail over the weekend; he is accused of giving false evidence, breach of public order and
obstruction of a police officer’s performance of duty.
The search for Asraf last week involved some 3,000 soldiers and cost
hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Israeli security forces were alerted
to Asraf’s disappearance on April 2 by
Nagaukar. Asraf reportedly entered the
Palestinian village of Beit Anun, near
Hebron, to get help after he and the
friend became stranded with a flat tire.
Three Israeli teens were kidnapped
and killed last summer near the same
West Bank area. n
Looming behind all this is whether the
nuclear deal could lead to gradual detente between Iran and the West, though
Obama administration officials insist that
is not the goal of these negotiations. Critics charge that Obama’s quest for a transformative moment is clouding his judgment when it comes to Iran.
On April 3, Israel’s security cabinet met
and expressed unanimous opposition to
the deal, according to the Prime Minister’s
“On the Iranian issue there is no opposition and no coalition,” Yair Lapid, head
of Israel’s Yesh Atid party, said. “We are all
concerned that the Iranians will circumvent the deal, and Israel must protect its
own security interests.”
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Rob
Nicholson said Canada will continue to
judge Iran by its actions not its words.
“To that end, Canada is announcing a
contribution of $3 million to support the
International Atomic Energy Agency efforts to monitor Iranian compliance with
its commitments.”
David Cape, chairman of the Centre for
Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), said Canada and Israel have long shared a desire
for the Iranian nuclear crisis to be resolved
through a diplomatic process and that it’s
crucial that any agreement ensures the
Iranian nuclear program is, and remains,
exclusively peaceful.
“Canada’s position is based on a
non-partisan consensus that a nuclear-armed Iran would be an unacceptable
threat to regional stability, global security,
and – given the Iranian regime’s genocidal statements – Israel’s very existence,”
he said. “Today’s announcement of the
parameters for a final deal, and President
Obama’s public remarks, underscore the
need for all parties in Canada to reinforce
these requirements and reaffirm the Canadian consensus.” n
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Jewish Life
Play explores opposing poles of human nature
Arts Scene
by Heather Solomon
Allie Shapiro plays a character that was
never in Robert Louis Stevenson’s original
But as Elizabeth Ann Jelkes in the upcoming Persephone Productions adaptation Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, she is the
one who recognizes that people cannot be
purely good or only evil. It’s a hard concept to swallow when one thinks of certain historical figures.
However, Judaism has long recognized
that all people must balance their inclinations between yetzer hara (the inclination
to do evil) and yetzer hatov (to do good).
The choice to go either way is a matter of
free will, and this is what playwright Jeffrey Hatcher explores at Mainline Theatre,
3997 St. Laurent Blvd., April 16 to 26.
“The play asks if everybody has an infinite number of sides in different moments.
It has more to do with who we choose to
be, rather than what our nature is,” says
director Chris Moore. “A lot of it is about
compromise and grey areas.”
The action is set in 1883 London around
the time of the novella’s writing. Victorian
England was a nest of vices buried under
the prim mores of the time.
Dr. Henry Jekyll (Alex Goldrich) decides
to eradicate his inner lusts and violent
thoughts with a mixture of drugs. Unfortu-
Director Chris Moore, left, and actors Alex Goldrich and Allie Shapiro prepare to define good
and evil in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde April 16 to 26 at Mainline Theatre. Heather Solomon photo
nately, he releases rather than removes his
darker side, played by the various other
cast members, as they double up on their
primary roles of colleague, attorney, witness and butler.
In this way, the playwright does not have
both sides embodied in one actor, as is
traditional. Jekyll and Hyde instead come
up against one another in physical struggles that Moore choreographs. “Jekyll and
Hyde place themselves as adversaries because neither of them wants to admit that
they have elements of the other, which is
probably at the core of most conflicts,”
The Mervin (Mesh) and Avriel Butovsky
Memorial Lecture presents
Eshkol Nevo on
April 20, 2015
7:30 p.m.
outside of Israel’s literary border, Zionism,
and the search for fathers and mothers.
Nevo will also talk about his novel Neuland,
and the impact of leaving one's homeland
following a personal trauma.
In collaboration with
Blue Metropolis.
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Eshkol Nevo as he discusses the journey
Doors open 30 minutes prior to
the event. Free parking at the
says Goldrich.
Shapiro is the romantic interest of the
doppelgangers and finds herself in the
midst of their clashes, as they literally
sweep her off her feet.
“She’s the one character who truly sees
past how Jekyll perceives Hyde. Jekyll sees
good and evil as black and white, but she
and Hyde are living examples that it’s not
always the case. Humans are complex,”
she says.
Shapiro comes to the role after having
portrayed a sort of female Jekyll and Hyde in
the person of Mme Arthenice in a Marivaux
compilation titled The Islands of Love,
staged by Concordia University in 2013.
“My character was an upper-class lady
who transforms into a savage,” says Shapiro, who graduated in 2014 with a BFA in
theatre and a minor in psychology.
Just a year out of theatre school, the
23-year-old has made her home in Montreal, travelling back to the United States
for holidays to see her parents in Stamford, Conn.
She most recently modelled the title role
of Rose in Rose Quartz after her screen idol
Lauren Bacall for Raise the Stakes/Jubilee
Theatre and performed the small but key
role of Margaret in Shakespeare’s Much
Ado About Nothing at Montreal’s Théâtre
Goldrich, 35, is a Maritimer from Saint
John, N.B.
