Opening Our Hearts

by Roselyn Allen, February 26, 2020

It seems that every time I’ve looked at the news in the last few weeks anti-semitism has been there. Why shouldn’t it? It’s been around for thousands of years…why should this week be any different?

There were parades in Belgium with people dressed as caricaturized Haredi Jews with ant bodies, and in Spain there was a Holocaust themed parade with dancing Nazis. In the United States there was a nationwide sweep resulting in arrests of several members of a neo-Nazi group. And even here in Canada another home in Montreal has been found to have an old deeded restriction against sale to Jews. This was in one week. This was only what made it to the mainstream media. Look at any Jewish news source, certainly B’nai Brith, and there are many, more subtle examples of anti-Semitism in the world in which we live, every day.

But with all this, I feel a beacon of hope as my non-Jewish friends contact me to express their outrage, as I share Jewish holiday meals and celebrations with my family and friends no matter their background, and as I look at Solel and all we do to combat anti-Semitism, by making ourselves an open and welcoming environment.

Last Friday we had our Invite Your Neighbour service. As in years past, it was well attended by politicians, police, members of churches, temples and mosques, and of course, friends. People asked questions that Rabbi and Arliene were happy to answer during the formal part of the service. And during the Oneg I had wonderful conversations about the similarities and differences of each religion.

On Sunday, I attended a fundraising walkathon in which the Muslim community of Mississauga raised $250,000 for Trillium Hospital Foundation. Solel was invited to speak from a Jewish perspective on the topic of Parenting and Unconditional Love. I spoke about V’ahavta and how we are commanded to love God and all that Adonay has created… and to teach our children to love as well.

Rabbi and Arliene speak often to interfaith gatherings, invite schools of every level to our synagogue to learn about Judaism, and do a wonderful job of representing the Jewish community to the community at large.

And this is how we combat anti-semitism: we invite people to know us without proselytizing to them, we show people the respect we have for our differences while revealing our similarities, and we continue to be welcoming and loving. Great job Solel!

Filed under: President's Message

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