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September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Montreal’

Canada Sends Ex-Jobbik Leader Packing before Montreal Speech

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Canadian immigration officials this week ordered a former leader of the ultra-nationalist Jobbik party in Hungary out of the country prior to a speaking engagement in Montreal.

Csanad Szegedi was sent back to Budapest on a plane just before he was slated to address a Chabad group. Approximately 200 people who came out to hear Szegedi, who two years ago discovered he had a maternal Jewish grandmother and was ousted by Jobbik, instead heard a videotaped message.

“I acknowledge that I have a lot of sins,” Szegedi said. “And this is why I understand those people who are not happy me being here. But these sins I try to rectify not only at the verbal level but at the level of my actions.

“I have to tell the Canadian Jewish community … that I am exactly such a Jew as they are. I cannot help it — as you cannot help it.”

Szegedi, 31, was a leading figure in the neo-fascist Jobbik party for a decade and was known for his rabid anti-Semitism. After discovering his Jewish relative — an Auschwitz survivor — he made contact with Chabad representatives in Hungary. He since has embraced his Jewish roots and publicly denounced Jobbik.

His talk at Montreal’s Chabad of Westmount was titled “My Journey From Hater to Fighter of Hatred,” but the speaking engagement caused a backlash in Montreal’s Jewish community, with detractors charging that his denunciation of Jobbik is insincere and that he only embraced his Jewish identity after he failed to suppress the news through bribery.

Chassidic Woman Wins Montreal Council Race

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Mindy Pollak, a 24-year-old aesthetician, became the first Chassidic woman to hold public office in Montreal.

Pollak, a member of the Vishnitzer sect, defeated four candidates to win her race for the municipal council on Sunday in the Outremont borough. She garnered about 35 percent of the vote in a district that is home to an estimated 5,000 Chassidim.

Among the candidates she defeated was Pierre Lacerte, an anti-Hasidim blogger in Montreal.

Montreal has had Orthodox Jewish councillors but all have been men.

Pollak’s political aspirations were triggered two years ago when controversy erupted in her neighborhood over plans to expand a small Bobover synagogue. Tensions with non-Jewish neighbors already were running high over zoning, noise and congestion issues. She teamed with Leila Marshy, a neighbor who is of Palestinian origin, to found Friends of Hutchison — named for the street on which the synagogue was to be expanded — to promote dialogue between the haredi Orthodox Jews and francophones.

Her advocacy caught the attention of Alex Norris, a Projet Montreal party borough councillor from neighboring Mile-end, which also has a large Hasidic community.

“A number of us were impressed with her and Leila Marshy’s initiative,” Norris told The Tyee, an online magazine, after which he approached Pollak about running for office for his party.

Pollak is a volunteer for Chai Lifeline, which works with sick children and their families.

Montreal Limmud Conference Cancels Sessions Led by Pro-Palestinian

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

A Montreal Jewish learning festival has canceled two sessions that would have been led by a pro-Palestinian activist who calls for Birthright Israel’s abolition.

Le Mood, a Limmud conference to be held this Sunday and funded by the local Jewish federation, pulled the panel titled “Where are all the radical Jews?” and another on the history of Montreal’s Jewish garment workers, both to have been facilitated by Sarah Woolf.

Woolf this spring helped launch and promote a website called Renounce Birthright that seeks to “educate young Jews about the connections between Birthright [Israel] trips, and the ongoing colonization and occupation of Palestine.”

Woolf and her co-facilitator on the “radical Jews” panel, Aaron Lakoff, wrote on Lakoff’s blog: “Ultimately, we’ve been banned from speaking at Le Mood because of our personal politics (or whatever Le Mood and Federation CJA perceive our respective politics to be), not based on the content of our panels, which were reviewed, accepted, and scheduled months ago.”

The two added that they are “deeply disheartened to learn that Le Mood has fallen victim to the very behaviours and attitudes it had promised to avoid: stifling, censorial, top-down and centralized notions of what Jewishness can and should be.”