Moore has been artistic director of Persephone since taking over in 2013 from
Gabrielle Soskin, whom he directed in
Martha Blum/Geoffrey Ursell’s touching
Holocaust drama The Walnut Tree.
His co-direction with Soskin of Spring
Awakening went on to raves last October
as a Centaur Theatre Brave New Looks
production. “When I chose Dr. Jekyll and
Mr. Hyde, it grabbed me from the outset.
It becomes very suspenseful and intense,”
Moore says.
He is continuing the company’s mandate to employ emerging theatre artists,
and Shapiro and Goldrich are grateful for
the opportunity. Tickets for Dr. Jekyll and
Mr. Hyde are available at 514-849-3378 or
at www.persephoneproductions.org. n
Introduction by Mia Swartzman Barsheshat,
member of the Executive Board of the JPL.
Your Canyon Ranch all-inclusive package includes:
• Gracious accommodations with thoughtful amenities to surround
you in comfort
• Three meals daily — fresh gourmet creations combining great
taste and nutrition
• Full use of the facilities & more then 40 fitness classes & outdoor
activities offered daily
• Presentations by our wellness experts and Lunch & Learn in our
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• Generous allowance toward spa, sports or integrative wellness services
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Stratford fEStIVaL
June 16 - 19, 2015
april 9, 2015
Exploring authentic Cuba
from the luxury of a cruise ship
Melody Wren
July 28 - 31, 2015
Tours include: transportation by a/c deluxe motorcoach 3 nights hotel accommodation - 3 breakfasts - 3 dinners
- orchestra seats to four shows - escorted from Montreal.
Cost of each of tour $1199.00 CDN
(excluding FICAV cont.)
single supplement available.
For reservations...
please call SANDRA
514-342-9554 ext. 259
We reserve the right to cancel minimum 25.
Quebec License
5415 Rue Pare #1, Ville Mont-Royal, Quebec, H4P 1P7
[email protected] www.groupeideal.ca
Stay updated
anytime at
Special to The CJN
After a two-hour drive through rural
mountain villages in a decommissioned Russian army truck, we arrived at El Nicho conservation area,
a nature lover’s dream with hiking
trails and a panoramic backdrop of
the Escambray mountains. We hiked
a steep rugged trail, passing dozens
of waterfalls. Anxious to cool off,
we stopped to swim at the base of
one, the water invitingly clear, aqua
green , but I yelped at the surprisingly freezing temperature. On our
way back, we stopped at a roadside
fruit stand to buy several enormous
local fruits called mamay that take
25 years to grow. Tearing them apart
with our fingers, juices dripping
down our faces, they tasted deliciously like a cross between a sweet
potato and mango.
Tourists are a rare sight in the villages of rural Cuba. Locals ran out
of their houses, waving, trying out
their English, shouting the carefully
enunciated “How are you?” The few
vehicles were primarily horse drawn
carts, farmers plowed fields with
horses and I was surprised to see a
number of cowboys on horseback.
I had arrived here by way of Cuba
Cruise, a Greek Louis Crystal Ship
that circumnavigates the island during the winter season taking passengers places they wouldn’t normally
visit. Most tourists go to the resort
side of Cuba, approximately a 12hour drive from Cienfuegos city centre where we had docked.
I had boarded the ship in Havana,
after a tour of the city in a 1950 red
and white Chevy convertible, one
of 70,000 classic American cars that
account for half of the vehicles on
the island. After a couple of hours,
we reluctantly left Lucito, our driver
and his grandfather’s car and strolled
around Old Town Havana. Wafts
of Cohiba cigars followed us so it
seemed natural when our guide took
us to a cigar specialty store where
we saw them rolling them by hand. I
dearly wished I had more time there
to explore the cafes, shops and see
more of the faded elegant beauty of
the historic buildings, but the ship
was waiting.
Three days into the trip, we disembarked at Paradise Island for a nature and adventure tour. A catamaran took us around the Bay of Nipe,
One of thousands of classic American cars in Havana Melody Wren Photo
where we snorkeled in the clear,
aquamarine water. Our guide, Alberto, pointed out a variety of urchins,
and schools of brightly coloured fish.
After lunch at an ocean-front restaurant, jeeps took us to Cayo Saetia, a
natural reserve of pure white sand.
A former place of leisure for the government, it’s now open to tourists
and locals. The reserve is stocked
with animals from Africa and China.
Two days later, we pulled into port
at Montego Bay, Jamaica, docking
shortly after 7 a.m. Eager to see the
island, I stood on deck with my morning cup of tea. It wasn’t the black
clouds, but the rainbow that caught
my attention.
As I had never been to Jamaica
before, I wanted to take full advantage so we went on a bamboo raft
excursion for around three kilometres down a winding river. The
seven-metre long, flat-topped rafts,
used to carry bananas for export, became famous when Errol Flynn put
a seat on the raft, for the comfort of
his vacationing Hollywood friends.
Birds were plentiful and we were
lucky enough to see a swallow-tailed
hummingbird, the national bird of
Jamaica. At one point, our guide,
Capt. Jeff made a paste from limestone out of the river, which he
rubbed on my feet and legs. Just
before we disembarked, he rinsed
it off, leaving my skin silky soft and
smooth. One of the guides, Romeo,
sang Bob Marley’s Buffalo Soldier as
we pulled into shore.
Back in the south part of Cuba,
my travel companion and I hadn’t
signed up for an excursion, so we explored the city of Santiago de Cuba
on our own.. A city map cost two
pesos, and the helpful local vendor
even circled landmarks to visit.
