The CJN Daily with Ellin Bessner

The CJN Podcast Network

Newsmaker conversations from The Canadian Jewish News, hosted by Ellin Bessner, a veteran broadcaster, writer and journalist. read less
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Alexandria Fanjoy Silver converted to Judaism twice. For Shavuot, she explains why
4d ago
Alexandria Fanjoy Silver converted to Judaism twice. For Shavuot, she explains why
Alexandria Fanjoy Silver enjoys being a proud and loud advocate for Toronto's Jewish community, even though she only became an "official" Jew in 2009. Her parents brought her up as a member of the Anglican Church; yet, while growing up, she always felt an "obsession" and a pull towards Judaism. And so, as a university student in 2007, after visiting to the Nazi death camps in Poland, she decided to go through the conversion process. (There wouldn't be a Jewish man in her personal life until several years later.) Tonight, as Jews around the world mark the annual harvest festival of Shavuot, the theme of conversion is part of synagogue observances: the Book of Ruth is read, which tells the Bible story of a non-Jewish widow who chose to remain part her late husband's Jewish family, and is widely considered the religion's first recorded "convert". While it is usually not considered good manners to ask a convert why they converted, Alexandria Fanjoy Silver agreed to join The CJN Daily to share her journey and explain what it's been like to live as a Jew—especially now, after Oct. 7, when her choice directly impacts her non-Jewish family members. What we talked about: Read Alexandria Fanjoy Silver’s PhD thesis on whether the March of the Living is good or bad for participantsFollow Alexandria Fanjoy Silver’s regular columns in the Times of IsraelMake her Seven Heaven’s challah for Shavuot and learn about the traditional Sephardic recipe Credits: The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.
‘My legs are tired but my heart is full’: Hear the sounds of Toronto’s historic Walk with Israel
5d ago
‘My legs are tired but my heart is full’: Hear the sounds of Toronto’s historic Walk with Israel
Ellin Bessner, host of The CJN Daily _podcast, was admittedly nervous ahead of Sunday’s 55th annual Walk with Israel, held by UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. For weeks, pro-Palestinian protest groups in the city had been threatening to disrupt the important Jewish solidarity march—the first one since the deadly Hamas attack on Oct. 7. It was stunning watching the record turnout of an estimated 50,000 people—and also seeing the massive police presence that kept a lid on trouble. But by the time Bessner and her family completed the nearly five-kilometre walk on June 9, her anxiety over the Middle Eastern war and rampant domestic antisemitism fell to the wayside and joy took over, even if only for a short time. On today’s special feature episode of _The CJN Daily, Ellin invites listeners to join her on the walk and meet some of the people she met along the way: Israeli visitors Rami and Vered Gold, who survived the Hamas massacre at Kibbutz Be’eri; Michael Gilmore of Kehillat Shaarei Torah, the Toronto synagogue targeted by two recent hate crime attacks; Dave Fingrut, a public school teacher in Millbrook, Ontario; Noah Shack, UJA’s head of combating antisemitism, and others. Plus, you’ll hear directly from some of the pro-Palestinian protestors when Ellin asks them why they came. What we talked about: Learn more about Kibbutz Be’eri survivors Rami and Vered Gold, who are touring Canada to raise awareness and funds to rebuild their communityRead news editor Lila Sark’s account of the Walk for Israel in The CJNLearn more about the Brodutch family who attended the walk: four were held hostage in Gaza for 51 days, on The CJN Daily Credits: The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine.  We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.
