Week of July 24, 2014
None is too many
The book None is Too Many by Irving Abella and Harold Troper, tells the story of the Canadian government’s policy and practice in the 1930s and 1940s that prevented the entry of virtually all European Jewish refugees.
I am reminded of it by the current claims, made by the usual suspects, that Israel’s actions in Gaza are “disproportionate.”
I suspect that what they really mean, but do not say directly, is that anything at all that Israel does to defend herself is not legitimate.
The struggle to come out
I want to applaud The CJN for the recent series on LGBTQ Jews and how they are a part of the community that has long been ignored.
As an Orthodox gay Jew, the struggle is most difficult, and finding one’s place has not been easy.
I find it repulsive that anyone would suggest, as did the recent letter to the editor (“Beware of gay pride,”The CJN, July 10) that anyone is trying to encourage or entice others to be gay. Trust me when I say there is no candy sweet enough in this world to make this a choice.
No one converts to become gay, but making space for gay Jews within the community is to be applauded, or else, as has happened in the past, most will leave.
Name withheld on request
Bridging the divide
Seymour Epstein wonders how we can “grow creative Jewish life… both in the Diaspora and in Israel while maintaining the centrality of Israel” (“A contemporary moment in the Babylonian Talmud,” The CJN, July 10).
The necessity of our supporting Israel and seeing its relevance daily in our lives, both as individuals and as a community, is as important as ever. The Israeli government seems to be aware of the challenge, as it recently announced it is prepared to spend millions of dollars creating programs in the Diaspora. We in North America must do our part as well.
We know that only a small fraction of North Americans visit Israel. But even those who go as tourists do not see the vast cultural and perhaps religious divide that exists between our communities. We must encourage and support programs that bring us into contact with Israelis behaving as they do, with all of us from North America behaving as we do – volunteer programs are an example – that become a cultural exchange for adults.
Only then will we be able to truly appreciate each other and the value of the lives we have created here and there. Only then will we become one people as we have been historically, even with our differences. Only then can we ensure Israel’s deserved centrality in all our lives.
Human rights at issue
Michael Taube’s column (“Why Jews should support a Christian law school,” The CJN, July 10) completely misses the mark.
He writes that gay people can apply to Trinity Western University and that the “only thing that’s prohibited are same-sex relationships.” This is discriminatory and unacceptable in today’s society. The school welcomes gay people, but prohibits them from being in a relationship. How welcoming!
Second, Taube says that anyone who disagrees with the university’s policies need not apply. This is like saying if a university banned Jews, then Jews simply shouldn’t apply, and everyone will be happy and everything will be OK.
Third, he said one thing that was completely accurate and that completely deflates his entire line of reasoning. He wrote, “same-sex relationships… have absolutely nothing to do with post-secondary education.”
In this, he is absolutely correct. So to borrow from the late prime minister Pierre Trudeau, there’s no place for universities in the bedrooms of the nation.
This is not about whether to support a Christian law school. This is about whether to stand up for the rights of those who are discriminated against and to fight to protect them.
Leigh A. Lampert
Parents of gays speak out
It is very sad in that in 2014, there are still ill informed people in Canada (and elsewhere) who believe that being gay is a choice, and that people can be influenced by others to “convert to being gay” (“Beware of gay pride, The CJN, July 10).
Being gay is not a choice that people make. People do not make a decision regarding their sexual orientation. They are either sexually attracted to the opposite sex, or to people who are the same sex as themselves, or in some cases, to both. This decision is not made for them. It is made by God, who makes all of us, according to His will.
Between 10 and 15 per cent of the world’s population is estimated to be gay, across all religions, all countries and across the entire socio-economic spectrum.
Readers may find the following of interest. JQY is a non-profit organization supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Jews and their families in the Orthodox community. www.jqyouth.org/
PFLAG, Parents and friends of lesbian and gay children, www.pflagcanada.ca/
As parents of a gay child, we know that coming out is not easy and that being gay is not easy.
Meriel and Niall Gordon
Cultural Judaism is enough
To ensure the survival of the Jewish People, passion and zeal are wonderful, but it can cloud our reason and judgment unless paired with compassion and sympathetic consciousness towards each other.
My chassidic/ultra-Orthodox family label as inauthentic all Jews who don’t follow Torah and Halacha according to their “real and correct” interpretation. To me, Lorraine Sandler, based on her article (‘Cultural Judaism’ is simply not enough, The CJN, July 3) sounds like an authentic and committed Reform Jew. Yet she makes the same claim as does my family, that only those who follow her idea of Jewishness, which includes a belief in God, is worthy of being counted among the Jewish People.
I am a passionate, practicing Cultural/Humanistic Jew (human, not God-focused). I raised passionate and committed Cultural/Humanistic Jewish children and we are all devoted to Jewish continuity and tikkun olam.
If we care about Jewish survival, we must abandon our judgment and rejection, and embrace all Jews who wish to identify with our history, culture and fate.
Let’s stop turning them off by telling them how they should do Jewish our way, and rather help them be Jewish in ways that have integrity for them.
Rabbi Eva Goldfinger
Vice president, Association of Humanistic Rabbis
No need to dress up
When it comes to dress at services, I have to respectfully disagree with the opinions of the rabbis (“How formal should shul-wear be?” The CJN, June 26).
I think that with synagogue attendance dropping, there should be less of an emphasis on worshippers being dressed formally. I think that as long as the people are dressed in a tasteful manner, no jeans and T-shirts and such clothes as that, it should be fine. Casual dress should be acceptable at services.
Cote St. Luc, Quebec
Life after JDate
I would like to commend Bruce Freedman on writing such a humorous and articulate account of his JDate experiences (“There’s life after JDate,” The CJN, June 12).
As a single Jewish woman who has been on JDate for some time, I can relate to conundrum of cyber-dating and communicating with a photo and profile, neither of which may be completely accurate.
Freedman was fortunate that on initial emails he was not asked if he was willing to exchange Skype addresses and if he had a webcam. I have not been as lucky and those are definitely the suitors I have avoided!
In the larger communities such as Toronto and Montreal I suspect subscribers have more success that we do in Calgary, where the Jewish population is much smaller but I continue to hold out hope that someone (with air miles) is out there looking for me as well.