“The Political Junkie that I am…”
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.
[green_message] For more information about the upcoming Candidates Forum, please click here. [/green_message]