Gentle and not-so-gentle thoughts and musings from a Jewish, left-leaning, Canadian, pro-Israel, inner-suburban, fortysomething, libertarian, recovering perfectionist, quasi-socialist husband, dad, basketball fan, writer and editor with a few opinions.

wRanter.com - Gentle and not-so-gentle thoughts and musings from a Jewish, left-leaning, Canadian, pro-Israel, inner-suburban, fortysomething, libertarian, recovering perfectionist, quasi-socialist husband, dad, basketball fan, writer and editor with a few opinions.
Featured wRants
Thursday the rabbi walked out, or was he pushed?

Being a pulpit rabbi can be a cutthroat business

When Toronto Jews awoke last Saturday morning and collected their Globe and Mail newspapers from their doorsteps (those who still subscribe, that is), they discovered a front-page story detailing how Holy Blossom Temple, the city's ...

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Who will be the next big-name Jewish MP?

Last week, we examined four “Jewish” battleground ridings, including two – York Centre in Toronto and Mount Royal in Montreal – where, one way or another, a Jewish candidate is likely to win. This week, ...

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He was burned by this very issue.

The Jewish community should fund its own schools

The fallout from the recent controversy over the creation of gay-straight alliance clubs (GSAs) in Ontario's publicly funded Catholic school system should give pause to those seeking funding – in the name of fairness – ...

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Being mislabelled by educators can make school a misery.

Your December-born kid may not have ADHD. He might just be immature.

A new Canadian study is bolstering an argument I've been making to my kids' teachers and principals for years: children born later in a calendar year are more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit ...

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Jewish issues at centre of partisan sniping

Jewish issues and candidates made headlines last week and became the subject of some distasteful political rhetoric on the campaign trail. In Alberta, a 21-year-old hijab-wearing university student resigned Aug. 18 as the Liberal candidate in ...

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Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau

Israel shouldn't be a political football or litmus test

Despite public and private appeals to call off the event, the Jewish Defence League (JDL) went ahead with its unfortunate decision to picket a Liberal fundraiser at the Toronto home of pharmaceutical magnate and Jewish ...

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The next occupants of 24 Sussex?

Why Thomas Mulcair gets it when it comes to Israel

Not surprisingly, Thomas Mulcair won the NDP leadership last month, replacing Saint Jack Layton as the man social democrats hope can rally left-of-centre voters to defeat Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives. Here's hoping he's successful, but ...

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Why I miss the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre

Every weekday morning, as I drive my boys to  middle school, I pass an empty lot in Toronto’s West Don River Valley that used to be home to the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre.

Parkland has a soothing effect on most people, myself included, but this grassy expanse annoys me.

As a teenager,  I marvelled at the JCC’s three full-sized gyms – two of which included running tracks – as well as its indoor and outdoor swimming pools, daycare centre, indoor squash and racquetball courts, aerobics studios, 444-seat multipurpose Leah Posluns Theatre – which, along with the JCC’s Koffler Centre of the Arts, had only been added to the site in the late 1970s – not to mention its myriad of other facilities and services.

Tearing down the BJCC

The demolition of the old BJCC

I would have loved to have belonged to the JCC during my teen years, but my parents simply couldn’t afford it. I know, because I asked them many times if we could join. They were raising four kids on a social worker’s salary and sending them all to Jewish day school, which wasn’t, and still isn’t, inexpensive. A membership to the the BJCC, while costing less than most comparable facilities or health clubs, was out of the question.

The BJCC was closed in 2009 and demolished in 2010. It was only about 50 years old, with construction having started on it in 1958. Continue reading

Taking a bite out of the Apple Jobs myth

For those of us who haven’t consumed copious amounts of Apple-flavoured Kool-Aid, the the posthumous over-the-top comparisons of Steve Jobs to Edison, Einstein, Da Vinci, etc., have been more than a little hard to take.

Fortunately, sanity is starting to return to the conversation.

Malcolm Gladwell, largely riffing off the new biography by Walter Isaacson,  wrote an interesting piece for the New Yorker that might (finally) lead people to question the great man theory that has developed around the Apple co-founder.

Steve Jobs holding an iPhone: The great tech dictator?

The great tech dictator?

Gladwell argues that rather than being a great innovator, Jobs was more of a tweaker, someone who took others’ ideas and refined them through the force of his ruthless perfectionism and vision. Apple wasn’t the first to produce a personal computer, MP3 player or smartphone. Rather, Apple (read Jobs) tweaked those products and tied them to a closed universe of related software and devices to create a seamless, clean design experience for the end user. Far from minimizing this achievement, however, Gladwell argues that such tweakers are crucial to any era of great technological transformation. He points to similar figures in Britain’s industrial revolution who enhanced other people’s inventions. Continue reading

This guy has tenure at Columbia

Joseph Massad, an associate professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University, had this to say on Al Jazeera’s website on Oct. 27, 2011.

It’s a deconstruction, of sorts, of recent speeches by U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations on Mideast peace. But Massad isn’t just making the argument that Netanyahu and Israel are responsible for the current impasse in negotiations, or even that a one-state solution to the conflict is inevitable or preferable tothe two-state solution that just about every sane person acknowledges is the only peaceful and just outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Joseph Massad of Columbia University

Joseph Massad at wRanter.com

Massad, a Palestinian who was born in Jordan in 1963, goes even further, questioning Jewish claims to the Land of Israel by bringing up the long-discredited Khazar myth about the origins of European Jewry. The myth is just that, a myth, but the point of invoking it is to bolster his argument that modern European, and hence many Israeli Jews, aren’t racial or genetic descendants of ancient Hebrews, and thus have no claim to the land today. It’s all part of the idea that Israel is a colonial state established by people who have no business being there and who displaced the land’s original inhabitants with false claims of entitlement. The argument goes hand in hand with the pernicious argument that Israel is like apartheid South Africa, or that it’s a temporary and illegitimate presence, akin to the Christian Crusader states of the Middle Ages. Continue reading

White elephant in Winnipeg?

Martin Knelman wrote this fawning piece that appeared in the Toronto Star about the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, now under construction in Winnipeg.

This $300-million-plus facility is being built with money from three levels of government and private fundraising, which is being led by Gail Asper, daughter of the late CanWest Global media mogul Izzy Asper. He dreamed up the idea shortly before his death in 2003, and she’s carrying it on. It’s slated to open in 2012.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights at wRanter.com

The museum under construction in Winnipeg.

The museum has proven somewhat controversial. Elements within the Ukrainian community, for instance, have objected to the fact the Holocaust will have its own exhibit in the museum, while other genocides such as the Ukrainian Holodomor (the Stalin-induced famine in the 1930s) would be lumped together in a separate gallery. The Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association has argued that all 12 of the museum’s 12 galleries in the publicly funded Canadian Museum for Human Rights should be thematic, comparative and inclusive. No community’s suffering should be elevated above all others, it says.

But leaving aside the question of whether the Holocaust is unique or not (it clearly is, and the Ukrainian complaints have, perhaps unintentionally, offensive undertones), the most controversial part of the project to me is that it will be a national museum. Continue reading