We headed for the beautiful spires
we had seen from the ship, and found
the Catedral de Santiago de Cuba,
built on the central square in 1535,
with its dramatic yet simple pulpit in
marble and silver. We then combed
the side streets for the Trova de Oro
or Club 300 where the music movement of Cuba was first born. We were
rewarded with the incredible voices
of two older female singers, and
fleet-footed salsa dancers sweeping
through the closet-sized club.
We both enjoyed the sociable aspect of the cruise and dining with
six strangers every evening insured
that we met people from all over
the world, including a 93-year-old
grandfather who was delighted
when we took him snorkeling for the
first time.
Every day there were many excursions available but as most ports are
close to city centres, you can explore
them on your own. Exchange some
dollars for Cuban pesos, and you
can take a local taxi, and design your
own tour, but do discuss the fare before you set out.
Would I recommend the cruise?
Absolutely. It shows an authentic
view of Cuba, that is likely to soon
disappear, a place where farmers
wave from their horses as they plow
the fields – wanting only a smile or a
wave in return. n
For more information: www.
yourcubacruise.com. To
Melody’s travel adventures, visit her
website: www.melodywren.com
About Town
by Janice Arnold
Thursday, April 9
wagschal retrospective
An exhibition highlighting the 50-year
career of Montreal painter Marion
Wagschal opens at the Montreal Museum
of Fine Arts’ Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion and continues until Aug. 9. Marion
Wagschal: Portraits, Memories, Fables
showcases her figurative family portraits
set against historical hardships, notably
the Holocaust. Her depictions of the
human body are never idealized; they are
wrinkled, aged and tired. This is the first
retrospective of Wagschal’s oeuvre to be
presented in a Quebec museum.
Sunday, April 12
Womenswear sale
A sale of women’s fashions and accessories is held by the Auxiliary in the Jewish
General Hospital auditorium from 8 a.m.-4
p.m., continuing on April 13 from 7:30
a.m.-3:30 p.m. 514-340-8216.
new play at segal
Tom Stoppard’s Tony Award-winning
play Travesties opens at the Segal Centre
for Performing Arts and continues until
May 3. Directed by Montreal film director Jacob Tierney (The Trotsky, Good
Neighbours), this historical comedy
imagines a fictional meeting between
three of the 20th century’s most original minds: Vladimir Lenin, James Joyce
and Tristan Tzara the Dadaist poet in
Zurich at the height of World War I, as
recalled by an aging British diplomat
Henry Carr, played by Greg Ellwand.
There was a real-life Carr, who moved to
Montreal after the war where he remained until 1933 when he returned to
England. Tickets, 514-739-7944. At [email protected] Segal at 11 a.m., André Furlaini, a Concordia University associate
professor of English, gives background
on the play.
family tree workshop
The Jewish Genealogical Society of
Montreal presents a Family Tree Workshop at the Jewish Public Library (JPL)
from 10 a.m. to noon when beginners
can receive one-on-one help to research
their family history. 514-489-0969.
Also at the JPL today from 1-3 p.m. is
the first-ever Russian book swap “Knigovarot”. Bring books in that language
to exchange with other participants. All
types of books can be brought. maria.
[email protected]
Monday, April 13
blood drive
Congregation Beth Tikvah in Dollard des
Ormeaux holds a blood drive from 2-7:30
p.m. General Hospital. 514-345-6416.
Héma-Québec hopes to collect 100 donations. [email protected]
a romanian history
Jeffrey Gorney, author of Mysterious
Places: Memoir. Journey. Quest, gives a
lecture at the Jewish Public Library (JPL)
at 7:30 p.m., presented by the Jewish
Genealogical Society of Montreal. He
talks about his search into his Romanian
Jewish roots. www.jgs-montreal.org.
Also today at the JPL at 7 p.m., the Mother-Daughter Book Discussion Group
looks at Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata.
Registration, 514-345-2627, ext. 3028.
palliative care
A free workshop called “What You Wanted to Know About Hospitals and Were
Too Afraid to Ask” is given by Dr. Eugene
Bereza, an expert in medical ethics, at
Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom from 6-8
p.m. This is the first of a three-part series
sponsored by McGill University’s Council
on Palliative Care. [email protected]
Tuesday, April 14
book review
The Innocents by Francesca Segal, a
novel about love set in a Jewish suburb
of London, is reviewed by writer Elaine
Kalman Naves at the Jewish Public
Library (JPL) at 2 p.m. Tickets, 514-3452627, ext. 3006.
Also at the JPL today, an 11-session beginners Yiddish course taught by Lorna
Smith starts at 7-8:45 p.m. Registration,
[email protected]
interfaith relationships
The four-part “Love and Religion: An
Interfaith Workshop for Jews and Their
Partners” presented by Congregation
Dorshei Emet at Dépanneur Café, 206
Bernard St. W., begins at 7:30-9 p.m. The
program, led by Rabbi Ron Aigen, offers
a “welcoming and safe place” for couples,
both gay and straight, to explore the challenges of an interfaith relationship. The
next sessions are April 21 and 28 and May
5. Registration, 514-486-9400.
At another event related to this topic,
Rabbi Lisa Grushcow of Temple EmanuEl-Beth Sholom leads a discussion for
the parents and grandparents of adult
children in interfaith relationships at the
Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors’ West
Island branch, 96 Roger Pilon St., Dollard
des Ormeaux, at 7:30 p.m. 514-624-5005,
ext. 230.
artwork recalls holocaust
Montreal artist Abe Pinchuk’s arresting
4- x 8-foot triptych 77835 Defied the
Nazi Final Solution goes on view in
the Cummings House lobby where it
remains until April 28. The painting is
inspired by the story of a survivor of the
death camps whose number was 77835,
who went on to build a new life out
of tragedy. The vernissage takes place
on April 22 at 3:30 p.m. when “77835”
is on hand to answer questions. The
exhibition is sponsored by the Jewish
Public Library and Montreal Holocaust
Memorial Centre, and coincides with
Yom Hashoah.
