Saturday, 29 August 2015

Trudeau-led government to invest in our children and educators

I wonder if the teachers' unions are still all gung ho to throw their support behind M. Mulcair. The NDP has made the interesting choice to run to the right of the Liberal Party  (and even to the right of the Conservative Party at times) during Canada's 42nd election. While this has put them at odds with much of their traditional base it does appear that Mulcair is sticking to his guns. More surprising, however, is M. Trudeau’s decision to embrace his new role as the leader of Canada's left. Never was this more demonstrated than when he announced a targeted tax credit for teaching professionals who purchase school supplies out of pocket.

In the heavily contested 905-area city of Newmarket, Ontario Trudeau said, “As teachers and early childhood educators prepare their classrooms for the upcoming school year, we are reminded that our children need positive and enriching environments in order to learn and grow. ... Yet our tax system doesn’t recognize the many out-of-pocket expenses that teachers and early childhood educators incur in order to set up their classrooms.”

He's not wrong.  This is a good policy. Most interesting, however, is the NDP criticism of it. Give M. Mulcair  credit where credit is due. Much like Prime Minister Harper is running as far left as he possibly can without any worry with regard to losing his right wing base, Mulcair is running as far right as humanly possible understanding  (and rightly so) that he need not worry about a left wing base so close to power it can already taste it. The problem is, should Mulcair become Canada's next Prime Minister New Democrats that remember the days of Douglas and Broadbent and even Layton may not like what they see - an NDP government that would rather balance the books than help teachers.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Tragedy in Israel after shooting at Pride

As members of the international community we can only extend our hearts to the six victims who were wounded at the Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance.

It is an unspeakable tragedy that on a day that intended to be of positivity and acceptance that the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer/questioning) Jewish community is once again mourning an act of senseless violence against LGBTQ people.

We were than informed the tragic news. Sixteen-year-old Shira Banki has died. 
As a member of the international LGBTQ Jewish community, my thoughts and prayers are with Shira's family and friends at this devastating time. 

In a statement issued today, her family said: "Our magical Shira was murdered because she was a happy 16-year-old – full of life and love – who came to express her support for her friends' rights to live as they choose. For no good reason and because of evil, stupidity and negligence, the life of our beautiful flower was cut short. Bad things happen to good people, and a very bad thing happened to our amazing girl. The family expresses hope for a less hatred and more tolerance."

There are no words to express what the Banki Family is going through. 

The World Congress of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Jews issued a statement, announcing, "Ignorance and fear will not discourage our uncompromising demand to live our lives as we are. Knives will not stop us. With pride and pain, with broken hearts and tearful eyes, with Shira's memory and our unanswered prayers, we will continue to march in Jerusalem."
Shira's tragic death is a cogent reminder of how much work still needs to be done in our communities to educate people about the acceptance of diversity, and the importance of inclusion and respect for difference. 

I will close on this note; there is a tradition in Judaism of Refuah Shlema. It is a prayer of healing. And it goes as follows:

Mi-sheberakh avoteinu v'imoteinu, Avraham v'Sarah, Yitzhak v'Rivkah, Ya'akov, Rachel v'Leah hu y'varekh et (recite the Hebrew name) v'yavi aleihem refuat hanefesh u'refuat haguf yachad im kol cholei amo Yisrael. Barukh atah Adonai, rofeh ha'cholim.

In English: May the One who was a source of blessing for our ancestors, bring blessings of healing upon (recite the name), a healing of body and a healing of spirit. May those in whose care they are entrusted, be gifted with wisdom and skill, and those who surround them, be gifted with love and trust, openness and support in their care. And may they be healed along with all those who are in need. Blessed are You, Source of healing. Amen