Tree of Life Synagogue

Today I write to you on behalf of the CCGSD in anguish to join LGBTQI2+ organizations across the world to condemn recent acts of antisemitic violence in our communities. On October 26th, 2018 Eleven Jewish people, were murdered in a shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This happened during the naming ceremony for a baby shortly after Sabbath services. The naming ceremony was for a gay couple and their new child. While the shooter was specifically targeting the Jewish Community, we cannot ignore that the LGBTQI2+ community suffers a great loss as well.

We are not immune to antisemitism in Canada, and its prevalence is rising at alarming rates.

As a queer Jewish person I’ve faced my fair share of antisemitism from outside the LGBTQI2+ community, and from within. I’ve been called slurs for both my queer identity and my Jewish identity while just walking down the street… and while these words hurt – nothing has hurt quite so much as being at being excluded and tokenized by both Jewish and LGBTQI2+ organizations. We have seen many LGBTQI2+ and Jewish organizations not rising to meet the challenges of creating inclusion for each other.

Despite this I am reminded of the wise words of Rabbi Hillel, words which Jews recite each year at Passover to affirm our commitment to others:

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

But if I am only for myself, who am I?”

This is a reminder that we must not only stand up for ourselves and our communities – but we must also do so for other groups facing the same kinds of oppression. It is all intersectional. Oppression of one class of people feeds into the oppression of others. We all have the capacity within ourselves to be kind, caring and supportive of each other; and if we are, we can be stronger together.

Hillel offers one last bit of sage advice:

“If not now, when?”

For if we don’t start today, what makes us think tomorrow will be any different?

With this in mind, I am proud to be working with the CCGSD to create a toolkit that will be available to help with the intersectional issues that face the Jewish and LGBTQI2+ communities. As a starting point, we are seeking your input in this process, and are interested in your stories, your insights and your wisdom. Please reach out at: sky@ccgsd-ccdgs.org