Wednesday, April 15
Tribes of israel
Rabbi Ron Aigen commences a fivepart series “iEngage Israel 2.0: The
Tribes of Israel” at noon at Congregation Dorshei Emet, which explores
the nuances of the Israeli-Arab, religious-secular divide in Israel.
Also today at the synagogue, Menachem Rotstein launches a four-part
series “Reflections of the Shoah in Israeli Literature” from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Registration, 514-486-9400.
yom hashoah commemoration
A commemoration of Yom Hashoah is
held at CongregationTifereth Beth David
Jerusalem at 7:30 p.m. by the Montreal
Holocaust Memorial Centre, under the
auspices of Israeli Consul General Ziv
Nevo Kulman. 514-345-2605.
all about drugs
Pharmacist Spiro Koutsouris answers
questions about medications and health
at a meeting of the Canadian Hadas-
sah-WIZO Golda Meir Chapter at the
Shaar Shalom Synagogue in Chomedey
at 1 p.m. A nurse is also on hand to take
blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol
readings. Reservations, president Evie
Applebee, 450-681-9342.
...Et Cetera...
small heads ometz
Gail Small has been appointed chief
executive officer of Agence Ometz, effective May 1. She has been co-executive
director of this Federation CJA social services agency since 2008. Prior to that she
was executive director of Jewish Family
Services which was merged into Ometz,
along with Jewish Immigrant Aid Services
and Jewish Employment Montreal.
Akiva triumphs
Aaron Widman, a Grade 6 Akiva School
student, placed first for the second consecutive year, for Quebec in the annual
Chidon Hatanach competition, held
under the auspices of the Bronfman
Jewish Education Centre. He moves on
to the national contest in May. Akiva
is also proud that its girls’ basketball
team won its fifth championship at the
YM-YWHA’s W.E.S.B.L. tournament,
after edging Jewish People’s and Peretz
Schools 16-15.
MIDEAST doc cited
The Israeli-Palestinian documentary
Write Down, I Am an Arab by Ibtisam
Mara’Ana Menuhin about the late Palestinian poet and nationalist Mahmoud
Darwish won the Award for Best Film
for TV at the recent International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA). n
Meeting of the minds
Mount Royal MP Irwin Cotler, left, has a friendly tête-à-tête with
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre at the Sports Celebrity Breakfast,
benefitting the Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors.
Janice Arnold photo
april 9, 2015
Pesach | Deuteronomy 14:22 - 16:17
Rabbi Ilan Acoca wonders why many Jewish holidays revolve around the number seven
Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl finds a common thread uniting the songs of Passover
Rabbi Catharine Clark explores the theme of infinite gratitude found in Dayeinu
Rabbi Ilan Acoca
Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Rabbi Catharine Clark
e’re all familiar with the historical reason for celebrating the seventh day of Passover, for, according
to the midrash, the miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea
took place seven days after the Israelites left Egypt.
Yet, to our surprise, that reason never appears in the
Chumash. In fact, the Torah simply commands that we
eat matzah for seven days, then make a special celebration on that last day, without explaining why (Shmot
In regard to other Jewish holidays, seven also seems to
be a “magic” number. Not only is Pesach seven days, we
also count seven weeks to Shavuot, then in the seventh
month, we celebrate several holidays, including the
seven-day holiday of Sukkot!
So why do so many holidays revolve around the number seven? Is it simply because there are seven days in a
Jewish tradition teaches us that the number seven is
the divine number of completion. When God created
the world, the completion of the task happened on the
seventh day.
Our sages compare the Nation of Israel’s slavery to a
rough diamond that is being refined. It takes time to get
to the point of having a beautiful diamond, but the hard
work is worth it. The Israelites had to go through long
and hard slavery in Egypt in order to refine themselves
and get to the point of being freed.
God chose to free them on the seventh day to remind
them that the number seven represents completion,
thus the Nation of Israel reached the point of completion.
I believe the reason God did not reveal this in the
Torah was because completion is something personal.
Often, life is challenging, and it’s up to us to go through
the challenge and reach the point of completion.
May God give us the guidance to always get to the
point of completion in our lives.
Chag Samayach! n
Rabbi Ilan Acoca is rabbi at Congregation Beth
Hamidrash in Vancouver.
here are four types of songs associated with Passover. The seder songs are playful melodies sung with
gusto. The psalms of Hallel, chanted during the seder
and each morning, are poems of praise and thanksgiving. The Song of the Sea, read on the seventh day of
Pesach, recalls the redemptive crossing of the Sea of
Reeds. The Song of Songs, descanted on the Shabbat of
the festival, celebrates the love of youth and the Land of
Israel. What unites these songs?
While some of the seder songs refer to the Exodus,
others devote attention to and articulate a yearning for
the future redemption of the people of Israel and the
building of the Temple. Quite appropriately, the evening
commemorating the Exodus culminates in the prayerful
hope, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”
The six Hallel psalms (113-118) also do more than
recall the Exodus. They speak of joyfully entering Jerusalem, bringing offerings to God. “I will offer to you a
thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the Eternal… in your midst, O Jerusalem.”