Dr. Joe Schwarcz can’t stop debunking wellness gurus, antivaxxers and psuedoscience
Jun 6 2024
Dr. Joe Schwarcz can’t stop debunking wellness gurus, antivaxxers and psuedoscience
Montreal professor Joseph Schwarcz doesn’t actually have a medical degree, but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming a popular public figure in the Canadian media landscape as a reliable face of science. Schwarcz, 76, actually has a doctorate in chemistry from McGill University, where he has been based for more than four decades. In that time, he’s hosted a long-running weekly science radio show, penned a newspaper column for the Montreal Gazette, starred in YouTube videos and written over a dozen books on making science accessible to mainstream readers. Recently, McGill held an anniversary celebration to mark Schwarcz’s 25 years as director of the university’s Office for Science and Society. To help ring in the anniversary, Dr. Joe joins _The CJN Daily _ to explain why he can’t retire while witnessing a flood of unscientific wellness advice, from celery juice to anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists. What we talked about: Learn more about Joe Schwarcz and sign up for his weekly newsletterBuy his new book, Superfoods, Silkworms and Spandex: Science and Pseudoscience in Everyday Life, from ECW PressWatch his 25th anniversary lecture at McGill, hosted by journalist Josh FreedRead our coverage of Dr. Joe in The CJN archives from 2014. Credits: The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine.  We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.
Former Israeli hostage Hagar Brodutch fears time is running out for the others still held in Gaza
Jun 5 2024
Former Israeli hostage Hagar Brodutch fears time is running out for the others still held in Gaza
Hagar Brodutch, her husband Avichai and their three children are settling into their temporary home in Toronto for an extended vacation after a horrific ordeal. Hagar and the kids were among the most high-profile hostages kidnapped on Oct. 7 by Hamas and released after 51 days, during a ceasefire deal in November 2023. Many Canadians followed the Brodutch case closely because they have family living in Toronto who advocated tirelessly on their behalf with Canadian and Israeli authorities. The Brodutches lived in Kfar Aza until their kibbutz near the Gaza border was attacked by Hamas terrorists who broke into the family’s safe room. The terrorists also grabbed a three-year-old child from next door, Abigail Edan, the daughter of an American-Israeli couple who were murdered right in front of their daughter’s eyes. Avichai Brodutch was not kidnapped. He was badly wounded in a firefight and was left behind, with injuries from a rocket-propelled grenade. When he woke up in an Israeli hospital, he discovered his kibbutz had been destroyed and his family was missing. While in Canada, the family is planning to sightsee and continue its journey of healing. They’re also sharing their story with the Jewish community to thank them for their support. But they're also calling for the war to be over—now that Israel confirmed that only 80 hostages of the remaining 124 may still be alive. On today’s episode of The CJN Daily, Hagar Brodutch sits down with host Ellin Bessner and Lila Sarick, The CJN’s news editor, for a frank conversation about what her life has been like since that fateful day. What we talked about: Learn more about the efforts to help release the Brodutch family, in The CJN and on The CJN DailyWhy so many Canadians wrote letters to the hostages even though the Red Cross didn’t deliver them for months, on The CJN DailyMeet Avichai Brodutch at the Walk for Israel on Sunday, June 9 Credits: The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine.  We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.
How ‘Beauty Queen of Jerusalem’ star Swell Ariel Or now helps Israel on and off screen
Jun 4 2024
How ‘Beauty Queen of Jerusalem’ star Swell Ariel Or now helps Israel on and off screen
Just hours before Hamas’ attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7, 2023 the Israeli film star Swell Ariel Or was in Canada as the guest of honour at an Israel Bonds fundraiser. The twenty-something actor was fresh off her breakout role in the Israeli historical family saga “The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem” which aired on Netflix in 2022. She portrayed Luna Ermoza, the fashion-designer daughter of a Sephardic Jewish family living in pre-1948 Jerusalem. The actor did a sit down interview with The CJN Daily while she was in Toronto, although neither she or we could have predicted that the world would change just hours after her Canadian appearance. Post Oct. 7., Or immediately threw herself into volunteering to help Israeli soldiers. However, recently she’s been back on set again with one of the producers of “Beauty Queen”, but it’s not Season 3. This new series will be called “Handles”–about survivors of Oct. 7. With tonight being the eve of Jerusalem Day, or Yom Yerushalayim—a national holiday in Israel celebrating the country’s recapturing of the Old City of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War in 1967—we’re now bringing you this interview with Or, in which she discusses what it was like filming Beauty Queen and why she moved to Hollywood, as well as a follow-up interview conducted after the life-changing events of Oct. 7. What we talked about: Follow Swell Ariel Or’s personal Instagram account.Learn more about the actor’s Israel Reservist Fund to reimburse Israelis who flew home to fight after Oct. 7. It is no longer accepting donations.Read why Ellin’s interview with Swell Ariel Or marked a turning point in her life, in The CJN.Watch “The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem” on Netflix. Credits: The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.
