Where do the Quebec regional officers get the idea that Quebec Jews would welcome the change to Congrès juif québécois, Section québécoise du Congrès juif canadien or, in English, Quebec Jewish Congress, the Quebec division of Canadian Jewish Congress (“CJC Quebec Region changes its name,” CJN Montreal; “CJC changes its name in Quebec,” CJN Toronto, April 8). Everyone I spoke to about it was ardently against the change. They feel they are Canadian Jews who happen to live in the province of Quebec. On April 2, there was a CTV poll on the plan and 89 per cent were against it. There is a hint of separatism in it.
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It is interesting how in the name of an idea one can obscure reality. “At least once in the national memory of a people, there has to be imprinted not just the historical reality of being liberated, but the constant idea that we are free. What God gave us at the Exodus was the possibility of ever-renewable freedom… The Exodus instructs us that all of life is a choice to be free,” Elliott Melamet writes in his column “The Exodus gave us access to transcendence” (CJN, April 2).
If this was God’s message, why then did the Almighty not protect the Jews but leave them to be “tortured and gassed and shot and exterminated… persecuted and harassed and exiled and ridiculed.” Instead He “gave us the possibility of ever-renewable freedom.” What is the use of the “constant idea that we are free” when in reality Jews were “tortured, gassed, exterminated”? To be free is not only an idea and a choice, but a struggle. Instead, the Jewish people were told to wait for the Messiah.
“That idea,” Melamet writes, “represents our salvation.” What about the six million Jews who believed in this idea and were exterminated? Had the Almighty sent several plagues to liberate the Jews from the death camps as he liberated Jews from slavery in Egypt, only then could Melamet declare that “that idea represents salvation.”
Not in our name
How bizarre to think that the government of Israel, which is responsible for the safety and protection its citizens and residents, would even consider, let alone act “in the name” of those who protested under this unfortunately chosen banner (“Israel-bashing Jews: not in my name,” CJN, March 5). Only egocentric people sitting in the comfort and safety of a home 6,000 miles from the possibility of having a Qassam rocket land on their children’s daycare could conceive of such an idea. Hard to know whether to laugh or cry.
People want help with shivah protocol
Many thanks to Frances Kraft for her story describing what saying Kaddish for her father has meant to her and for her companion piece on shivah etiquette (“Thoughts on Kaddish, nine months in” and “Shivah dos and don’ts,” CJN Toronto, April 8; CJN Montreal, April 17).
It seems the catalyst for the latter were requests from CJN readers. This strongly suggests people want and need help with shivah protocol, probably as shivah calls become more common for members of the postwar boomer generation. While most of us can navigate these situations by instinct, there are finer points of shivah dos and don’ts that may be unfamiliar. May I suggest that Jewish leaders offer public classes or discussion groups on this aspect of bereavement. It would be a mitzvah.
Columnist missed some Jews
In a valiant attempt to include every known Jewish organization and group, columnist Gerald Gall missed quite a few Jews (“Canada’s Jewish communities,” CJN, April 8). In Toronto, we have Darchei Noam, one of Canada’s Reconstructionist congregations with approximately 250 families and growing. At Darchei Noam, there are at least two members who are neither Sephardi nor Ashkenazi, and I know of quite a few others whose ancestors never saw Spain or any part of Europe. They belong to yet a third group of Jews known as Mizrachi. The Mizrachi (a.k.a. Oriental Jews) are Jews from India, Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Ethiopia. There is also Oraynu Congregation for humanist Judaism, which is part of the secular humanist Jewish movement.