MONTREAL — Canadian Jewish Congress, Quebec Region, n’est plus.
The organization that speaks for the province’s Jewish community is now officially called Congrès juif québécois, Section québécoise du Congrès juif canadien or, in English, Quebec Jewish Congress, the Quebec division of Canadian Jewish Congress.
The name change, which is effective immediately, was approved unanimously by the Quebec regional officers and, with the exception of one dissenting vote, by the national officers of CJC, said regional president Victor Goldbloom. He added that the national co-presidents Rabbi Reuven Bulka and Montrealer Sylvain Abitbol have personally enthusiastically endorsed the change.
While there was some questioning from a few people when the matter was brought before the national body in March, only one person ultimately cast a negative ballot, and he is not from Quebec, Goldbloom said.
Goldbloom said the idea of giving the regional CJC a new name that makes Quebec more prominent has been discussed for a number of months internally.
“The feedback that we have been getting from the media and in public opinion in general, regardless of political affiliation, is that we should be more explicitly identified with Quebec, that such a move would be positively perceived,” he said.
Jews have lived in Quebec for 249 years, he said, and are an integral part of this society and should be seen to be so.
The name change does not alter in any way the region’s relationship with the national body or its mandate, Goldbloom emphasized, and that;s why the official name continues to include “Canadian Jewish Congress.”
“It’s not that the Canadian in our name was a negative or is being rejected, it is that ‘Quebec’ is a positive,” he said.
Goldbloom, who was a Quebec cabinet minister in the 1970s, has been on a speaking tour of the province over the past year, and his impression is that if he was introduced as the head of a clearly Quebec-identified organization, it would be welcome. On the couple of occasions that he floated the idea of the name Congrès juif québécois, he was applauded.
As for why the new name could not have been Congrès juif du Québec, rather than using the politically charged word “Québécois,” Goldbloom said this was discussed and it was decided that because the name is Congrès juif canadien, it made the most sense to change that last word to its adjectival equivalent.
“I agree ‘Québécois’ can be politically charged, but the Jewish community has been an integral part of this society for 249 years. During the recent ‘reasonable accommodation’ debate and so on there was a tendency to put the Jewish community in the same category as other communities who have come here much more recently,” he said.
“It is important to be identified as an integral part of this society.”
As has been the custom for decades, the French version of the name will predominate on any official correspondence or documentation.
He said the CJC constitution does not appear to put up any obstacle to such a name change.
Goldbloom, who is in the second and probably last year of his term as regional president, said he hopes there will not be opposition or consternation among the Jewish grassroots to the choice of name. The unanimity of the dozen or so regional officers, who come from different segments of the community, is an indication, he thinks, that Quebec Jewry is ready for this change.
The rebranding comes almost exactly 90 years after CJC was founded in Montreal.