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Rabbi Ilyse on a light blue background, banner reads The Word from the DJC.

IntRIGuiging Thoughts: Antisemitism on Campus…and a big JEW hat

In early 2023, I had a conversation with DJC member Alan Gotlib (exemplary human being/lay leader/dedicated volunteer) about my desire to see a clothing and accessory line in the marketplace proudly representing Judaism. To my great delight and surprise, Alan crafted a hat for me that perfectly matched my vision: a white cap with the letters “JEW” embroidered in two shades of blue, boldly proclaiming my identity. He presented it to me on Yom Kippur. Thirteen days later: October 7. Everything changed.

IntRIGuiging Thoughts: Antisemitism on Campus…and a big JEW hat Read More »

Rabbi Ilyse on a light blue background, banner reads The Word from the DJC.

Seder Supplements, Readings, and Poems for Passover 2024/5784

Pesach 5784 begins in five days and it is clear to all of us that our sedarim will feel different than last year. How could they not? How might we consider what additions to bring to the table to supplement our usual haggadot? Should we bring new readings or poems to speak to the matzav (“situation”)? How about additional items to the seder plate? And is all of this kosher (by that I mean, OK)?

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Rabbi Ilyse on a light blue background, banner reads The Word from the DJC.

Discover, Watch, Listen: Music in a Time of War

Director of the Shalom Hartman Institute Yehuda Kurtzer takes us on a musical journey in a recent episode of the podcast Identity/Crisis. To set the scene for exploring the musical offerings from Israel since October 7, he outlines the history of the politics of Israeli music in three phases (I hope you will permit me quoting him at length here as I think this history is fascinating)

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Rabbi Ilyse on a light blue background, banner reads The Word from the DJC.

600 Standing Together in Toronto last night

Last night, over 600 people gathered in the Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library here in Toronto for an event co-sponsored by The New Israel Fund, Friends of Standing Together Canada, and Heart to Heart. I was in attendance and was delighted to see no fewer than two dozen DJC community members. The program was a moderated conversation by Dr. Miri Sucharov (professor of Political Science at Carleton University) with Rula Daood and Itamar Avneri. Daood (an Arab Israeli) is the National co-Director of Standing Together and a community organizer. Avneri (a Jewish Israeli) is a social and peace activist, a community organizer, and a member of national leadership in Standing Together. 

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Rabbi Ilyse on a light blue background, banner reads The Word from the DJC.

Addressing the Fallout: Antisemitism in the Shadow of Conflict

Today’s offering is not about the war in Israel and Gaza directly but about the fall-out of it, namely the rise in antisemitism globally. Consider this recent Time Magazine article titled “The New Antisemitism” written by Noah Felman, which explores “How an ancient hatred has reinvented itself in the modern world.” The United Kingdom has

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Rabbi Ilyse on a light blue background, banner reads The Word from the DJC.

Discover, Watch, Listen: Climbing Mount Sinai & Building a State

Two days ago, a protest in downtown Toronto started at the Israeli Consulate and then travelled south along major city streets. Organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement, it was an urgent “Hands Off Rafah! Emergency Action” gathering. At some point along the way, some of the participants scaled the scaffolding and portico in front of Mount Sinai Hospital.

Discover, Watch, Listen: Climbing Mount Sinai & Building a State Read More »

Rabbi Ilyse on a light blue background, banner reads The Word from the DJC.

Discover, Watch, Listen: music and Standing Together

This past Sunday the Grammy Awards aired, celebrating music and musicians and recognizing exemplary achievements in the music industry. Besides the Tony Awards (which I religiously watch in its entirety), the Grammys are the only other award show I tune into for just the live performances. Highlights from Sunday night included Joni Mitchell performing “Both Sides, Now” and Billy Joel performing his first music release in 17 years. But beyond the performances, there was one more notable moment…

Imagine my surprise when the CEO of the Recording Academy, Harvey Mason Jr., offered the following remarks midway through the televised show:

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Rabbi Ilyse on a light blue background, banner reads The Word from the DJC.

Zichrono Livracha – Remembering Rabbi Dr. David Ellenson

Rabbi Ellenson was a past President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) and was one of my favourite professors at HUC-JIR. He was the person who physically laid his hands on my head in May 2004 at my rabbinical ordination ceremony. He was a brilliant scholar of many subjects, including history, tensions between tradition and modernity, trends in contemporary American Jewish life, and ethics. He wrote and edited countless publications, taught any number of subjects…and was a tremendous mensch.

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