What this Canadian-Palestinian peace activist wants you to know about life after Oct. 7
May 30 2024
What this Canadian-Palestinian peace activist wants you to know about life after Oct. 7
Yafa Sakkejha was named after the city of Jaffa, where, until 1948, her Palestinian grandparents lived and owned property and managed orange groves. Sakkejha’s mother grew up in East Jerusalem, but left the country during the First Intifada in the late 1980s. Sakkejha, who was born and raised in Toronto, feels deep pain over the devastation that has resulted from Oct. 7—not just for the Palestinian people and her own relatives still living in the war zone, but also for the Israeli victims, hostages and Canadian Jews facing antisemitism. Which is why Sakkejha is now taking an active role in an Israeli peace-building initiative called Friends of Standing Together. It’s a branch of the original organization founded in 2015 by Israelis–both Jews and Palestinians living in Israel–to work for peace, civil and human rights, and security for both sides. Since the war began, Standing Together has focused on calls to end the fighting. Yafa Sakkejha joins The CJN Daily to speak about her personal experiences since Oct. 7, and what she wants her Jewish neighbours to understand. What we talked about: Read more about Standing Together and why it is gaining popularity in Canada, in The CJNLearn more about Yafa Sakkejha on Instagram, and listen to her podcast on Spotify Credits: The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine.  We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.
A new political Jewish students’ union has sprung up after weeks of pro-Palestine tent protests
May 29 2024
A new political Jewish students’ union has sprung up after weeks of pro-Palestine tent protests
Since Oct. 7, at least five mezuzahs have been torn off the doors of Jewish students living in residence at Queen’s University. At the University of Windsor, a law professor urged a Jewish student not to attend their class because “Zionists aren’t welcome”. And in just the last few weeks, some protesters who set up pro-Palestinian tent encampments on Canadian university campuses have celebrated Hamas’ slaughter of 1,200 people in Israeli last fall—while urging Jews to “go back to Europe”. Against this backdrop, hundreds of Jewish post-secondary students have teamed up to form a brand-new national organization, the Canadian Union of Jewish Students (CUJS). They’re raising their voices against campus hate and gathering evidence to lobby governments to do better. They’re not trying to replace Hillel or other Jewish campus clubs—but in light of the situation facing Jews at Canadian universities, they believe they can complement them by focusing solely on political action. On today’s episode of The CJN Daily, we hear from CUJS founder Nati Pressmann, a Toronto native who is currently studying at Queen’s University, and from several CUJS organizers: Lindsay Cogan of Winnipeg, Jacqueline Snidman-Stren and Hayley Kupinsky of Toronto, and Miranda Collard of Vancouver. What we talked about: Learn more about the Canadian Union of Jewish Students on their Instagram pageWatch members of the CUJS and others testify on Parliament Hill on May 9, 2024, about antisemitism on campus, or read the transcriptWhy Jewish students at Canadian universities say they are hiding their identities on campus after Oct. 7, in The CJN Credits: The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine.  We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.
