While I am a proud and passionate Zionist, I have never viewed the Israeli-Palestinian issue as a “zero-sum” equation. To the contrary, I believe a comprehensive peace will inevitably require addressing the legitimate hopes and needs of people on both sides.
I also believe that actions speak louder than words, which is why I am so proud that CIJA’s Partnerships Team has recently expanded and relaunched our Seek Peace and Pursue It initiative.
This resource guide provides Canadians from all backgrounds with suggestions on innovative ways to help advance peace from the ground up. It focuses on grassroots programs in the region that promote trust and understanding between Jews and Arabs, create joint educational opportunities for Jewish and Arab children, and foster Jewish-Arab economic cooperation and healthcare partnerships – to name just a few extraordinary examples.
Without ignoring the serious obstacles to peace and the ongoing security threats Israelis face, we must not give in to cynicism and frustration. Instead, we must channel our concerns into positive and practical actions that improve the situation on the ground – one life at a time.
I hope this month’s update sheds light into our varied partnership activities, and I encourage you to be in touch with me at any time if you have suggestions or questions.
General Counsel and Senior Government Advisor
Chair of CIJA’s Partnerships Team
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- CIJA is working closely with Cardus on their Faith in Canada 150 programming slated to take place between now and throughout 2017. The programming will engage Canadians on the topic of faith in our lives and what our shared future will look like.
- In Quebec, CIJA is working with the staff of CEJFI to plan an upcoming event highlighting employment for immigrant women, in the framework of Action Week against Racism. The Partnerships Team is proud that one of our own — Myriam Azogui-Halbwax — received the Harriet Tubman award at the CEJFI gala in recognition of her ‘’dedication and community involvement’’
- In Toronto, CIJA is working with the Toronto Area Interfaith Council on a number of municipal interfaith initiatives, including a Mayor’s Breakfast with the group.
- CIJA met with leadership from the Toronto Indo-Canadian business community, and is putting together a small group of interested business professionals to create networking and development programming that brings together the local Jewish community and young business leaders.
- In Toronto, CIJA’s partnerships team was represented on a panel on “Israel: Perspectives and Possibilities” alongside New Israel Fund of Canada and JSpace. The panel, hosted by Oraynu – a Humanistic Judaism Congregation, explored topics such as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and ways in which Jewish Canadians can engage with Israel in a constructive manner. In addition to Jews, the audience included members of the Pashtun community.
- CIJA met in Ottawa with a group of leadership from multiple faith communities on the issue of palliative care. Other faith communities represented include: Muslim, Armenian Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Evangelical and the Church of Latter Day Saints.
- In Quebec, CIJA was represented at a Social Advocacy Committee meeting with Anthony Housefather, which touched on issues related to social housing, seniors, family reunification and conditional permanent residency for spouses.
- CIJA has renewed its commitment with the Multifaith Alliance to End Homelessness, and is developing strategies to continue advance the mandate of this important coalition.
- CIJA is working with a number of partners from the health care sector, start-up field and Jewish community around the opportunity presented by new technology in addressing issues around accessibility for individuals living with disabilities. The initiative is in early stages but seeks to bring together successful technologies, host discussions on challenges for individuals with disabilities, and provide an opportunity for creative problem-solving on these issues through a weekend hackathon.
- In Quebec, CIJA arranged a meeting with Rabbi Sacks, the Archbishop of Montreal, academics, leadership and members of the Christian-Jewish Dialogue. We volunteered with FCJA to assist with the Rabbi Sacks event Monday night, which drew a crowd of 1,200+ community members.
- CIJA met with community organizers from the Filipino community to explore opportunities to work together on shared issues of concern, with a focus on supporting community-based social service agencies
- CIJA met with international and local leadership from Project Rozana, and is working to facilitate interfaith engagement on peace-building projects in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Project Rozana is one of the featured projects in CIJA’s Seek Peace brochure.
- CIJA continues to engage with leadership from a number of Middle East Christian communities to assist advocacy efforts in support of these vulnerable communities.
- CIJA spoke out against the Government of Canada’s decision to not renew the mandate of the Office of Religious Freedoms, noting that – among other benefits – the Office was instrumental in bringing together communities as diverse as Jews, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs in common defense of religious freedom. At the same time, CIJA was pleased that Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion stated in strong terms that Canada will continue to defend religious freedom.
- CIJA hosted a teleconference with the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus’ (CRC) Jewish-Catholic dialogue team, to map out an approach to the second dialogue session between the CRC and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (scheduled to take place in Montreal in May).
- In Vancouver, CIJA Pacific Region has been selected to represent the Jewish community in the working group of the Multifaith Summit Council of BC. The council has 23 members, and four members on the working group.
Would you like more information about any of these issues? Are you interested in getting involved in CIJA’s efforts to build partnerships with other communities? Please connect with us here.
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