For the sake of our people…and for the sake of truth

The impact of the news story felt more like a knife into the heart than a shudder of concern. The JTA last week published the results of a survey of Jewish voters in the United States. The survey was commissioned by the Jewish Electorate Institute, a “group led by prominent Jewish Democrats”. It was conducted after the recent fighting between Israel and Hamas. Images of the conflict still sat heavy in the online chat rooms and brazen expressions of hatred against Israel and Jews saturated countless social media platforms.

The following were some of the key findings of the survey:

• 34% of respondents agreed that “Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is similar to racism in the United States;

• 25% agreed that “Israel is an apartheid state”,

• 22% agreed that “Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians”, and

• 9% of voters agreed that “Israel doesn’t have a right to exist.”

Younger voters who took part in the survey apparently agreed with the above statements in even higher proportions.  

To care about the future of the second largest Jewish community on earth and its seemingly diminishing sense of shared peoplehood with the rest of the world’s Jews is to be profoundly shocked at the results of the above survey results entail. It portends only bad.

Even if we explain the survey results as stemming from disdain for policies of Israel’s former right-wing government, as well as acknowledged short-term spiking effects from unceasing media bombardment of overwhelmingly negative images, headlines, reporting and commentary, how can we explain the embrace by so many of our fellow Jews of palpably observable falsehoods and lies about State of Israel?

The answer is: most of these primarily young Jews simply don’t know the truth about Israel, about Israel’s many spurned attempts to reach an agreement with Palestinian leaders, about the justice of its cause or about the long historical cause of its justice. They do not know enough to recognize and reject the lies. They do not know how to befriend, let alone defend the tiny, sole Jewish State on the planet.

Jewish education does not guarantee that our young Jewish adults will indeed acquire the ability or the inclination to reject calumny and falsehoods against Israel and Jews. But it is the best bet.

To help bring Jewish education to all of the families that seek it for their children, that education must be affordable. To help make it affordable we need your help to bring an end to Ontario’s discrimination in educational funding. 

GAJE will be challenging Ontario’s policies in court. Our lawyers are donating much of their time and expertise. The cost for prosecuting the case, from the trial phase to the end of an appeal in the Supreme Court is in the range of $250,000. Thus far we have raised about a quarter of the funds needed. We need your help to raise the rest. Ours is a one-time request to cover legal costs through to the outcome at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Please join us in making this happen! Please tell your friends to join in our effort.

This is our generation’s opportunity to correct the funding discrimination that has existed in Ontario for more than 25 years. If we do not try to end the injustice, who will? It is an imperative that calls upon our consciences for the sake of our people and now too, alas, for the sake of preserving the truth.

Charitable receipts for donations for income tax purposes will be issued by Mizrachi Canada.

To donate to this important cause, please click here.

(For further information, please contact Israel Mida at imida1818@gmail.com)

 •••

Be safe. Be well.

Thank you.

Shabbat shalom.

Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)  

July 23, 2021

The JTA article can be found at:

Posted in Uncategorized

Ontario’s discrimination being noticed at home and abroad

Ontario’s anachronistic, unfair, discriminatory educational funding policies are not only an abiding concern for GAJE and for the parents of children attending Jewish day schools or indeed all independent schools in the province. They have now also caught the wider attention of scholars and students at home and abroad.

For example, Prof. David S. Koffman of York University, has recently edited an anthology of essays under the deliberately provocative title No Better Home: Jews, Canada, and the Sense of Belonging, (University of Toronto Press, 2021). He has assembled an impressive array of scholars to provide singular aspects to the many-aspected question: ‘has there ever been a better home for the Jews than Canada?’

One of those scholars is Prof. Randal F. Schnoor of the Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University. Prof. Schnoor specializes in the qualitative study of contemporary Canadian Jewish life. In the essay, Jewish Education in Canada and the United Kingdom, he insightfully examines primarily the strength of Jewish day school education in Canada by comparing it with that in the United Kingdom. The essay is instructive and rich in detail regarding the historic and current approach to the funding of Jewish education throughout Canada. Prof. Schnoor pays particular attention to the day school situation in Greater Toronto. When he does, of course, he focuses with laser clarity on the crisis of affordability. He even cites and footnotes data provided GAJE.

