• Jim Carr, Canada’s minister of international trade diversification, visited Israel from Sept. 2-6, four months after the two countries modernized the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement.
• U.S. President Donald Trump told American Jewish leaders on a Sept. 6 conference call that he would not give aid to the Palestinians until they reached a peace agreement with Israel. The U.S. slashed its aid to the Palestinian Authority and defunded the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA), the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency.
• Jerry Seinfeld headlined the UJA Federation of Toronto’s 2018 campaign launch on Sept. 6. Around 3,200 people packed the Sony Centre in downtown Toronto to see the comedian for the launch of a campaign that eventually raised over $59 million.
• Ari Fuld, a 45-year-old father of four from the Efrat settlement in Israel, was stabbed to death by a Palestinian teenager on Sept. 16. The U.S.-born Fuld was a well-known Israel advocate and right-wing activist.
• Beth Tzedec Congregation in Toronto announced that its new senior rabbi would be Rabbi Steven Wernick, who at the time was CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. He switched jobs in February of 2019.
• Baycrest, the hospital and retirement complex for the elderly, celebrated its 100th anniversary in September 2018. First opened in 1918 as the Toronto Jewish Old Folks Home on Cecil Street, it moved to its current Bathurst Street location in 1968.
• Over 200 people gathered on Sept. 23 at Fort Edward in Windsor, N.S. to commemorate the centennial of Nova Scotia’s Jewish Legion. In 1918, Jewish recruits from Canada and the U.S. trained in Windsor to fight for the British against the Ottoman Empire, where they made up five battalions of the Royal Fusiliers.
• Thousands of Christian evangelists from around the world marched in a parade in Jerusalem, marking the holiday of Sukkot on Sept. 27.
• The Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) won Quebec’s provincial election on Oct. 1, despite fears among the province’s Jewish community about the party’s promise to enact a ban on religious symbols for public-sector employees.
• Israel lost its strongest supporter at the United Nations on Oct. 9, with U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s surprise resignation.
• Canada committed an additional $50 million to UNWRA on Oct. 12, a few months after the U.S. withdrew US$300 million in funding.
• Tova Ringer, a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor, won the Miss Holocaust Survivor beauty pageant contest in the northern Israeli city of Haifa on Oct.14.
• The Montreal Holocaust Museum, Canada’s first and only recognized Holocaust museum, announced its $50 million plans to move to its own building in downtown Montreal to accommodate a surge in demand for its educational services and other programming.
• The head of Toronto’s Bishop Strachan School resigned on Oct. 26 after the school staged a controversial adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. The creators intended for the adaptation to be satirically anti-Semitic, but that nuance was lost on the “extremely uncomfortable and alienated” Jewish students as their classmates laughed and cheered at the performance’s anti-Semitic chants.
• The family of Barry and Honey Sherman, the billionaire couple who were found dead in their Toronto home in December of 2017, announced a $10 million reward on Oct. 26 for “information leading to the apprehension and prosecution of those responsible for the murders.” The case remains unsolved.
• On Oct. 26, two Canadian siblings, Alfred and Monika Schaefer, were found guilty in Germany for “incitement of hatred” for denying the Holocaust.
• On Oct. 27, a gunman killed 11 people and injured seven more at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, Pa. Among the victims was Toronto native Joyce Fienberg.
• Police increased their presence and boosted patrols near Jewish facilities across Canada in the wake of the Pittsburgh attack. According to a statement from the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) at the time, there was “no information whatsoever to suggest an elevated threat to Jewish communities in Canada.”
Over 5,000 people packed Mel Lastman Square in Toronto and more than 1,000 filled Congregation Beth Israel Beth Aaron in Montreal on Oct. 29 to pay tribute to the victims of the Pittsburgh shooting.
• Israelis attend a rally marking 23 years since the assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in Tel Aviv on Nov. 4. A speech by Likud government minister Tzachi Hanegbi was drowned out by boos. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been accused of fanning the flames of hatred against Rabin after he signed the Oslo Accords, which the left said led to his assassination.
• Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland visited Israel in early November and spoke about Canada’s upcoming MS St. Louis apology, the recent Pittsburgh shooting and Canada’s “unwavering” and “ironclad” support of Israel’s security.
• Members of Toronto’s Muslim community formed “rings of peace” around seven local shuls on Nov. 3, the first Shabbat after the Pittsburgh shootings.
• On Nov. 7, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized for Canada’s refusal of the MS St. Louis and its 937 refugee passengers, almost all Jews, in 1939. The ship was forced to return to Europe, and 254 of its passengers would eventually perish in death camps.
