In satz, socialaction

“The Political Junkie that I am…”

Rabbi Michael Satz

Rabbi Michael Satz

By Rabbi Michael Satz.

I have now been in Canada for a year. There are many things that I love about my new home: the cultural diversity, the beauty of the landscape, the politeness. Coming from the States at this particular point in time, I especially appreciate the Canadian political culture. Maybe because I’m a newbie, I see Canadians of the Right, Left, and Centre all civilly interacting with each other. They may not all agree on the best solutions to issues facing Canadians, they don’t think that the other side is trying to destroy the country. I wish I could say that about my home country. This is why, the political junkie that I am, I am very excited to learn more about Canadian politics with the upcoming Federal election.

We at Holy Blossom Temple will have a front row chance to learn more because we will be holding a candidates forum here on September 1 with representatives from the Conservatives, Liberals, and the NDP. We will have the opportunity to hear the candidates talk about the issues that concern us as Canadians: the economy, the environment, foreign affairs, etc. Some might ask, “What does this have to do with Judaism? I can read the paper and watch CBC. Why get the synagogue involved in politics?” To answer that, we are not endorsing a candidate, only learning about their stances. But, Judaism is political. Judaism is not just about prayer. Anti-Semitism and Israel are not the only issues we care about (although for many of us they are primary). Poverty is a Jewish issue. Environmental protection is a Jewish issue. Human rights is a Jewish issue.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs recently wrote in the Washington Post: “First, let’s dispense with the notion that [synagogues] should never touch political issues. If we take ‘political’ to refer to issues that matter to human beings — questions of safety, dignity and economic security — then Judaism and politics cannot be separated. The Torah is political when it insists  that “God created humanity in God’s own image” (Genesis 1:27) —meaning that every single person, regardless of race, ethnicity, wealth, religion or any other factor — is equally a valuable creation in the divine image. The Torah is political when it obligates judges to treat parties fairly and impartially (Deuteronomy 1:16-17), and when it asserts that the land of Israel belongs to God and not to any human tribe (Leviticus 25:23). Jewish law, in its development from the Torah to the present, continues to be political as it asks the most fundamental question: ‘How do we create a just society?’ —for every person created in the image of God — and answers in political ways, with laws aimed at ensuring the rights of workers; communal responsibility for the economic well-being of those in need; and a criminal justice system that protects the dignity of both perpetrators and victim.”

Holy Blossom has historically been a leader in Toronto Jewish community fighting for justice for all. We do this because it is Jewish. Please join us as we participate in our Jewish obligation to be involved in society.

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  • Rabbi Satz

    Peter, thank you for your kind words. Even though I can’t vote, I feel that it is still my obligation, democratic obligation and Jewish obligation, to be involved. My wife, of course, does influence me in everything.
    Phyllis, you are absolutely right. I want to help make Holy Blossom once again become the centre for Jewish civic engagement. Stay tuned for more to come including a open conversation about poverty in Toronto with our counsel member Joe Mihevc.

  • Peter Mandell

    I find Rabbi Satz to be extremely refreshing. Here he is, an American and spending all of his life in the United States until he came to us a year ago, and he is taking a genuine interest in Canadian politics. Certainly, there is the influence of his Canadian wife, but he strikes me as too strong to be taking an interest in our politics for any other reason than his own inquiring mind and interest.

  • Phyllis Wintraub

    Rabbi Satz: I believe our synagogue is a perfect place to hold a forum of potential members of the next parliament. First, one of Judaism’s main tenets is “tikkun olam”. Doing so entails dealing with issues that affect everyone, Jew and non-Jew alike. Aboriginal rights, affordable day care, dying with dignity–these are all issues that the next parliament will have on their agendas. Thus it is imperative that if we care about such issues, that we elect people and a party that can bring about the changes that will make Canada better. We need to have politicians who care about Canada foremost–the Canada that we want to live in. And in that way, we can make the world better–by our example.

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