According to Torah tradition, the crossing of the Sea
of Reeds corresponds with the seventh day of Pesach. In
addition to praising God for the miraculous deliverance
then, Shirat Hayam speaks of God’s care throughout the
journey from Egypt to the Land of Promise and extols
God for successfully building the Divine sanctuary, the
Shir Hashirim, a dialogical song of two lovers, is read
allegorically by our rabbis to refer to the relationship
between God and the people of Israel. The Song of Songs
is replete with images of spring in the Land of Israel with
references to the daughters of Jerusalem who serve as
witnesses to the ardour of the two lovers.
These four songs remind us of the singularity of the
Land of Israel. They indicate that the Passover Exodus
was not simply intended for liberation from Egypt. It
was to direct our people to the Land of Promise. n
Follow me at www.beth-tzedec.org and https://www.
facebook.com/bfrydmankohl. Rabbi Baruch
Frydman-Kohl is senior rabbi at Beth Tzedec
Congregation in Toronto.
n the seventh day of Passover, the Torah reading
includes Shirat Hayam. The Song of the Sea is part
of the Torah’s best drama. The Israelites are trapped
between the Sea of Reeds and Pharaoh’s charioteers.
Perhaps the Israelites have been delivered from slavery
in Egypt only to die so close to the land of their oppression and so far from the Promised Land. Moses holds
out his arm over the sea, and the Israelites cross safely
to the other side while the Lord destroys the Egyptian
army. The Israelites express their gratitude by singing
Shirat Hayam.
If it were a Broadway musical, the story would end
there. But this is Torah, and the reading for the day
continues. The Israelites trek to the wilderness of Shur.
Three days pass, and they have found no water. They
arrive at the well in Marah, but the water is bitter. The
Israelites complain to Moses, saying, “What shall we
drink?” What a reverse from the gratitude they expressed when they sang Shirat Hayam.
The epilogue of this Torah reading is a telling contrast
to another great Passover song. Only a few days before
we sang Dayeinu at seder. We declared over and over
that it would have been enough if God had delivered
only intermediate steps in the Israelites’ salvation. By
all rules of logic, these statements are not true. If God
had only split the sea for the Israelites but not led them
through to dry land, they would have died. If God had
sunk the Egyptians but not provided manna for the
Israelites in the desert, they would have died.
Yet we declare at seder that each step on its own would
have been enough. Shirat Hayam is followed in the
Torah reading by complaint. Each line of Dayeinu is a
statement of infinite gratitude. May the spirit of Dayeinu be the attitude with which we approach each day. n
Rabbi Catharine Clark is the spiritual leader of
Congregation Or Shalom in London, Ont.
XX › cjnews.com
APRIL 9, 2015
The Canadian Jewish news
M Page ??
Canadian political crisis told through three distinct voices
It’s rare when we have an opportunity to
examine a single event through multiple,
disparate lenses or illuminate a singular truth through the refractive light of a
multi-faceted diamond. But this is precisely the literary device Daniel Goodwin
uses in his recently published novel Sons
and Fathers. He tells us a story that revolves around three individuals through
each of the men’s distinct voices and
unique perspectives.
And he does so to deeply satisfying effect.
The story is absorbing. Most of us are
fascinated by the intrigues in the halls of
government and Sons and Fathers deals
with political crisis at the highest level of
government, namely, with the prime minister, his main communications adviser
and an enterprising, veteran journalist at
a national newspaper.
The prime minister, adviser and reporter are Allan, Eli and Michael respectively.
Each grew up in Montreal. Eli and Michael
were childhood friends. But at university
their friendship evolved into something
far less, due to their shared interest in
and rivalry for the affection of a beautiful
woman. Eli and Michael meet Allan at McGill. Their lives intersect somewhat symbiotically from that point on.
Each man has been profoundly influenced by his father. These fathers hover
throughout the novel somewhat like guidance counsellors at a high school who are
visited occasionally for advice or assurance by trusting students. The fathers – for
good or for ill – have sculpted their sons’
characters and thus, perhaps, are most
responsible for steering them toward the
destiny that each son then further shapes
the substance of the man himself.
Goodwin spends a great deal of time developing the characters of the three men,
writing through their intersecting relationships about life’s sustaining foundations, such as friendship, loyalty, sacrifice,
empathy, compassion and love.
However, there are many other pleasing
aspects to the book.
Goodwin provides authentic insights to
the world of politics and journalism. Borrowing from his considerable experience
as a journalist, communications and government relations’ executive, the Montreal-born Goodwin thoughtfully expounds
upon the roles and natures – in theory and
in practice – of journalists and journalism,
of politicians and politics, of ethics and
cynicism, and of idealism and pragmatism.
As the elected politician, Allan astutely describes Eli’s desire to work with him
as Eli’s “quest to write words that would
change people’s lives.” From Eli’s point of
view, his motivations are encapsulated in
a conversation he had with Allan’s father
when both he and Allan were embarking
on their careers: “I have integrity. I’m always going to give Allan the best benefit
of my professional advice, without regard
to what I think he might want to hear, or
to what is popular, or to what even he
wants to do. I will tell him what is right,
both from a pragmatic and from an ethical
point of view. My biggest motivation is to
do the right thing and do a good job.”
Michael, the journalist, has a different
point of view about the successful professional pairing of Eli and Allan. It is his
involvement that provides the suspense
that grips the reader from the first pages
of the book.
