Dear Community Members,
Since we last wrote to you, we have placed a renewed emphasis on community outreach. We have had valuable meetings with our beneficiary agencies, our local synagogues and the Council of Rabbis, our school and Jewish camps, and met with organizations serving adults with intellectual disabilities and our seniors. These consultations have given us key insights into how to properly meet their unique needs, and how to best represent their interests to the community.
We are pleased to report that we had a productive meeting with the Hon. Premier Heather Stefanson last week. Our community has a strong tradition of engagement with the provincial government, and we were able to further advance our community priorities with the Premier, including requests to support youth and senior activities, the strengthening of our local Jewish institutions through immigration, and programs supporting community growth. We were pleased to learn that the government is committed to ensuring the safety of our community and institutions and supporting our efforts to combat antisemitism.
However, there has been much unrest nationally and around the world, with antisemitism being the unfortunate common thread. We watched with bated breath after Jewish congregants were taken hostage in Colleyville, Texas, and we prayed for a safe resolution. It was a stark reminder that antisemitism is a growing problem. Our Federation and The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), our national advocacy partner, reiterated our calls for increased investment in the security of our community.
We, along with communities around the world observed International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, vowing to remember the past to build a better future for all. Notable monuments across the country were illuminated in yellow, including the Manitoba Legislature and the Winnipeg sign at The Forks.
Just two days later, we watched in horror as a small minority of truckers who advanced to Ottawa displayed Nazi flags, the Confederate flag, and yellow Stars of David as part of their protest against public health measures. We heard a strong outcry against the use of these symbols and the misappropriation of the yellow Star of David from the public, the media, and elected officials. We thank all of those who condemned these displays of hatred and oppression, ironically on display as part of a freedom protest.
Those who would display these symbols, and those who would stand by apathetically as they are displayed, underscores why Holocaust education is needed now more than ever. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have seen a rise in antisemitism around the world and on social media platforms. More must be done to ensure that we stop this escalation of hatred in its tracks through education and advocacy. Our Federation and CIJA continue our collective actions to combat antisemitism and advocate for Holocaust remembrance and education.
All forms of hatred must be stopped in their tracks, and we also marked the National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack
and Action Against Islamophobia in support of the Muslim community.
In addition to this, there are two important movements that deserve our community’s attention: Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) and Black History Month.
We are proud to join organizations and communities in celebrating JDAIM. It represents a call to action to each one of us in accordance with our Jewish values, honouring the gifts and strengths that we each possess. We are pleased that representatives from our community will be participating in a national advocacy day for JDAIM this month.
February also marks Black History Month, which provides an opportunity to reflect on racial equality, and consider the part that each of us plays in making our community a welcoming and supportive environment for all people. We acknowledge the many accomplishments of Black change-makers and leaders who have played an important role in shaping history and the world in which we live.
We will continue to support our local organizations as they prepare for activities and programming under relaxed public health restrictions, which will hopefully create opportunities for a cautious and gradual return to in-person community activities and in-person gatherings.
On a final note, your Federation board is well underway conducting conversations across the entire community as we explore better ways to serve the Winnipeg Jewish community and to improve how we conduct business internally and with other organizations.