May our prayers bring peace

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.

Why Sarah Halimi Mattered

By Tyler Samuels

Dr. Sarah Halimi studied medicine for seven years and was a family doctor for many years, according to her son. A mother of three, when she retired and her husband died; she went back to work at pre-school in Paris. Some would call this life a boring existence, but it was her own quiet existence she could be proud of. Sadly, Dr. Halimi never got to enjoy her quiet existence with her family. In 2017, in April, her murderer, someone who lived in the same apartment, brutally beat and tortured her. He then threw her off out the window of the balcony. According to French media, the police could not determine if she died being pushed or if she had died long before, to the savageness of her murderer.

One would think of her murderer would be tried, sentenced to life imprisonment for a murder that was a hate crime. As she lay dead outside, her murderer yelled, “I killed Shaytan!” and to add insult to injury said “God is Great” as well. However, that did not happen. Since he smoked marijuana, the court found they could not hold him responsible, and that he was unfit. In 2021, bringing more pain to her family, the Court of Cassation which is France’s last court of appeal; found that Dr. Halimi’s murderer was not criminally liable because of his heavy use of marijuana during the murder.

The sad thing about this is, I find similarities between Dr. Halimi and other people of colour who have been killed unjustly or murdered. Whether the state kills them (police) or whether it is a hate crime and the consequence is the person is murdered, and the state refused to prosecute; it is very similar.

Years ago in an article I wrote for Tablet, I said being Black in America is a death sentence. It is now the case that being Jewish in France is also a death sentence. Some may argue that I am being dramatic, however how does one explain the murder of Mireille Knoll, a 85-year-old French-Jewish holocaust survivor? Who was brutally murdered in which one suspect said, “She’s a Jew, she has money.” A murder that happened in 2018. Or the list of French Jews who have been killed in France for more than a decade now.

We live in a world now that has bred unprecedented levels of Antisemitism. As Jews of Colour we face not just racism from not only the Jewish community. We face the same antisemitism from non-Jews like any other Jew would. There won’t be a special card that we can get out of a violent antisemitic attack, we face the brutal truth that there are those who just despise Jews.

However, we must build a fair world, not a tolerant world. We should never strive just for tolerance, but full accountable acceptance for all those who just want to be left alone with their families in peace. No one deserves to be murdered just because they are Jew, no one deserves to be killed just because they might have fit the description.

We must do better, we must call out hate of all kinds better. Dr. Halimi’s memory should be the one that she had with her family.

Inaction Leads to Unjust Action

By Tyler Samuels

When I was younger, I detested Malcolm X. He was the black supremacist, part of an anti-Semitic organization that disparaged Dr. King and advocated loudly for segregation to remain. My heroes for the racial struggle were total opposites, Dr. King, Mandela, Sojourner Truth, or Samuel Sharpe. However, after recent events both in Canada and the United States where week after week a black person is shot dead or dies mysteriously under the hands of the police, I can no longer say I see Malcolm as a demagogue, a racist, or an angry, violent black man. Years ago when I wrote Why White American Jews Should Rethink Race, I stressed that being black in America was a death sentence. The anger at that statement still shocks me. If we can learn anything from the moment, I published it until now; we see this statement is 100% accurate.

When Sandra Bland died, arrested on no legitimate charges and ending up dead mysteriously in her jail cell, it should have been the alarming bells for Jews that we fellow Jews of Colour face. If the Bland case did not suffice then the Sam Dubose case, where a university campus officer shot Sam point blank in the head, contrary to false statements of the officer who claimed he was being dragged by Sam’s car forcing him to shoot; moreover, now with George Floyd, Adam Toledo, and now Makiyah Bryan. Faced with all this violence, especially now against Black women, Malcolm’s message of no passive resistance needs to be embraced. This does not mean we should go around lynching whites as conservatives claim Malcolm wanted.

What Malcolm wanted was for Black people to remove themselves from the “yes masa, no masa” attitude with challenging state authority abusing them. Michael Eric Dyson in his book, The Myth & Meaning of Malcolm X argues Malcolm had five different stages of learning throughout his life however it did not change his resolve to see Blacks empowered.

As Jews we have learned that passive reluctance has led to the greatest tragedies that no other people except Blacks have faced. So I question why is there such opposition for Blacks to embrace the right for self-defence by not only the white community but elements of the Jewish community? If we look at the Sandra Bland case, she followed the law and when she saw she was unjustly being blighted by the same law that is supposed to protect all Americans; she resisted within her constitutional rights. Resistance to a wrongful authority should never lead to a person’s death. If it does, it shows that the authority is by any means necessary, the consequences of social contract theory should remove no longer. However, as usual the Jewish response is quiet, except for the few liberal & orthodox Jewish rabbis who have publicly shared their outcry for these recent events..