• Four teenage yeshiva students in Toronto were attacked on Nov. 11 by a group of 10 to 12 youths. On Nov. 14, the Toronto police announced a 17-year-old boy had been arrested with assault and robbery, as one of the students had his sunglasses stolen.
• Stephen Schacter, a former teacher at numerous Toronto Jewish day schools, was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault, two counts of sexual interference and one count of gross indecency on Nov. 16. The offences occurred between 1982 and 2002.
• Jan Grabowski, a Polish-born professor of history at the University of Ottawa, filed legal documents in Warsaw on Nov. 16 against the Polish League Against Defamation, alleging that the group had libelled him for sharing his findings about the complicity of Poles in the wartime murder of Jews.
• The Tel Aviv District Court sentenced an American-Israeli man to 10 years in prison for hoaxing Jewish community centres and other targets around the world with thousands of bomb threats.
• According to a Statistics Canada document released on Nov. 29, hate crimes in Canada increased by 47 per cent from 2016 to 2017, including an increase of 63 per cent of incidents involving Jews.
• The world’s first all-kosher Antarctic cruise set sail in December of 2018, and the 1,500 “indulgent” meals for the 52 passengers were provided by Montreal kosher catering company L’Orchidée Traiteur.
• A poll published on Dec. 10 showed that nearly 90 per cent of European Jews felt that anti-Semitism had increased in their home countries over the past five years.
• A Montreal family mourned the death of an Israeli infant relative, Amiad Yisrael Ish-Ran, who was killed in a terrorist attack in the West Bank on Dec. 9. Amiad Yisrael died on Dec. 12, after he was prematurely delivered by an emergency C-section because his mother Shira had been shot while still carrying him.
• In the wake of measles outbreaks in Jewish communities in Israel, New York and New Jersey, the Toronto Public Health and a group of Toronto-based Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox rabbis sent letters to parents of Jewish day school students imploring them to make sure their children are properly vaccinated.
• Dr. Arnold Noyek died at the age of 81 on Dec. 14. Among his accomplishments was founding the Canada International Scientific Exchange Program which worked to improve health across the world.
• On Dec. 17, the Claims Conference announced that Germany would compensate survivors of the Kindertransport with a one-time payment of just over $3,800. The Kindertransport brought over 10,000 children from Germany and the surrounding countries to the U.K. between Kristallnacht in 1938 and the beginning of the Second World War.
• Toronto-produced album Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best World Music Album.
• Rabbi Wilfred Shuchat, who served as the senior rabbi for Montreal synagogue Shaar Hashomayim from 1948 to 1993, died on Dec. 27 at 98 years old.
• Esteemed Israeli author Amos Oz died on Dec. 28 at the age of 79.
• Agudas Shomrei Hadas Jewish Community services sued Premier Kosher for $1.3 million on Jan. 2, alleging that Premier Kosher wrongfully terminated its five-year contract with Agudas. Premier Kosher had hired Agudas to provide kosher certification of its products.
• Irwin Cotler, former justice minister and attorney general, was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
• When Avrum Morrow died in Montreal on Jan. 5 at 94, it was discovered he had been the anonymous “bikeman” who donated more than 1,700 bicycles to disadvantaged children over the past three decades. He had been motivated by Maimonides’ teaching that the highest level of charity is when the giver and receiver are unknown to each other.
• George Brady, best known for the book Hana’s Suitcase about his teenage sister who had been killed by the Nazis, died on Jan. 11 at age 90.
• When the International Centre for the Study of Ethiopian Jewry opened in Kiryat Ono on Jan. 6, it was helped in part by the donations of Montreal’s Gewurz family.
• A poll released on Jan. 27 showed that more than half of Canadians and almost two-thirds of young Canadians do not know that six million Jews perished in the Holocaust.
• On Jan. 23, Library and Archives Canada announced that it had purchased a book that Adolf Hitler had commissioned about Jewish communities in Canada and the United States. The book, which in English is called Statistics, Media and Organizations of Jewry in the United States and Canada, sold for around $6,000.
• Jacob Schwartz, namesake for the charity Jacob’s Ladder, the Canadian Foundation for Control of Neurodegenerative Disease, died on Jan. 28 at age 21.
• On Jan. 30, almost 200 people showed up to the funeral of Holocaust survivor Eddie Ford, even though almost nobody there had known him.
• Canadian MPs approved the updated free trade agreement between Canada and Israel, passing the approval bill on Feb. 8.
