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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Toronto’

Israeli and Pakistani News Agencies Collaborate in Media Venture

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Tazpit News Agency, a Jerusalem based news agency, announced a new joint project with Weekly Press Pakistan. Weekly Press Pakistan is a Toronto-based news outlet published in Urdu, one of the most common languages in the world, specifically in the Muslim countries in southern and central Asia.Weekly Press Pakistan also runs a popular journalist discussion group on Google having over 14,000 journalist members, and is associated with Press Network Pakistan (PNP). This project will allow numerous stories distributed by Tazpit to be published through Weekly Press Pakistan in Urdu, giving a much wider audience to Israeli news. This endeavor is unique, as Tazpit News Agency is the first Israeli media company to be published in Urdu and to collaborate with a Pakistani media group. It is of significance to not that Pakistan does have diplomatic ties with the State of Israel.

On their website, Weekly Press Pakistan describes itself as “a Toronto-based newspaper that takes pride in its unbiased in-depth news reporting both in English and Urdu languages. The weekly reaches hundreds of journalists through Press Pakistan Google Group as well as local and international readers including Government officials, political leaders, diplomats, lawyers, civil society, activists and overseas Pakistani community.”

Director of Tazpit News Agency, Amotz Eyal, stated that the collaboration between Tazpit News Agency and the Pakistani news agency has, for the first time, exposed millions to news and balanced information coming from Israel. “I am confident that this joint venture will be beneficial to Israelis as well as Pakistanis, and will promote understanding between the two parties.”

Weekly Press Pakistan is known for making information about Israel more accessible and open, helping to bridge the gap between Pakistani and Israeli perspectives. In April, they celebrated Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, by highlighting Israeli innovations and inventions as well as humanitarian programs such as IsraAID and Save a Child’s Heart.

“Today on Israel’s 64th birthday, anyone who denies existence of Israel, actually he denies his own existence… Israel is a reality… Better we not only recognize but also establish close relations without further wastage of time… The day is not far when talented and educated people of both states will join hands to serve the humanity together but for this, Israel would also have to promote media-to-media dialogue keeping in the view the significance of non-Arab Pakistani and Ajmi Muslims…Happy Birthday to Israel.”

Weekly Press Pakistan announced their Yom Ha’Atzmaut celebration and support of Israel. This new partnership is an even bolder step. It is a step by both Israelis and Pakistanis to come closer together, bridging the gaps and enabling mutual understanding.

PC Just Went a Notch Crazier over Circumcision Petition

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Last week, the Jewish Press online ran a petition calling on the German government to do something about a disastrous ruling by a power hungry court in Cologne, which used an appeal of a lower court decision on a botched Muslim circumcision to, essentially, make ritual circumcision verboten in Germany (I use the term “verboten” advisedly…).

The petition was wildly successful, gathering better than 12,000 signatures, all of them real, verified, honest-to-goodness expressions of Jewish outrage at this move – in one a week. In Jewish Internet terms this is the equivalent of a mini Woodstock.

Our boss, Stephen Leavitt, sent a personal thank you note to each and every person who signed the petition, adding at the end:

In Pirkei Avot (The Ethics of our Fathers) Hillel taught us, “In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man.”

This stark call for moral behavior even in a place of great turpitude, elicited the following response from a reader in Toronto, a fine lady, I’m sure, whose identity we choose to protect mainly on account of the turpitude thing:

“That sticks in my throat; I am a woman. In future I will look for women’s petitions only.

“You have offended me and more than half the Jews on earth.

“Take me off your mailing list!”

Our dear Stephen read these three lines several times, while desperately trying to pick up his jaw, which had dropped to the floor. He then spent a few more minutes contemplating the best response, obviously in keeping with the turpitude thing. He finally wrote:

“The quote was said by Hillel.

“Hillel lived over 2000 years ago.

“It is a very famous quote.

“I’m sure he’s quite sorry he offended you.”

Mind you, this is a woman who supported the Jewish rite of circumcision, so her heart was in the right place. And yet, when it came to first century grammar, using the male to represent both sexes, somehow, the walls of reason came tumbling down on her.

We, too, wish to apologize on behalf of Hillel, and propose that his harsh critic from Toronto read the statement as it would have been written had the head of Sanhedrin not been such a chauvinist pig:

In a place where there are no women, strive to be a woman.

Yes, I know, it works much better…

Parshas Korach: ‘Impulsive Wealth’

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

In 1978, Michael Aun won the Toastmaster’s International Speaking contest in Vancouver. He remarks that although he is well-known for winning the contest in 1978, he lost it in 1977 in Toronto, because he went seven seconds over his allotted time. In his words, “Do you know what you do after you lose a contest because of seven seconds? You go up to your hotel room and you cry. But after a while, you realize that you can go for it again. A year later I won it in Vancouver. I often say that we have to remember that you often have to go through Toronto in order to get to Vancouver.”

