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Shavuot - June 2023 / Sivan 5784

 From our Executive Director

I thought it would be over by now.  We all thought it would be over by now.  Certainly, those who did not think it would be over by now at least hoped it would be over by now. Yet, here we are, eight months later, wondering if it will ever end.

I have been to Israel twice since this began.  While there, I have chatted with Israelis.  They are directly involved in this war.  They are also very much aware of the social upheaval going on in Israel.  However, they kept asking me how we are holding up.  They see the news.  They know what is happening on our campuses.  They know that our synagogues and our businesses have been attacked.  Such is the nature of the world Jewish community.  We share and we feel each other’s joys and worries.

We will shortly celebrate the holiday of Shavuot.  What is Shavuot about?  Despite no mention of this particular theme in the Torah itself, rabbinic tradition teaches us that this is the holiday of Matan Torah, of the giving of the Torah.

We can feel the drama build at the foot of Mount Sinai.  There is conversation back and forth as Moshe goes up and down the mountain.  The mountain is aflame.  In this drama, it is easy to miss a verse of the text.  At this holiday, the children of Israel stood and spoke as one.  In the early part of the first day Torah reading, the text says “and all of the people answered together saying…”

With all that is going on right now, together may be our biggest challenge and should certainly be our top priority.  Yes, we hurt.  Yes, we celebrate.  It is only through being able to do this together that we will be able to heal from the damage of the last several months.

So we remember Matan Torah – the giving of the Torah.  We remember the mitzvot, the commandments therein.  We let our minds imagine what the high drama of that day must have looked like.  May we also endeavour to remember that single word – together.

Hag Sameach.

Rav Sean

 From our President

As I write this, the number is 243. If there is no peace negotiated by Shavuot, the number will be 248.

This is the longest war ever fought by Israel. The situation may almost be called a “stalemate” since there appears to be no end of the fighting in sight. When the IDF moves into one area, the terrorists of Hamas re-infiltrate the previously held areas and begin to fight again. However they do this, the result is that without occupying every square metre of Gaza with troops on the ground, the war cannot be won.

Each day is another day of captivity for the hostage, and that clock must be stopped with their return, above all else.

That’s not only my opinion, it’s one that Dr Yizhar Hess, the Vice Chairman of the WZO, spoke about at the Masorti Europe conference at the New London Synagogue on Sunday, June 2. Charles Wrock and I attended the conference and saw the vibrancy of Masorti Life in Europe.

Delegates from the UK, France, Germany, Hungary, Spain, Netherlands, Poland and Sweden all spoke about the unique challenges that they faced, but were united in the integrated and diverse organization that is European Masorti.

We in Canada face challenges to our organizations, both MERCAZ and Masorti that are unique. We have the third largest Jewish population in the world, with challenges of distance that are unimaginable to those in other countries. Going from the centre of Europe , Berlin, takes just 2 hours. Warsaw or Kiev, both Masorti centres, to London take less than 4 hours.

Toronto to Vancouver takes almost as long as a flight to London. The scale of this country is seldom understood by those who do not live here, especially when we look at the distances between the major Jewish centres.

We are tasked with bringing the Canadian Masorti/Conservative world together. Many of our kehilot belong to USCJ, but a very large proportion do not. We have never put the barrier to our members of membership in any organization other than our own.

Why is this important? In the next year or so the World Zionist Organization will be holding the 39th Congress since the first one which took place in Basel, Switzerland in 1897.

In Canada, we determine the number of delegates each organization sends by the number of members we have listed. There are many options to determine these numbers, whether by individuals signing up online, through synagogue check off or our “whole shul” method, where we can easily work with you to have each of your members on our list at surprisingly low cost.

What does it do for you, our membership? Through the WZO, where I sit on the Budget Committee, I was able to double the programming allocation to Canada this past February. That money can help bring more and better programming to each of our kehilot no matter where in Canada that they are located.

Our presence in the WZO allows your opinions to be heard. Our voices are heard, whether through Dr Hess, Rabbi Gorman or our members and executives speaking about the issues that affect us here and in Israel. When we speak to members of the federal or provincial cabinets, we are listened to, on ISrael, antisemitism or any of the other issues confronting the Jewish community in Canada.

Wishing everyone a very peaceful and happy Shavuot, and may the ever increasing number of days that the hostages are still held in captivity come to an end.

May they all come home, safe, whole and healthy.

Am Yisroel Chai!

Stan Greenspan

We have recently been informed of a new organization aimed at combatting antisemitism. It looks very interesting, and we gratefully thank our non-Jewish friends and allies for seeing this deep and abiding problem, and taking steps to counter it. Their new toolkit against antisemitism was created with support from the Union for Reform Judaism, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island. Here is their latest message.


Upstanders Canada, a new, nonpartisan, nondenominational, grassroots national organization mobilizing (primarily) non-Jewish Canadians to stand against antisemitism, invites you to the launch of a new toolkit against antisemitism in a nationwide virtual event open to all and completely accessible online.

The toolkit, Be An Upstander: How Allies Can Recognize and Counter Antisemitism, will be available to all, for free, online, and is downloadable and printable.

It will be released in a nationwide launch event on Sunday, June 23, at 4 pm Pacific / 7 pm Eastern.

While acknowledging that overt hostility to Jews is a serious, dangerous and potentially violent threat, the document focuses especially on less blatant forms of biases about and discrimination toward Jews.

The toolkit explores the unique characteristics of antisemitism and how it is similar to, and different from, other forms of discrimination and bias. Then it provides examples of the sorts of antisemitic tropes, stereotypes and assumptions that are prevalent in society – including in the minds of people who are unaware that we carry these ideas. Finally, the toolkit offers a number of tangible steps to countering antisemitism in ourselves, in one-on-one interactions, in group settings, online and in society.

Advance registration is required at Please share this invitation with your friends and family.

Get Involved

You can read more of what MERCAZ and Masorti are doing at our website:

You can contribute to our efforts by joining MERCAZ-Canada and by donating to the Canadian Foundation for Masorti Judaism.

Membership is only $18 a year for adults, $9 for youth up to age 25. at the bottom of the page

Donations to CFMJ are eligible for a tax receipt.