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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

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Politics on Israel Day

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Politics on Israel Day

In the upcoming 2011 Ontario provincial election, an estimated 96,200 resi-dents have been franchised to cast their vote in the provincial riding of Thornhill. Approximately, 37 per cent, or 34,600, are Jewish. Since the riding was first created in 1999, each of the three past elections have been hotly contested. In 1999, the Progressive Conservatives won by only 343 votes. In 2003, the Liberals won by 796, and in 2007, the PCs won by 1,733. What makes this election interesting is that for the first time, both the PCs and Liberals are fielding high-profile Jewish candi-dates. I’m sure we are in for quite a battle. In fact, I suggest the gloves have already come off.
At the recent Israel Day event held at Mel Lastman Square, I was shocked to have to listen to one of the event organizers stand up on stage and promote Thornhill’s incumbent PC candidate by politically associating him with the prime minister’s pro-Israel stance. It saddens me greatly that this tactic would be used at a public event attended by many non-Jews. And if this incident is an example of what we are to expect in the months ahead, coupled with the demand for public funding for Jewish education from many, but not all of Thornhill’s Jewish com-munity, I can just imagine the negative response we will see emanating from the ridings remaining 61,600 non-Jewish voters. To quote former U.S. president The-odore Roosevelt: “The most practical kind of politics is the politics of decency.” Based on what I observed during Israel Day, I somehow doubt we will see too much of this happening in Thornhill.
Alan L. Simons

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The Megillah narrative

I always enjoy reading Rabbi Dow Marmur’s insightful columns. I would like to amplify on an important point he raised in his column “Artistic creativity and in-terfaith co-operation” (June 10). Rabbi Marmur indicates that there is some measure of question regarding the historicity of the events of Purim. He is abso-lutely correct. There are a number of rabbinic disputes regarding the unspoken details of the Megillah narrative. For example, Rashi and Tosafot, in their respec-tive talmudic commentaries to Menachot 64b, argue whether the protagonist, Mordechai, lived until the end of the Second Temple era. Likewise, Rashi and To-safot clash in their commentaries to Rosh Hashanah 3b-4a whether or not Darius was the son of Esther. On details of this nature, there is indeed plenty of room for rabbinic luminaries to disagree, and it is to this sphere of inquiry that Rabbi Mar-mur refers. At the same time, I presume that there is general rabbinic agreement that the basic event of the Megillah actually occurred (even though we do not know the background details), because the author of the Megillah is identified by the Talmud in Megillah 14a as a prophetess, and Maimonides’ sixth principle of faith (of 13) is to believe that the words of the prophets are true.
Shalom Spira

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Shoresh Jewish Environmental Programs

Thank you for featuring Shoresh’s Kavanah Garden in The CJN’s Heebonics section (“Kavanah Garden entwines Judaism with environmentalism,” June 2). One thing I would like to add is that Shoresh’s Kavanah Garden would not exist without the support of our community partners. UJA Federation of Greater Toron-to has graciously given us permission to develop the Kavanah Garden on their land at the Lebovic Jewish Community Campus while also providing us with fi-nancial and capacity building support. As well, we are grateful for the support of our granting agencies, including Environment Canada, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Earth Day Canada and the Natan Fund.
Risa Alyson Cooper, Director
Shoresh Jewish Environmental Programs

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Looking for an old friend

I am looking for an old school friend from 52 years ago. She may be in Canada. Her brother, Eric Levine, immigrated to Canada about 52 years ago. His family in Manchester, England, had an umbrella repair shop on Bury New Road. His sister was my friend, Myra Levine, who would be 67 now. Our school was Waterloo Road Jewish School, and we then went on to Wilton Polygon Jewish School.
Jacqueline Levine
Manchester, U.K.

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Haiti offered to take European Jews

In regard to the article “Jewish and Haitian cultures mix and mingle on state,” June 2), it would be interesting to note the historical ties between Haiti and the Jewish community. In 1938, during the Evian Conference, delegates from 38, countries met to decide on what to do with Europe’s Jews, who were trying desperately to find a place where they could obtain refuge. Haiti was the only country on earth that offered to take in Jewish refugees without any quotas or limits. When the United States realized that Haiti was serious in its offer, U.S. secretary of state Sumner Welles immediately ordered president Elie Lescot to revoke that offer, although several hundred German Jews were able to make it to Haiti during the interim. As Haiti had recently been occupied by the United States for 15 years, Lescot had no choice but to agree to Welles’ demand to rescind the offer, effectively closing one of the last havens.
What might have been.
Sam Kulik
Westmount, Que.

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 Palestinian statehood

Alan Baker’s instructive and informative article, “The fallout from a Palestinian declaration of statehood” (June 10), is a valid legal opinion. The question that arises – have the settlement expansion policies of recent Israeli governments in the West Bank and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement on May 19 in Washington, D.C., regarding a Palestinian entity in east Jerusalem – already breached the previously generally accepted outlines of a settlement post-Oslo? Baker speaks of legal consequences. Perhaps someone should examine the international political consequences of a resolution to recognize the right to a Palestinian state, within 1967 borders, with its capital in east Jerusalem.
Geoffrey Sachs


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