When Rabbi Zushe Silberstein heard that the Jewish inmate standing before him in a Montreal jail was due to be released in just three days, he didn’t hesitate.
“My daughter is getting married this weekend,” he said. “I would be honoured if you could attend the wedding.”
The prisoner stared at him with unbelieving eyes, certain he had misheard. A rabbi inviting a newly released prisoner to a family wedding? It seemed impossible. But in the next breath, Rabbi Silberstein was offering to help arrange a suit if needed. It was clear his invitation came from the heart.
The conversation between the two men occurred two years ago, and that weekend, the ex-convict did indeed attend the wedding.
“No one knew where he came from, and at the wedding he danced with presidents of synagogues, family and friends, just like anyone else,” Rabbi Silberstein recalls. “At one point he approached me, clearly emotional, asking what kind of gift he could give the bride and groom. I told him, “The gift you’ll give will be a promise that never again will you go back to jail.’ He gave that gift and he’s leading a straight life now.”
The encounter was nothing extraordinary for Rabbi Silberstein, who heads Chabad Chabanel in Montreal and regularly visits Jewish inmates in Quebec jails. “We bring them food and sandwiches, we daven, put on tfillin with them and celebrate Jewish holidays with them,” he says. There’s a seder at Pesach, a Megillah reading on Purim, menorahs on Chanukah and services on Rosh Hashanah.
But it’s not just about pushing spirituality, he insists.
“My main thrust has always been to tell these marginalized Jews, ‘You’re not alone, you’re not forgotten. There’s someone out there who cares about you.’ We’re there to comfort, to advise them and to show them the Jewish community cares about them… Chabad is at the forefront of this care, here and everywhere else,” Rabbi Silberstein says.
Muslim woman receives other offers after quitting police academy
Head scarves for police OK elsewhere
FRED SQUILLANTE | DISPATCH
By Mark Ferenchik & Encarnacion Pyle
The Columbus Dispatch • Wednesday May 6, 2015 9:46 AM
Comments: 15 4754 66 5262
If the Columbus Police Division doesn’t change its policy banning head scarves for female Muslim officers, Ismahan Isse might have a couple of options outside Ohio.
The Edmonton (Alberta) Police Service in Canada has reached out to Isse, a29-year-old Somali-American from Columbus who said she dropped out of the Columbus police academy this year because she was prohibited from wearing her head scarf, or hijab.
The Dispatch wrote about Isse last week, and Staff Sgt. Mark Farnell, an Edmonton police recruiter, read about her dilemma online. He said Edmonton police designed a uniform for Muslim women that includes the head scarf.
“She really wanted to be a police officer,” Farnell said. “Why not touch base (and) see if she is interested in coming to Canada and take a look? She’s a great potential applicant to us.”
If interested, Isse would first have to become a permanent resident of Canada, a status she could be granted because of the job,Farnell said.
Edmonton has a growing Somali community and wants its police force to better reflect the city’s diversity, Farnell said. It currently has no Somali police officers.
Isse said she spoke to Farnell on Friday.“I’m actually considering it strongly,” she said of his offer.
She said she also was contacted by a representative of the Somali-American Police Association in Minneapolis. The Minneapolis-St. Paul area has the largest Somali population in the country. Columbus is No. 2.
But Isse, who has an associate degree in criminal justice and works as a temporary office worker for alogistics company, said she would prefer to stay in Columbus.
Isse said she did not wear her hijab during her four months at the academy, but wore it during preceding background interviews. She said the detective interviewing her told her she could not wear it during training.
Physicist, child of Soviet dissident from satellite state of the former Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Canadian blogger for freedom, Alexandra Belair, granted an interview to describe exactly what happened when the event she had advertised for Parliament Hill on May 20th 2015 was first cancelled by Heritage Canada, and then after some publicity came out about the event cancelation, Heritage Canada claimed they had never granted her a permit in the first place.
This is an interesting few minutes for a number of reasons.
B.C. celebrated Vaisakhi this weekend with the historic charter signing of Canada’s first cadet corps formed by the Sikh community in Surrey and the annual parade in Vancouver.