“Many Jews in Ontario feel that their rights of equal citizenship are being violated,” Prof. Schnoor notes in reference to Ontario’s discriminatory educational funding policies. However, in answer to the question, “No better home for Jews than Canada?” Prof. Schnoor responds rather bitingly: “For those who are convinced that Jewish day schools are essential for perpetuating Jewish culture into future generations – and there are many who are so convinced – there are better homes for Jews than Canada. There are other countries that have structural conditions in place that make these schools much more affordable and thus allow for a more widespread immersion of Jewish culture into the lives of young Jews.” (Our emphasis)

In another example of the head-shaking wrought by Ontario’s unfair policies, an M.A. student in the Department of Political Science at Tel Aviv University recently contacted GAJE to assist her with research for the thesis she is writing on “government funding of religious education in the liberal state.”  Her thesis focuses on the difference in educational funding for the Jewish communities in Toronto and in Montreal.

The writer stated that she is “eager to show that the Jewish community is doing its utmost to maintain and develop its education system, and therefore is ready to fight the [Ontario’s funding] policy.” As a result, she contacted GAJE to ascertain:

• if our legal initiative is the most recent one;

• whether there were other initiatives of this nature in the past, and

• whether there are/were other grassroot, non-profit organizations involved in the campaign to change Ontario’s education policies.

GAJE answered the questions she posed. The writer wished us good luck in our legal campaign to bring fairness to a patently unfair funding system.

There is no doubt that it is becoming more widely known that Ontario is the only province in Canada that fully funds the education of the adherents of one faith alone (Roman Catholics) within its public education system; and that it is the only province outside the Maritimes that does not contribute any funding whatsoever to the general studies portion of its independent schools.

We therefore seek your help…

…in ending Ontario’s discrimination in educational funding by helping bringing the case to the courts.

Our lawyers are donating much of their time and expertise. The cost for prosecuting the case, from the trial phase to the end of an appeal in the Supreme Court is in the range of $250,000. Thus far we have raised about a quarter of the funds needed. We need your help to raise the rest. Ours is a one-time request to cover legal costs through to the outcome at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Please join us in making this happen! Please tell your friends to join in our effort.

This is our generation’s opportunity to fight for equal citizenship, to correct the funding discrimination that has existed in Ontario for more than 25 years.  If we do not try to end the injustice, who will?

Charitable receipts for donations for income tax purposes will be issued by Mizrachi Canada.

To donate to this important cause, please click here.

For further information, please contact Israel Mida at imida1818@gmail.com

 •••

Be safe. Be well.

Thank you.

Shabbat shalom.

Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)  

July 16, 2021

Posted in Uncategorized

The values that underpin our cause

David Matas was featured in an article last week in Canadian Lawyer Magazine. Under the headline, Human Rights Lawyer David Matas Continues to Fight for The Dispossessed, the author of the article, Zena Olijnky, briefly traces Matas’ family history as the inspiration, the incubating source, for his lifelong dedication to the betterment of humanity.

Olijnky writes “with such a family legacy, it’s easy to see why…Matas would be such a passionate advocate of campaigns to stop human rights abuses around the world. He has been involved in numerous national and international human rights groups and was named to the Order of Canada in 2008 for his contributions to human rights legislation and immigration and refugee law.

“In 2010, Mr. Matas and former Edmonton MP David Kilgour were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for four years of investigative work into allegations that Falun Gong followers in China were being killed for the harvesting of their organs.

“In January, Matas was awarded the first-ever Global Humanitarian Leader of the Year award by the human rights group Canadians in Support of Refugees in Dire Need (CSRDN). The award recognizes outstanding individuals, organizations and programs that “uphold the principles of peace, justice and mercy, irrespective of race, colour or religion.”

“Matas has also been a long-time senior legal counsel for B’nai Brith Canada. Recently, the organization has launched a new law society, named in his honour. It will operate as a subcommittee of B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights.”

Matas is also a Senior Fellow with the Montreal-based Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, whose website describes him, in part, as “a voice of conscience in Canada and beyond, he has been a leader in the most important international human rights struggles of the era.

We call readers’ attention to David Matas’ expertise and wide local and international renown because he is the leader of the legal team that will try to bring an end to Ontario’s discriminatory educational funding policy. We want readers of this update and supporters of this cause to understand that the values that inform the teachings, traditions and morality of the Judaism that Jewish education can transmit to our children, are the very same values that underpin advocacy “to stop human rights abuses around the world” that has been the life’s work of David Matas.

