Community must remain united in the face of antisemitism

On October 7, Lifnat and Aviv, and their three children were getting ready to launch the 20th annual Kite Festival for Peace they started, where residents of Kfar Azza fly massive kites near Gaza. Asher, Lifnat’s brother, informed us about this initiative and how his sister and her family were murdered in their homes that day. Hostages Doron Steinbrecher and Emily Damari, who reside in Kfar Azza and are neighbours, remain in Gaza and are believed to be pregnant if alive. We spoke with their mothers outside their homes at this kibbutz, pleading that we continue to tell their stories.  

I wear a free the hostage dog tag daily, thinking of these innocent civilians who were taken from their homes that Shabbat; Melissa Lantsman wore one in Parliament this week, when debating the motion brought forward by the NDP. Two days later, NDP MP Lindsay Mathyssen was wearing a Palestine Pendant necklace, completely erases Israel, allowed with no impunity. Thank you to Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) Vice-President Richard Marceau who raised this in Parliament.  

On Friday, April 5, we will host an installation to mark the six-month Shabbat of October 7 and continue to tell the stories of the hostages. Please join us at the Violet King Henry Plaza on the Legislature grounds for a Shabbat table installation for the hostages and brief ceremony. If you can volunteer to help with setup and takedown of the table, please contact This is a time to call upon those who have asked what they can do and help. Share widely with friends and allies, Jewish and non-Jewish alike.  

We must remember where our strength lies—and that is in a community that stays united, who takes pride in their Jewish identity, and who continues to educate ourselves and the people around us.  

I take inspiration and hope for this from our BBYO teens. This past weekend, I was the guest speaker at the BBYO Regional convention and shared stories about my recent trip to Israel. How they were leading and actively taking part in services struck me. They also had thoughtful questions at the end of my talk. I heard about courageous moments of advocacy and hasbara by some teens in their schools, talking about antisemitism and Israel.  

The editorial in the Globe and Mail, “Canada's dangerous slide into antisemitism”, highlights how normalized antisemitism has become in Canada, with the cancellation of the Hamilton Jewish Film Festival “due to safety concerns” as a prime example. We should only amplify the importance of being able to gather and celebrate our culture through art in the democratic country of Canada. As we are getting ready to announce the lineup for our own Jewish film festival this May, I hope you will make attending a priority. You can find sponsorship and program advertising opportunities on our website, along with ongoing updates about our festival.  

This weekend there are many Purim celebrations taking place. I encourage you to take part, and if you bake some hamantaschen, share with your non-Jewish friends and allies.   

Shabbat Shalom,