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
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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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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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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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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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 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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Things that make me go arghhh! Part 2

For your reading and pleasure, or perhaps frustration, I present the second installment of a semi-regular series dedicated to kvetching and carping about annoying stuff that’s been on my mind or in the news.

Police culture in the city of Toronto.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair at wRanter.com

He needs to get his rank and file in order.

Shortly after a report by Ontario’s police watchdog accused frontline officers and their superiors of unlawful conduct during the 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto, and with charges pending against a number of officers and investigations ongoing against others, comes the story of a rookie Toronto cop who was harassed by fellow officers for charging an off-duty Halton police constable with drunk driving in 2009.

The revelations of harassment came out at the trial of the officer who was accused of driving drunk. They included allegations that Const. Andrew Vanderburgh was followed home from a police station (where he had taken the allegedly drunk cop for a breathalyzer test) by a third officer who charged Vanderburgh with running a red light. The charge was eventually dismissed and the ticketing officer was disciplined, as were two other cops who didn’t intervene (all three had their pay docked).

In addition, Vanderburgh’s own partner refused to take part in charging the allegedly drunk officer, and Vanderburgh was said to have been called a “rat” by other fellow cops.

In response to the report about Vanderburgh’s treatment, the militant head of Toronto’s police union, Mike McCormack, said that while the union doesn’t condone this kind of behaviour, it’s not a systemic issue. He said a culture of police officers protecting their own may have existed at one time in Toronto, but doesn’t today.

Sorry, but I’m not buying that. It lacks credibility. Continue reading


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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


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