JBuzz Musings November 23, 2014: Where are donations going? Canadian Jewish community high poverty and inequality

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Where are donations going? Canadian Jewish community high poverty and inequality

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The recently released Jewish Population of Canada, 2011 report indicated there is widening income gap among the Canadian Jewish community. The report looked at the demographics in Canada in general, and the demographics for each province and their major…READ MORE

Full Text JBuzz Transcripts September 24, 2014: Canada’s PM Stephen Harper’s Statement on Rosh Hashanah

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STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA ON ROSH HASHANAH

Source: PM.gc.ca, 9-24-14

Ottawa, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement to mark Rosh Hashanah:

“This evening marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, which is the start of the Jewish New Year.

“Rosh Hashanah is an important time of celebration and personal reflection for people of the Jewish faith, during which families and friends gather together to count blessings, take stock of the present and look forward with hope to the year ahead.

“It is my sincere hope that Jews in Canada and around the world enjoy peace and prosperity in the coming year, especially those in Israel who endured conflict over the past few months.

“On this hopeful and joyous occasion, I would also like to pay tribute to the Jewish community in Canada for the immense contributions they continue to make to our society in all areas of endeavour.

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, Laureen and I wish everyone celebrating Rosh Hashanah health, happiness, harmony and prosperity.

“L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu.”

– See more at: http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2014/09/24/statement-prime-minister-canada-rosh-hashanah#sthash.FCAv50DV.dpuf

JBuzz Musings October 23, 2013: Montreal Jewish population remains steady, will Values Charter spark exodus?

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Montreal Jewish population remains steady, will Values Charter spark exodus?

By Bonnie K. Goodman

After analyzing the data of the 2011 Canadian census, entitled by the Canadian government “the National Household Survey,” Montreal’s Federation CJA has determined that that unlike previous speculation the city’s Jewish population remains above…READ MORE

JBuzz Musings September 25, 2013: Quebec Jews oppose proposed Charter of Values

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Quebec Jews oppose proposed Charter of Values

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The Jewish community in Quebec, Canada is standing in opposition to the Quebec government’s new proposed bill the Charter of Quebec Values and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs – Quebec (CIJA-Québec) announced on Tuesday, Sept…READ MORE

JBuzz Musings September 25, 2013: Gilad Shalit receives warm welcome from Jewish community on Canadian Tour

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Gilad Shalit receives warm welcome from Jewish community on Canadian Tour (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Gilad Shalit completed the Eastern portion of his four city Canadian tour, having visited Toronto and Montreal on Sept. 16 and 17, 2013 respectively, receiving a warm welcome and greeted by large crowds at both synagogues where he spoke; Toronto…READ MORE

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JBuzz Musings July 2, 2013: Jewish Tribune experiences backlash from Gilad Shalit criticism

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Jewish Tribune experiences backlash from Gilad Shalit criticism (Photos)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

On June 18, 2013, the Jewish Tribune published a blistering critic of Gilad Shalit’s upcoming speaking tour to Canada sponsorded by Jewish National Fund (JNF) Canada. The Jewish Tribune is the newspaper associated the Jewish organization B’nai B’rith…READ MORE

JBuzz Musings June 28, 2013: UTT Herzliah St. Laurent building finally sold

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UTT Herzliah St. Laurent building finally sold

By Bonnie K. Goodman

After nearly two years the United Talmud Torahs of Montreal (UTT) announced on June 20, 2013 by email to their alumni that they have sold the school building that housed the UTT Elementary School and Herzliah High School Beutal campus…READ MORE

JBuzz News November 22, 2012: Julien Bauer: Canadian Montreal University Professor Target of anti-Semitic Vandalism

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Canadian Professor Target of anti-Semitic Vandalism

Source: Jewocity.com Blog (blog), 11-20-12

Canadian Professor Target of anti Semitic Vandalism Canadian Political Science Professor Julien Bauer was the target of anti-Semitic vandalism this week….READ MORE

JBuzz News November 20, 2012: Morton Weinfeld: How Do Canadian Jews View Israel?

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How Do Canadian Jews View Israel?

Source: Open Zion, 11-20-12

For all the talk of the Jewish vote in the recent U.S. elections, I can’t help but wonder how Canadian Jews are conceiving of their own political commitments towards Israel. Canada’s Jews have a more traditional profile on most ethnic and religious measures than their American counterparts. And last year’s Canadian federal election cemented the different political profiles of the two communities as Canadian Jews tilted rightwards.

