Week of June 5
Healthy dose of controversy
“What is the point?” asks Ruth Sacher, about The CJN dishing dirt on COR and kashrut (“Fanning the flames,” The CJN, May 29).
The point is this: scandal in a newspaper is an indicator of a healthy, democratic press. When articles are kept clean, we ask what other news is being kept from us? Who is doing the censoring? And if scandal is fuel for the anti-Semites, so be it. Do we cut off our noses because anti-Semites don’t like them?
My Promised Land challenges
I agree with Martin Goldfarb’s commentary about Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land (“The challenge of My Promised Land,” The CJN, May 15).
I would add my own comments as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. Shavit reveals to us in his first paragraph that he was traumatized in his early years, asking on the eve of the 1967 war and again in 1973 on the eve of the Yom Kippur War if the Arabs would throw Israel into the sea.
His book is well written with more of an empathic ear to the Arab “tragedy” than to his own Jewish Israeli brethren. The praise he receives for his writing is justified, but his conclusion betrays the Zionism of his great-grandfather Herbert Bentwich and would turn him in his Jewish grave.
Hire workers with disabilities
I’d like to commend you on your series on inclusion of people with disabilities (“The Inclusion Project,” The CJN, May 22). As a parent of a young woman with autism and as a board member of Reena, I am aware of how the Jewish community has been slow to accept and include people with disabilities.
Just a few years ago, when my daughter was younger, I could not find a Jewish camp that would accept her in the Toronto area and had to go to B’nai Brith Montreal for her to have a Jewish camp experience. The YMCA was also far more welcoming than the Jewish camps.
It would be wonderful if business owners could be encouraged to employ people with disabilities. They will prove to be dedicated and dependable employees who will stay on the job.
There are companies hiring people with disabilities who have found it profitable, and there are good business reasons for such hires. Walgreens in the United States, Specialisterne in Denmark, a Tim Hortons franchise operator and London Drugs here in Canada make a good business case for hiring disabled workers. There are also companies formed specifically to provide work for people with disabilities, such as Common Ground Catering and Good Foot Courier Services here in Toronto.
I’m so glad to hear rabbis Adam Cutler and Adam Scheier recognize the importance of hosting and greeting individuals at kiddush (“Shul kiddush is about more than food,” The CJN, May 15).
If every person attending was mindful of a stranger in their midst and just said “Shabbat shalom,” it could make a world of difference in a return visit to shul.
From the campaign trail
While campaigning to become the next MPP for York Centre, I’m often asked why I decided to run for office. In short, it’s because of the strong sense of community that my parents instilled in me at a very young age.
Before immigrating to Canada from Ukraine, my parents struggled to maintain their Jewish identity under an oppressive Soviet regime, but they persevered through community engagement, mutual collaboration and hard work. These are the values that have served as guiding principles in my life.
Born and raised in York Centre, I know it is an amazing place for families to grow and prosper. Our community has been neglected for far too long and our economy, jobs and home life are suffering as a result. If given the opportunity, I will work hard to facilitate the change that needs to happen so our community can once again flourish.
Civility and intermarriage
The article in the May 8 edition is a discussion between two rabbis concerning the significant and increasing rate of intermarriage in North America between Jews and gentiles (“The challenge of intermarriage”). Further on in this edition there is an article on the increasing incivility in our society, disrespect and hateful words between its members (“Quebec teaches us a valuable lesson in civility”).
May I suggest that there is, in many if not in most cases, a causal connection between intermarriage and lack of respect and hateful words. A person marrying outside of his or her community has more often than not experienced this in some form when growing up in their parents’ homes. They seek in the other what they did not find in their own.
Perhaps it is time we stopped finger-pointing and looked into ourselves and our own culture.