Previously when I mentioned this wide range of indifference to the community, responses claimed I did not know what I was talking about. Things like, I was very ignorant not to recognize all those rabbis protesting for #AllBlackLivesMatter. Ironically, these are the same people who in different conversations claim the same rabbis they’re so “proud” of are not even rabbis. The ultimate irony is when the Jewish community feels threatened by BDS, they call up their black allies and ignored Jews of Colour to write speeches and star in videos talking about Israel. Unfortunately when we, the Jews of Colour need our Jewish brethren that benefit from white privilege, they fail us consistently. So I say no more, no more to police brutality or quotes of peaceful protest. It is now time for resistance with honour like Malcolm preached, not passive, docile resistance hoping the white community will shake their heads in approval. 

*JOC Canada is looking for those who have a passion to write about any topic concerning JOC, Judaism, and the wider Jewish community

We Must Be Bold With Police Accountability

In 2020, we saw the brutal slaying of George Floyd over a counterfeit $20. A Black man’s life was cut short due to $20, in the moments where he cried out for his mother and told his murderer he couldn’t breathe as a camera rolled, video taping his last moments, it made it clear Black life just was not worth it. Today’s verdict in Minnesota is not justice but a reckoning that we as a society need to hold police accountable for their actions and that we must condemn police brutality in all means.

As Canadians and Jews, we insult our traditions by pointing our finger at the United States and condemning their sickness of police brutality, when we suffer from the same disease. Black and Indigenous people in Canada face exactly the same issues with police like our counterparts in the states. However, while American Jews and American Jewish institutions mostly have made great strides in fighting against police brutality against racialized people, Canadian counterparts have mostly been silent.

JOC Canada is an organisation run by Jews of Colour. We have dealt with racism and microaggressions within the Jewish and non-Jewish Canadian society. We have also dealt with the death cult that is police brutality like so many other Canadian POC who have had negative interactions with police across this country.

We struggle and fight for our Canadian Jewish organizations to be diverse and have Jews of Colour represented. However, why are they silent in most cases of police brutality not just in the United States but here? There was silence when Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Afro-Indigenous Toronto woman, fell to her death from her balcony after the police entered her balcony.

There was silence when D’Andre Campbell, 26, an Afrikan man, was shot and killed in Brampton, Ontario in his home. After he called police for help due to his mental health issues.

There was dead silence when Sean Thompson, 30, of Little Saskatchewan First Nation and Pinaymootang First Nation, died in the custody of unnamed Winnipeg police officers. His family stated they saw many injuries on his body after finally being able to see his body.

Releasing statements condemning anti-Black racism when the societal moral compass has swung towards speaking out is not an excellent ally. The wider Jewish community of this country must look deep and asking themselves whether silence or near silence is the best outcome for police brutality and accountability within this country, not just the United States.

At JOC Canada we mourn the fact that while George Floyd got his own justice of seeing his killer convicted, ultimately he had no justice as he is dead.

Like many persons of colour in Canada where police are hardly ever even tried and convicted.

We as a Jewish community must do better and demand change rather than point to the United States.

Thoughts on Dallas


Joel E

Joel Etienne (Toronto, Canada)


Terribly chagrined by the loss of life in Dallas Texas, Minnesota and Louisiana this week. Communities of colour, like any other communities, cannot live in democracy, prosperity and safety, without first and foremost being able to live in security.

This absolutely necessitates and requires good policing. The shocking conclusion to this week of sorrow, is that both good people in police uniform, and good civilians were without justification victimized, and murdered leaving families and children, reeling, and a continent in sorrow.

I send my prayers to the good cops, the good community leaders, and to all the good civilians of all creeds who wish to live their lives in harmony.

I send my prayers and condolences to the families of the Dallas Police Officers who lost loved ones last night, and to the families of Mr. Philando Castile, a Montessori worker, and Mr. Alton Sterling.

No Justice, No Peace

Tyler Samuels (Toronto, Canada)

No Justice, No Peace

I can honestly say I am now completely broken, the system that attacks black people has finally crushed the last bone of resistance in me after four years of non-compliance to a regime that seems almost blind to the ongoing crisis when it comes to policing in both Canada and the United States. I am tired of waking up every morning to see that another black man, woman or individual has been murdered by police for the slightest infractions. I am tired of my various white friends telling me, “I don’t understand the case” or “The system isn’t racist against blacks.” I am tired of hearing that young African-Americans can hardly walk down the street without being interrogated by police while white Americans within the similar age can go free without prohibition to their person. I am tired of people saying not all police officers are bad and I am exhausted on the excuses upon excuses that are given each day to Black people to explain away racism within the police force.

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How not to anger a JOC

How not to anger a JOC

I`ve realized that most Jews who are white have a hard time dealing with Jews who are black or any other colour. Heck Jews who are darkly tanned are confronted with bigotry at shuls or other public places where they expect to be treated accordingly as a fellow Jew and not as some sort of racial pariah stalking out to steal a wallet as everyone is singing Aleniu. Nor are we here to attack you with our black on black crime that apparently you know so well. We are Jews who bleed and weep when terrorist attacks occurs to when swastikas are spray painted on the synagogue door. However this cannot penetrate the skulls of a lot of Jews who can pass as white and I`ll list them out for you, Continue reading