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.

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
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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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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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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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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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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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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It’s time to mend fences in the Jewish community

Mark Adler at wRanter.com

Mark Adler’s Toronto campaign office

When we sat down in early summer to discuss how we’d cover what was expected to be a five-week fall campaign, CJN editor Yoni Goldstein asked me to write a weekly column about election topics of Jewish interest. The idea – a departure from past practice of mostly limiting ourselves to rather pedestrian riding profiles – made me a bit nervous.

To echo a current catchphrase, I felt like I was just not ready.

My main concern was finding material to write about, since Jews and Jewish issues had never figured very prominently in a federal election before, even in 2011, when exit polls suggested that for the first time, a majority of Jews had voted Conservative, largely on the strength of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s vocal support for Israel.

But after the longest campaign in modern Canadian history, I can declare that my anxiety was definitely misplaced. Jews and Jewish issues have been more conspicuous in this election than in any campaign in living memory. Jews were news, as they say. Continue reading


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A national icon takes his leave

One of the questions I posed in this space a few weeks ago was: who will be the next big-name Jewish MP?

Irwin Cotler

Irwin Cotler

With apologies to Joe Oliver, Canada’s first Jewish federal finance minister, what I may subconsciously have been asking is who will be the next Irwin Cotler, now that the 75-year-old Mount Royal Liberal MP is retiring from politics after a 16-year run.

It’s not an entirely fair question, really, because it’s nearly impossible to measure up to a national icon.

With his naturally menschlich demeanour and his long list of achievements before entering politics, Cotler has been a staple of public life in Canada and internationally for more than 40 years.

Whether as a distinguished professor of international law at McGill University, president of Canadian Jewish Congress, a messenger who helped kick-start peace between Egypt and Israel, an advocate for Soviet Jewry in the 1970s and 1980s, or representing such high-profile political prisoners as Natan Sharansky and Nelson Mandela, Cotler has been a constant. Continue reading


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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 – for their own faith-based schools.

It should, but it probably won’t.

Cardinal Tom Collins at wRanter.com

He stuck out his neck, and his schools could suffer.

The so-called anti-bullying bill, which seeks to end bullying in publicly funded schools, passed in the legislature earlier this week. Catholic leaders – including the Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Thomas Collins – had opposed it because it allows students to set up GSAs in schools and requires the schools to permit them, and for them to be named as such if students prefer it.

The whole idea was to provide safe spaces for gay students in schools, in order to prevent bullying and the kind of high-profile suicides that prompted the legislation in the first place. But Catholic leaders said the move amounted to an attack on freedom of religion.

The Liberal government denied Tory opposition charges that it has been using the issue of GSAs to try to open a debate about the $7 billion in annual public funding for Ontario’s Catholic schools.

The claim seems to be borne out by the fact the recent Drummond Report –which went over government operations in minute detail with an eye to finding as many budgetary savings as possible – passed over some rather low-hanging fruit in the form of Catholic schools and their parallel public educational bureaucracy. Some estimates put the annual savings from folding the Catholic system into the public one at a whopping $1 billion annually.

But regardless of whether or not the government intended to pick a fight over Catholic school funding, the war may already have begun: a new poll taken June 4 found that 48 per cent of Ontarians  oppose Catholic school funding, while 43 per cent favour it (eight per cent were unsure). Continue reading


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What will replace newspapers?

Ever since I can remember, I’ve read and loved newspapers.

I got hooked on the comics pages when I was 5 or 6, migrated to sports, and then graduated to the rest of the paper.

Canadian newspapers at wRanter.com

A dying breed?

My parents subscribed to the Toronto Star and the weekly Canadian Jewish News, both of which I used to (and still) read (pardon the pun regarding the latter) religiously.

For about a year when I was a kid of around 11, I wrote a three-page weekly “newspaper” that I called the Local Gazette.

The contents consisted of neighbourhood gossip and sports scores that I cribbed from the Sunday Star. I produced each edition’s three copies by hand using carbon paper. (This was before home computers became affordable and popular.)

My paying customers – at 25 cents an issue – were two neighbours, parents of friends of mine, as well as a teenager who hung around the neighbourhood and was also my one and only “reporter.” To this day I don’t know why he subscribed or why he wanted to be part of my little vanity project.

Later, as an undergraduate, I spent two years reporting for the Excalibur, York University’s main student-run newspaper, bugging administrators and keeping them honest, or at least that’s what I liked to think I was doing. Continue reading


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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


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