Bais Chaya Mushka families celebrated Jewish pride on Sunday after gunfire was aimed at the Toronto school on Shabbat
May 27 2024
Bais Chaya Mushka families celebrated Jewish pride on Sunday after gunfire was aimed at the Toronto school on Shabbat
One day after the weekend targeting of Bais Chaya Mushka, a Jewish girl’s school in Toronto, by suspects who sprayed the front of building with bullets, the school’s students and their families have gone from initial shock and fear, to the determination not to be intimidated. They turned out in large numbers at a popular park to join the city’s Chabad Jewish community for a fun-filled day of balloons, clowns, archery and a parade marking the religious festival of Lag b’Omer. News of the pre-dawn shooting targeting the private Jewish school rocked the community when they learned about it after Shabbat ended late Saturday. It is the first time that Canada’s largest city has experienced a similar attack to what several Jewish schools in Montreal went through, shortly after Oct. 7. Some leaders are calling this incident a “heinous act of hate” and a “brazen and deliberate attempt to intimidate” the Jewish community. But as The CJN Daily’s Ellin Bessner found out when she attended the celebrations on Sunday, the school is finding a lot of support from the wider Jewish world, who will be present on Monday morning as the school reopens its doors. On today’s episode, you’ll hear from parent Mirel Freund daughter of Rabbi Mendel and Toby Bernstein who founded the all-girl’s school, as well as from the school principal Rabbi Yaakov Vidal. What we talked about: Read why security equipment at Bais Chaya Mushka School helped deter the suspects from causing more damage on May 25, in The CJN.Join Mizrachi Canada and the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto in a rally of solidarity outside Bais Chaya Mushka School at 8:30 a.m. Monday May 27. Details here.Learn more about the Hebrew schools which Bais Chaya Mushka School founder Toby Bernstein now runs in Vaughan, Ont. in The CJN. Credits: The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.
New B.C seniors advocate Dan Levitt flew to the U.N. to fight for the rights of Canada’s growing 65+ population
May 23 2024
New B.C seniors advocate Dan Levitt flew to the U.N. to fight for the rights of Canada’s growing 65+ population
Show notes Seniors are in the spotlight this week as Canada and other countries are meeting at the United Nations to discuss ways to help the world’s billion people over the age of 60. And Dan Levitt is in the thick of it—the longtime nursing home administrator from Vancouver, who started as British Columbia’s official seniors advocate in April, flew down to New York to advocate for a binding international convention for seniors’ rights. The urgency is real: he predicts a “silver tsunami” has already started and Canada will have a full quarter of the population over the age of 65 within the next 10 to 20 years. Levitt has been in a unique spot in his provincial government. Since last month, he’s been bringing the concerns of B.C.’s million seniors and their caregivers directly to the ears of provincial politicians. And those concerns have been expansive. Canadian seniors are worried about the cost of living, housing, transportation, employment and even something that’s become his pet peeve: how so many birthday cards aimed at the silver-haired crowd are actually ageist. On today’s episode of The CJN Daily, Levitt explains why he took the job and how it helps him fulfil the biblical commandments about honouring one’s parents. What we talked about: Read more about Dan Levitt, B.C.’s new seniors advocateHow this 104-year-old Montreal super-senior stays engaged in life, on The CJN DailyWhy Camp B’nai Brith in Montreal had trouble with a summer program for seniors, in 2020, in The CJN. Credits: The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.
The CJN’s Honourable Menschen: Remembering the politically embattled Patti Starr, referee Harry Davis and other late influential Canadian Jews
May 22 2024
The CJN’s Honourable Menschen: Remembering the politically embattled Patti Starr, referee Harry Davis and other late influential Canadian Jews
The CJN Daily‘s Honourable Menschen is back, just ahead of Lag b’Omer on June 11, when tens of thousands of observant Jews traditionally make a pilgrimage to Israel’s Mt. Meron to visit the tomb of Rabbi Simeon Bar Yochai, the author of the Zohar. Ahead of the calendar anniversary, it felt important to shine a spotlight on the legacies left by these recently departed Canadian Jewish figures: Patricia “Patti” Starr, who rose to notoriety at the centre of one of Ontario’s biggest political scandals; Harry Davis, a boxer turned legendary boxing referee; Jack Prince, who caught the last boat out of Poland before the Holocaust and became a philanthropist in Israel and Canada; Alexander Eisen, a self-taught engineer and Holocaust survivor; Rabbi Dovid Schochet, who built the Chabad Lubabvitch community in Toronto; and Lita-Rose Betcherman, a women’s rights advocate and author who was told she shouldn’t pursue her PhD because she was a woman. The CJN’s retired reporter Ron Csillag joins to share his personal recollections of covering these trailblazing Canadians. What we talked about: Read more about author Lita-Rose Betcherman in The CJNWatch the video recording of Patricia Starr’s funeralRead The CJN’s obituaries of Toronto’s Chabad Lubavitch founder Rabbi Dovid Schochet, boxing referee Harry Davis, Halifax philanthropist Jack Prince, and Alexander Eisen Credits: The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.