• The D’Arcy McGee Liberal Association filed a complaint with Quebec’s chief electoral officer because the advance polls were unable to handle the high number of residents in the riding who needed to use them. The election fell on Oct. 1 of last year, which was Shemini Atzeret, when observant Jews could not cast a ballot. Despite repeated assurances that the advanced polls would be properly equipped to handle the influx of voters, the number of staff hired was based on data from the 2014 provincial election, when there was no conflict with a Jewish holiday.
• Joe Schlesinger, former CBC reporter and Kindertransport survivor, died on Feb. 11 at age 90.
• Rachel Bendayan became the first Sephardic woman elected to Parliament after winning a byelection in her riding of Outremont, Que. on Feb. 28.
• Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted on Feb. 28 for one count of bribery and three counts of breach of trust.
• On Feb. 28, two former members of a Hasidic community in Quebec won the right to take the Hasidic schools they attended to court for allegedly depriving them of a secular education, and the Quebec government for not meeting its obligation to ensure that the mandatory provincial curriculum was enforced.
• The UJA Federation of Greater Toronto announced that its annual Walk with Israel would be moving from downtown to North York for the event’s 50th anniversary. The move paid homage to the walk’s historical routes, when it used to take place uptown, and also made it more accessible to families living further north.
• The 2018 Survey of Jews in Canada released on March 12 looked at never-before explored areas of Canadian Jewish life, delving into the details of Jewish identity, religious practice, experience with discrimination, intermarriage and feelings towards Israel, among other topics. The 84-page survey asked 99 questions of 2,335 individuals in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg, as those four cities represent 82 per cent of the combined Canadian Jewish population. The survey was carried out by the Environics Institute for Survey Research, in partnership with the University of Toronto and York University.
• Dignitaries gathered on March 5 for the opening of the new 18,500-square-foot SodaStream plant in Mississauga, Ont.
• Henry Srebrnik, a political science professor at the University of Prince Edward Island, quit writing his weekly geopolitics column for the local Charlottetown Guardian after the paper published an op-ed titled “Sue Me, You Zionist Goons” that called him out by name.
• Members of Jewish and Christian organizations formed symbolic interfaith rings of peace around 15 Toronto-area mosques on March 22, in response to the shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand a week earlier.
• Controversy erupted around the Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto (TanenbaumCHAT) after a teacher at the school posted pictures on social media of students posing with former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka, who has ties to far-right groups in Hungary, at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Public Policy Conference.
• Israeli President Reuven Rivlin was in Canada from March 31 to April 2, visiting Ottawa, Toronto and Niagara Falls. But he had to leave early because the health of his wife Nechama took a turn for the worse.
• Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party won the closely-contested Israeli election on April 9 over Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party, but he was unable to form a coalition, sending the country back to the polls on Sept. 17.
• Beresheet, the lunar probe co-developed by Israeli non-profit SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries, crashed into the moon on April 11, a tragic end to its 48-day mission.
• At a press conference held at Côte St-Luc City Hall on April 5, a coalition of West End elected officials from all three levels of government declared its opposition to Quebec’s Bill 21, which prohibits public servants from wearing religious symbols. William Steinberg, mayor of Hampstead, Que., called the bill “ethnic cleansing,” although other members of the coalition distanced themselves from that remark.
• Facebook instituted a ban against white nationalists on April 8 that affected many Canadian personalities and groups, including Faith Goldy, Kevin Goudreau and the Canadian Nationalist Front.
• On April 24, the owners of BerMax Caffé and Bistro in Winnipeg were charged with public mischief for allegedly staging an anti-Semitic attack against their business the week before. On April 18 they had claimed their restaurant was broken into, robbed and vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti, and one of them was assaulted.
• On April 24, the Federal Court of Appeal shut the door on Helmut Oberlander’s attempt to retain his Canadian citizenship. The 95-year-old originally gained Canadian citizenship by lying about his wartime role as a member of a Nazi killing unit. His citizenship was first revoked in 2001, but Oberlander did not exhaust his legal options until this year.
• Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, was killed in a shooting at Chabad of Poway near San Diego, Calif., on April 27. Three others were injured in the attack.
• On April 29, B’nai Brith Canada released its Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents for 2018. B’nai Brith measured 2,041 reported incidents, a jump of 16.5 per cent from the prior year.
• On May 1, survivors who came to Canada as part of the Tailor Project – a concerted initiative to hire displaced persons out of European refugee camps to work in Toronto’s clothing industry – shared their stories at an event held at Holy Blossom Temple called “Common Thread.”
