On April 4, the board of directors of the Canada-Israel Committee came under sniper fire near the Gaza border while receiving a briefing from Israeli Minister of Public Security Avi Dichter (“CIC members fired upon while touring Sderot,” CJN, April 10). The incident, in which Dichter’s bureau chief, Matti Gil, was injured, was widely reported in both Israel and Canada. I would like to share a few reflections on what happened.
The CIC board includes Jews and Christians from across Canada. Our annual study visit to Israel was intended to provide our directors with a first-hand appreciation of local perspectives. In that sense, the attack was highly instructive. Our brief experience on one of the front lines of Israel’s ongoing battle to protect her citizens was but a small insight into what the families of southern Israel live with on a daily basis.
But there are other insights, too, some less obvious, from our experience, that deserve comment as well.
The attacker did not distinguish between Jew and non-Jew. Nor did the response by the board members to his attack show any differentiation between Jew and non-Jew. Though shaken, we unanimously decided to continue with our itinerary, which included lunch and shopping in Sderot. It was a very heartening demonstration of support for the Jewish state.
We must always remember this.
Support for Israel, whether in Canada and beyond, is not confined to the Jewish community alone. Our delegation received expressions of concern and support from all segments of Canadian and Israeli society, including from prime ministers Stephen Harper and Ehud Olmert and the leader of Canada’s opposition, Liberal leader Stéphane Dion.
None of us will ever forget our experience on the Gaza border, nor will we ever be deterred from our support for Israel. Israelis, and indeed Canadian Jews, need to know that they are not alone in their search for peace and their commitment to Israel’s security.
Conservative movement and USCJ (1)
I wish to add a point of clarification to the article “Conservative shuls move to secede from USCJ” (CJN, April 3). While some of the personalities mentioned in the article raised the issues of ideology and philosophy, these matters were never actually put on the table for discussion. Rather, the points of deliberation centred around governance, autonomy, and finances.
While most of the Toronto-area congregations are more traditionally based in many areas of ritual as compared to other Conservative shuls in the eastern Canadian region, everyone I know of validated the importance of pluralism, mutual respect and inter-community co-operation toward building a strong Canadian brand of Conservative Judaism.
Regardless of how individual synagogues determine their institutional affiliations, I hope and pray that the current mix of congregations will continue to share an affinity with each other and strive to work effectively with our neighbouring Orthodox, Reform and Reconstructionist congregations as well.
Rabbi Howard Morrison,
Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue
Conservative movement and USCJ (2)
In the article “Conservative shuls move to secede from USCJ” (CJN, April 3), there are a number of conflicting opinions expressed by rabbis about how they feel about the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) and its value to certain Canadian congregations. Most have commented ideologically. Interestingly, the ideological debate was lost in the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and the Rabbinical Assembly (RA). Theological/ideological policy was made there and not by the USCJ. If that is the case, why is the debate focused on congregational membership in the USCJ now?
The unexpressed subtext of this debate and the reason for this, I believe, is the discomfort that some local rabbis have with their own decision-making body, the RA, and their continued membership in it. The USCJ is an easier target for them and attracts little personal risk. However, their influence on decisions that congregations make will make a significant difference to the congregation.
I would venture to guess that if congregants knew what was really at stake to the movement – nothing less than its long-term survival as a meaningful stream of Judaism, and to the congregation, among other things, a setting of itself apart from an international movement of millions of similarly minded Jews, with identified and admired ethical and Israel- focused principles – they would choose to have a say in the decision. As well, they might be very upset that their rabbi – who has no love for the USCJ or the movement and its direction – and their board would presume to speak for them without a presentation to the membership at a general meeting, where matters of such grave consequence ought to be considered.
Canadian Foundation of Masorti Judaism