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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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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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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Obama uses gay marriage to play electoral hardball

Barack Obama at wRanter.com

Tougher than he looks

U.S. President Barack Obama is playing hardball in his effort to get re-elected later this year. And if last week is any indication, a second term will be even more of a slam dunk than I thought it would be.

In a move that led some to dub him “the first gay president,” Obama endorsed gay marriage – without actually promising to do anything about it, since he says the issue is one for states to decide for themselves – just a day before it was revealed that presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had bullied gay students at the posh Michigan prep school he attended as a teen in the 1960s.

I’m not buying the story that Obama’s hand was forced after his vice-president, Joe Biden, said recently on NBC’s Meet the Press that he was  “totally comfortable” with same-sex marriage.

This allegedly led Obama to come out, so to speak, with his own statement to ABC News that gays and lesbians ought to be allowed to marry, after previously stating that he opposed gay marriage, then later saying that his position on the issue was evolving.

Obama had reportedly intended to endorse gay marriage just before the Democratic convention in September. Biden’s “slip” supposedly moved up the timeline.

But it’s hard to believe that the vice-president’s statement was accidental. The whole sequence of events looked like it was carefully orchestrated to Obama’s political advantage. Continue reading

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It looks like Rob Ford will never learn

When Rob Ford ran for mayor of Toronto in 2010, after other more moderate and polished conservatives declined to throw their hats in the ring, there was a lot of hyperventilation on the part of lefties and progressives.

Rob Ford at wRanter.com

He makes me so proud...

After all, here was a guy who as a city councillor got drunk at a Toronto Maple Leafs game in 2006 and verbally accosted a couple who objected to his behaviour, then was kicked out of the Air Canada Centre. He later lied about being at the game, but confessed when confronted by reporters.

What’s more, in 1999, he was arrested in Miami for driving under the influence and possessing marijuana. He claimed during the mayoral campaign that the whole incident had completely slipped his mind.

He also once called fellow councillor Giorgio Mammoliti – a former NDPer who is now a staunch right-wing council ally – a “Gino Boy,” and he was generally renowned in his 10 years on council for being a fiscally conservative lone wolf who alienated the press and couldn’t work with anyone, left or right.

Since winning the election on a platform of “stopping the gravy train” at City Hall, the penny-pinching Ford has been, well, the same old jerk.

He’s been spotted multiple times driving while talking on his cellphone – a no-no in Ontario – and flipped the bird to some fellow drivers who called him on it.

He refuses to talk to the country’s largest newspaper, the Toronto Star, saying it published a libellous story during the campaign that alleged he assaulted a high school football player on a team he once coached.

He’s also bungled the transit file so badly with his unwillingness to compromise on his plan to extend the Sheppard subway and his opposition to light rapid transit alternatives that he’s basically lost whatever sway he originally had with city council. That’s a big problem in a municipal political system in which there are no parties and the mayor only gets one vote.

This is far from an exhaustive list of his indiscretions and outright stupidity.

Ford is an embarrassment, to be sure, but when he was elected, my standard line was that he would likely be no worse than the first mayor of the amalgamated city of Toronto, Mel Lastman, a buffoon who served from 1998 to 2003.

Lastman famously called in the army to handle a 1999 snowstorm, and he later welcomed a Hells Angels convention to town, claiming he didn’t know the biker gang was involved in the drug trade. In 2001, he wondered aloud why he would want to go to Mombasa, Kenya, to lobby IOC delegates for a Toronto Olympic bid, saying, “I just see myself in a pot of boiling water with all these natives dancing around me.”

But I have to take it all back. Rob Ford is an idiot who’s much worse than Lastman. Ford is the worst big-city mayor this country has ever seen – at least since I’ve been paying attention – because he just doesn’t learn from his mistakes. 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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