March 2023 / Adar 5783
From Our New Executive Director
It is hard to believe that it’s already 2023 and we’re coming up to Pesach. It has been a tumultuous year. Israel has elected, yet again, a new government. She also continues to bring new gifts to a world in need. Israel ranks in the top 10 of happiest countries in the world, rankings not enjoyed in Canada or the United States.
Closer to home, we still have concerns regarding the safety of the Jewish community here in Canada. B’nai Brith reports an alarming number of incidents of antisemitism. We hear time and again about such incidents on our campuses. It is also creeping into the school boards, opening up a new set of challenges at a grassroots level.
I want to mention the new government in Israel. Many of us on this continent are concerned about this new government. It should also be a point of pride though that after year upon year of election after election, Israel remains an anomaly in the Middle East. The civil war in Syria rages on. Iranians are in open rebellion over women’s rights. Israel has changed governments entirely too often, but not due to popular revolt or an assassin’s bullet. While watching with a wary eye, we wish Mr. Netanyahu all the best of fortune, success, luck, and opportunity in his return to the Prime Minister’s seat.
Over the course of 2022, we held MERCAZ Reads Israel twice, learning about Jewish Law with Professor David Golinkin and chatting with author Ayelet Tsabari about her book The Best Place on Earth. We re-enacted the UN vote on Resolution 181, which ultimately approved the plan to partition the Land of Israel. That vote took place on November 29, 1947, 75 years ago. We look forward to the 75th anniversary of statehood in a few short months.
We have our work cut out for us. We need to continue supporting the Masorti kehillot in Israel. The government’s unwillingness to fund our movement puts an extra burden on us. I will shortly commence the allocation process for this 2022’s monies, distributing your contributions to our kehillot throughout the country. There will be an Exceptional World Zionist Congress in April. Due to the pandemic, the WZO has not been able to meet in person. While Zoom has been necessary and useful, it simply cannot match the ability to talk face to face. We will continue our ongoing programs, such as MERCAZ Reads Israel, as well as any programs from the communities across Canada.
Your support at every level is vital to our success. MERCAZ-Canada and Masorti appreciate all of our members across the country. I am, as always, available to you. My phone number is 416-667-1717, extension 102. As well, my assistant, Beverlee Swayze is at extension 101.
Rav Sean Gorman
From Our President
MERCAZ-Canada is unique in MERCAZ-Olami, the worldwide Zionist organization of the Masorti/Conservative movement. With nearly 400,000 Jews in Canada, we are now the third largest community in the Jewish world, behind only Israel and the USA.
Too often we are included in “North American Jewry” but we understand that there are many differences in our approach and practices to those of our American and Mexican cousins. (Yes, there is a large population of Masorti Jews in Mexico!)
We face our own challenges. The greatest for MERCAZ-Canada is to properly represent our entire Masorti/Conservative membership in the Canadian Zionist Federation and on the world stage. We know that Canadians, as a whole, overwhelmingly belong to synagogues/Kehilot. While the largest group of Canadian Jews affiliate or align with our movement, we nevertheless have one of the lowest representations at these national and international bodies.
We are working hard to change that picture, and will be approaching all of the congregations across Canada with new membership models for MERCAZ-Canada that should allow us to properly represent you and your membership on the world stage.
At this coming April’s World Zionist Extraordinary Congress, MERCAZ-Canada will have our largest group of delegates in many years. Due both to our leadership in world Zionist bodies, and to our efforts to involve more of our membership in these important meetings, we are making a difference. We bring your concerns to the world and often provide the Canadian sense of “fair play” to discussions among all delegates.
Your membership is crucial to our movement and each of you is crucial to our success. We anticipate a very bright future for MERCAZ-Canada, with increased membership through new initiatives at the synagogue level. We look forward to your participation as we move forward to greater partnerships with all of our Canadian members.
In Our Communities
Beth Tikvah Synagogue, Toronto
In January, Beth Tikvah Synagogue in Toronto, in partnership with Beth Sholom, Beth Torah, and Beth Emeth, held a two-part Live from Israel discussion with author Iddo Netanyahu. The first session was about the movie Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story. The second was about his book, Yoni’s Last Battle: The Rescue at Entebbe, 1976.
In September, the synagogue held a Live from Israel event with journalist Lauren Izso and Gil Hoffman, Executive Director of HonestReporting, about the Israeli election and other topics in the headlines.
Congregation Shaarey Zedek, Winnipeg
Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Winnipeg has a terrific selection of events scheduled for this year. This is a selection of what they’ve had so far:
- History of Israel and Zionism a 2-part series in partnership with Hasbara Fellowships
- Jewish History a 5-part series in partnership with NJOP which includes an overview of the connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel
- Jewish Indigeneity to the Land of Israel a session in partnership with Hasbara Fellowships – offered once a year.
- Israeli Medical Innovations and Discoveries a 4-part series with Dr. Jerry Katz in partnership with Congregation Etz Chayim
- Air, Water and Earth: How Israeli Society Relates to the Environment a 3-part lecture series with Dr. Rabbi Avi Rose in partnership with Congregation Etz Chayim
These following events are being offered in March, 2023. Please note that these courses are offered online (some free of charge). Students can register on the synagogue website at szwinnipeg.ca.
- The “Other” in Israeli Society: Music and Art of Mizrahi Israelis with Dr. Rabbi Avi Rose in partnership with Congregation Etz Chayim – offered March 8, 2023.
- Costume: A Brief History of Israeli Fashion and the Women Who Blazed a Trail with Dr. Rabbi Avi Rose in partnership with Congregation Etz Chayim – offered March 15, 2023.
In Our Homes
As we say goodbye to Purim and look forward to Pesach, we would love to hear about any special family traditions you have and would like to share with our community.
Send us an email at info@masorti-mercaz, and we’ll share a few in our next commication before Pesach.
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.
mercaz.ca/join-mercaz at the bottom of the page
Donations to CFMJ are eligible for a tax receipt.