That’s the way winner’s think. Winner’s focus on their strengths; losers focus on their weakness. Winners are challenged by defeat while losers are paralyzed by defeat. What everyone remembers about Michael Aun is his triumph in Vancouver. But they soon forget the defeats.

Losers spend their time in the pursuit of happiness; winners spend their time in the happiness of the pursuit.

Winners search for the challenges; losers search for security!

The tragic rebellion of Korach is of the saddest accounts of the nation’s travails in the desert. Rashi[1] asks, if Korach was such a distinguished and clever individual what prompted him to mount a rebellion against Moshe Rabbeinu, the leader of Klal Yisroel?

Rashi answers that Korach’s eyes caused him to err. Korach prophetically saw that holy leaders and great individuals would emerge from his progeny, including Shmuel Hanavi, who in his time, was as great as Moshe and Aharon combined. Korach concluded that if such greatness was to emerge from him he could not allow himself to be denied greater prestige and influence. He was convinced that the merit of his erstwhile descendants would protect him, and that he had a responsibility to achieve greater renown for their sake.

Rav Avrohom Pam zt’l[2] noted that Korach should have reached the exact opposite conclusion. If he was to father such great personages he should have seen it as beneath his dignity to incite an imbroglio against Moshe. He should have concluded that it does not befit the ancestor of Shmuel Hanavi to dispute the leader of Klal Yisroel over honor and glory.

The true initiator of Korach’s tragic rebellion was his wife. She would deride him for being silent and unassuming. “Whenever Moshe blows the trumpet, you and your fellow porters come running to shlep the Holy Ark to its next location. For someone so distinguished you are treated like a nobody. Moshe ensured that his closest family members have all of the most distinguished positions, but you get nothing!” Eventually her inflammatory remarks provoked Korach to challenge Moshe’s authority.

In Mishlei (28:20) it says, “One who is impatient to become rich will not become exonerated.” The Medrash applies this verse to Korach. Korach couldn’t wait to enjoy the honor and greatness he anticipated from his descendants and so he tried to grasp it prematurely. The results proved disastrous.

Yirmiyahu (17:11) warns us, “One who amasses wealth unjustly will lose it in the middle of his days.” Prima facie, the prophets foreboding words seem puzzling. Aren’t there many individuals who employ unethical means to achieve wealth and prominence, and then seem to enjoy the fruits of their unscrupulous actions in comfort?

Rav Pam explained that such individuals represent the greatest tragedy of all. There are individuals who are predestined to become wealthy for whatever divine reason. G-d has ordained that somehow they would become rich. Had they not succumbed to immoral activities they would have had their money anyway. Thus they gained absolutely nothing by being dishonest and deceitful. What a tragedy that they could have enjoyed their wealth and not have had to be punished for it in the next world. When the prophet warns of those who will lose their wealth rapidly he is referring to one who is not predestined to become wealthy. All of his schematic efforts will ultimately prove futile and “he will lose it in the middle of his days.”

This concept is not limited to wealth but to honor and prestige too. One can only achieve what G-d wills him to achieve, and all of his efforts will accomplish nothing if it is not meant to be. This was the root of Korach’s fallacious thinking. G-d had planned a glorious future for him, albeit through his descendants. But Korach was impatient and impulsive, and he thought mounting a coup-de-tat could alter his destiny. The error cost him not only his life and the lives of his family and followers, but also his share in the World to Come.

Jews Clash in Queer Toronto Over Inclusion of BDS Group in Parade

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

A Jewish gay and lesbian group has submitted a request to the Pride Toronto arbitration panel, asking the gay pride parade organizers to ban anti-Israel group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid from the festival, according to a report in the Toronto Star.

Jewish homosexual group Kulanu Toronto filed a complaint on Friday against QuAIA’s participation in the July 1 parade, stating that “QuAIA’s “behavior and rhetoric are hurtful to Jewish parade participants and to supporters of Israel”.  According to Kulanu, QuAIA’s comparison of Israel to apartheid South Africa is offensive and untrue.  In an e-mail to the Star, Kulanu executive director Justine Apple accused QuAIA of “hijacking the parade with their anti-Israel propaganda,” and alienating the people of Toronto with their “hateful, hostile messaging”.

Queers Against Israel Apartheid

Queers Against Israel Apartheid

The Star reported that the dispute resolution committee will review the complaint, but may not be able to render a decision in time for the event.