Seeking to end Ontario’s unfair, unjust, discriminatory educational funding is part of the same human rights fabric that strives to “uphold the principles of peace, justice and mercy, irrespective of race, colour or religion.”

Ontario is the only province that fully funds the education of the adherents of one faith alone (Roman Catholics) within its public education system. Moreover, it is the only province outside the Maritimes that does not contribute any funding whatsoever to the general studies portion of its independent schools.

This discrimination must finally end. Years of waiting and lobbying and hoping for various Ontario governments to change this policy have been in vain. We are now turning to the courts for a remedy.

Ontario does not suggest that its policy is fair to non-Catholics.  Rather, it believes it is immune from being legally compelled to change its policy because a 1996 Supreme Court decision upheld its legislation, based largely on what many now consider to be an antiquated view of the relationship between our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the 1867 Constitution.  It has been more than 25 years.  The world, and the law, have changed.  The Supreme Court now recognizes that conditions evolve and change is possible and sometimes even necessary. In fact, it has reversed itself in several major cases in the last few years.  Old decisions are not written in stone.

Since 1996, the situation in Ontario has changed. Polls suggest a majority of Ontarians are in favor of more choice in their children’s schooling. In addition, there have been changes in the development of the law. The legal team believes that our case is compelling, in step with changes since 1996 in the delivery of education here and in other provinces, and resonant with majority attitudes to eliminate blatant discrimination in favour of a fair and just policy.  Success in the courts would result in permanent financial benefits for Jewish schools, and would have far-reaching positive effects on the community as a whole.

But to bring this case and our cause before the courts…

We need your assistance

Our lawyers are donating much of their time and expertise. The cost for prosecuting the case, from the trial phase to the end of an appeal in the Supreme Court is in the range of $250,000. Thus far we have raised about a quarter of the funds needed. We need your help to raise the rest. Our request is foundational aimed at ensuring the permanence of all the schools and thereby improving the lives of families in our community for all time. Moreover, it is a one-time request to cover legal costs, as we have stated, through to the outcome at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Please join us in making this happen! Please tell your friends to join in our effort.

This is our generation’s opportunity to correct the educational funding injustice that has wounded so many families in Ontario for more than 25 years.  If we do not try to end the injustice, who will? Charitable receipts for donations for income tax purposes will be issued by Mizrachi Canada.

To donate to this important cause, please click here.

For further information, please contact Israel Mida at imida1818@gmail.com

Olijnky’s story is available at: https://www.canadianlawyermag.com/practice-areas/personal-injury/human-rights-lawyer-david-matas-continues-to-fight-for-the-dispossessed/357790

•••

Be safe. Be well.

Thank you.

Shabbat shalom.

Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)

July 9, 2021

Posted in Uncategorized

We need your assistance

As we have been advising our readers these past weeks, GAJE is now approaching the final stage of our single-purposed effort to help make day school education affordable to as many families as possible.  

Ontario is the only province that fully funds the education of the adherents of one faith alone within its public education system. Moreover, it is the only province outside Atlantic Canada that does not contribute any funding whatsoever to the general studies portion of its independent schools. And so, GAJE has retained a superb team of lawyers headed by the renowned human rights advocate and constitutional law specialist, David Matas, to try, finally, to bring an end to Ontario’s discriminatory educational funding policy. The team will attempt to have the court re-assess and reconsider the 1996 Supreme Court decision on which Ontario relies to justify its antiquated, unfair funding.

Much has changed in Ontario since 1996, indeed in Canada itself, regarding educational funding. Polls suggest a majority of Ontarians are in favor of more choice in their children’s schooling. There have also been subtle changes in the development of the law that suggest an attempt to re-examine the 1996 decision is worthwhile.

Our lawyers are donating much of their time and expertise. The cost for prosecuting the case, from the trial phase to the end of an appeal in the Supreme Court is in the range of $250,000. Thus far we have raised about a quarter of the funds needed. We need your help to raise the rest. We know that you are frequently called upon to contribute to worthy causes. Our request, however, is not simply another worthy request in the constellation of other worthy requests. It is a foundational request aimed at ensuring the permanence of all the schools and thereby improving the lives of our families for all time. Moreover, it is a one-time request to cover legal costs, as we have stated, through to the outcome at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Please join us in making this happen! And please tell your friends to join in our effort.

