Week of May 19, 2016

Letters to the Editor THE CJN PHOTO
Letters to the Editor THE CJN PHOTO

Get out of town!

Kudos to Daniel Held for addressing the pressing issue of affordability in Jewish neighbourhoods (“Get out of town! It might be all you can afford”).

The high cost of living Jewish (specifically an observant lifestyle) with skyrocketing rents and home prices, as well as day school tuition, synagogue membership, camp, etc. has barely been addressed by the community.

While it’s true that our communal priorities should continue to focus on the poorest and neediest among us, stagnant household incomes in the face of high costs create a situation where Jewish observance, for some, has become a luxury. Creative thinking is indeed required.

Chad Derrick


B’Tselem defence hypocritical

Brian Rothberg’s letter to the editor (“In defence of B’Tselem”) decries the questioning of B’Tselem’s motivation, and  labels that as slander.

He then proceeds to slander Israel,  claiming, without specification, that many of its current political and military activities lack moral legitimacy. For good measure, he ends his missive with a final gross slander that Israel is a state without civil or human rights. Rothberg should consult the meaning of being hoisted on his own petard.

Israel Ungar

Fredericton, N.B.

UJA must change priorities

Jeffrey Stutz’s column suggests that grandparents help pay for their grandchildren’s Jewish education (April 28).

While it is laudable when grandparents choose to help their children with the high cost of day school, it is not their responsibility to do so. Many of our parents are on fixed incomes and do not have cash to spare.

A solution that I have yet to see proposed is the reallocation of funds by UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. In 2015, the projected campaign total was $61 million. Jewish education received 26 per cent of that. Support for Israel and overseas received 32 per cent.

I am a firm believer in creating a strong connection to Israel, however, I think that it is time for us to recalibrate our thinking.  Israel is not the dependent country that it once was. UJA needs to understand this and readjust its priorities.

The staggering cost of Jewish education is not the only crisis at hand. Housing costs are astronomically high. For many, it is impossible to come up with a down payment on a home. What about those for whom a Jewish education and housing is simply a pipe dream?

While I have no doubt that the money being sent to Israel is well spent, and certainly it is our responsibility to do what we can for the Jewish state, we have serious problems here at home that must be addressed, and quickly.

Shira Muller


Schulich misses the point

Seymour Schulich claims that if only Jews shunned the accoutrements that made them look overtly and obviously Jewish, they would be able to “fit in with the majorities” as he did, and all would be well at York University, as well as in the wider world (“Jews should stop ‘whining’ about York U, benefactor says”).

His reasoning reminds me of the thinking that was prevalent among German-born Jewry prior to the Nazis’ rise. German Jews, who were very assimilated, were alarmed when the Ostjuden, Jews from eastern Europe, started showing up in Germany. These Ostjuden, who were fleeing pogroms and other forms of oppression, tended to be far more observant, and therefore looked the part, a sight that prompted the assimilated Jews to fear that they would be lumped in with their more “backward” brethren.

We all know the horrific story of what came next. The tyrant who took over Germany didn’t much care whether you were a fine, upstanding German Jew who knew how to “fit in” or you were one of the more Jewish-looking Ostjuden. As far as he was concerned, a Jew was a Jew, and all were deserving of eradication.

It is shocking, and I must say, more than a little saddening, that a man of Schulich’s eminence seems oblivious to that lesson.

Mindy Alter