I almost choked on my coffee reading the headline “CIJA meets with the PA in Ramallah” (July 12). Since 2008, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (formerly the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy) has failed to react to anti-Israel activities in Yellowknife, which are supported by the local United Church and city councillors. In November 2010, I alerted CIJA that British MP and Palestinian supporter George Galloway would be speaking in Yellowknife. CIJA’s response was that such events usually attract only those already on side, and unless people make them an issue, they pass under the radar. CIJA added that there isn’t much that can be done except to present balanced programming in a community when there are interested parties willing to do so. An unprecedented, large crowd of 300 northerners went to hear Galloway spewing lies.
In June 2012, I alerted CIJA to help counter Yellowknife’s fourth annual Focus on Palestine event. CIJA’s response was that they have no control or impact over activities that people do, in any community, that do not contravene the law. CIJA said that much as CIJA doesn’t approve of this group’s programming, it is within the group’s rights to hold the event. Where CIJA could intervene, they would.
Until CIJA reacts with authority to anti-Israel activities in Canada, it is incapable of acting as the “Canadian interlocutor between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to help restart the peace plan.”
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British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes eloquently in the Perspectives piece “Seven principles of Jewish leadership” (June 21). Columnist Lawrence Hart in “Applying principles of Jewish leadership” (July 5) elaborates further on these concepts. He writes that “sadly, though there are… exceptions, we see very little of this vibrant brand of leadership… that claim to represent the ‘mainstream’ of the Canadian Jewish community.” I see it differently. As a volunteer who gives a great deal of time to our Jewish community, I see individuals rising above politics and focusing on the challenges at hand. I have worked with both lay leaders and professional staff whose actions and behaviour reflect the vibrant leadership style that Rabbi Sacks espouses. With education and transformative attitudes, I feel confident we have the ability to grow such positive leadership even further in our Canadian Jewish community.
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Refugees’ health care
I am writing to clarify my position on the article “Rabbis urge PM not to cut refugees’ health care” (July 5). At the time the letter was written by the Toronto Board of Rabbis (TBR) on the subject of Bill C-31, I was serving as president of the board. Given the overwhelming consensus of my colleagues on this issue, I affirmatively signed the TBR letter as a leader and representative of my group. The position of the Toronto Board of Rabbis was formulated from Jewish views on social justice and religious values. The Toronto Board of Rabbis comprises rabbis who represent the fullness of the religious denominational spectrum, including Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative and Orthodox rabbis.
Rabbi Howard Morrison
Past president, Toronto Board of Rabbis
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Day school education
In response to Maja Buium’s letter, “Raising kids without day school,” (July 5), kol hakavod for having raised committed young Jewish adults even though they attended public school. But statistics show that intermarriage for Jewish students attending public school is much higher than for those attending Jewish day schools. The content of Jewish day-school education reaches higher levels of education than camps, synagogues, part-time Hebrew school and trips to Israel can offer. Quality Jewish education should instil in our children pride in who they are, voiding any notion of assimilation. Education increases knowledge, intelligence and power. The knowledge should empower them to address intelligently and confidently those who want to convert them and antisemites on university campuses and elsewhere.