This is our generation’s opportunity to correct the educational funding injustice that has wounded so many families in Ontario for more than 25 years.  If we do not try to end the injustice, who will? Charitable receipts for donations for income tax purposes will be issued by Mizrachi Canada.

To donate to this important cause, please click here.

If you wish to obtain further information, please contact Israel Mida at imida1818@gmail.com

•••

We thank and acknowledge…

…with deep gratitude the Boards of Directors of the Bnei Akiva Schools, Leo Baeck Day School, Eitz Chaim Schools and Netivot Hatorah Day School for distributing our letter to day school parents, appealing to them directly for assistance in our legal effort. It is our fervent belief that the struggle for educational affordability is the cause of the entire community. Substantively and symbolically, however, it is the parents who are in the vanguard of this struggle. And as we wrote above, if it is not we who try to end the injustice, who will do so for us?

Again, we thank these four schools.

•••

Be safe. Be well.

Thank you.

Shabbat shalom.

Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)

July 2, 2021

Posted in Uncategorized

Congratulations…

…to students, parents, extended families, teachers and administrators of all our schools for arriving at the conclusion of the second pandemic-affected school year. The discipline, commitment and work for everyone involved across an entire school year are always laden with challenge. The Covid challenges were unimaginable two years ago. Now they are part of the base of experience that will be incorporated into educational advances in the years to come. Once again, congratulations.

Because of our desire to bring more children to Jewish education we repeat our call of last week.

Please help us

As we advised readers last week, we are now approaching the final stage of our single-purposed effort to help make day school education affordable to as many families as possible.  But we need your assistance to achieve our aim.

As you know, Ontario is the only province that fully funds the education of the adherents of one faith alone within its public education system. Moreover, it is the only province outside Atlantic Canada that does not contribute any funding whatsoever to the general studies portion of its independent schools.

GAJE has retained a superb team of lawyers headed by the renowned human rights advocate and constitutional law specialist, David Matas, to try, finally, to bring an end to Ontario’s discriminatory educational funding policy. The team will attempt to have the court re-assess and reconsider the 1996 Supreme Court decision on which Ontario relies to justify its antiquated, unfair funding.

Since 1996, much has changed in Ontario. Polls suggest a majority of Ontarians are in favor of more choice in their children’s schooling. In addition, there have been subtle changes in the development of the law that suggest an attempt to change the law is worthwhile.

Our lawyers are donating much of their time and expertise. The cost for prosecuting the case, from the trial phase to the end of an appeal in the Supreme Court is in the range of $250,000. Thus far we have raised about a quarter of the funds needed. But to help us raise the rest, we turn to you. Please help us.

We know that you are asked to contribute to many worthy causes. Our request is for the sake of securing the future of all day schools in our community for all time. It is not simply another worthy request in the constellation of other worthy requests. It is a foundational request aimed at improving the lives of our families and ensuring the permanence of all the schools. Moreover, it is a one-time request to cover legal costs, as we have stated, all the way through to the end of an appeal at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Please join us in making this happen! Please tell your friends to join in our effort.

This is our generation’s opportunity to correct this long-standing injustice. If we do not try to end the injustice, who will?

Charitable receipts for donations for income tax purposes will be issued by Mizrachi Canada.

To donate to this important cause, please click here.

If you wish to obtain further information, please contact Israel Mida at imida1818@gmail.com

Be safe. Be well.

Thank you.

Shabbat shalom.

Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)

June 25, 2021

Posted in Uncategorized

Please help us

As readers of this weekly update know, GAJE – an entirely volunteer group – has been working for more than six years with the single goal of helping make Jewish day school affordable for every family that wishes it for their children. We are now approaching the final crossroad of our campaign. And as a result, we must now appeal to you to help us.

Ontario is the only province that fully funds the education of the adherents of one faith alone within its public education system. Moreover, it is the only province outside Atlantic Canada that does not contribute any funding whatsoever to the general studies portion of its independent schools. This discrimination must finally end. Years of waiting, hoping and lobbying for successive Ontario governments to change this policy have been in vain. Our only recourse now is to the courts.