The 13-year old who hundreds walked to school in Toronto has no plans to change schools due to antisemitic bullying
May 20 2024
The 13-year old who hundreds walked to school in Toronto has no plans to change schools due to antisemitic bullying
Eitan Cohen, 13, is determined to head back to class after the Victoria Day long weekend—despite months of being bullied, taunted, threatened and assaulted by a few fellow students in his school in Toronto, in the wake of Oct. 7. It came to a head on May 17, when hundreds of neighbours and friends came to walk Eitan to Faywood Arts-Based Curriculum School. It was a show of solidarity for the boy and his family. His parents—two Israeli doctors who came to Canada for specialized training—say they initially tried to enrol their four children in private Jewish schools while they were in Canada, but eventually decided to send them to public school so the kids could to learn about Canadian diversity. But after Oct. 7, they say they have been complaining in vain to Toronto school officials—and also to Toronto police—about the atmosphere of Jew-hatred impacting both Eitan and his younger brother Hillel, who also attended the same school. Toronto’s police confirm the hate crime unit is now actively investigating one incident from last week, alongside two other investigations that remain open. The Cohens are already making plans to return to Israel and Eitan could have switched to a Jewish religious school until the end of June. But he won't quit: if he leaves now, he says, it will mean open season for bullies to ramp up antisemitic attacks on other Jewish students who attend public schools in Toronto. On today’s episode of The CJN Daily, Ellin Bessner sits down at the home of Eitan and his parents, Moshe Cohen and Adi Halberthal Cohen, to find out what safety plans are in place for this week—and why they went public with their struggles. What we talked about: Learn more about the Toronto Jewish community accompanying the Cohen family to school on Friday May 17, 2024, in The CJN.Read the Fredericton police news release about an arrest being made in the beating of an Israeli teenager on April 30.Read the back story on the Fredericton family’s antisemitism problems at their daughter Shaked’s school, in The CJN. Credits: The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.
An Israeli high schooler was beaten up in Fredericton. Her family believes it was a hate crime
May 15 2024
An Israeli high schooler was beaten up in Fredericton. Her family believes it was a hate crime
On April 30, Shaked Tsurkan, a 14-year-old Israeli girl attending high school in New Brunswick, was followed and beaten up by an older student. It happened off school grounds during the lunch hour and other classmates gathered to watch—someone even filmed the whole thing on their phone, later posted to social media, where you can see Tsurkan getting jumped from behind, thrown to the ground and punched repeatedly. According to Shaked, her assailant is an older female Muslim student who also attends her school, Leo Hayes High School, in Fredericton. It appears the physical assault came after months of being targeted for being Israeli after she started Grade 9 in Sept. 2023, just weeks before the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack. The altercation left Tsurkan with cuts, bruises and black eyes. While the school declined to share details about the incident to protect the privacy of its students, Tsurkan says her assailant was suspended from school for a week; she also says when she returned to school, she was advised to use the teachers’ private washroom for her own safety, not to walk alone and to stay inside the building between classes. Tsurkan’s parents are frustrated, because they feel local authorities are ignoring the antisemitic overtones to their daughter’s beating. On today’s episode of The CJN Daily, Shaked Tsurkan and her parents, Eli and Michal, share their side of the story, detailing how the war in the Middle East is playing out in their corner of Atlantic Canada. What we talked about: Learn more about the antisemitic vandalism that resulted in broken windows on the Fredericton synagogue early on Jan, 27, 2024, in The CJN.Read why Fredericton's Major Crimes Unit has been called in to investigate the case, in The CJN.Why Canadian Jewish students are feeling afraid in public school classrooms, after Oct. 7, in The CJN Credits: The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.
