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Friday, August 29, 2014

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Ode to The CJN

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Dedicated to Meyer and Dorothy Nurenberger, founders of The CJN

Shabbat dinner was winding down, and the family’s guest excused herself from the table. She lay down on the couch in the den and adjusted the pillow so her head was propped up sufficiently to read The CJN – her favourite publication.

“The Six Day War was a military miracle,” she read. The entire issue covered the war. She learned about Jewish bravery. She also learned that community members had lined up to give their jewelry to the United Jewish Appeal for the war effort. The guest dozed off and The CJN slipped onto the floor.

Monday morning came. Oded gulped down his breakfast. Shoe sales were dipping, and he had to make it to work early. On the way out, he noticed The CJN on the floor in the family room. He put it in his briefcase. The subway was busy, but he found a seat.

Oded opened The CJN and flipped to Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut’s commentary. He had known little about the “Boat People” from Vietnam, other than that Canada was embracing them as refugees. Rabbi Plaut eloquently weaved a story about a family that had arrived in Toronto the week before, sponsored by the Jewish community. The man smiled and stuffed the paper in his briefcase.

The woman took a break from her sewing machine. She had filled her quota of shoes and wanted to review the advertisements in the Jewish newspaper the boss brought to work every week. She took a seat in the lunchroom. She read: “Good family in the Manor looking for full-time help. Hours and pay excellent.” Her sister had just arrived from Italy. She tucked the ad into her pocket and would show it to her sibling later on.

Time wore on. The young man was tired. He dropped by the cafeteria and noticed The CJN on a table. Not a week went by when he wouldn’t read Canada’s national Jewish newspaper cover to cover. He was interested in everything from the community’s relationship with the government to features on the NHL’s only Jewish hockey player. He rolled up the paper and took it home.

That night he opened The CJN. The headlines shouted out: “Soviet Jews coming home.” He read about Operation Exodus, a Jewish Agency program to bring hundreds of thousands of Jews from the former Soviet Union to Israel. He read with nachas about the Israel Defence Forces and the American Joint Distribution Committee rescues in Azerbaijan and Odessa, and the courage of Jews assisting with Operation Exodus. It reminded him of CJN articles years earlier about the Raid on Entebbes. It was late. The man fell asleep. The CJN slipped to the floor.

Marky’s restaurant was closing. Conversion was under scrutiny in Israel again. Canadian Jewish Congress was no more. The man’s sister sipped her coffee and flipped through The CJN. A personal ad caught her eye. She was looking for a shidduch. Rosh Hashanah was here again, and she quite liked the honey chicken recipe she saw in the paper. Shaarei Tefillah was advertising seats. She saw an article about the community’s gay and lesbian High Holiday services. She circled it and made a mental note to tell her brother.

June 27, 2013. It was a cool Montreal morning. The elderly Jew waited for The CJN to arrive. The day would be long and sad without it.

Avrum.rosensweig@veahavta.org

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