Shabbat Candlelighting 7:37 p.m.                                             Friday, April 8, 2011/4 Nissan 5771

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Canada Kicks into High Political Gear
With federal elections scheduled for May 2nd, political parties and candidates are actively campaigning. In an election where many believe that little will really change, it is easy to become cynical and avoid paying attention to the process. But, inattention and apathy pose a greater threat than inertia. All around the world people are in the streets actively seeking democracy. Here in Canada, we have it, and it would be a travesty if we didn’t exercise the magnificent civic rights we have to choose our government and shape our future. In fact, the greatest opportunity for change would come if there were radically greater voter participation rates in the election.

The past number of years has seen growing efforts nationally to spark greater participation by the Jewish community in the political process. It is important beyond the need to exercise our basic civic duty – it has a direct impact on our ability as a Jewish community to have a voice in influencing public policy and funding issues that are important to us. Quite simply, it matters if we vote in significant numbers, it matters if community members get involved in the campaign as volunteers, and it matters if Jews are visibly involved in political fundraising efforts.

I encourage you to get involved in the political party of your choice, or on behalf of your candidate of choice. For more information about doing so as a visible member of the Jewish community contact CJPAC about how you can help.

Goldstone Qualifies UN Commission Report on 2010 Gaza War
One dominant story this week relates to Justice Richard Goldstone, chair of the UN Commission that investigated both Israel and Hamas in the aftermath of the 2010 Gaza War. Basically, Goldstone says that had he known during the investigation what he knows now as a result of extensive investigations conducted by Israel of its own military’s actions, the report would have come to different conclusions. Pro-Israel advocates are pleased to see Goldstone’s reversal, and eager to see the UN reverse resolutions passed criticizing Israel based on the report. Anti-Israel advocates are busy qualifying Goldstone’s reversal. I encourage you to read Goldstone’s words for yourself if you haven’t yet done so.

First Nations Leaders, Israeli MKs, and Local Jewish and Christian Leaders Convene
Members and leaders of the Tsawwassen First Nations band, the Vancouver Jewish and Christian communities, and prominent politicians convened Monday in the Tsawwassen First Nations Longhouse to welcome three members of the Israeli Knesset and show support for Israel. The country's inherent right to exist was confirmed by all; the Jewish people's right, as the indigenous people of the land, to live peacefully in the Jewish State of Israel acknowledged and reaffirmed by leaders of Canada's own aboriginal people. Our visitors from Israel, Israeli Deputy Minister Ayoob Kara and Knesset members Shai Hermesh and Robert Ilatov, ended the evening by expressing their gratitude to the audience of supporters, and were then blanketed (a ceremony of honour in the First Nations culture) in customized blue and white blankets, gifts from the Tsawwassen First Nations band. The evening produced a tangible feeling of camaraderie and strengthened the bonds of three communities brought together by a shared respect for, and love of, the State of Israel.

Parashat Metzora
This week’s parasha continues the discussion of skin diseases and also discusses how to address homes where fungus or mildew appear. Many commentators discuss the relationship between the outbreak of skin diseases and their severity, and sins related to lashon ha-rah – evil speech, such as slander or gossip. It is significant that our tradition regards the potential dangers that can flow from speech as potentially as severe as skin diseases, which in biblical times resulted in the isolation of the individual from the community. Pinchas Peli, in Torah Today, explains that “Jewish tradition sees a lethal weapon in the evil tongue and minces no words in its condemnation…(lashon ha-rah) is worse than murder since it simultaneously destroys three people: the one who relates the gossip, the one who listens to it, and the one it concerns.”

This parasha and the one immediately preceding, dealing with topics such as leprosy and the social isolation of those deemed to have sinned so badly as to cause severe physical manifestations, are often regarded as among the most difficult to relate to. By connecting it to the everyday challenges of maintaining moral speech and relations with other, the rabbis have made them among the most important.

Shabbat Shalom!

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