It is my distinct pleasure to extend my warmest greetings to all Canadians observing Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
The High Holidays are a period for contemplation and celebration in
Jewish communities around the world. This ancient New Year tradition is
an opportunity for members of the community to reflect on the past year
and look forward with hope and optimism to the year ahead.
As you enjoy this precious time with family and friends, you may take
great pride in your rich cultural heritage and the many contributions
Jewish Canadians have made to the growth and prosperity of our great
nation. By honouring these traditions, you are ensuring the continued
strength and unity of the community.
On behalf of the Government of Canada, please accept my best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
Prime Minister of Canada
The sound of the shofar signals the opening of a new year – a time to reflect on the year that has passed and look forward to the possibilities that lie ahead. It is also a time for Jews to gather with family and friends in prayer and celebration.
This occasion provides us with an excellent opportunity to celebrate the friendship between Canada and Israel – a friendship rooted in shared values that grows stronger every year.
During this High Holiday period, let this spirit of friendship fill our hearts with compassion for our fellow citizens.
I wish you Shana Tova.
Leader of the Official Opposition
On behalf of the Consulate General of Israel in Toronto, it is a pleasure to extend my sincere wishes to the Toronto Jewish community as we celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in the year of 5769.
While the challenges facing Israel and the Jewish community are great, we look to the future through a hopeful and optimistic lens. As the Jewish people, we are unified and strong in our willingness and readiness to overcome whatever it is that may confront us.
At this time, I would like to take the opportunity to shed some light on a very important and symbolic gesture made by local rabbis of all religious sects in Toronto that are united in the attempt to bring the local Israelis and the local Jewish community together on Yom Kippur. The concept is Yom Kippur Lekulam (Yom Kippur for all).
This initiative will provide explanatory services that will be open and free to Israelis throughout the city of Toronto. [Editor’s note: As our synagogue structure doesn’t permit unrestricted access to worship services during the High Holidays, the Israeli consul general has asked community leaders to make special provisions for Israelis, perhaps before Kol Nidre or during a break on Yom Kippur afternoon, or at some other time.]
This experience reflects the customary way secular Israelis observe the holiday. The main focus of this initiative is to offer the young generation of Israelis who reside in Canada a unifying and hospitable experience that will connect Israelis to their Jewish and Israeli identity. We must provide an option for this generation who in many cases do not have a Jewish educational or communal experience in Toronto.
I would like to extend my gratitude to all those involved in such a necessary and significant initiative.
During this time of reflection, I would like to wish you Chag Samayach and best wishes in the year ahead.
Israeli Consul General
Tempest in an election teapot
What exactly was “shameless” about Canadian Jewish Congress co-president Rabbi Reuven Bulka accepting an explanation from Prime Minister Stephen Harper about his decision to hold the election on Sukkot (“Community handed Tories a victory,” CJN letters, Sept. 18)?
As I understand this tempest in an election teapot, the letter writer believes that in a secular society, governments must ensure that elections do not interfere with Jewish yom tovim. To be sure, it’s not an ideal voting date for observant Jews. However, the right to vote, the most sacred of democratic responsibilities, remains intact, with numerous days to cast one’s ballot in advance.
It’s true that on Oct. 14, observant Jews who would be working for particular candidates will be unable to volunteer their services. This, however, does not stop any Jewish volunteer from participating on all the other days of the writ.
Surely, we cannot hold any government’s feet to the fire, demanding that our holidays be declared non-election days. In Israel, this would be perfectly appropriate. In Canada, the best that we can do is point out to governments when our holidays fall and hope they can work around it. This is exactly what the CJC did – which was more, I should add, than any other Jewish group in the country.
Secrecy of religion promotes hatred
I read the comments of the principal of Solomon Shechter Academy in “Frum schools balk at new religious culture course” (CJN, Sept. 18) and wish to congratulate him on his position.
I also think that it is high time to remove the artificial wall that surround all religions and let in some light and fresh air. The mystery and secrecy of religion has served to promote blind hatred and antagonism throughout the ages. These, man-made obstacles prevent Judaism – and other religions – from flourishing and from being more relevant and more pertinent to its people. Judaism, with its rich history of frank and open debates and with its special position as the archetype of monotheism, has nothing to fear from a course that intends to demonstrate to future decision-makers what makes the various sets of beliefs tick.
Catholic school opposes religion course
I am a bit surprised by some of the details mentioned in the article “Frum schools balk at new religious culture course” (CJN, Sept. 18).
First, I believe all schools, even those receiving no subsidies, have to teach this course (this has been requested of evangelical and Mennonite schools).
Second, I’m amazed that these Jewish schools would accept the ethics and dialogue part of the course. Have they looked properly at it? Teachers are not supposed to teach anymore, but to present ethical problems and let the students dialogue and come to common decisions and values. What if these values contradict the Torah or the mitzvot? The teacher is not supposed to intervene – he/she should only do so if the rules of proper dialogue are broken! This is the reason why Loyola, a Catholic high school in NDG, opposes this course.