Building Jews, not buildings
Eli Rubinstein got it right in “Can education alone save the Jewish People?” (Dec. 8). Our ongoing struggle to ensure that Jewish education is available in our community and is supported by donors and by communal leaders is meaningless unless that education and learning leads to real action and to practice. Merely educating our children and the next generation about our traditions, our history and our customs without making a personal commitment to follow and to do will not secure our future. Building buildings or institutions, and providing teachers to teach in them, is not the essence; building Jews is, and that requires translating that education into personal practice.
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Extremist haredi behaviour
While I respect the right of Israel’s haredi Jewish community to observe Judaism as they see fit, with all its traditions and observances, I do not support the actions of that segment of Judaism trying to impose their views on secular Jews throughout Israel (“Netanyahu vows to end extremist haredi behaviour”; “Segregation in Beit Shemesh causes uproar,” Jan. 5). Calling Israeli police and soldiers Nazis and dressing up children with outfits and Stars of David reminiscent of Holocaust times are an insult to those who perished at the hands of Nazi Germany as well as the fortunate Jews who survived. The rioting haredi Jews forget that Israel is a true democracy where the rights of other co-religionists and those of other religions must be respected. Their attacks on secular and less observant Jews are no better than what is being witnessed by the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Muslim fundamentalists in Egypt. The right to practise religious orthodoxy is not analogous to the intolerant practice of sharia law in Muslim countries.
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CJC needed a facelift, not burial
As a volunteer for the Canadian Jewish Congress National Archives for more than 25 years, I catalogued and sorted thousands of files. (“Legitimacy questions continue to plague CIJA,” Dec. 22). Among them were CJC’s plenary files. Every Jewish organization in Canada had the right to send a delegation to a CJC plenary, which took place every two or three years. The delegates cast their ballots to elect the officers of the CJC. Somebody please tell me, who elected the people of Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs? Who gave these people the right to make a power grab and kill the CJC? I grant, the CJC needed a facelift, and it would have so happened down the road, but not a burial.
Quoted in the article is an e-mail written by CIJA CEO Shimon Fogel. It states: “However, understanding of Congress and its legacy drops off very dramatically with the under-45 demographic within our community, who cannot relate to the name [or] the legacy (e.g., most don’t even remember the USSR or Soviet Jewry).” The continuous daily stream of researchers to the CJC archives, however, shows a strong awareness of the past accomplishments of the CJC.
CIJA will have a difficult task to match the past accomplishments of CJC. The great leaders of the CJC of yesteryear left their everlasting imprint on the Jewish community of Canada. CIJA will have some catching up to do. So far, they have not even reached the starting line.
St. Laurent, Que.
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Signs’ message is chauvinistic
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto has received a notice from the city of Vaughan that its signs are a problem (“UJA signs violate Vaughan bylaws,” Dec. 8). Although the complaint is only about the wording of the signs – “Jewish Toronto Lives Here” – since Vaughan is not Toronto, I, like letter-writer Bert Raphael (Nov. 24), cannot see the purpose of these signs put up by the federation around the GTA. UJA campaign director Steven Shulman says that they have been put up “simply to create awareness of what federation does.” I think this is far too costly a way to achieve this, especially since Vaughan city council may want a $24,000 fee for allowing the signs. Also, the message on the signs, which pinpoint Jewishly themed buildings or locations, appears to be unnecessarily chauvinistic.