In helfman, Third

Canadian-Flag-bannerv2By Rabbi Jordan Helfman.

When the Pride parade sets off on Bloor and Church streets this weekend with joy and dancing, hearts will be heavy with the memory of the Orlando tragedy.

Gun control is a big issue in my homeland, the United States, and one that must be solved to end the many mass shootings.

While gun control and radical indoctrination surely take some of the blame in Orlando, I believe this was very much a homophobic attack, chosen because of the homophobia which still exists in North America.

I am able to be here so easily because of a provision in NAFTA which allows clergy free movement on a temporary basis across the border.  While Canada and the United States have a sometimes strained trade relationship (Burger King, Target, pipeline construction) it is nothing like the current situation in Europe.  Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was shocked to learn after the Brexit referendum, Google showed a massive surge in searches for “how to move to Canada”.

While I believe fear of immigration was one of the biggest motivating factors in the Brexit vote, that if income inequality was less of a fact of life in many of the provinces outside of London, then the vote wouldn’t have had a chance.  Is Canada a more equal nation?

We often take for granted the country that we live in – open to immigration – respecting human beings whatever their sexual orientation or gender choice – working hard to make sure that all Canadians have access to clean water and public resources. 

At the end of this week’s Parasha – Sh’lach L’cha – our people are at the edge of the Promised Land, and God commands them to make physical reminders – tzitzit at the corners of their garments – and to look at them to remember their obligations.

Occasions like the Pride Parade are reminders to glance down at our tzitzit – or up at our flag, and remember our obligation to treat every humanb’tzelem elohim.  And Canada Day can provide us opportunities to reflect on how lucky we are to live where we do, and think of what we still need to do to make Canada an even better place. 

Our congregation is joining together to celebrate Pride. Click here to learn more.

Just as I invite you to join us this summer for services to physically look down at your tzitzit (both men and women, of course, are invited to wear a tallit at Holy Blossom), I invite you to take this summer – a time of relaxation and reflection – and be reminded of the obligations we have to ourselves, to God, to Canada and to the world.  This Canada Day Weekend, we know that the work is not finished – it is on us to keep on working towards its possibly unobtainable completion.

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  • Robert Simonsky

    Rabbi Helfman’s intelligent words and ideas come from the heart of how we must treat all people with love and respect. It is so wonderful that human kindness and a sense of equality are guiding us and not the current virulent dogma we too often hear in some circles that prevents our society from moving in the right direction. Happy Canada day and enjoy Pride Weekend!

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