GAJE has retained a superb team of lawyers headed by the renowned human rights advocate and constitutional law specialist, David Matas, to try to bring an end to Ontario’s discriminatory educational funding policy. The team will attempt to have the court re-assess and reconsider the 1996 Supreme Court decision on which Ontario relies to justify its antiquated, unfair funding.

Since 1996, much has changed in Ontario. Polls suggest a majority of Ontarians are in favor of more choice in their children’s schooling. In addition, there have been subtle changes in the development of the law. Our legal team believes that our case is in step with these changes and resonant with majority attitudes to eliminate blatant funding discrimination in favour of a fair and just policy.

Our lawyers are donating much of their time and expertise. The cost for prosecuting the case, from the trial phase through probably two levels of appeal, is in the range of $250,000. Thus far we have raised about a quarter of the funds needed to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court. But to help us raise the rest, we turn to you.

We know that you are asked to contribute to many worthy causes. Our request is for the sake of securing the future of all day schools in our community for all time. It is not simply another worthy request in the constellation of all the other worthy requests. It is a foundational request aimed at improving the lives of our families and ensuring the permanence of all the schools. Moreover, it is a one-time request to cover costs, as we have stated, all the way through to the end of an appeal at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Please join us in making this happen! This is our generation’s opportunity to correct this long-standing injustice.  And, please tell your friends to join in our effort.

Charitable receipts for donations for income tax purposes will be issued by Mizrachi Canada.

If you wish to obtain further information, please contact Israel Mida at imida1818@gmail.com

To donate to this important cause, please click here.

Be safe. Be well.
Thank you.
Shabbat shalom.
Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)
June 18, 2021

Posted in Uncategorized

It’s not too early to start thinking of next year

Barely two weeks remain in school year 2020-2021, although to refer to these past months as a school year stretches the true meaning of the term. The pandemic put paid to most in-class learning. And yet, schools were always open “electronically” and “digitally”, teachers taught and students persevered. Since mid-March of 2020, the Jewish Educational Infrastructure adapted to pandemic restrictions and developed a new base of teaching/learning experience from which to take the best components to incorporate into new, evolving educational structures.

Though the summer has not yet arrived, it is not too early for parents to start thinking about their children’s Jewish education for the fall of 2021 and to think about starting the related conversations with their children.

GAJE’s key purpose, of course, is to help make Jewish education affordable for all families who seek it for their children. But as readers of this weekly update know, it is also our purpose to champion meaningful Jewish education and encourage families to enrol their children if it is possible for them to do so. There are many valid reasons keeping youngsters out of Jewish day school classrooms such as finances, geography, and family “dynamics”.

And so, in this vein, as GAJE has done in the past, we call readers’ attention to ADRABA as a possible educational venue for high school-age children who will not or cannot find themselves in a day school in the fall. ADRABA incorporates the best digital tools and web-based resources into its teaching model.

Serving communities in the GTA, Kingston and Hamilton, the school launched three online Ontario approved credit courses last year. ADRABA also established partnerships with 15 congregations across Ontario. In 2021, their courses will become fully integrated into the post bat/bar mitzvah learning track for these congregations.

ADRABA has been described as a “dynamic, engaging, exciting and innovative”.  That the students earn high school credits in the process is a compelling bonus.

ADRABA’s promotional material says that the school “fills a critical and acknowledged gap not only in the trajectory of Jewish educational opportunities for teens but also and especially for smaller Jewish communities that lack access to Jewish resources.”

GAJE’s over-arching purpose is to bring more Jewish children to Jewish education. If that education cannot be in day school, we urge parents to explore ADRABA. For more information about ADRABA go to its website: adraba.ca or send an email to: info@adraba.ca

•••

Be safe. Be well.

Shabbat shalom.

GAJE, June 11, 2021

Posted in Uncategorized

What Jewish education would teach (3)

In the days preceding Pesach 17 years ago, a rash of vandalism broke out in the GTA aimed at Jewish institutions and cemeteries. Such outright miscreant behaviour was relatively rare in our community then.

Not surprisingly, many people at the time attributed the vandalism to the spillover of emotions from the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The choking dust from the suicide bomber “intifadah” unleashed by Yasser Arafat was settling by then. But Israel’s resilience and determination to fight back irritated as many people then as it does today. The same network of journalists, diplomats, celebrities, and accusing others as today inverted the moral register of the fighting. Defending against terror was cast as aggression. Unwillingness to submit to terrorism was cast as disproportionate oppression.