Federation CJA’s president and CEO issued an Oct. 31 statement in which they said the session was canceled “because it involved speakers who challenge, actively and publicly, the legitimacy of the State of Israel.”

Noting that Le Mood includes “those that are critical of Israel’s politics, decisions and actions,” the Federation CJA leaders said they had “exercised our right, as any organization would be expected to do, to draw the line at funding and providing a platform, whether directly or indirectly, to those who deny the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.”

Leaked Quebec Plan would Ban Kippot on Public Workers

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

A plan by Quebec’s government to ban “religious symbols,” including the kippa, among public sector workers has elicited worry from religious minorities in the Canadian province.

The bill would seek to ban public employees from wearing large Christian crosses or religious headwear such as that worn by Sikhs, Muslims and Jews while at work.

Richard Marceau, a former politician who now advises the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, wrote responded to the plan in a critical article in the Huffington Post, where he wrote, “How could one believe that a kippah-wearing Jewish librarian is… trying to impose his religion on society?”

The details of the proposed law were leaked to Journal de Montrèal last week, but the Parti Quebecois, which heads the provincial government, has refused to confirm them or answer questions related to the issue.

Montreal’s First Jewish Mayor Arrested in Corruption Crackdown

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Montreal’s first Jewish mayor and a Jewish former alderman were arrested as part of a crackdown on corruption.

Michael Applebaum, who was appointed mayor last November, was taken into custody Monday morning by agents of the anti-corruption unit, l’unite permanente anticorruption (UPAC). Also arrested was Saulie Zajdel, an Orthodox Jewish former city council member who ran unsuccessfully for a seat in Canada’s last federal election.

Charges are expected to be announced later Monday.

Zajdel was a Montreal city councilor from 1986 to 2009. He also served as a director of the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation for more than four years.

Zajdel listed his current job as a municipal affairs consultant and real estate broker, according to his LinkedIn page.

Applebaum, 50, won a city council vote in November to serve as interim mayor for only a year, with a promise not to run in the next municipal election. He replaced the previous mayor, Gerald Tremblay, who resigned in a corruption scandal that linked him to graft and organized crime.

A third man, Jean Yves Brisson, also was arrested Monday. Police say both he and Zajdel had previously worked in the local electoral district of Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dâme-de-Grace, which Applebaum had represented as either a councilor or mayor since 1994.

All three were being held Monday by Quebec Provincial Police.

Yeshivat Maharat to Ordain Women Rabbis on Sunday

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Yeshivat Maharat, the first institution to train Orthodox women as spiritual leaders and halakhic authorities will host their first graduation ceremony on Sunday.

The women have each studied the same course of training as men and have studied the Jewish Torah at advanced levels for years.

Orthodox rabbis will be present at the graduation, at which the women will receive diplomas for “ordination as clergy, and the certificates will note they have been ordained as a “Decisor of Jewish Law for the Community.”

Maharat is a Hebrew acronym for Manhiga Hilkhatit Rukhanit Toranit, “One who is teacher of Jewish law and spirituality,” and each graduate will use the title of Maharat.

All of the women will be employed as clergy for Orthodox synagogues and institutions.

Rachel Kohl Finegold will be serving as clergy at Montreal’s Congregation Sha’ar HaShomayim with Rabbi Adam Scheier.

Ruth Balinsky Friedman will be serving as clergy at Ohev Sholom, The National Synagogue, in Washington D.C. with Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld.

Abby Brown Scheier will be a principal of a small Hebrew school, as well as teaching children and adults in the Montreal community.

Rori Picker Neiss will be completing her fourth year of Yeshivat Maharat while serving as clergy at Bais Abraham Congregation in St Louis, with Rabbi Hyim Shafner.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/yeshivat-maharat-to-ordain-women-rabbis-on-sunday/2013/06/13/

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