It is with great pleasure that I extend my warmest greetings to the Canadian Jewish community as you observe the festival of Passover.
Pesach commemorates the Exodus of the Children of Israel from slavery to freedom. It is a celebration of the power of courage and faith in overcoming oppression. Throughout history, this momentous event has been a source of hope and inspiration for the Jewish people.
Today, Canada is proud to have a strong and devoted Jewish community that continues to observe these centuries-old traditions. As you gather around the seder table and read the Haggadah, you may be heartened by the wonderful spiritual legacy you are preserving. Your adherence to your faith is truly admirable.
On behalf of the government of Canada, Laureen and I offer our heartfelt wishes for a happy and peaceful Pesach.
Prime Minister of Canada
* * *
Premier’s Passover greeting
On behalf of the government of Ontario, I am delighted to extend warm greetings to everyone celebrating the sacred festival of Passover. Today’s world holds unlimited possibilities and unprecedented opportunities. As premier, I believe that learning history’s lessons is key to overcoming our current global challenges – and to mapping out a prosperous, sustainable and harmonious future for the generations to come.
Passover is a remembrance of past struggles and a celebration of freedom. It is also an opportunity to pass on values and lessons that will help youth make their way in life. Through readings, prayers and stories, Jewish youth learn of their people’s remarkable journey from oppression to emancipation. I wish to take this opportunity to commend the Jewish community for cultivating the ideals of hope, perseverance and justice in the hearts of all people.
May your Passover bring you many blessings, much wisdom and great joy, and be filled with the strength that is found in faith. Please accept my very best wishes for a happy and memorable Pesach. Chag Samayach!
Premier of Ontario
* * *
Divestment campaign defeated
The article “Carleton grad students pass divestment motion” (March 29) failed to note that the plebiscite passed at the Graduate Students Association was a last-ditch effort by Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) to salvage its failed divestment campaign. This article should have mentioned that divestment from Israel was explicitly rejected twice in the past year, with the undergraduate students association and the board of governors – the body that actually has influence on such investment choices – both taking a stand against this campaign. These decisions resulted from the hard work of pro-Israel students – Jews and non-Jews.
The CJN’s report, however, stated that 72 per cent of students voted for divestment from four companies that, although the resolution omitted this point, do business with Israel. In fact, 72 per cent of students who participated in the plebiscite voted for divestment – representing only 204 votes out of some 3,000 graduate students at Carleton University. Although the article later provides vote totals, it is important to note that this signifies an “endorsement” by less than seven per cent of all graduate students.
The plebiscite itself is nothing more than symbolic, given that the Graduate Students Association has no authority over Carleton’s pension investments. When Carleton’s board of governors rejected this initiative last year, it established an ethical investing policy. Carleton’s administration affirmed that this vote will do nothing to change its ethical investment standards. The message is clear: Carleton will continue investing in companies that trade with Israel, because Israel represents an ethical investment decision.
* * *
Rabbi Lerner’s retirement
Rabbi Leigh Lerner, senior rabbi of Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom in Montreal, is retiring. An evening honouring Rabbi Lerner is planned for June 13, during which the congregation will present him with a tribute book. Please contact 514-937-3575, ext. 215, or email@example.com by April 16 with memories, photographs or a special message for the book.
Nancy Strohl and Sally Yaffe
Tribute Book Co-Chairs
Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom
* * *
Conductor Ethel Starke remembered
In the March 1 issue of The CJN, there was an obituary for symphonic conductor Ethel Starke (“Ethel Stark: a pioneering orchestra conductor,” March 1). What a disappointment! I had the opportunity to watch her conduct the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra. It was a memorable occasion. To watch her on the podium was just breathtaking. Your article was very cold and incorrect; she was 101 years old. She worked very hard to establish this orchestra – both seeking monetary backing and selecting qualified women musicians. Not an easy feat.
She received many honours, not only from Canada and Quebec but also from many other countries. She deserved all the recognition she received and deserves continuing honour and respect. What a grand lady!
Cote St. Luc, Que.
Editor’s note: Sources give the spelling of the late conductor’s surname as both “Starke” and “Stark.”