This week has been a week of pain and feelings of sadness. We as Jews of Colour now have one year anniversaries of remembering victims of police brutality or police misconduct. Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the passing of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a Black-Indigenous woman from Toronto who mysteriously fell off her balcony to her death. And two days before was the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. The Jewish community in Canada said sadly, not much of anything for either, the perpetual silence whenever it comes to issues of race. How many times can something be written, stressing that at least a token statement be released by a major Jewish organization to say something; anything on this issue?
For many years, Jews of Colour Canada have patiently done our best through panels to raise community awareness of Jews of Colour firstly. Then the racism and microaggressions within the Jewish community we face in everyday life. However, we are not an organization like the Federation, Hillel etc. Organizations that have larger community approach and directive. By remaining silent, it almost seems like complicity or lack of care because it does not affect a majority of Canadian Jews. However, it affects Canadian Jews of Colour but it affects non-Jewish people of colour every day.
Will Jews of Colour or No Silence on Race, have to make these sorts of statements every year? The only Canadian Jewish groups to do so? If you believe in human rights and human dignity, how can you sit and remain silent when police brutality and violence is no longer an “American thing.” In fact, it was never an American thing. Canada has had a long history of police violence stemming from indigenous people, Black people, and LGBTQ2S+ people. This is a history we can not ignore, but an ongoing history that we should embrace and confront.
Jews of Colour Canada will remain committed and dedicated to continue push Canadian Jewish organization to due their diligence in combatting racism and discrimination within our wider Canadian society but at home within synagogue and Jewish communal centres. We will continue to provide an avenue for Jews of Colour and Jewish allies to destress and decompress, to rant, to grieve, and to celebrate.
If no one else will do it, who will be our kin who can dwell together?
By Tyler Samuels
Like many here in Canada and abroad, the events occurring in Israel are troubling and distressing. Like many Canadian Jews, I have people I care deeply about now under the barrage of rocket fire and violence. While I am angry at those who I considered friends, posting a slew of information that couldn’t be further from the truth. I am reminded that we are thousands of miles away from the comfort of our homes. Whether we make a pro-Israel/pro-Zionist statement or a pro-Palestinian/pro-Zionist statement, it does not matter. Our Facebook posts will not shake two governments into action and to instead fight for the peace rather than blood. Many will lose friends and family over this situation here, in anger because of posts and messages on social media. However, Israelis and Palestinians will lose friends and families in the literal sense because of this explosion of violence.
I make no secret of my stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, many have disagreed with me for years about. I have lost many friends recently due to it, however this does not bring peace. Once this violence is over, like all violence that has occurred over the decades, we move on. That is the pessimistic nature of this conflict. I hope with all my heart that I will live to see the day of a peaceful outcome, whatever it is. I hope to see when Israeli and Palestinian children do not have to die because of the political consequences that they did not make.
I grew up with the Debbie Friedman version of Oseh Shalom. We find Oseh Shalom in many liturgy pieces in Judaism, importantly when we recite kaddish/mourner’s kaddish.
Oseh shalom bimromav Hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu V’al Kol Yisrael
He who makes peace in His high places, May He bring peace upon us And upon all Israel, And say Amen.
Since these trying times have occurred, I recite these words more often than most from a person who struggles with the concept of faith and religion. However, I wish for safety and peace; I yearn for the day when news about violence in Israel and the West Bank & Gaza cease. We owe it to the creator or master of the universe, whatever you believe in for us to find the peace rather than run away from it.
I don’t pretend to be the Prophet Samuel, a name that means “God heard” or “name of God.” I don’t intend to preach to you about peace, nor who is right or wrong about this conflict. However, the dynamic should be what we will do to bring about peace so we can one day live in a land of milk and honey once more.