Yossi Klein Halevi on Israel at 76: ‘We are still an enormously powerful people’
May 14 2024
Yossi Klein Halevi on Israel at 76: ‘We are still an enormously powerful people’
The respected Israeli journalist and author Yossi Klein Halevi is bringing his message of hope to Canada on May 14, 2024, to mark Israel’s 76th anniversary. Speaking at a synagogue in Toronto about the impact of Oct. 7 on Jewish history, Klein Halevi believes that, after Hamas’s attack seven months ago, Israel made the decision not be a victim. Instead, the Jewish state unleashed the country’s full military power in an existential fight against Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. Now, Klein Halevi—a scholar and podcaster with the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem—is urging Jews in the Diaspora to embrace their power and stand up for themselves, rather than live as victims, even if right now that seems daunting because of the surge in global antisemitism. Ahead of his speech, Yossi Klein Halevi joins The CJN Daily to explain how we should celebrate Israel’s 76th birthday: with a lot of grief, and also gratitude. What we talked about: Learn more about Yossi Klein Halevi’s previous stops in Canada, and this week’s public lectureIf you missed our episode profiling student Sofia Meiha Perfiliev and the other Ontario students who won medals at the JewQ contest, catch it on The CJN Daily.Read more about the origins of the GaGa ball game. Credits: The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.Read transcript
‘Nobody can go through those tunnels and come back the same person’: IDF veterans speak on Yom ha-Zikaron
May 12 2024
‘Nobody can go through those tunnels and come back the same person’: IDF veterans speak on Yom ha-Zikaron
As Israel and Jewish communities around the world mark Yom ha-Zikaron, the Israeli memorial day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror, some Toronto veterans of the Yom Kippur War are remembering the chaos and the fear they experienced during their own military service some 50 years ago. On Oct. 6, 1973, Israel fought Egyptian and Syrian forces after the Arab states launched surprise invasions during Israel’s solemn day of fasting. Henry Balaban, now 75, served with the Golani infantry brigade in the north, where Syrian soldiers swarmed into the Golan Heights. Yoram Shalmon, 72, served in a tank unit that was the first to cross the Suez Canal into Egypt under General Ariel Sharon. His wife, Rachel Shalmon, served in intelligence. Since Oct. 7, the veterans have been anxiously following developments in this latest war—the longest in Israel’s modern history. While the 1973 war resulted in the deaths of 2,656 IDF soldiers in just two and a half weeks—triple the IDF’s current losses of more than 700 casualties since Oct. 7—these veterans also worry about the long-term psychological cost for those young men now fighting inside the Hamas tunnels in Gaza. On today’s special Yom ha-Zikaron episode of The CJN Daily, the veterans offer a fascinating and in-depth perspective on what it’s like to lose your friends and suffer through the fog of war. What we talked about: Browse the new memorial website by the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel listing all 425 Canadians and Americans who were ever killed defending Israel, or in terrorist attacks, including since Oct. 7Learn more about ERAN, the 24-hour mental health hotline for Israelis that Toronto IDF veteran Yoram Shalom volunteersWatch the 2024 memorial service in Israel for North Americans killed in battle, on the AACI Facebook channel Credits: The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.Read transcript
Despite ‘flawed’ reports of record-high antisemitism incidents, new study says most Canadians actually like Jews
May 9 2024
Despite ‘flawed’ reports of record-high antisemitism incidents, new study says most Canadians actually like Jews
According to Robert Brym, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto, while two-thirds of Canada’s Jews currently feel unsafe and victimized in this country, and think it will get worse, his new study also shows most non-Jewish Canadians actually have positive feelings about Jews. His research was published before B’nai Brith Canada released its annual antisemitism audit earlier this week, in which the organization cited at least 5,791 incidents of violence, harassment, online attacks and threats against Jews in Canada in 2023—the highest level recorded since it began documenting this phenomenon more than 40 years ago. The worrying trends were also noted in a global report by the Anti-Defamation League and Tel