TORONTO — The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is calling on the Canadian Jewish community to make a wholesale break from the United Church of Canada.
On the heels of the church’s Aug. 18 General Council decision to adopt a boycott of products made in Israeli settlements, the centre sent a letter to community leaders and institutions asking them to cut ties in every regard.
The letter, dated Aug. 23 and sent by CIJA co-chair David Koschitzky, asks the community to consider imposing an “immediate moratorium on all dialogue and partnership activities between the institutions of the Canadian Jewish community and the United Church of Canada, its regional conferences, local presbyteries and individual congregations.
“This moratorium specifically includes bilateral discussions involving the United Church and Jewish communal institutions, broad interfaith groups in which the church is one of several partners, and educational activities. We ask the rabbinic and lay leadership of the Canadian Jewish community to respect the highest degree of solidarity with this moratorium.”
As of The CJN's deadline, it was unclear how many people and institutions in the Jewish community had received the letter. However, CIJA said it initially sent the message to more than 500 people on its email distribution list and expected that it would be further disseminated to numerous “local agencies, synagogues and partners” across the country.
CIJA said it will consult with lay leaders and rabbis nationwide over the next month to figure out the best way forward with the church and to see how and whether to keep lines of communication open with individual church members and ministers who tried to block the boycott resolution adopted at the 41st General Council earlier this month.
“We recognize and thank the many friends within the [church] who worked to defeat the General Council resolutions on Israel-Palestine and who spoke out against a boycott of Israeli goods.”
The centre will have its annual board of directors meeting on Sept. 20, and it will discuss the results of its meetings with the Jewish community on this subject, Koschitzky said.
CIJA said it would also soon embark on a national campaign to counter the church’s boycott stance by encouraging Canadians – and church members sympathetic to the centre’s cause – to buy goods made in Israel and the West Bank.