Cost of Jewish education
The issue of affordability of day-school education remains the elephant in the room in terms of Jewish communal priorities in Ontario. Everyone knows that the problem exists, yet after the debacles of the past few elections, the issue appears dormant on the communal agenda. Whether the issue is politically dead in Ontario is debatable. Both the former and current leader of the Liberal party bear the primary responsibility for cynically twisting and turning the issue in such a way to render it unpalatable to the vast majority of the Ontario public.
Leo Baeck Day School’s tuition subsidy initiative, of up to $5,000 per student for eligible families, is to be lauded as a step in the right direction. The fact that the upper eligibility range of that new initiative reaches salaries of $350,000 should serve as a wake-up call to the entire community as to the true severity of the education-funding problem in Ontario.
Parents in Montreal are finding the fees of $7,000 to $8,000 per year difficult. Those of us in Ontario, where elementary school fees are double that figure, can only say “halevay – would that were the case here!” In the meantime, the problem continues to worsen, slowly rendering Ontario a less-than-desirable place for the younger generation to establish their own Jewish households in the future.
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The Jewish Russian Community Centre of Toronto has established the JRCC Help Andrew Fund for Andrew Avetikov, who is suffering from a particularly aggressive cancer and needs financial assistance in his dire situation. Members of the community are asked for their support. Donations can be made online at www.jrcc.org/helpandrew, on the phone or by mailing cheques to our offices. One hundred per cent of all donations will be directed toward medical expenses related to Andrew’s condition.
Rabbi Yoseph Y. Zaltzman
Jewish Russian Community Centre of Ontario
5987 Bathurst St., Unit 3
Toronto, Ont. M2R 1Z3
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Treat all with equal respect at Wall
I cannot understand why anyone would be arrested for praying at the Western Wall (“10 women arrested at Western Wall,” Feb. 14). A group of women have gathered at the back of the women’s section at the Western Wall for their monthly prayers since 1988. A ban in effect in Israel states that women are not allowed to wear tfillin while praying at the Western Wall. They were arrested for breaking the ban, but they were later released without charge.
I am a 15-year-old Jewish girl and I believe that just because these women chose to display their religion differently than the acccepted Orthodox norm for women praying at the Western Wall does not mean they were wrong. They were standing at the back of the women’s section, where they would not have disturbed others. I believe that the Western Wall should be a place where all Jews can pray regardless of their traditions or practice. It is not a private synagogue. It should be open to all forms of Judaism. Everyone must be treated with equal respect.
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I generally dislike euphemisms and politically correct speech. Too often, they conceal true meaning and impact. For many years, and to some extent even today, many Jews called themselves “Hebrews” or “Israelites,” because the term “Jew” had too negative a meaning in many parts of gentile society. Fortunately nowadays, most Jews are proud to call themselves just that.
I think it is time to get rid of another term that is used worldwide and in the pages of The CJN. The term is “antisemitism.” It was coined in the 19th century for anti-Jewish political movements in Europe. Today, we even refer to the absurdity of “Arab antisemitism,” which is ridiculous, given that Arabs are themselves Semites. It also falsely conveys an aura of almost respectability. I never use it. I call it what it is: Jew hatred. Just as the term Israel bashing is a new and good one, being used often to describe the unreasonable and mindless worldwide attacks on Israel (and is often a disguised form of Jew hatred), so this term, conveys exactly what it is. If we are going to defeat the enemy, we must first know it.
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StandWithUs arranged events for Israelis
The article “Israeli students aim to dispel myths about home” (March 7) failed to acknowledge the significant role played by StandWithUs (SWU) Canada during the visit to Canada of the Israeli student group WordSwap. As a member of SWU Canada’s board, I had the wonderful opportunity to share a memorable dinner and conversation with eight of the WordSwap members at interfaith advocate Raheel Raza’s home, arranged by Meryle Kates, executive director of SWU Canada.
StandWithUs (standwithus.com) arranged many community events for WordSwap’s participation. These included a reception at the home of the Canadian director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, Donna Holbrook; participation in the Ignite Christian Conference; presentation of a Purim play and workshop at Catch the Fire Church, and visits to Congregation Darchei Noam and Beth Sholom Synagogue. Together with Hillel, we assisted WordSwap by setting up tables on campus and providing well-received StandWithUs materials. We also helped Hillel co-ordinate Innovation Israel during their visit.