Aviv University, which indicates “that the war in Gaza helped spread a fire that was already out of control.” But Brym calls both those reports “misleading” and he questions their “very flawed” methods. His findings, published in the spring 2024 edition of the academic journal Canadian Jewish Studies, measure people’s attitudes to Jews and Israel, not antisemitic incidents. While he found 83% of Canadians hold positive feelings about Jews, the antisemitism comes primarily from four specific groups in Canadian society—Muslims, white supremacists and leftists, non-Jewish university students, and Quebecois. As Brym tells The CJN Daily, his study should also be a wakeup call for Canadian Jewish leaders that they’re tackling the problem of antisemitism the wrong way. What we talked about: Read Robert Brym’s survey on Canadians’ attitudes towards Jews and Israel, published in Canadian Jewish Studies,Read B’nai Brith Canada’s 2023 antisemitism audit, and read The CJN’s coverage of its releaseRead the ADL/Tel Aviv University report on global antisemitic incidents in 2023 Credits: The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.
This year’s March of the Living commemoration marred by ‘Stop the Genocide’ protests
May 7 2024
This year’s March of the Living commemoration marred by ‘Stop the Genocide’ protests
Organizers of the 36th annual March of the Living commemoration, in Poland, knew that this year’s three-kilometre walk at Auschwitz would feel even more poignant after Oct. 7. That’s why some Israeli Holocaust survivors were invited to join the procession, which honoured not just the memory of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust—but also the 1,200 people in Israel who were murdered in the single worst slaughter of Jews since 1945. Yet it appears some groups in Poland weren’t willing to allow the annual March of the Living to proceed without conflating the ongoing Middle East war with Hitler’s systematic genocide. Pro-Palestinian protesters wore keffiyehs, waved flags and held signs saying “Stop the Genocide” as the marchers passed by. It was a scene one Canadian family will never forget. Harvey Wright, 85, whose grandparents were among Hitler’s victims; his son Erin Wright, of Edmonton, who served as the trip’s physician; and Erin’s daughters, Abby and Zoe, currently university students, all join The CJN Daily to explain why they joined the march this year and how they hope it will help them face an uncomfortable future for Canadian Jews. What we talked about: Read survivor Nate Leipciger’s message to travellers on this year’s Canadian delegation to the March of the Living, in The CJNLearn how the annual Canadian delegation to the March of the Living is scaled down for 2024, in The CJNWatch the March of the Living 2024 recorded broadcast Credits: The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.
This Canadian Holocaust survivor’s ‘ordinary’ life included blowing up Nazi trains and fighting a wolf
May 6 2024
This Canadian Holocaust survivor’s ‘ordinary’ life included blowing up Nazi trains and fighting a wolf
Show notes Vancouver Holocaust speaker Rubin Pinsky fled a Nazi work camp in May 1942 and survived for more than two years in the forests of Poland, serving as a teenage Jewish partisan. Pinsky, a former yeshiva student, blew up trains, sabotaged telephone wires and killed Nazis and collaborators. One time, he even finished off a timber wolf attempting to hunt a wild rabbit the starving partisans had called dibs on, so to speak—they needed the game for their own next meal. Pinsky’s story of survival, including how he pretended to be a tailor with bad eyesight to enter Canada after the war, is now captured in a gripping new biography. Written by his son Bernard Pinsky, a lawyer and community leader in Vancouver, the book is called Ordinary, Extraordinary: My Father’s Life. The sweeping tale spans nearly a century, beginning and ending in the Pinsky family’s small bakery in modern-day Belarus, with stops in Germany, Montreal, Winnipeg, Regina and finally Vancouver, where Rubin died in 2001. For Yom HaShoah, The CJN Daily is joined by Bernard Pinsky, who explains why he took so long to publish his father’s story—and what he hopes readers will learn. What we talked about: Watch the Yom HaShoah National Memorial Ceremony from Ottawa on Monday, May 6, 2024, beginning at 11 a.m. ESTBuy the book about Rubin Pinsky, and watch his video testimony done in 1983 through the Vancouver Holocaust CentreRead how one man is restoring Holocaust-era rural cemeteries in Hungary, one at a time, in The CJN Credits: The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.
