Home Opinions Letters Week of May 5, 2016

Week of May 5, 2016

Letters to the Editor THE CJN PHOTO
Letters to the Editor THE CJN PHOTO

Response to York’s president

As community organizations dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for Jewish students on campus and advocating for the Jewish community, we read the interview with York University’s president, Mamdouh Shoukri (“President says York University committed to inclusion”), with great interest.

We were disappointed to see comments that we felt were condescending to the concerns of our community and dismissive of the concerns of our students. While we acknowledge his stated commitment to combat bigotry and enhance inclusion, his administration’s failure to address the growing sense of alienation among Jewish students on campus has led many in our community to question whether York University’s leadership is either incapable of, or unwilling to, uphold its own ideals.

We remain alarmed by the seeming disregard of York University’s administration to recognize and confront anti-Semitism on campus.

He stated that the mural at York University contributed to his decision to establish an advisory committee on inclusion. We were astonished to learn that almost half of the members appointed to the inclusion committee either support boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) or have been publicly critical of Israel.

These appointments cannot possibly be reconciled with encouraging inclusion and will only serve to increase tension and further alienate Jewish students and faculty.

If Shoukri’s desire and the policies of the administration are to build an inclusive and diverse campus that nurtures the respectful exchange of ideas, we call on him to make a change. Remove any members of the committee with a record of publicly promoting BDS and other anti-Israel initiatives and replace them with those experienced in bridging differences and strengthening harmony on campus.

The community organizations that have signed this letter represent the diverse Jewish community in the Greater Toronto Area. Our collective goal is to ensure that the administration acts in a manner consistent with its stated goal of encouraging inclusion. Our desire has always been, and remains, to work with you and your administration to achieve this goal.

As he has stated, York University has a proud history in the community. By taking meaningful steps to address discrimination and intolerance on campus, York University has the opportunity to be a leader in North America in dealing with these difficult issues in an effective and equitable manner.

B’nai Brith of Canada, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, Hasbara Fellowships Canada, Hillel Ontario, StandWithUs Canada, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto

Matzah factory memories

Thank you for the wonderful article, “A matzah factory on Ontario Street,” and kudos to Bill Gladstone for unearthing this fascinating story about Canada’s first matzah factory, back in 1908.

What I found very remarkable is that Montreal, with its much larger and more established Jewish community, did not have its own bakery at that time. Apparently the Toronto manufacturer was so eager to cater to the Montreal market that their product bore the kashrut certification of Rabbi Meldola de Sota of Montreal, rather than that of Toronto’s leading rabbi at the time, Rabbi Yaakov Gordon.

The article does not say who owned the bakery or how long it was in existence. However I do remember there being a matzah bakery here in Toronto in the late 1930s when I was a youngster. I think it was owned by the Gula family, but I do not know whether it was the same one as on Ontario Street.

I don’t think that this bakery was around after World War II, and I wonder why. Gladstone points out that there was a 25 per cent import duty on matzah. Would that not make local matzah very competitive with the older and more established New York bakeries such as Manischewitz and Streit’s? Perhaps my contemporaries can provide more information about these bakeries and why they did not succeed.

Phil Elias