It’s Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, which means Jewish Canadians will most likely… be doing nothing special. Because a lot of Canadian Jews, it turns out, don’t really celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. In fact, Thanksgiving feels like a particularly white Christian festivity, connected to early pioneers—or, as society calls them these days, settlers.
Which brings us to today’s main topic: Are Jews settlers? The term “settler” has become a catch-all for all non-Indigenous Canadians, used regardless if you are a newly arrived immigrant, refugee or privileged white person. Even though the term “settler” can have non-offensive connotions of simply settling into a new country, that’s rarely how it’s heard in public discourse, when it conjures images of early settlers taking land from the tribes who lived here before.
To figure out how Jews fit into the picture, we bring on guest host David Weinfeld, a writer, professor, former CJN columnist and the author of An American Friendship, a 2022 book that analyzes how “cultural pluralism” was a precursor to modern multiculturalism. He discusses the distinctions between those two concepts, and how Jewish identity (and the Jewish relationship to African Americans) played a major role in the evolution of identity politics.
Bonjour Chai is hosted by Avi Finegold and Phoebe Maltz Bovy. Zachary Kauffman is the producer and editor. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Socalled. The show is a co-production from The Jewish Learning Lab and The CJN, and is distributed by The CJN Podcast Network. Support the show by subscribing to this podcast, donating to The CJN and subscribing to the podcast’s Substack.