As was the case over the past few weeks, the accusers of Israel then also let loose a dangerous onslaught of hatred toward Jews. At the peak of the emotional distress, Prof. Marty Lockshin of York University, (today in Jerusalem) told a large gathering of high school students how to find a path through the clutter of our confusion and rage.

“No one should believe that anti-Semitism is caused by Jews,” Prof. Lockshin told his young audience. “While we Jews are the targets of anti-Semitism, it is the non-Jews who are affected by the illness. It is the non-Jews of conscience who must lead the, fight against the illness that affects non-Jewish society.”

After the diagnosis however, Prof. Lockshin also provided the prescription: “The proper reaction of Jews when we see swastikas in Thornhill or homicide bombers in Jerusalem, is for us to do more Jewish things and to dream of new ways to protect and manifest our Judaism.”

That prescription, of course, brings us inevitably and always back to Jewish education.

As GAJE has written repeatedly during these past six years, Jewish education does not mean becoming “more religious.” Nor did Prof. Lockshin likely mean that when he urged the high schoolers “to do more Jewish things.”

By Jewish education, GAJE intends, and perhaps Prof. Lockshin did as well, for our children to learn who they are as Jews, to learn the remarkable power of the heritage of 4,000 years of Jewish history that stands behind them, and how that power can be adapted and applied today to make the world a better place.

There is a deeply poignant scene in this week’s Torah portion (Shelach Lecha) from which we can – and must – learn. Ten of the twelve scouts appointed by Moses to reconnoitre the Promised Land prior to the people’s entry, provide a negative report of what they saw. They were overwhelmed with self-doubt and fear that the task at hand was unachievable. In sad, even pathetic, self-deprecating language they explain to Moses that the inhabitants of the land saw them (the scouts) as “grasshoppers”, small inconsequential individuals.

But far worse, the ten scouts saw themselves as “grasshoppers”. “We were as grasshoppers in our own eyes.” (Numbers 13:33) One need not be a psychologist to understand the defeat that will inexorably result from such low self-esteem. If we see ourselves as tiny, incapable, weak, flimsy and frail, others will too.

Whether standing up to the haters of the Jewish people and the disparagers of Israel or trying to ensure that Jewish education is affordable for all who seek it for their children, we emphatically do not see ourselves as grasshoppers. Nor will we allow others to see us grasshoppers.

Failure is not an option.

•••

Be safe. Be well. Shabbat shalom.

GAJE, June 4, 2021

Posted in Uncategorized

What Jewish education would teach (2)

Only the guns and the screams of smashing rockets are silent in Israel and in Gaza. But public spaces on the streets and on the internet here and abroad are overwhelmed with a waterfall of shrill, disgusting expressions of hatred against Israel and Jews.

Though we feel rage and outrage, we know that our emotions are but the starting point in marshalling the proper individual and communal response to the attempt by the haters to take control of our society and of our lives.

Bari Weiss, the writer, thinker and author of How to Fight Anti-Semitism succinctly tells us how to respond in situations such as the one so many Jews throughout the western world face now. In an article she wrote in 2019 entitled “To Fight Anti-Semitism, Be a Proud Jew”, she wrote:

“There has not been a single moment in Jewish history in which there weren’t anti-­Semites determined to eradicate Judaism and the Jews.…

“But the Jews did not sustain their magnificent civilization because they were anti-anti-Semites. Our tradition was always renewed by people who made the choice in the face of tragedy that theirs would not be the end of the Jewish story, but the catalyst for writing a new chapter.

“The long arc of Jewish history makes it clear that the only way to fight is by waging an affirmative battle for who we are. By entering the fray for our values, for our ideas, for our ancestors, for our families, and for the generations that will come after us. This is not an exhortation to embrace religion in all its strictures. It is a reminder that Judaism contains multitudes, and that those who point the finger at other Jews as a way to keep the target off their own backs — insisting that the real problem are those with their kippot or their Zionism — at once distorts our history and the fact of our peoplehood.

“In these trying times, our best strategy is to build, without shame, a Judaism and a Jewish people and a Jewish state that are not only safe and resilient but also generative, humane, joyful and life-affirming. A Judaism capable of lighting a fire in every Jewish soul — and in the souls of everyone who throws in his or her lot with ours.”