• Liberation 75, an international gathering of Holocaust survivors and their descendants, as well as educators, officially launched on May 2. The three-day event, which commemorates the 75th anniversary of the end of the Shoah, will takes place next year from May 31 to June 2.
• Aviva Polonsky, the teacher who was at the centre of the controversy for posting pictures on social media with former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka, announced on May 4 that the Federation of Teachers in Hebrew Schools Toronto filed a grievance against TanenbaumCHAT and also an unfair labour practices complaints with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
• At a speech in Montreal on May 7, Conservative Party of Canada Leader Andrew Scheer promised to move Canada’s Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem if he is elected prime minister.
• Toronto’s city council voted unanimously on May 14 to endorse a dozen recommendations to curb hate-sponsored rallies on its property, with an eye towards the annual Al-Quds Day rally, which has called for violence against Israelis. The rally had been held on a city park just north of the provincial legislature, but on June 1 this year it took place across the street from the U.S. Consulate on University Avenue.
• On May 30, the Knesset voted to dissolve itself and trigger new elections, marking the first time the body voted to dissolve itself before a government had been formed.
• Israel’s First Lady Nechama Rivlin dies on June 4 and was laid to rest in a state funeral the next day at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl national cemetery. She was eulogized by her husband, President Reuven Rivlin, who began his remarks by wishing her a happy 74th birthday.
• Rabbi Daniel Korobkin of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto took over as president of the Rabbinical Council of America on June 20. Of the approximately 1,000 group members, around 10 per cent are Canadian.
• The Rabbinical Assembly Ontario Region, the organization that represents Conservative rabbis in Ontario, adopted a policy that will allow the official Conservative beit din to offer conversions to candidates who identify as homosexuals.
• Six anti-Semitic incidents were reported in Ontario’s Halton Region in a period of a few weeks, beginning on May 21. The incidents involved hate messages posted on the front door of Burlington City Hall, on street lampposts and on private vehicles, including those in the parking lot of a local church. All six were classified as hate crimes.
• Quebec officially passed its much-maligned secularism bill on June 16.
• Toronto Raptors co-owner Larry Tanenbaum shouted “Hagbah!” when he lifted the Larry O’Brien Trophy over his head after his team won the NBA Championship. Tanenbaum also said he may take the team on a trip to Israel to celebrate the achievement.
• Stiffer homeschooling rules that came into effect in Quebec on July 1 were met with outrage among many parents of the estimated 5,000 home-schooled children, including around 2,000 children of Hasidic and other haredi communities. The change that upset parents the most is that children in Grade 4 and above will have to take the Education Ministry’s standardized tests.
• On June 14, a Quebec Court judge dropped two counts of uttering threats and one count of inciting hatred against Robert Gosselin, the Montreal man who made an online threat to kill Jewish schoolchildren. He was found not criminally responsible for the charges against him due to mental illness.
• American Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez elicited controversy with a tweet on June 18 that referred to the camps on the southern border of the United States for illegal immigrants as “concentration camps,” saying that they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying, and that “concentration camps are considered by experts as ‘the mass detention of civilians without trial.’”
• Federal politicians, rabbis and communal officials gathered on June 26 at UJA Federation of Greater Toronto’s headquarters to laud Canada’s official adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, as part of a new national anti-racism strategy.
• On July 6, the College of Surgeons and Physicians of British Columbia cleared Dr. Ellen Wiebe of wrongdoing after she assisted in the death of a resident of a Jewish nursing home in his room. Louis Brier Home & Hospital forbids assisted dying on its premises because the home says it goes against its Jewish values, but it permits every other step of the process to occur on the premises, and for its residents to access assisted dying elsewhere.
• On July 10, the National Post published an article that reported Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto fired around 150 employees who falsely claimed as much as $5 million combined in benefits over an eight-year period.
• On July 16, Jews took the issue of an election falling on a Jewish holiday to court. The upcoming federal election will take place on Oct. 21, which is also Shemini Atzeret. Chani Aryeh-Bain, the Conservative candidate for the Toronto riding of Eglinton-Lawrence, and Ira Walfish, who lives in the Toronto riding of York Centre, went up against Canada’s chief electoral officer, arguing, unsuccessfully, that the date should be moved to Oct. 28.
• Hamilton, Ont.’s public school board hired an investigator to probe allegations of anti-Semitism among its staff. The inquiry was triggered by complaints made by Anissa Hersh, a speech pathologist who works for the school board and said that she has endured years of anti-Semitic comments from her colleagues. Hersh’s allegations include an incident where a teacher allegedly leaned over during a meeting and drew a swastika on the notepad she was using. Hersh also said that she’s been accused of using her religion to get extra time off work for Jewish holidays.
