by Adam Silver
(Calgary) – As we entered the Hebrew month of Tammuz this past week, we celebrated Rosh Hodesh, the formal recognition of starting a new month. Just as the full moon marks the beginning of that special day, let us also begin this month full of pride in our Jewish identities and of Jewish Calgary.
Pandemic fears and challenges aside, the last while has been one in which we have seen antisemitic acts and narratives continue to grow, and a period in which we have felt an absence of allies and friends. The very people and groups we have previously stood shoulder-to-shoulder with have at best, been silent and, at worst, turned on us.
I recognize this experience is disheartening for many of us, and scary for most of us. It would be very easy for us to ignore our Jewish responsibility (and opportunity) to act as Or L’Goyim – a light unto the nations. After all, in such dark times where there seems to be an absence of light, how can we possibly spread any joy and meaning to others?
However, I challenge us all to find even the smallest embers. I challenge us to cultivate and grow those embers into shining, caring, and meaningful light. I challenge us to do so in two ways:
- Do not give up on others, continue to build relationships, do the right thing, and set a positive moral dugma (example) in all we do.
- Live active, bold, and meaningful Jewish lives.
Now is not the time to hide. Now is the time to engage even more actively in our Jewish community. Now is the time to shine the light of our Jewish community and our individual Jewish identities outward. Be proud. Be kind. Be good.
Jewish existence is resistance; maintaining and celebrating our culture, traditions, and identity are acts of resilience. In a world and time where we might be made to feel it is safer to hide who we are, even physically in how we present to the world, I want to remind you to have pride and love for who you are inside.
If you are feeling isolated now, you’re not alone in that feeling, and you have our support and that of others. Our children and grandchildren are watching us – what example do we want to set for them? We cannot and will not have them see us shrink in our Jewish shells, nor can we cower in the shadow of darkness.
The version of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and world we want for the future is worth fighting for – worth pursuing with pride and confidence. It is up to us to set that tone for our children and youth, and to show our Holocaust Survivors that when we say never again, we mean never again.
It is up to us to ensure our amazing Jewish legacy continues to grow from generation to generation. We cannot look around and wait for others to do it for us – it is up to US!
Together, we are strong. Together, we are a community like no other. Together, we are Jewish Calgary!
Wishing you all a safe and enjoyable summer – take care and keep safe.
Adam Silver is CEO, Calgary Jewish Federation.