A full-page ad titled “Why you should care about Israel Apartheid Week,” sponsored by Jewish Students for Self-Respect, was published in your Jan. 31 Toronto issue. What shocked me was the question the group asked: “Why has our Jewish leadership let us down?”
I have been involved with Jewish life on campus for five years and have personally dealt with the University of Toronto administration regarding Israeli Apartheid Week. The Jewish students at U of T are not to blame when it comes to the continuation of this annual hate-fest. Instead of choosing to turn our campus into a battlefield, as other educational institutions have, we continually attempted to build bridges on common grounds with the Muslim students groups. Our programming is always of the highest quality and always sends a powerful message of peace to the administration.
I challenge UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, Canadian Jewish Congress, the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy and B’nai Brith to continue to show active support to those students who seek to rid campuses of this event across Canada, the United States and Britain. I encourage these organizations to provide educational workshops for students, as well as other tools necessary to keep our campuses a safe environment for all.
Hillel at the University of Toronto
Response to Held
As a rabbi at one of the so called “big-box establishments” described in Daniel Held’s column, “We need to create our own shuls” (CJN, Feb. 7), I feel obligated to respond. One of the great gifts of the Ontario Jewish community, which I have observed as an American-born Jew who moved here eight years ago, is the fact that this community is multi-generational. Many of the large congregations in the Greater Toronto Area comprise three- and four-generational families.
Because of the demographic challenges facing our community, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and the large congregations formed a think-tank. In terms of an alleged lack of creativity, many of our shuls are experimenting in one way or another with “synaplex” models of pluralism and choice, so that a menu of davening and spiritual options can be found in our synagogues.
Frankly, all of our congregations are desperately seeking the younger demographics to come into our synagogues. Many of the larger ones have gladly worked with the younger echelons in structuring age-appropriate services for university students and young professionals. At Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue, for example, over the several years that I have served as its rabbi, we have graciously opened our doors to independent Shabbat experiences for university students and young professionals.
I am quite confident that if our spiritually seeking young people asked for creative liturgical options that respect the basic religious and/or halachic tenets of a particular congregation, such options would be explored and provided. Don’t create your own shuls. Help the existing ones to thrive and grow so that the great gift of our multi-generational community will continue to flourish for decades to come.
Rabbi Howard Morrison
Response to Lootsteen
Yair Lootsteen, in his column “Supreme Court’s authority must be maintained” (CJN, Jan. 24), presents a very one-sided account of Israeli Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann’s proposed changes to the functioning of Israel’s Supreme Court.
In Israel, Supreme Court judges effectively control the selection of new judges, which has resulted in a monolithic Supreme Court producing, more often than not, unanimous rulings on highly controversial and significant public issues. Moreover, it is questionable whether the Supreme Court should be intervening at all in matters of national security, in which they lack the military expertise.
Supreme Courts, in any democracy, tread a fine line between overseeing laws passed by a democratically elected government and usurping the role of government for themselves. The late Supreme Court of Canada chief justice, Antonio Lamer, was resolute in his conviction that the Supreme Court of Canada was not to usurp the role of Parliament. In contrast, Israeli Supreme Court Chief Justice Dorit Beinish recently met with the U.S. ambassador to Israel to discuss the Israeli Supreme Court’s position on the settlements – a meeting that provoked a controversy for the perception of allowing politics to interfere with or influence judicial independence.
Friedmann’s proposal would encourage the selection of a more varied and pluralistic judiciary. Friedmann’s attempt to limit the role of the Supreme Court judges in a self-perpetuating ideological process has rattled certain judges and others on the Israeli political left. Volunteer lawyers from the Canadian Legal Forum for Israel are in the process of drafting legal opinions in support of Freidmann’s proposals.
Yehudit Shier Weisberg, Co-ordinator
Gordon Wiseman, Legal Consultant
Canadian Legal Forum for Israel