• Former Ontario MPP and health minister David Caplan died on July 24 at age 54. He represented the ridings of Oriole and Don Valley East from 1997 to 2011. He followed in the footsteps of his mother Elinor, who also served as Oriole riding MPP and minister of health in Ontario.
• According to a report from Statistics Canada released on July 22, hate crimes in Canada decreased in 2018, but Jews remain the most targeted group for hate-related offences. Across Canada, police reported 347 hate crimes against Jews in 2018, down from 360 in 2017. Jews accounted for nearly one-fifth of all hate-related offences in 2018, the report said.
• On July 16, the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod, its governing body, expunged a prayer for Jewish conversion from its liturgy.
• By a vote of 6-5, Vancouver’s city council sent a motion designed to combat anti-Semitism to a city committee to provide recommendations on how the city can increase action to stamp out all forms of racism. The motion included a resolution to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which prompted strong expressions of support from some members of the city’s Jewish community, and of condemnation from others.
• On July 29, the Federal Court issued a ruling saying that labelling wine made in the West Bank as a “Product of Israel” is “false, misleading and deceptive.” The issue was first brought to court by David Kattenburg, a pro-Palestinian activist in Winnipeg, who claimed the international community, including Canada, does not recognize the West Bank as part of Israel.
• A study released by Statistics Canada explained why the 2016 census counted less than half as many Jews as the previous one, in 2011. The 2016 census tallied 143,665 Jews, compared to 309,650 five years earlier, because it had removed Jewish as a listed choice for a question on ethnicity. The research released by Statistics Canada included a revised estimate of the number of Jews in the country: around 298,000.
• On July 28, a man was shot repeatedly in front of the Young Israel of Greater Miami Synagogue as he waited for daily services.
• On Aug. 1, the Edmonton Journal ran an editorial cartoon that took aim at the recent Capital One hack, in which the data of six million Canadians was potentially compromised. The cartoon featured a wallet with a credit card, along with what looked like a caricature of a Jewish man, with a balding scalp and hooked nose, typing away at a laptop. The newspaper published an apology on Aug. 9 and met with Jewish community leaders on Aug. 14.
• On Aug. 1, Toronto’s first two full-time female Conservative pulpit rabbis began working: Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin at Beth Tzedec and Rabbi Becca Walker at Beth David.
• Federation CJA in Montreal launched a $10-million fundraising campaign to increase and better co-ordinate security at Jewish community institutions in Montreal.
• Right-wing politicians in Israel criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not allowing Jews to enter the Temple Mount on Tisha b’Av, which fell on Aug. 11. But Netanyahu argued back that evening, saying it was never a question of whether Jews would be allowed into the Temple Mount area, but how to manage their entrance safely, as the day was also a Muslim holiday.
• Father Vladimir Tobin of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Church in Halifax received a letter on Aug. 12 from an archbishop informing him that he was forcibly retired for honouring Judaism and Israel in a sermon.
• On Aug. 15, Israel banned U.S. congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering the country because of their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a few hours after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that allowing them into the country would “show great weakness.”
• On Aug. 21, while speaking about Israel disallowing Omar and Tlaib entry into the country, Trump said Jews who vote Democrat show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” prompting Jewish groups across the country to condemn his remarks.
• James Sears, the editor of Toronto-based publication Your Ward News, was sentenced on Aug. 22 to a year of prison for promoting hatred against women and Jews in the newspaper. Leroy St. Germaine, the publisher of Your Ward News, received 12 months of house arrest.
• Seventeen-year-old Rina Shnerb was killed in a terrorist attack in the West Bank on Aug. 23.
• On Aug. 30, B’nai Brith Canada put out a press release saying that Imam Hassan Guillet, at the time the Liberal candidate in the upcoming federal election for the Montreal riding of St-Léonard-St-Michel, had made anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli comments in the past, including celebrating the release of a Hamas-aligned activist who had accused Jews of staging 9/11 and blood libel. Within hours of B’nai Brith’s release, the Liberal party annulled Imam Guillet’s candidacy.
• A Sept. 6 notice said that the attorney general will appeal the July 29 court ruling that stated labelling wines made in Jewish West Bank settlements as originating from Israel is “false, misleading and deceptive.
• After the Sept. 17 election, the second in five months, Israel remained deadlocked with Blue and White getting 33 seats, and Likud 31. President Reuven Rivlin was expected to try to get the rival leaders to form a unity government.