Letter to the Editor: Perspectives

This is a letter published in Perspectives newspaper here in Toronto, following a "Fair Funding" rally where a couple of religious women standing behind me decided to prove once and for all that even though we were all there working for a common cause, they were somehow holier than everybody else.

Note: All Yiddish terminology is translated below.


Perspectives
129 McGillivray Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
M5M 2Y7

May 5, 1999

Dear Editor(s),

I attended the "Fair Funding for All" Rally at Queen’s Park yesterday, and was thrilled to see all the schools and yeshivos (not to mention Hatzoloh!) who came out to show their support. The only sour note in the whole event, for me, was a comment I overheard from a lady standing two rows ahead of me. When Dr. Kotler rose to speak, he mentioned that his children also attend Jewish schools. He said this to demonstrate that for him, as for the rest of us gathered there, fair funding is a personal issue, not just an abstract matter of principle and law.

The second he’d said it, though, this lady in front of me turned to her friend and said, with a sneer, "that’s putting it loosely."

In other words, Dr. Kotler may think his children go to a Jewish school, but she so desperately needed her friend and those around her to know it wasn’t up to her standards that she had to interrupt him to say so. Even at this important moment, when we were trying to put on a show of achdus for ourselves and for the rest of the province, our ancient problem of sinas chinam was getting in the way.

I think a frum person can choose to take away one of two messages here. The first is easier to swallow, but shallow: guard your tongue. Look around before you speak, lest you come across as a narrow-minded extremist bigot.

But it’s the second message that I hope most readers will at least begin to wrestle with: throw away the sinas chinam – it can only hurt us more. Just for a few minutes, maybe, try to forget what kind of a Jew a man may be, what kind of Jewish school his kids may go to.

When it’s time to redt a shidduch, I can understand concern over a person’s religious background. But when we’re putting up a unified front on an issue so crucial to all of us, why should that front be only a hollow shell, a façade for deep-seated resentment and self-righteous intolerance?

I think many erlicher yidden here have forgotten that, in the end, it’s not Premier Harris that we need to impress with our achdus – it’s Hashem. Maybe if we let the sinas chinam go at last, He will see we’re really trying and send Moshiach tzidkeynu to bring us up out of this terrible golus altogether (and all together).

Yours truly,

Jennifer M. Paquette


Yiddish Terminology

achdus

Unity

erlicher yidden

Pious (literally, true) Jews

frum

Religious

golus

Exile

Hashem

God, sometimes translated as Lord

Hatzoloh

Private Jewish ambulance service in many big cities, including Toronto

Moshiach tzidkeynu

The expected messiah, our righteous one

redt a shidduch

Propose a (marriage) match

sinas chinam

Baseless hatred

yeshivos

Jewish schools

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