Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cotler explains new/old anti-Semitism

It was by far one of the most informative sessions at last weekend's the first-ever Limmud FSU Kultura conference to be held in Canada.

MP and former justice minister Irwin Cotler captivated the audience as he outlined the five indicators of the new/old anti-Semitism, which calls for the annihilation of the Jewish state and the Jewish People. These precepts are the basis for the Ottawa Protocol, the 2010 action plan to combat hostility and prejudice against the Jewish People.

The first of the five indicators is toxic genocide converging with genocidal anti-Semitism, as in the case of Hamas and Hezbollah, whose leader Hassan Nasrallah asserts that if all Jews return to Israel, as it is said will happen when the Messiah comes, it will be easier to wipe them out.

The religious fatwas conducted by the terror groups would see the extermination of a people and its ancestral home.

The second indicator is attributing all the world's evil to Israel, which the BDS movement labels an apartheid state, a move that launders anti-Semitism.

Cotler said the first and second indicators lead to the third, political anti-Semitism, but quite honestly, I think it leads more to the fourth, which he identified as acting in ways to mask the de-legitimization of Israel.

The fifth and final indicator of the new/old anti-Semitism is the role the United Nations continues to play as a willing conduit for such hatred.

On an annual basis, Cotler noted, the UN passes more resolutions against Israel than any other member state. Out of the 25 condemnations issued most years, Israel consistently receives 20 to 22 of them, he said.

Cotler believes its far worse for Israel to be demonized with allegations of criminality by international human rights groups and, more importantly, the UN, the supposed champions of human rights, than by extremists near and far.

"To single out one singles out others. If Israel is an apartheid state, what does that say of the countries that support the only recognized democracy in the Middle East?" he asked.

"Talmud Torah neged kulam," meaning we must learn our case in order to teach our case, Cotler urged the audience.

In other words, we must re-frame the narrative with points of fact that make it clear to all that the teachings that lead to extremism are the real root cause of the Middle East conflict.

SodaStream denies BDS involved in factory closure

A popular scapegoat for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, Israeli drink machine maker SodaStream International Ltd. announced it will close it's West Bank factory, but not because of ongoing pressure from pro-Palestinian activists.

SodaStream spokesperson Nirit Hurwitz said the decision to move the facility out of Maale Adumim in the West Bank and into Israel's southern Negev region, to the community of Lehavim near Be'er Sheva, came not because of the BDS movement but rather for "purely commercial" reasons.

The move will give the company more manufacturing space and save it two per cent on overhead costs.

The factory in the West Bank, however, employs hundreds of Palestinians, who get the same benefits as their Israeli colleagues. If they wish to move along to the new factory when it opens in a year's time, it will mean longer commute times and work permits to enter Israel.

In July, an Israeli-owned store in England selling replacement parts for the gadget, which allows users to make their own carbonated beverages, closed after two years of weekly protests.

Unlike in England, the latest SodaStream news wasn't a case of caving in to BDS pressure. Here's hoping the potential loss of Palestinian jobs does not further fuel the fires of BDS activists in the months to come.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Shabbat Project a global event

In recent years in home and shuls around the world, family and communal Shabbat dinners have risen in both frequency and popularity.

Organizations have banded together to host Shabbat Across Canada, and now the Shabbat Project has gone a step further by taking observance of the week's holiest day global.

The idea originated last year in South Africa, where the majority of the country’s diverse Jewish community joined together to observe a single Shabbat, many for the first time in their lives.  

The international Shabbat Project will take place this weekend on Oct. 24 and 25 in more than 212 cities and 33 countries worldwide.

In Toronto, there are three events we here at Heebonics can tell you about. The first, a challah bake, takes place tonight, Thursday, Oct. 23 at the Embassy Grand Convention Center in Brampton, and a second, a  Havdallah concert  , will take place as Shabbat ends on Saturday night at the Lebovic Community Campus in Vaughan. A Shabbat dinner is also being held at the Annex Shul in the downtown core Friday night.

For more, click on the links above for event details.

Shoresh is a three-peat winner

It's a celebratory time for Shoresh, an environmental initiative in Toronto that tackles contemporary food and ecological issues.

Shoresh has been named for the third time as one of the 50 most innovative Jewish non-profits in North America by Slingshot, a U.S.-based resource guide to innovative organizations, projects and programs in the North American Jewish community.

In 2009, Shoresh opened the Kavanah Garden at the Lebovic Community Campus as its flagship programming space. The Kavanah Garden hosts more than 1,400 community members annually at its educational and hands-on programs, workshops, and events. It also produces more than 500 pounds of fresh vegetables each season for community members in need.

We here at Heebonics applaud Shoresh for its continuing efforts to better the environment and the world at large.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ready, set, swoon with Kunis and Kutcher

A week this Thursday will have been a month since the birth of Wyatt Isabelle to proud parents Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher. Both are followers of the spiritual branch of Judaism, Kabbalah, and a blessing ceremony was held over the weekend.

According to the Daily Mail, Kutcher's ex Demi Moore attended the ceremony with daughters Rumer and Tallulah in tow.

An onlooker at the ceremony told The Sun newspaper that Moore and her daughters congratulated the couple while having a quick hold and coo over the baby. The 51-year-old Hollywood star also reportedly handed out presents, including an engraved picture frame and a personalized cashmere baby blanket.

Since the 90s and early 2000s, many Hollywood celebrities have adopted Kabbalah beliefs and adhere to its principle tenet that there is more to the world than what we usually perceive. What one, therefore, seeks to obtain – in constructive healthy ways –  is more joy and more connection with the things that matter.

It's a lesson Kunis and Kutcher will likely pass on, as soon as their little one is able to learn it.

Profeti Della Quinta coming to Holy Blossom

In the space between Simchat Torah and Chanukah, Jewish organizations and synagogues roll out a slew of events to nourish the soul of the community. One such event is a concert showcasing the Israeli vocal ensemble Profeti della Quinta, who will perform Thursday, Oct. 23 at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto.

The talented group will perform classic melodies from the Renaissance compiled by 16th-century Italian Jewish composer Salomone Rossi.

Profeti della Quinta has taken to the stage in venues around the world, from the United States to Japan and Switzerland to the Netherlands. Next Thursday's performance will mark the group's Canadian debut.

The selection of Rossi's Italian madrigals, instrumental pieces and Hebrew prayers will provide an auditory delight, while visually concert-goers will be treated to a screening of the award winning documentary Hebreo: The Search for Salomone Rossi as a prelude to the main event.

For more information and for tickets, contact Mari Lynn Rusak by clicking here or visit the Holy Blossom website.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Frozen-inspired parody in time for Sukkot

After the massive hit Disney had on its hands last winter with the theatrical release of its animated tale Frozen, there were many parodies made of Idina Menzel's top track from the film, Let it Go.

Now, just in time for the holiday of Sukkot comes a parody of Kristen Bell's Do You Want to Build a Snowman? entitled Do You Want to Build the Sukkah? by the Singers Sing.

Chag Samyach.