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.
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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‘Israeli apartheid’ is a slur that does no one any good

Campuses around the world are beginning to witness a series of annual events known as Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), and it’s a particularly depressing time of the year to be a progressive Jew.

That’s because when you call Israel an apartheid regime, as many on the left are wont to do, you’re effectively arguing, whether explicitly or implicitly, that you want the world’s only Jewish state to disappear.

Protests and counter-protests at UC Berkeley, 2010 at www.wranter.com

Pro- and anti-Israel rallies during IAW 2010 at UC Berkeley

Many left-wingers may support an end to the occupation of the West Bank and an end to the siege on Gaza, and they say that Israel’s practices relating to these two territories are akin to apartheid in the old South Africa. Others argue that’s Israel’s very nature as a Jewish state makes it unabashedly racist, and hence inherently unredeemable, occupation or no occupation. Continue reading

Linsanity and some personal soul-searching on race

The New York Knicks and Asian-American rookie phenom Jeremy Lin were in town last week to play the Toronto Raptors, and it led me to some personal soul-searching on race, particularly when it comes to Asians and Asian-Americans and Canadians.

By now, many of you already know Lin’s story, and you know what he inflicted on the Raps – a last-minute, buzzer-beating three-point shot to win the game, which only enhanced his growing celebrity.

For those of you who live under a rock or couldn’t care less about basketball (or sports in general), this is what you missed:

Lin isn’t the first person to star in the NBA after going undrafted. Indeed, Knicks shooting guard John Starks was an all-star in 1994, and Bruce Bowen, Ben Wallace and Avery Johnson all played key roles on championship teams.

But Lin, the American-born son of Taiwanese immigrants, is the first true Asian-American pro baskeball star, one who seemingly came out of nowhere. Continue reading

Some interesting firsts in Canada’s Jewish community

A couple of noteworthy firsts passed with little fanfare this past December that are unusual in Canada’s religiously (and increasingly politically) conservative Jewish community.

First, Temple Emanu-El Beth Sholom in Montreal named Rabbi Lisa Grushcow to succeed Rabbi Leigh Lerner, who will become rabbi emeritus of Canada’s oldest Reform synagogue. In doing so, the temple became the first Canadian shul with more than 1,000 member families to hire a female rabbi as its spiritual leader.

Rabbi Lisa Grushcow at www.wranter.com

Rabbi Lisa Grushcow

But Rabbi Grushcow, who takes up her new post July 1, is notable in a number of other ways. For one, she’s a lesbian, and her partner is another rabbi (Rabbi Andrea Myers). They have two daughters together, ages 8 and 2. So she’ll also be the first lesbian, the first mom, and first lesbian mom to lead a Canadian shul with more than 1,000 member families.

What’s more, Rabbi Grushcow — who was ordained by Hebrew Union College in 2003 and is currently serving as senior associate rabbi at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City — is a Rhodes Scholar who earned a doctorate in rabbinics from Oxford.

As well, she was born in Ottawa and grew up in Toronto, where her family attended Beth Tikvah Synagogue, a Conservative shul. Her Canadian passport will make her a rarity among senior rabbis of large Canadian shuls. (I can think of only one other Canuck who leads a congregation with more than 1,000 member families: Rabbi Philip Scheim at Toronto’s Beth David B’nai Israel Beth Am Synagogue).

To top it off, she’s under 40, which is also unusual among spiritual leaders of large synagogues.

That’s quite a résumé. Continue reading

A disingenuous piece of ‘news’

Over the weekend, I happened to visit the website of the Kashruth Council of Canada, the country’s largest kosher supervisory agency (yes, I lead a very exciting life), and I noticed that it contains the following helpful item in its news section — the place where it lists establishments and products that have new kosher certification or are no longer supervised under the council’s COR hasgachah symbol.

The Kashruth Council of Canada's certification symbo lat www.wranter.com

The Kashruth Council of Canada’s certification symbol

“Please be advised that as of January 1, 2012 Beth Tzedec’s synagogue catering facilities located at 1700 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON are no longer under COR certification.”

Come again?

Does this mean that the the facilities at Beth Tzedec Congregation – North America’s largest Conservative synagogue, with 2,700 member families – no longer has a kosher kitchen? Does the average consumer of kosher food (like me) need to be wary of eating at Beth Tzedec when attending a wedding or bar mitzvah?

Actually, no. Continue reading