The Persistence of the Jewish Community

by Roselyn Allen, July 30, 2020

I am writing this article as Tisha B’Av approaches – a day commemorating the loss of the Temples of the Jewish people among other disasters. As I reflect on our historical sadnesses as a people, I am also forced to look at our community today.

In the last month alone there have been several instances of anti-semitism right here in Canada, in southern Ontario and in Mississauga as we’ve seen news of neo-Nazi Germans settling in the Maritimes, a Nazi collaborator war monument in a private cemetery in Oakville, and students shouting slogans of Zionist and Jewish hatred at a public gathering in Celebration Square.

But unlike in other times and places, Jews can speak up and defend ourselves without fear of persecution and physical punishment. There are several different agencies protecting our existence, both Jewish and secular, not the least of which is the Canadian Charter of Rights of Freedoms. I feel so fortunate to be in Canada at this time.

We remember past atrocities so we are not destined to repeat them. We have fast days like Tisha B’Av, museums all over the world – huge like Yad Vashem and small local collections of Jewish history from town to town, art and music and movies to remind us of how we came to be the Jewish people and what sustains us, and why we have the right to exist as Jewish individuals, families, and to gather in synagogues like Solel and to be supported through larger organizations like UJA, URJ, ARZA Canada and so many others.

Tisha B’Av reminds us that despite the loss of our Temples and despite not being able to gather in our building right now, despite the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, we are still here. Jews are not just a building.

I’ve said it before and I will repeat it: Solel’s building is a gathering place but Solel congregation is a community with its own past, present and future. There are dozens of congregants preparing their portions for our High Holiday services, Rabbi Pollack is planning the prayers, music and d’vars for each of the services. They may not be delivered in the same way we have become accustomed to in the past, given the limitations COVID19 has placed on us, but as Rosh Hashanah approaches, we will experience it together as a community.

My reflections on Tisha B’Av have made me realize that COVID19 is a serious and dangerous disease, but luckily has been only an inconvenience for many of us. We are fortunate to live in these times, to have the support of the Solel community, its staff and Board of Directors. As I make my membership contribution for this year, I remember the foundation of Judaism I have in Solel.

As difficult as it has been to go on with day-to-day life in the current environment, we do well to remember the struggles of our ancestors and to remind ourselves that our past has toughened us for our present and for our future. We know that just as we have for almost 6,000 years, this too shall pass and we will overcome.

Filed under: President's Message

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