Weiss has written a profound formula for how to wrestle with the monster. To take her clarion words to heart – that we build a Judaism and a Jewish people and a Jewish state – requires that we know our Judaism. To know our Judaism, in turn, requires that we teach our children what that is. And to teach our children requires a system of affordable Jewish education.

Jewish life always returns to its irreplaceable core: Jewish education.

•••

Bob Dylan celebrated his 80th birthday this week. After the First Lebanon War in 1982 he released a song called the Neighborhood Bully. It is generally regarded as Dylan’s paean to Zionism and to the right of Jews to our own sovereign life. Although Dylan is generally considered to have a somewhat opaque relationship with his Judaism, Neighborhood Bully shows that he could see with laser precision the true nature of Israel’s situation.

A review of Dylan’s life appeared this week on the website of The Jewish Insider. As the article notes, Barry Shrage, a professor in the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University and the former president of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, said Neighborhood Bully is “so right for this moment, with the whole discussion of Israel being totally hypocritical.”

The following is the song’s quasi-chorus. It a meaningful response to the self-righteous critics of Israel or to the critics who try to hide their malevolence toward the only sovereign Jewish state on earth.

“The neighborhood bully just lives to survive
He’s criticized and condemned for being alive
He’s not supposed to fight back, he’s supposed to have thick skin
He’s supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in
He’s the neighborhood bully”

•••

The words of Neighborhood Bully can be read at:

•••

Be safe. Be well. Shabbat shalom.

GAJE, May 28, 2021

Posted in Uncategorized

What Jewish education would teach

As these words were written, the genocidal regime in Gaza was still sending rockets and other missiles at the villages and cities of Israel, hoping to kill as many people as possible. Israel, of course, was still fighting back, hoping to spare as many of their people as possible from the deadly onslaught.

When Israel fights back, however, a great many people are offended. Noisily and en-masse, they take to the streets to protest and march with a festoonery of revealing flags, signs and placards, while chanting and shrieking nasty variations on the same murderous theme: “Free Palestine”, which of course means replace the Jewish State with a non-Jewish State, which of course means the Jews have no right to sovereign existence there, which of course means…..

As long as the marches and protests are without violence, the ugly screaming and hateful shouting are part of the heavy freight we carry for living in a free, democratic society. The demonstrations however, are infuriating because they are never advocate for Jewish-Arab coexistence, or inter-ethnic tolerance, or mutual national respect, or peaceful territorial compromise. They simply express vile calumny toward Israel.

And thus, what saddens as well as enrages us, is the participation in these plainly vicious anti-Israel demonstrations of many well-meaning, but not well-informed – young Jews. It leaves one to ask: if they knew more about modern and ancient Jewish history, would they shout such ant-Israel bigoted bile? Would they understand the horrific implications of the slogans they shouted?

The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI), an independent, non-profit, professional policy planning think tank based in Jerusalem provides a powerful insight that bears upon these questions. In commenting upon The Pew Research Center’s new study of American Jewry, 

the JPPI points out that the greatest sense of shared commonality among and for other Jews is felt by Jews who affiliate with one of Judaism’s modern streams.

In relation to a sense of commonality felt by American Jews for Israelis, JPPI observed: “How many American Jews say they have “a lot in common” with Israeli Jews? One in five (19 percent). And how many say they have “something in common” with Israeli Jews? Another two-fifths (40 percent). A total of 60 percent feel some commonality with Israeli Jews. And it’s notable that Orthodox and Conservative Jews feel a marked sense of commonality, while the Reform feel it a little less, though still strongly. But those not affiliated with any religious stream, or who self-identify as Jews “not by religion,” are at the bottom of the commonality scale. Of the latter, only a third feel some kind of connection.”

We do not know and therefore cannot comment on exactly who – among our sons and daughters here and in the USA – are volubly and publicly joining the anti-Israel ranks. But we can justifiably speculate that youngsters more aware of their people’s “story” – our history, literature, traditions, and faith – that is, having benefited from affordable Jewish education would be less likely to believe, let alone chant, “Free Palestine.”

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The JPPI article can be read at:

The Jewish Camp of the Nine Percent

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Be safe. Be well. Shabbat shalom.

GAJE, May 21, 2021

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