It is worthy to note that because the
story unfolds in Montreal and Ottawa, the
references are, refreshingly, to Canadian
iconography. For example, references to
the Governor-General’s literary awards,
hockey, Don Cherry, Tim Hortons and
numerous Canadian historic and literary figures provide the factual and colour
background to the story. The cultural and
geographic markers in the story are all
based on a distinctively Canadian consciousness and sensibility.
But perhaps most gratifying of all is
the near sacrosanct place that Goodwin
holds for the use of words and the sense
of responsibility he feels personally and
professionally that writing imposes on
the author.
Goodwin recently wrote on one of his
blogs: “In many ways, although Sons and
Fathers is clearly prose fiction, I see it in
part as a bit of a love song to poetry and
the role it plays in our lives.”
The author has succeeded in combining
this literary effort with an exciting political
story. ■
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Sons and Fathers
Daniel Goodwin
Linda Leith Publishing Inc.
for himself.
The political crisis creates the tension
in the plot. But it also serves as Goodwin’s
narrative pretext for exploring the rich
veins of political and philosophical reflections, social interactions, the possibilities of language and the ultimate human
issues that lie just below the surface.
Each of the three men “speaks” to the
reader and shares his particular insights
regarding situations and people. But
Eli tells the majority of the tale. And the
reader is the fortunate beneficiary of Eli’s
narrative predominance because it is to
Eli that the sheer beauty and poignancy
of language mean the most. Eli’s father is
a renowned poet who infuses in his son
curiosity and reverence for the esthetics
of words well used and thoughts meaningfully conveyed.
To be sure, Michael has a sleek facility
with words too. But as a journalist, his
overarching concern is in the mastery of
technique for the purpose of conveying
meaning economically and efficiently,
and of getting the message out within the
unyielding confines of limited page space.
Michael’s father is an academic for whom
the use of language is the means for recording thought. It is clear that Michael
has inherited his father’s utilitarian sense
of language.
Allan is a master orator whose embrace of
language is through the music and drama
of the spoken word. Allan’s father was one
of Canada’s most successful and respected
federal cabinet ministers. And the son undoubtedly learned a great deal about the
spoken word from his father. But Allan’s
ability to communicate, to persuade and inspire as a speaker is not the result of studied
technique alone. It is the result of the substance of the man’s words combined with
april 9, 2015
Josef Zissels: ‘Ukrainian Jews are part of the country’s
political nation’
[email protected]
he Kyiv-based vice-president of the
World Jewish Congress and chair of
the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, Josef
Zissels, visited Ottawa March 3 and Toronto March 4 to share his perspectives
on Ukrainian-Jewish relations in Ukraine
and trends in the overall political climate.
The CJN spoke with him about Ukrainian Jews’ involvement in the Maidan
protest movement in Kyiv in 2013, when
then-president Viktor Yanukovych was
overthrown; anti-Semitism; and the
Ukrainian Jewish Encounter, a multinational group that promotes stronger
ties between Ukrainians of Jewish, Christian and other heritages in Ukraine, Israel
and the Diaspora.
Were Ukrainian Jews generally
opposed to Yanukovych before his
We didn’t do any surveys on this, but I feel
the majority of Jews in Ukraine are normal, adequate people, so they couldn’t like
what Yanukovych was doing… Some made
money under Yanukovych, so they supported him. But we also saw businessmen
who were against Yanukovych… If you
asked Jews, ‘Are you for or against Yanukovych?’ it would be difficult to answer. But
if you asked if they are for democracy, you
would find they are reasonable people
[who want democracy] and dignity.
They see how Jews live in Europe and
how they live in Russia, and of course,
they choose [to be closer to Europe], even
though there is much more anti-Semitism
there than in Ukraine and Russia combined.
To what extent were Ukrainian Jews
involved in the Maidan movement?
Every ethnic group living in Ukraine, including ethnic Ukrainians, can be divided
into three categories:
1. People who belong to an authoritarian, Soviet past and actively defend it and
don’t desire to live in a European Ukraine
(they are anti-Maidan).
2. People who are indifferent – it doesn’t
matter when and how to live. They have
no obvious preference.
3. People who are sincerely trying to
break away from their authoritarian,
Soviet past and to live in a democratic, prosperous and decent Ukraine (the
Among Jews, there are, to this day, Soviet
Jews, the Jews of Ukraine and Ukrainian
Jews. For the past 23 years, we have seen
a process of transformation take place –
the transformation of [some] from Soviet
Jews to Jews of Ukraine to Ukrainian Jews.
The latter were the ones on the Maidan:
they spoke, helped and defended the
Maidan (three died there and are among
the “Heavenly Hundred” – Euromaidan
protestors who were killed in the clashes).
Now Ukrainian Jews are among the volunteers in civil society’s main activities.
They help displaced persons; help the
army and National Guard with money,
medication, weapons; they fight as part of
the armed forces.
We don’t have statistics, but from general
considerations, it’s clear that Jews are very
active in various areas. That’s why they
were disproportionately more present on
Maidan and in parliament, business, science and civil society.
Ukrainian Jews are part of the Ukrainian political nation, just like French Jews
for nearly 200 years have been an integral
part of the French political nation.
How common was anti-Semitism
under Yanukovych’s rule and now,
under President Petro Poroshenko?