Morton Weinfeld, professor of sociology at McGill University and longtime analyst of Canadian Jewry recently told me Canadian Jews, by many common metrics—ritual observance, visits to Israel, Jewish education, marrying other Jews, etc.—are more “Jewish,” as he put it, than American Jews. They are also more religiously traditional by denomination.

irwin-cotler-openz

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) meets with Irwin Cotler, the Canadian Member of Parliament and former Minister of Justice on December 22, 2010 in Ramallah, West Bank. (Thaer Ganaim/PPO via Getty Images)

Among other differences, according to Weinfeld, Canada has a higher proportion of Holocaust survivors than does America, as well as a higher proportion of Jewish immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, where attitudes tend to be more traditional. Canadian Jews are also a relatively newer immigrant population compared to American Jews. One out of every four Jews in Canada was born elsewhere, compared to one in ten in the United States. All these factors lead Weinfeld to suggest that a newer and more traditional immigrant group—and one still directly touched by the Holocaust—may mean a more insecure group….READ MORE

JBuzz News May 9, 2012: Catherine Chatterley: Canadian anti-Semitism institute aims to fill worldwide void

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Canadian anti-Semitism institute aims to fill worldwide void

Source: The Canadian Press, 5-9-12

When Catherine Chatterley was growing up in Winnipeg, the first serious book she read was The Diary of Anne Frank, the harrowing story of a young Jewish girl forced to hide for nearly two years in an attic in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam.

“I was in shock,” Chatterley recalls. “I couldn’t understand how a girl like Anne Frank could be perceived as a threat to Germany.”

For Chatterley, who was raised in a devout Lutheran home, the famous book sparked a lifelong fascination with the Jewish people, the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.

That fascination has prompted Chatterley, an adjunct history professor at the University of Manitoba, to develop the first academic institute in Canada to focus on the study of anti-Semitism, which she says is a persistent — and in some parts of the world flourishing — problem facing Jews today.

“There is a void in academia, our universities and our human rights discourse” when it comes to the study of anti-Semitism, she said in a telephone interview from Winnipeg, where the Canadian Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism (CISA) is based.

CISA, which is barely two years old, is one of only six such institutes in the world. Its mandate is to promote research, education and awareness of anti-Semitism.

Ultimately, her goal is to have the independent, non-profit institute fund and offer university-accredited courses leading to an undergraduate degree in the study of anti-Semitism. In addition, she plans to develop an online publication for young people and publish an academic journal on current and historical anti-Semitism.

Already, the young institute is attracting international attention, especially after Elie Wiesel, the renowned Nobel Peace Prize winner, agreed to serve as honourary chairman….READ MORE

JBuzz News February 8, 2012: “Truth Behind the Sarah Grunfeld Story”: York University Student who accused Professor Cameron Johnston of Anti-Semitism releases video

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“Truth Behind the Sarah Grunfeld Story” video emerges

Source: Macleans, 2-8-12

Student who accused professor of antisemitism is back

From The Truth Behind the Sarah Grunfeld story

Remember Sarah Grunfeld? She’s the York University student who stormed out of a lecture in September of last year because her professor said that “all Jews should be sterilized.”

It later emerged that Professor Cameron Johnston, who is Jewish, was using the statement as an example of an invalid and dangerous opinion that must be reasonably qualified.

It appears that Grunfeld left the 450-seat lecture before Cameron qualified the opinion. Grunfeld was widely rebuked, including by Maclean’s own 22-year-old Jewish columnist, Emma Teitel.

But she didn’t go away quietly. She’s now back in a YouTube video called The Truth Behind the Sarah Grunfeld story. At least, we assume it’s her; the face in the video appears in silhouette.

“I was ridiculed, I was demonized,” says the shadowy figure. “I was called an moron, a dimwit, an idiot…” The figure then explains that she was paying full attention (FULL ATTENTION!) and sitting in the front row of class. “I know exactly what I heard,” she says. The shadowy figure admits that the comment happened in the “first five minutes of [Cameron’s] talk about how opinions can be dangerous.” She says she waited for the professor to provide some kind of qualifier, but he did not.

