As Jews, we can easily imagine what it was like for our relatives to come to Canada as new immigrants without a firm grasp of the language, culture, or local customs. Now fast forward to May and June of this year and think about thousands of Syrian newcomers and their families experiencing their first Ramadan fast and Eid celebration in Canada. This includes the DJC-sponsored Syrian family of seven who only arrived in March of this year.
Last year, the DJC’s Multi-Faith Committee, working with the Danforth Multi-Faith Community,* decided to create Eid gift baskets to deliver to Syrian newcomer families experiencing this most holy of their religious holidays for the first time in Canada.
The idea came from committee member Mrs. Tasleem Riaz of the Pakistani Community Centre who thought that inviting these newcomer families to big gatherings or parties when they were still so new to the country would be a bit overwhelming. She suggested an alternative — Eid gift baskets that we would deliver in small groups of two or three people.
On June 23rd, a group of creative and dedicated folks gathered at the home of DJC Multi-Faith Committee Co-Chair, Karen Robbins, to create these custom Eid gift baskets and deliver them to six families in the east end by sunset. Our group was met by warmth, surprise, and real appreciation. Each Eid gift basket was “halal” and chock full of goodies including two 10-pound bags of basmati rice; two kinds of dates; biscotti; halavah; baklava sweets; chocolate Loony coins; sprigs of fresh mint for tea; nut assortments; a variety of Canadian chocolate bars and candy; a house plant; and individual gifts of toys and crafts specially chosen for each of the family’s children. DJC Multi-Faith Committee Co-Chair Eve-Lynn Stein was able to acquire some terrific basket item donations from local businesses including Arz Fine Foods, Iqbals, Bulk Barn, FreshCo, Home Depot, and Loblaws. We very much appreciate their support.
And what about the Syrian family of seven the DJC is sponsoring? How was their first Ramadan and Eid in Canada?
“The children in the family we are sponsoring were so excited to see the basket of gifts. Although we could not understand their words, there was no doubt about their excitement as they sat around the basket, trying hard to see all the toys and treats inside. It was a very moving experience to see their joy and such a great opportunity for all of us to help the families celebrate their first Ramadan and Eid in Canada.” ~ Eve-Lynn Stein
* The DJC is a founding member of the Danforth Multi-Faith Community, a group that works on community building and social justice issues alongside members of Christian, Muslim, Unitarian, and Buddhist communities in the East End of Toronto.
If you are interested in participating in the events of the DJC’s Multi-Faith Committee, feel free to contact us.