During Yanukovych’s rule, the problem
was not anti-Semitism, but total theft
from the people and a government with
no end to its corruption, the lowering
of human dignity, a disregard of the nation’s interests. This brought out protest
[among people], not anti-Semitism. In
the last years of Yanukovych’s [rule], and
now, there is very little anti-Semitism in
How does Poroshenko treat Ukraine’s
We don’t want the Ukrainian authorities,
including the president, to especially single out our community from other ethnic
minorities in Ukraine. Of course, there are
our particular issues related to memory of
the Holocaust, migration and others, but
we see that the president relates positively
to our community. He spoke at the annual
commemoration of the Babi Yar tragedy,
assured us there is no place for anti-Semitism in Ukraine, and attended the recent
anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
Where did the notion that the new
Ukrainian government is anti-Semitic
or fascistic originate?
This began under former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, when the label of
“fascist” was first used to identify the
opposition. And the Yanukovych government last year did all it could to show that
the opposition was fascist and nationalist.
We understood these elaborations came
from Russia.
Ukraine had an interim government be-
Josef Zissels
At this year’s book fair in Jerusalem, UJE
presented a new, Yiddish-Ukrainian dictionary and sponsored a famous Ukrainian writer, Irena Karpa, who talked about
cultural and literary movements in the
country today.
My organization works closely with UJE.
It has sponsored a number of our initiatives, including youth camps that advocate tolerance. My trip to Canada and the
United States, where I met with Ukrainian
and Jewish communities, their leaders
and leaders of various ethnic Diaspora
groups, was made possible through the
support of UJE.
fore the election that brought Poroshenko
to power. That government had in it several members of the Svoboda party, which
is radical, but was also in opposition to
Yanukovych (although many believe the
party was financed by Yanukovych, so
when faced with the next presidential
race, Ukrainians would pick him over
Svoboda’s leader). Because the label of opposition equals fascist was already there,
it was easier for Yanukovych, his followers
and Putin to call the opposition fascist.
Labels stick… although time is showing
that the Ukrainian leadership is neither
fascist nor anti-Semitic.
What non-Jewish groups, if any,
are friends or allies of the Jews in
We co-operate with many organizations in civil society, and almost all of
them are our compatriots. We see very
positive attitudes from them toward
Jews. Among the Kyiv Patriarchate [of
the Ukrainian Orthodox Church], the
Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Protestants, there is great sympathy toward
Jews, and co-operation, for example, with
the Ukrainian Catholic University, which
also works with UJE, and various human
rights group.
Has it been your sense that Ukrainian
Jews or Jews outside Ukraine believed
it was fascist or anti-Semitic?
After the government changed, almost all
the Jewish organizations in Ukraine supported the new government. In Ukraine,
few believed this, but for Jews outside the
country, they did more, because a stereotype exists.
The Russian government is
considered quite friendly to Jews.
Would you say that’s true? And has
that changed at all, in light of the
recent conflict?
I think the Russian government is friendly only to itself, and has used the Jewish
question to its benefit. It wants to show
the world that in Russia, there is a civilized approach to others. But if it becomes
beneficial to its interests, if it suits its purpose, the government will make Jews an
internal enemy. We’ve seen this done in
history before.
What sort of work does the Ukrainian
Jewish Encounter do?
UJE has sponsored many activities, including developing a shared historical
narrative that engages scholars and experts to produce a truthful account of the
Ukrainian-Jewish relationship over the
centuries. Before last year’s presidential
election, it was one of the sponsors of a
major conference in Kyiv called “Ukraine:
Thinking Together,” which brought
together leading intellectuals to discuss
the situation in Ukraine as a way of supporting the democratization process taking place there.
UJE is a sponsor of the Metropolitan
Andrey Sheptysky Award, an honour
bestowed annually on an individual
in Ukraine, Israel or the Diaspora who
has made an important contribution to
Ukrainian-Jewish understanding and
Approximately how many Jews live in
Around 300,000. They typically live in
large cities, with the majority living in the
centre, southern and eastern regions of
the country.
What is their typical socio-economic
They are middle class and work in all industries.
What’s their typical religious
They’re mostly secular, but there are religious Jews. There are 70 synagogues working in Ukraine today. n
Social Scene
Einstein’s Jewish and Zionist awakening
Allan Levine
lbert Einstein’s parents were assimilated German Jews who considered themselves “Israelites,” which was
typical of westernized Jews in Germany in
the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Einstein, who was born in 1879, did not have
a bar mitzvah, though as a young man he
did show a keen interest in religion and for
a time adhered to Jewish dietary rules.
After spending more than two decades
studying and working in Switzerland,
where he developed his theory of general relativity, he returned to Berlin in 1914.
He accepted a position as the director
of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics, where he would remain until he was
forced to flee to the United States in 1933
following the Nazi’s rise to power.
In Switzerland, as he later admitted in a
1921 interview, he was ambivalent about
his Jewish heritage. “There was noth-
ing in my life that would have stirred my
Jewish feeling or stimulated it,” he said.
Yet in Berlin during and after World War
I , he was confronted with anti-Semitism.
It was then that Einstein began to reflect
more seriously on his Jewish identity and
write about it.
Tracking his Jewish and Zionist awakening online is now possible, owing to the
recent digitization (and translation from
German to English) of thousands of his
letters and papers – a joint effort between
the Hebrew University, which Einstein
helped found in 1918 and where the Albert
Einstein Archives are located; Princeton
University, where he taught after he came
to the United States; and the California Institute of Technology.
