Sometimes, these messages come together easily, and other times – like now – I am staring at separate threads and wonder what will come out of them.

Here are the threads:

  • Israel has an annual Remembrance Day (Yom Ha’zikaron) for its soldiers who have fallen over so many wars fighting for their independence and sovereignty. A few years ago, I attended a ceremony in the small settlement where my relatives live, and I realized how truly hard it is to be an Israeli. Too many of their friends and neighbours, fathers, mothers, and children were on that list.
  • This past week, the Israeli government decided that non-Israeli Jewish victims of antisemitic terror attacks outside Israel should also be honoured on their national Remembrance Day.
  • By coincidence, on that very day, a gunman attacked a synagogue in Tunisia, killing five people.
  • And by coincidence, the next day, I found myself attending a Bnai Brith cross-Canada symposium explaining how important it was that Canada and five provinces (including Manitoba) have adopted a non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism, as part of their overall anti-racism efforts. (And let me be clear, the numbers of antisemitic incidents in Canada are startling and growing).
  • As they put it, you can battle against hate if you can define hate.
  • Yet, in campuses all across our country, attempts to adopt these definitions are shouted down, and challenging Israel’s very right to exist is the common currency of the day.

What a mess. But I am reminded of how hard it was to establish civil rights in our countries in the 60s and beyond (against the language of hate in those times), and I am comforted by the fact that Canada and Manitoba, and others have taken clear and unequivocal steps in the right direction when it comes to racism of any sort.

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Allan