This all comes before the shadowy figure accuses against the media, York University, Hillel of Greater Toronto and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs of mistreating her. The voice concludes by asking: “what’s the future for Jewish students?”

A better question might be: “what’s the future of Sarah Grunfeld?”

Cameron Johnston: Sensitivity training needed at Canada’s York University, B’nai Brit Says

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Sensitivity training needed at Canada’s York U., Jewish group says

Source: JTA, 9-18-11

B’nai Brith Canada has called for “sensitivity training” for the faculty of Toronto’s York University in the wake of a complaint by a Jewish student over the remarks of a Jewish professor.

BBC called on the university “to investigate further” the incident in which a student in a class taught by Professor Johnston “felt marginalized and targeted by the way subject matter relating to odious opinions was presented.

“Clearly, a key message was miscommunicated, and sensitivity training needs to be instituted for faculty to ensure that such incidents do not happen again,” BBC said.

On Sept. 12, Johnston began an introductory lecture to a first-year course with examples of extreme opinions and whether one should be entitled to them.

“All Jews should be sterilized” is an example of such an extreme view, Johnston had said.

Sarah Grunfeld, 22, a fourth-year student, stormed out of the class and reported Johnston to the Hasbara at York, an on-campus Israel advocacy group, which sent a news release to media and other Jewish community groups calling for the professor’s firing. The story went viral on social media.

In his defense, Johnston said he pointed out “that everyone is not entitled to their opinion by giving the example of someone having an anti-Semitic opinion which is clearly not acceptable. This was an example of the fact that opinions can be dangerous, and that none of us really do believe that all opinions are acceptable.”

In a statement circulated by B’nai Brith Canada, Grunfeld said she stands by her initial concerns. Although the teacher “made the abhorrent statement in his class that all Jews should be sterilized, he failed to qualify the statement clearly as an unacceptable opinion held by others. His delivery of this statement, made in a class of 450 impressionable students, was offensive to me and to others in the room.”

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said Johnston’s point was “without ill intentions [and] taken out of context.” It added that the episode “is an appropriate reminder that great caution must be exercised before concluding a statement or action is anti-Semitic.”

Cameron Johnston: York University Student who mistakenly accused Professor of anti-Semitism unapologetic

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Source: Toronto Star, 9-15-11

The 22-year-old York University student who mistakenly accused her professor of making anti-Semitic remarks issued an unapologetic response to the ridicule that has been widely levelled against her.

“I understand that there may have been a miscommunication,” Sarah Grunfeld writes in the statement distributed Wednesday evening by B’nai Brith Canada. “But any miscommunication was on the part of the professor, not me.”

Since the story was first published Wednesday in the Toronto Star it has rapidly spread on social networking sites, where readers have been unabashedly and openly scornful of Grunfeld.

The incident has also been discussed in local newspaper comment pages and was picked up by U.S. gossip website Gawker.

Grunfeld accused social sciences professor Cameron Johnston of telling a class on Monday afternoon that “All Jews should be sterilized.”

In fact, Johnston — who is Jewish — was explaining to the students that not all opinions are valid or acceptable, using the example of Jewish sterilization as a reprehensible opinion, with historical precedent.

Here is Grunfeld’s statement in full, including a preface from B’nai Brith:

“Sarah Grunfeld, fourth year York University student has made the following statement relating to the recent incident in Professor Cameron Johnston’s class at York University, and has asked B’nai Brith Canada to circulate it to interested parties on her behalf. This statement of her position is only to be used in its entirety:

“I stand by my initial concern brought to the University’s attention immediately after the incident that when Professor Cameron Johnston made the abhorrent statement in his class that all Jews should be sterilized, he failed to qualify the statement clearly as an unacceptable opinion held by others. His delivery of this statement, made in a class of 450 impressionable students, was offensive to me and to others in the room.

“I have since been grossly misquoted and ridiculed by the media, and attempts have been made to assign blame to me with the false claim that I simply ‘misheard’ or ‘half heard’ what was said. Meanwhile, the professor has not been called to account in any way for his ‘miscommunication’.

“This is in spite of the fact that in a meeting with Martin Singer, Dean, (Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies at York) and Rhonda Lenton (Vice Provost Academic), I was assured that they believed Professor Johnston was ‘terribly regretful’, and that they expected and would encourage him to issue an unambiguous in-class apology. I have not heard even minimal expressions of regret by Professor Johnston, and a York university representative in subsequent communications with the media, has since contradicted the assurances I was given to that effect.