In a newspaper article published at
the end of 1919, Einstein denounced the
widely held right-wing propaganda that
Germany’s approximately 30,000 east
European Jews were “black marketers,
Bolsheviks [and] elements that are averse
to work.” The agitation against these Jews
that called for their expulsion, he asserted,
“raises the suspicion that calm judgment
is being dimmed by strong anti-Semitic
In another unpublished article he
penned in the spring of 1920, he was more
critical of German Jews like his parents,
those who perceived themselves to be
“German citizens” of the “Mosaic faith.”
To Einstein there was “something comical, even tragicomical in this designation.”
In a world in which “race” and nationalism were powerful concepts, he believed
strongly that there was a “Jewish nationality” that defined Jews, no matter what their
socio-economic status. And pretending
otherwise was “useless and morally questionable,” in his view. Moreover, at the time
it was a no-win situation since, as he put it,
“anti-Semites have no intention of clearly
distinguishing between eastern European
and western European Jews as some western European Jews might wish.”
Einstein was initially indifferent to Zionism and at one point scorned Zionists as
a “small band of impractical people that
strike one as medieval.” Yet like Theodor
Herzl, who wrote in 1895 that “only anti-Semitism” had made him a Jew, Einstein, too, was drawn to the movement as
a backlash against anti-Semitism and as a
necessity for Jewish survival.
“I am not a Jew in the sense that I would
demand the preservation of the Jewish or
any other nationality as an end in itself,”
he explained in 1921. “I rather see Jewish
nationality as a fact, and I believe every
Jew must draw the consequences from
this fact. I consider raising Jewish self-confidence necessary, also in the interest of
a normal living together with non-Jews.
This is the major motive of my joining the
Zionist movement…The founding of a
free Jewish community structure in Palestine will again put Jewish people in a position where they can unencumbered fully
uphold their creative capabilities.”
By then, he had concluded that European Jews needed access to higher education, and if that was not possible in
Europe, then a university in Jerusalem
was a necessity. And more significantly,
that fostering Jewish pride was essential.
“We Jews need a revival of the feeling of
community in order to preserve or rather
regain a dignified existence,” he wrote to
a friend in November 1929. “I see in Zionism the only effort which leads us closer
to this goal.”n
Historian Allan Levine’s most recent book
is Toronto: Biography of a City.
Ask Ella
Manage expectations in your own mind first
Ella Burakowski
[email protected]
Dear Ella,
I’ve been dating Mike for a few months.
We get along famously and are growing
closer all the time.
Mike seems to have a disturbingly disproportionate number of female friends.
He doesn’t hide them from me, but it nevertheless raises a red flag for me.
I don’t want to be that jealous girlfriend,
but I guess I am. I would prefer to be the
only woman in his life. I don’t feel comfortable asking him to give up all his female
friends yet. I’m afraid he will see a side of
me that he won’t like.
How should I approach this?
Too Many Women
Dear Too Many Women
Jealousy is a powerful emotion and can
make you miserable. It’s perceiving a normal circumstance as a potentially damaging one. It can ruin a relationship that
would otherwise be fine.
The bigger picture is one of trust, respect
and love, the three basic must-haves for
a successful union to flourish. Examine
your relationship with Mike. Think long
and hard about each of these traits. Do
they exist? Other than having many female
friends who existed before you walked into
his life, has Mike given you any reason to
mistrust him?
If the answer to that is no, then you have
to turn the mirror to yourself. Why are you
jealous when there is no reason to be? Jealousy can stem from a past experience – for
example, if someone has cheated on you.
Or it could be because you feel inadequate
or insecure. If that’s the case, you need to
be mindful of your feelings and find a way
to control them.
You say Mike and you are growing closer. You also mentioned that he doesn’t
hide his friendships from you. Work with
that. Rather than putting restrictions on
his friendships, maybe get to know some
of these women a little better. He would
probably be open to your meeting people who are important in his life. Try to be
open minded about his life prior to your
becoming part of it. If you force him to give
up people who are important to him, he
may end up resenting you.
Two lives coming together to form one
bond takes work. It is not always easy
or automatic, but if you keep the lines of
communication open at all times, the rest
will work itself out.
Dear Ella,
After a few years of dating, I met Sonia.
We have much in common, and both of us
are divorced with kids. We share the same
family values, are very involved with our
children and enjoy having fun both alone
and with our kids. However, I’m afraid of
the financial commitment that may be expected of me down the road. I work very
hard and am still raising my own family. I
have extra financial obligations because of
the divorce, and the thought of having to
support children who are not my own is far
from appealing.
I don’t know if it’s appropriate to approach the subject and get it out of the way.
Sonia has made no financial demands on
me, but I know it’s just around the corner.
What’s Mine is Mine
Dear What’s Mine is Mine
It’s nice that you’ve made a connection
with someone who makes you happy, but
I’m not clear on why you feel the financial burden of Sonia’s children will fall on
your shoulders. Sonia has raised her children without your help till now. She must
have some kind of income and chances
are she receives child support from her
ex as well.
Right now you are simply in the “getting
to know you” phase of your relationship.
Putting up road blocks is not a great way
to start. First, see if there is something developing between you.
As you are both parents, you must be
able to respect each other’s choices when
it comes to the children. You will both do
what’s best for the kids first.
Chances of finding a soul mate with no
history are slim. You have to grow and
learn about each other and decide what
you can and can’t accept. Relax and enjoy
each other’s company for now. If you’re
meant to be together, you’ll work out
those financial details in time. n
Ella’s advice is not a replacement for medical, legal or any other advice. For serious
problems, consult a professional.
april 9, 2015
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