Vaisakhi marks the Sikh New Year, pays tribute to the harvest and commemorates one of the most important days in the Sikh calendar — the creation of the Khalsa.
The Khalsa was founded in 1699 as a Sikh brotherhood and sisterhood to fight adversity and continues to be at the heart of Sikhism.
The charter signing gala for the 3300 BCR (Bhai Kanhaiya) Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps in Surrey on Friday night was attended by Defence Minister Jason Kenney, National Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Minister of State for Multiculturalism Tim Uppal, B.C. Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services Amrik Virk, a host of MPs, MLAs, municipal politicians and about 400 guests and military personnel.
Rear Admiral Bill Truelove, Commander of Maritime Forces Pacific, hailed the Sikh community for supporting the Bhai Kanhaiya cadets and saluted the efforts of Vancouver newspaper publisher Harbinder Sewak, the architect of what has become one of Canada’s fastest growing cadet units.
The formation of this unique cadet corps has triggered interest across Canada and as far away as London, England, in localities with sizable Sikh populations.
On Saturday, the annual Vancouver Vaisakhi Parade attracted tens of thousands of spectators to southeast Vancouver and the neighbourhood near the Ross Street Temple where the festivities began.
For a photo gallery of the parade, go to theprovince.com.
LETTER – Special Accommodation (McGill University Fitness Centre )
Dear Ms. Fortier,
I am addressing you as McGill University Alumnus.
During my time at McGill, from 1992 to 1996, I earned two law degrees. Despite the heavy coursework, I still managed to find time to go to the gym and use the weight room, the exercise room, the squash courts and later the indoor track, once it was opened.
As a member of the Judo Club for four years, I was in the martial arts room twice weekly. I served as a liason between the gym and the McGill Outing Club for many years.
After graduation I continued my connection with the McGill gyms as an instructor of the kayaking program, and also as an assistant instructor in the Aikido Club.
I have benefited greatly from the gym facilities and my memories and attachment to McGill Athletics and Recreation Centre are deep and strong.
I am now writing you to voice my opposition to the idea of sexually segregated hours, as is currently being proposed. I understand that this trend is being increasingly explored at other facilities as well. I consider the concept to be very much against the modern, liberal, socially open society that Canada represents and that McGill University should be encouraging. I can understand the ideal of wanting to accommodate everybody, however, this ideal becomes self-defeating if you accommodate philosophies that are segregationist.
I understand that certain individuals, such as Soumia Allalou, claim that they cannot train nor benefit from the facilities because men are present. It is of critical importance to the good of our society that a role model such as McGill University remain steadfast in pursuing liberal, inclusive and modern values. The mindset of people such as Soumia Allalou is anathema to the ideals of a modern Western, liberal institution. Allowing such people to impose discriminatory policies would be an explicit approval of such a retrograde mindset and would be a step backward in the cultural evolution of our society. If Soumia Allalo and people of similar viewpoints are incapable of evolving and adapting to the most basic of modern Canadian norms and values, then they will have to find, manage and or finance their own alternative manner of exercising their preferences and their prejudice. Such should not be tolerated nor encouraged by an institution that is supported in large part by public funds.
The message sent by McGill University and by Canada as a whole to society and to the outside world should be as follows:
All are welcome. All may bring with them their culture and practices. None may impose their culture upon others, nor force their bias or their beliefs upon other groups or individuals.
To approve segregated training hours of the manner proposed is tantamount to importing a prejudice against both men and women at the same time. Such is not the nature of the McGill Community to which I belong since twenty-three years.
Daniel Romano, Esq
Letter published with Mr Romano’s permission
Clifford Orwin is a professor of political science at the University of Toronto and a distinguished fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.
Stephen Harper is not just smart; he can be highly insightful. In 2011, for example, he established the Office of Religious Freedom in the Department of Foreign Affairs. He thus showed himself ahead of the curve on an issue whose importance has continued to grow. In that same year, unfortunately, his then minister of immigration, Jason Kenney, announced a domestic rule tending to religious suppression. Last week that ruling returned to haunt Mr. Harper.