Keep showing up to demonstrate a unified community

Have you watched the online short The Boy, part of our free offerings from the Edmonton Jewish Film Festival (EJFF)? Having driven along these same roads, where murder and carnage took place near the Gaza border, It was eerie to see the ‘before’ October 7 story, hearing the rockets and booms, as told through the eyes of film director Yahav Winner from Kibbutz Kfar Azza. The Shafir family, Erin, and I are honoured to bring this film, released posthumously by his widow Shaylee, to Edmonton. Yahav, who sheltered them in the safe room when terrorists came upon their home, saved her and their one-month-old daughter.   

We must continue bearing witness to ensure that we do not dehumanize the victims and hostages. From the same kibbutz, Emily Damari and Doron Steinbrecher are still captive in Gaza. Families have unveiled horrific videos of other female hostages, while the IDF are recapturing bodies from tunnels beneath the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) facilities. Amid this, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has issued a ruling against Israel in Rafah, citing UNRWA reports. I raise this, as it is imperative that we keep on ensuring that the Canadian government does not reward terrorism. If you have not signed up for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) newsletters and action alerts, please do now

We consistently observe the rise of antizionism and how it is creating unwelcoming and hostile spaces for community members who contact our office daily. I want to express appreciation to Richard Marceau of CIJA and to Special Envoy Deborah Lyons, who both gave statements this week to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in the House of Commons. Special Envoy Lyons visited our city this winter and recently travelled on the March of the Living with some of our own university students. I know she is bringing forward national messages to Ottawa. You can read her most recent newsletter.   

The EJFF continues with three more in-person screenings and multiple online offerings; you can ‘have your cake and eat it too’—meaning, this coming week you can watch all Oilers playoff games AND watch all EJFF films! This past week a rally against the screening of NOVA took place in Phoenix, with a counterdemonstration to support the community and Israel. I am sure that we would have a flood of help if we had experienced the same here. Let’s not wait for that to happen—it has been wonderful to see so many of you at programs and events. Continue to stand by our community by showing up and championing a quality, fun, and dignified series of upcoming films. We invite friends of the community to come out as well, as these upcoming films have universal appeal and messages. You can see how to attend the Fiddler sing-along, Gene Wilder retrospective, or Canadian-made Less Than Kosher by checking out the festival website. (bonus, you can meet the lead actress and co-writer, Shaina Silver-Baird and Director Daniel Rosenberg who we will welcome to Edmonton on closing night).  

If you have not already read The Bridge this week, we announced that after a thorough selection process, we have commissioned Mode Architects for the Jewish Community Centre redevelopment project. We welcome Dina and Michael to our community. Consultations with a wide range of people will take place in early June. We will promote registration on our website and on social media.    

Shabbat Shalom and see you at the movies!