Alan Herman, Doris Epstein, and Prof. Sally Zerker
As we continue to wait from home for our first or second vaccines, we have been hard at work to bring friends and supporters fascinating online programming.
In December 2020, we were thrilled to present supporters with the inaugural promotional event for “Zionism, an Indigenous Struggle; Aboriginal Americans and the Jewish State,” edited by Nathan Elberg and Machla Abramovitz. Participants gained fascinating insights into the perspectives offered by the Jewish, Aboriginal, and Jewish-Aboriginal contributors to this book, on the subject of Jewish Indigeneity to the land of Israel, their experiences living in both the Jewish and Aboriginal communities, as well as commenting on how they advocate for Israel.
We followed this introductory webinar with the launch of our highly successful “Sephardic/Mizrahi Jewish Speakers Series,” co-hosted by the Indian-Jewish congregation of Toronto BINA, CIJR, and supported by community partners Kulanu Canada, Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights, Jews Against Antisemitism Canada, Beit Rayim, and Lodzer Congregation. Our first speaker on February 7 was the gripping presentation “Jews of Iran” by Joseph Imani, sharing his harrowing and heartfelt experiences as a Jew in Iran before and after the Islamic revolution, eventually escaping with his family and settling in Canada. Our next speaker on March 17 was Allen Azoulay, “Brief History of Moroccan Jewry: The Untold Story of an Exceptional People, a passionate account of Moroccan Jews’ experience and developing relations between Morocco and Israel. On April 7, Jacob Steinberg presented “Suriname: The Portuguese Jewish Nation on the Amazon Basin.” He told the fascinating story of the Jewish community in that South American country, emphasizing the Portuguese Jewish contribution.
Upcoming talks include: “Zionism, a Jewish Birthright” by York U. Professor Emerita Sally Zerker; “The Jews of Goa” by Cheryll Rebello from Mumbai; and Prof. David Bensoussan, “The Sephardi/Mizrahi Experience: Spanish and Eastern Jewry.”
CIJR ON THE MARCH
The pandemic notwithstanding, CIJR has taken to the streets – virtually and actually – standing up for Jewish and Israel rights and against antisemitism. Partnering with Bnai Brith Canada, we virtually presented a Community Town Hall meeting exposing systemic antisemitism at the University of Toronto. Simply by applying the University’s bylaws and adopting the Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, Bnai Brith Canada explained, the University can resolve these issues. A high-level working group was established to follow-up on the pressure placed on university administrators to act on behalf of Jewish faculty and students.
On a frigid but sunny afternoon n February, CIJR and other pro-Israel organizations formed the Canadian Coalition for Israel’s Sovereignty. We gathered in a small park in mid-Toronto, waving flags and protesting the brazen illegal Arab occupation of Israeli lands. We also helped launch “End Jew Hatred,” (EJH), a grassroots movement that peacefully and directly stands up for Jewish civil rights and justice by demanding an end to all forms of Jew hatred and singling out of Jews for discrimination.
Then on April 25, CIJR co-sponsored a special webinar marking the 101st anniversary of the San Remo Conference, where the legal rights to Palestine for Jews and Arabs which were embedded in international law remain valid to this day. Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights, Im Tirtzu, and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA.) organized the webinar. Participants included Mort Klein, President of the ZOA, Im Tirtzu Chairman of the Board Doug Altabef, and Prof. of Law Avi Bell, and Prof. of International Law Eugene Kontorovich. Danny Danon, Israel’s 17th Permanent Representative to the United Nations, extended greetings from Israel, as well as other Israeli politicians and dignitaries. Over 900 people attended this virtual event.