Last week, the Toronto city council voted to condemn the use of the phrase “Israel apartheid,” but also granted $124,000 in funding to the pride parade regardless of QuAIA’s ability to participate.  In 2010, a decision to ban QuAIA from the annual parade was overturned due to pressure from Canadian homosexuals.  In 2011, the city of Toronto threatened to cut funding to the parade if QuAIA was allowed to participate.  In response, QuAIA pulled out of the event, holding an event in favor of BDS (boycotting, divestment, and sanctions) instead.

In January, Tel Aviv was named the Best Gay City of 2011 in an international American Airlines competition choosing the most popular destinations among LGTB tourists.

West Coast Happenings

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Shul Updates: Some West Coast shuls have ended their search for a new rabbi while others are still searching. Here’s an update: Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, originally from Los Angeles, will be moving back as the rav of Kehillat Yavneh, while Rabbi Joshua Strulowitz of San Francisco’s Adath Israel is leaving to become the rav at the West Side Institutional Synagogue in New York when Rabbi Einhorn leaves that position. Another L.A.-born rabbi, Avi Stewart, will be the new rav at Westwood Kehilla. Meanwhile, EDOS in Denver is continuing its search for a new rabbi.

ENCINO, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Daniel and Rachel Weisman, a son.

LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvahs: Jacob Sclar, son of Gavin and Zara Sclar… Adam Wechsler, son of Jeff and Stace Wechsler.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Births: Yossi and Shani Milstein of Yerushalayim, a daughter (Grandparents Yisroel and Reeva Milstein… Shmueli and Samantha Hauptman, a son (Grandmother Maureen Landers of Santa Monica)… Avi and Bryna Webb of Crown Heights, NY, a daughter (Grandparents BenZion and Yocheved Novack)… Rabbi Shmule and Shterny Gurary, a daughter (Grandparents Shimon and Chana Raichik).

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvahs: Avishai Mermelstein, son of Shlomo and Mariana Mermelstein… Michael Szabo, son of Howard and Helen Szabo… Noam Gershov, son of David and Michal Gershov… Yehuda Mandelbaum, son of Shemayah and Devorah Mandelbaum.

Mazel Tov – Engagements: Shmuel Cohen, son of Rabbi Gabriel and Grace Cohen, to Rivky Alon of Toronto, Canada… Harry Etra, son of Donald and Paula Etra, to Daniella Schwartz of Englewood, NJ… Malka Lowi, daughter of Irwin and Tania Lowi, to Mendy Pechter of Monsey, NY… Esti Gross, daughter of Yossi and Sheindy Gross, to Menachem Neustadt of Detroit, MI… Shmuel Schlussel, son of Gerson and Sara Schlussel, to Hindel Sofer of Melbourne, Australia… Tova Klavan, daughter of Yehoshua and Ruchel Klavan, to Pinchas Schulman of Baltimore, MD… Rivka Stoll, daughter of Warren Zev and Susie Stoll, to Gideon Leiser of Belgium.

Mazel Tov – Wedding: Adam Lebovitz, son of Jerry and Linda Lebovitz, to Dr. Talia Shainhouse.
Graduation: USC – Jonathan Gerber, Master’s in Business Taxation.

PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Engagement: Boruch Kreiman, son of Rabbi Yankel and Rochel Kreiman, to Michal Retman of Melbourne, Australia.

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Rabbi Joey and Sarah Felsen, a son.

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Yehudis and Yaakov Kaplan, a daughter (Grandparents Rabbi Avram and Leah Bogopulsky).

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvah: Matan Moyal, son of Uri and Lior Moyal.

MERCER ISLAND, WASHINGTON

Mazel Tov – Birth: Mike and Bluma Ekshtut, a son.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

Mazel Tov – Births: Aaron and Naomi Katzman, a daughter (Grandmother Rivka Katzman)… Yeshaya and Nechama Poyours, a daughter.

Mazel Tov – Engagement: Diedra Willner, daughter of Shmuel and Sonia Willner, to Jay Schreiber.

Hot Chocolate Leads to Cool Dialogue

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

It’s no surprise that students in Canada would love a free, warm beverage during the long, cold winter – but how can you turn that into a way to advocate for Israel?

Students at the University of Toronto used the cold Canadian winters as a way to promote open dialogue about Israel and educate their fellow students with a campaign they called Hot Chocolate, Hot Topic.

The campaign, which ran last semester, aimed to start dialogue about Israel and educate students about different subjects regarding Israel. Once a week, members of UT’s Israel Committee distributed hot chocolate and candy with quick, interesting facts about Israel.

