A Word From Our Chairs – We’ve let in a little light

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CIJA
|December 03, 2021
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As we approach Shabbat and lighting the next Chanukah candles, it’s time to consider how just a little light can make a difference.

During their biennial national convention, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) put forth a troubling resolution that, if passed, would have represented CUPE’s endorsement of the Boycott Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The motion was soundly rejected by a margin of 62% to 38%, a clear repudiation of BDS by the membership. In the lead-up to this convention CIJA engaged our allies within the union, and we applaud their efforts on this important issue.

Our outreach shed light on the issue, and the rank-and-file members of CUPE came together to stand up, speak up, and vote against support of the antisemitic BDS movement.

Also in the past few days, at the Scarborough Campus of the University of Toronto, a student union pushed through a motion affirming their support of BDS. With community support – and outreach to the highest levels of the administration by our campus partner, Hillel – the university repudiated the motion with a condemnatory memo from University President Meric Gertler. His language and his commitment to discuss the issues directly with union representatives demonstrate that, where light can be shone on an issue, progress can be made.

Over the past several years, we have been working with a broad coalition of groups in the All Blood Is Equal Coalition to encourage Canadian Blood Services – and Héma Québec – to move away from their discriminatory policy banning many members of the LGBTQ2+ community from donating blood. Inconsistent with modern scientific data, this regulation unnecessarily limits our life-saving blood supply. As Jews, we know discrimination when we see it, and we know we must combat it. The light is shining on this issue also, and changes are coming.

Though we are pleased to report these successes, we know the work is not done. Based on recent developments, we expect next week to be a challenging one, and we will be writing to you to ask for your help. Whether in good times or bad, however, during each night of Chanukah, we light an additional candle, bringing more light into this world. Just as each night of Chanukah our homes are filled with more light, each community action makes a meaningful and positive impact for Jewish Canadians. Our collective efforts add up.

As we prepare to light the next candle on the menorah, we wish you and your loved ones a peaceful chag chanukah sameach. May the light of the season – and of goodwill – continue to shine.

Shabbat Shalom,

Joel Reitman & Jeff Rosenthal
Co-Chairs, CIJA National Board

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The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs is the advocacy agent of Jewish Federations across Canada.
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