“It has been a very painful experience for me to see how the university has closed ranks and reneged on its assurances to me. I understand that there may have been a miscommunication, but any miscommunication was on the part of the professor, not me. The media has been complicit in allowing a false interpretation of my actions to be circulated widely, which can only have a chilling effect on the ability of students to have any kind of a voice on campus.”

Cameron Johnston: York University Jewish professor forced to defend himself against anti-Semitism claims

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Cameron Johnston, a social sciences and humanities professor at York University, is having to defend himself against allegations of anti-Semitism after a student apparently misunderstood comments he made in a lecture on Monday.Cameron Johnston, a social sciences and humanities professor at York University, is having to defend himself against allegations of anti-Semitism after a student apparently misunderstood comments he made in a lecture on Monday.

Brendan Kennedy/Toronto Star

Brendan Kennedy Staff Reporter

A half-listening student, a hypersensitive campus and the speed at which gossip travels on the Internet conspired to create a very damaging game of broken telephone for one York University professor this week.

Cameron Johnston, who has been teaching at York for more than 30 years, has been forced to respond to allegations that he made anti-Semitic remarks in a lecture on Monday afternoon after a student misunderstood his comments and began sending emails to Jewish groups and the media.

Johnston was giving his introductory lecture to Social Sciences 1140: “Self, Culture and Society,” when he explained to the nearly 500 students that the course was going to focus on texts, not opinions, and despite what they may have heard elsewhere, everyone is not entitled to their opinion.

“All Jews should be sterilized” would be an example of an unacceptable and dangerous opinion, Johnston told the students.

He didn’t notice Sarah Grunfeld storm out. Grunfeld, a 22-year-old in her final year at York, understood Johnston’s example to be his personal opinion.

She contacted Oriyah Barzilay, the president of Hasbara at York — an Israel advocacy group on campus — who then sent a press release to media and other Jewish community groups calling for Johnston to be fired.

Blogs and Facebook groups picked it up, and in a few hours the allegations spread within the city’s Jewish community, albeit mostly online.

Sensitivities around anti-Semitism are particularly heightened at York, which has a large Jewish population and a history of toxic relations between supporters and critics of Israel on campus.

“I’m terribly upset,” Johnston said Tuesday. “I’m very proud of the fact that in the history of my teaching career I’ve stood for the best values of what constitutes a meaningful human community.”

Johnston, who is Jewish, said his religion likely influenced his choice of words, why he used “this example of a completely reprehensible opinion” with historical precedent.

During the Second World War, Nazi scientists experimented with mass sterilization on Jewish prisoners in concentration camps.

“I think it’s a very good thing that people are sensitive to this kind of remark, and I think it’s a very good thing that someone would respond immediately and deal with it if they thought that they heard an anti-Semitic comment,” Johnston said. “But in this case, it’s a misreading.”

The irony for Johnston is that he was trying to teach his students that ideas have consequences.

“So I’m pretty shocked to find the consequences — what I was talking about in lecture — is that I get seen as an example of prejudice.”

Grunfeld said Tuesday she may have misunderstood the context and intent of Johnston’s remarks, but that fact is insignificant.

“The words, ‘Jews should be sterilized’ still came out of his mouth, so regardless of the context I still think that’s pretty serious.”

Grunfeld also expressed skepticism that Johnston was in fact Jewish.

Asked directly by a reporter whether she believes Johnston is lying, she was unclear.

“Whether he is or is not, no one will know,” she said. “. . . Maybe he thought because he is Jewish he can talk smack about other Jews.”

Sheldon Goodman, GTA co-chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, which speaks on behalf of the city’s organized Jewish community, called the incident “a very unfortunate misunderstanding.”

“This event is an appropriate reminder that great caution must be exercised before concluding a statement or action is anti-Semitic,” he said.

Canada is Fertile Ground for Anti-Semitism, Report Says

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Source: JTA, 7-11-11

Canada is fertile ground for anti-Semitism, especially on university campuses, a parliamentary committee has concluded.

After two years of hearings, the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism in a report released last week called on the federal government to do more to fight anti-Semitism in Canada, which it said is rising, due partly to increased hostility toward Israel.