Pro-Palestinian tent protests have spilled onto Canadian campuses. What happens next?
May 2 2024
Pro-Palestinian tent protests have spilled onto Canadian campuses. What happens next?
Show notes: At least five Canadian university campuses are now home to temporary tent cities erected by pro-Palestinian students protesting Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza. The U of T, McGill, Western, the University of Ottawa and the University of British Columbia have all become focal points for protestors insisting they won’t leave until their schools divest of financial ties to Israel, among other demands. Other schools like TMU are coping with sit-in protests. So far, local police departments have not forcibly cleared out the compounds, as happened earlier this week at Columbia University in New York, where the movement began. But protests on this side of the border are equally polarizing: some Jewish students and faculty have joined the protests, while Hillel and other Jewish organizations argue these demonstrations aren’t peaceful, and call for the destruction of Israel and kicking Zionists off campus and out of Canada. So what’s behind the phenomenon? And where will it go next? On today’s episode of The CJN Daily, we hear from Opher Baron, a management professor at the University of Toronto who’s worried that protests could derail an important annual conference he’s hosting next week; then we’re joined by Arno Rosenfeld, the Forward’s antisemitism beat reporter, who’s been covering the chaos from Columbia to UCLA, the University of California, Los Angeles. What we talked about: Read more about McGill encampment, in The CJNFollow Arno Rosenberg’s work and get his Antisemitism Notebook newsletter in the ForwardLearn more about Opher Baron at Rotman’s School of ManagementListen to Wednesday’s interview with three Canadian Sunday school students who took home the top prizes at the International JewQ contest, run by Chabad, on The CJN Daily Credits: The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.
How 3rd grader Daniel Marquez became a world JewQ champion—beating thousands of Hebrew school students
May 1 2024
How 3rd grader Daniel Marquez became a world JewQ champion—beating thousands of Hebrew school students
The youngest child traditionally asks the Four Questions at Passover. But Daniel Marquez, 8, of Mississauga, Ont., could probably have answered all the questions by himself: the Grade 3 student won the 2024 JewQ competition, an annual tournament of Jewish knowledge hosted by Chabad. Marquez hoisted his trophy onstage during a live game show on April 7–held an hour away from the Lubavitch movement’s headquarters in Brooklyn. To reach that point, he had to beat around 4,000 Chabad Sunday school kids from 25 countries during local, regional and national playoffs. It’s an especially remarkable achievement for Daniel because this is his first year of formal Jewish education. His twin brother, David Marquez, also attends the Miriam Robbins Chabad Hebrew School in Mississauga—and he also made it to the JewQ finals, winning a gold medal. A third pupil from the same school, Sofia Mejia Perfiliev, 13, took home gold in her older age group. On today’s episode of The CJN Daily, host Ellin Bessner meets the three Canadian scholars and their teacher Sara Slavin—then tries to answer some of their quiz questions, with surprising results. Listen and play along to ask yourself: do you know Jewish better than a third grader? What we talked about: Watch the 2024 JewQ International Torah Championship broadcastTake the Grade 7 test yourself, and the other tests from Gr. 3 up.Learn more about Mississauga’s Chabad Jewish Discovery Centre and its founding Credits: The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.