We’re fortunate to live in Canada in 5772. While not all of us have comfortable lives, many of our streets are lined with monster homes, and our shul parking lots are filled with luxury cars.
There’s little controversy in Canadian Jewry 5772, and we’re free to walk the streets with a kippah on our head, tzitzit blowing in the wind and a tallit draped over our shoulders. Occasionally, a car full of young hooligans will yell out, “Hey Jew! I dropped a penny,” but it’s surprising, because few of us born and raised in Canada have been exposed to real Jew-hatred. The Conservatives are in power, and all is good, because they’re so deeply committed to our State of Israel. What could be bad?
In Jewish Canada 5772, we take great pride in saying it’s near impossible to live on less than $150,000 a year, because real estate tax is $7,500, day-school tuition for the three kids is $40,000 and Pesach meat and kosher-for-Passover products can run the average Jew $3,000. On top of that comes camp and the annual family trip.
In Jewish Canada 5772, tzedakah flows from our pockets for nice and important things such as cleaning the Anshei Minsk Synagogue, Baycrest and the Canadian Cancer Society’s annual daffodil month. While we’re all aware of the Tomchai Shabbos tzedakah fund to feed the needy on Shabbat and Jewish Family & Child’s supplementary assistance program to top up the monthly take of those in poverty, we’re no longer asked to increase our giving to assist Jews being held hostage, as they were by such dictators as Romania’s Nicolae Ceausescu and Syria’s Hafez Assad. The overwhelming majority of the world’s 13.4 million Jews live safely in the west and Israel. Operation Exodus, the campaign in the 1990s to rescue Jews from the former Soviet Union, is a thing of the past.
Canada’s 375,000 Jews, the world’s fourth-largest Jewish community, are a comfy bunch, and thank God we are. For some reason, we were blessed to live in a country, on a continent, where there’s no talk of excommunicating Jews, as there was throughout history in dozens of lands. The laws are mostly fair, and we’re allowed to own land and develop it, practise our religion freely and run for government at every level. In Jewish Canada 5772, we’re vigilant about the antisemite and yell loudly when comments even smelling of antisemitism are spoken or written. Jews no longer hide in fear as we once did. Certainly, Israel and its tremendous strength and success play a role in our calm lifestyle.
In 5773, let’s consider, however, that good times are meant to prepare us for challenging times. How should Diaspora Jewry prepare for a potential Israeli attack on Iran? How would we save the 25,000 Jews living there? Are we prepared for a real estate market crash and diminishing tzedakah receipts? What will be with the growing poverty on Bathurst Street? Are we thinking of accommodating more and diverse Jewish voices regarding our future, so that we’re not just a monolithic column of thinking, and so that we remember the refugees coming to our shores and are compassionate toward them? Are we living up to our commitment, around the world, to “Never Again?”
Five thousand, seven hundred and seventy three years after Creation, will the Canadian Jewish community show greater international leadership in the area of multifaith and creative and compassionate humanitarian innovation? We can. We’re now free.
Shanah Tovah. Have a sweet holiday. Thank God we’re free.