Over 10 days of hearings between November 2009 and February 2010, the coalition’s 22 members, consisting of lawmakers from all federal parties, heard from 74 witnesses, including federal and provincial politicians, diplomats, university administrators, academics, chiefs of police, journalists and other interested individuals.

Among its dozens of recommendations, which are not binding on the government, the coalition said that police forces across Canada should be better trained to deal with anti-Semitism; Canada’s immigration department should take into account rising international anti-Semitism when designating source countries for refugees; and the Foreign Affairs Ministry should study the United Nations’ criticisms of Israel.

It also said that legislators and others need “a clear and concise definition of what anti-Semitism entails.”

One major concern of the coalition was Israeli Apartheid Week, an annual event on Canadian university campuses.

“We had got several testimonies from students, particularly Jewish students, who were scared,” committee co-chair Mario Silvia, a former Toronto-area member of Parliament, told the Globe and Mail newspaper.

“They were quite fearful of attending classes and going to their campuses because of the fact that they felt they were being targeted for being supportive of Israel.”

Henry Srebrnik: Canadian Jewish Congress Future Uncertain

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Courtesy Canadian Jewish Congress Charities Committee National Archives, Montreal

Canadian Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly, Montreal, March 1919

The Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), the once-proud and venerable “parliament of Canadian Jewry,” has become a shadow of its former self.

Soon it will become just another agency under the aegis of a yet-unnamed organization that will supervise most of the country’s national Jewish organizations.

Originally created in 1919, the CJC soon became moribund. Only with the rise of new threats of fascism and anti-Semitism at home and abroad after 1933, was the Congress again reconstituted.

Congress became a permanent institution, an “umbrella” comprising a large number of affiliated Jewish organizations, and a pinnacle in Canadian Jewish political development. From 1939 to 1962 its national president and most powerful figure was Samuel Bronfman.

In the 1930s, the CJC was concerned mainly with monitoring the rise of various anti-Semitic and pro-fascist movements, and attempting, unsuccessfully, to facilitate the entry into Canada of Jewish refugees escaping Europe.

Following the Second World War, the Congress dealt with the tragedy of the Holocaust, and was focused on lifting the barriers to immigration by the European survivors.

It also welcomed, and provided support for, the new state of Israel.

The “golden age” of Congress was probably between the 1950s and 1970s, when it championed human rights and social justice, and was instrumental in lobbying governments to abolish discriminatory laws in employment, housing, and other impediments to the full participation of Jews in Canadian life.

It also monitored and fought, after much prodding by Holocaust survivors, the resurgence of neo-Nazism in the mid-1960s, and it later applied pressure on the Canadian government to prosecute war criminals living in the country.

At the time, as historian Gerald Tulchinsky has remarked, it “effectively embraced Jewish organizations of nearly all political and social stripes in the country and was recognized as the voice of the entire community.”

By the 1960s, though, Jewish federations were becoming established in the major Jewish centres; they not only provided services and raised funds for domestic and Israel programs, but also assumed direction for community planning.

They solidified their position in the 1970s, as all funding decisions regarding community money came under their control – including the operating budget of Congress.

The federations became the crucial link between Canadian Jews and their governments on matters relating to their communities.

Since Congress had always viewed itself as the focus for community policy-making, its dominant role began to diminish.

So by the turn of the 21st century, the Canadian Jewish Congress was definitely no longer “the only game in town.”

It co-existed, sometimes uneasily, with a number of municipal Federations and other Jewish organizations.

The Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA), founded in 2004, became the principal advocacy, oversight and co-coordinating body for the Congress, the Canada-Israel Committee, the Quebec-Israel Committee, National Jewish Campus Life, and the University Outreach Committee.

This year the CIJA has formally incorporated these groups, including Congress, to create one advocacy organization.

The new, as yet unnamed, agency “will continue the work of all the agencies that it is succeeding or that are being folded into it, including the whole range of traditional Congress activities,” Shimon Fogel, the CEO of the CIJA, has stated.

Fogel said the Canadian Jewish Congress leaders were involved in the process.

“This isn’t a hostile takeover.”

Maybe not, but the Congress, despite its glorious past, still faces an uncertain future.

Henry Srebrnik is a professor of political studies at UPEI.