The committee set up their table in spots that get a lot of passing students, hoping students would learn something on their way to class. The facts range from topics like environmental sustainability and technological innovation to LGBTQ rights in Israel.

Beca Bookman, a member of UT’s Israel Committee and the student who developed the idea for Hot Chocolate, Hot Topic, sought to provide opportunities for students who have no connection or information about Israel to learn some important facts about the country and shine a light on the positives that come out of Israel that often go unmentioned.

“We tailor our information to meet the individual’s interests, and we kept the conversation open, honest and welcoming,” Bookman said.

The campaign allowed students to talk about Israel and engage in dialogue with members of the committee. Bookman said she knows some students had wanted to express their opinions on Israel or ask questions and Hot Chocolate, Hot Topic provided an open place for conversation.

Chaim Grafstein, a member of the Israel Committee, explained that the initiative did just that, and even received an unlikely visitor, the writer of the counterpoint op-ed for Israel Apartheid Week. Grafstein said that instead of any conflict, it was a very positive situation. The student had a hot chocolate and a conversation with the committee members who were tabling. “Creating a positive atmosphere is a very big goal for us on a sometimes hostile campus,” Grafstein explained.

Grafstein said most of the students they reached out to during Hot Chocolate, Hot Topic would never have stopped to talk about Israel if it wasn’t for the hot chocolate. Bookman agreed that the campaign was successful, and said that the committee built wonderful relationships with fellow students. Bookman attributed some of the success to the fact that the campus community appreciates a group that welcomes conversation and isn’t afraid of a “hot topic.”

Grafstein added that the peaceful conversation is imperative because, “Now there are a few more students out there that have had a positive experience, and they have attached it to Israel.”

Bookman, who wrote the proposal that brought funding from the Israel on Campus Coalition for this project, said the most important and successful part of the campaign was that it showed the campus community that “discussions about Israel can be positive experiences.” Grafstein also said that the tabling was good for new members of the Israel Committee because it gave them a platform to get comfortable speaking with fellow students and advocating for Israel.

Hot Topic, Hot Chocolate let the University of Toronto know about the presence of the Israel Committee and the importance of Israel. During the semester, the campaign spread to Ryerson University and York University, both in Toronto, and plans are underway to continue providing students with facts about Israel — and hot chocolate — next year.

Toronto Islamic School Apologizes for Calling Jews “Crafty”, Promoting Jihad-Readiness

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

A Toronto Islamic school has apologized to the Jewish community after an investigation confirmed that it encourages students to hate Jews and prepare to combat them.

Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies in Toronto had submitted a complaint that the curriculum for the East End Madrassah, a Muslim Sunday school conducted on public school grounds, included courses on preparing for jihad, and made inflammatory references to Jews.

According to a report in the Canadian daily National Post, the East End Madrassah Level 8 curriculum encouraged boys to engage in sports activities in order to care for their bodies, as well as “so that you may physically be ready for jihad whenever the time comes for it,” adding that “no doubt any wise, humanitarian person accepts such a combat and admires it [jihad] because there is no other way to achieve the sacred ends of the Prophets.”

The curriculum also villainized the Jews as “crafty” and “treacherous” enemies of founder of Islam, Mohammed.  “End of Jewish Plots and Treacheries: Ever since the Prophet’s entry into Madina, the treacherous Jews had vehemently opposed him and his Islamic call …The crafty Jews entered into an alliance with the polytheist Quraish in a bid to stamp out Islam. They conspired to kill Prophet Muhammad despite the fact that he was lenient towards them and had treated them kindly, hoping to convince them of Islam’s truth. But eventually as Jewish plots and aggressions increased, he had no choice other than to take up arms against them, in order to protect Islam and the Muslims. At the battle of Khaiber … the Prophet defeated them ending Jewish intrigues and conspiracies in Arabia.”

The National Post made the Level 8 curriculum available for download on their website.  After the complaint was issued, the Madrassah removed the curriculum from their website.

On Monday, the school issued a statement to “unreservedly apologizeto the local Jewish community for the unintentional offense,” and said the educational materials would be reviewed.  In a press release posted on the school’s website, it stated that its “curriculum is not intended to promote hatred towards any individual or group of people, rather the children are taught to respect and value other faiths, beliefs and to uphold Canada’s basic values of decency and tolerance,” and said the offensive materials “should never have been a part of our curriculum.”

Canada’s Criminal Code outlaws the public and willful promotion of hatred against any identifiable group.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/toronto-islamic-school-apologizes-for-calling-jews-crafty-promoting-jihad-readiness/2012/05/09/

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