by Lisa Libin and Adam Silver
(Calgary) – As we approach the end of week five since the October 7 Hamas terror attack, we are sadly continuing to see and experience increased and constant antisemitism. Calgary Jewish Federation continues to work daily – both behind the scenes and on the frontlines – of ensuring our community is safe and advocating with various government, law enforcement, and community leaders for their support against the hate. We know it is an extremely tough time for all of us. Our community is tired and frustrated. Despite this exhaustion and anger, we must not allow the hate to divide us. We need to remember we are all trying to achieve the same goals of showing solidarity with Israel and standing up against antisemitism.
This coming week, we are honoured to be invited as part of a delegation of Canadian Federations to participate in an emergency solidarity mission to Israel. Our past Federation co-president, Jordan Balaban, will also be joining us. We will be spending three, long and difficult days meeting with experts and political leaders, visiting some of the attacked Gaza envelope towns and meeting with survivors of Kfar Azza, and family members of the hostages. The group will be joined by several members of parliament with the hope that sharing these experiences on the ground with leaders from our Jewish communities can help further drive change here in our own country. This will also be an opportunity for us to see the incredible work in action that you, our community, are supporting through your generous donations to Calgary’s Israel Emergency Fund. We will be sharing our experiences once we are safely back home.
Some additional updates:
- Tomorrow’s Calgary Herald will feature a full-page ad highlighting the hostages and the need to Bring Them Home.
- Calgary Jewish Federation and CHW Calgary Centre joined together today through an initiative created by Alicia Thompson to distribute 240 cartons of milk – representing the Israeli hostages, and featuring their images – to members of the public in downtown Calgary. The united message: “Free Milk! Free the Hostages!” was used on t-shirts and signage. This program is set to run again next week – if you are interested in volunteering, please email us! Volunteers are needed to help wrap the milk cartons on Friday morning and/or hand out the milk on Friday during the lunch hour. The loocation will be shared with volunteers in advance.
- Various small committees have spent many days meeting with Calgary Police Service’s (CPS) senior management and government officials. We continue to work with CPS to ensure our community remains safe at our institutions and at the Sunday rallies. We recognize the frustration around the hateful signs and slogans at the rallies and continue to work with all levels of government to help put an end to these hateful acts.
- We met with both Premier Danielle Smith and opposition leader Rachel Notley this week. We expressed disappointment and frustration regarding active NDP support at pro-Palestinian rallies and overall silence towards our community. We have challenged them both to come to our community with some concrete actions and statements against antisemitism.
- We were humbled to be joined by 500 community members and allies at our Solidarity Vigil for the Hostages on Tuesday evening. Thank you to all the staff and volunteers who helped in organizing and speaking at this beautiful and meaningful event.
- This Wednesday, November 22, some of the attendees of the October Antisemitism: Face It Fight It conference will be presenting key takeaways and learnings from this important event. Please join us for this important conversation at the Paperny Family JCC at 7pm. Light refreshments will be served. Please register for this free event.
- Members of our community will gather downtown this Sunday starting at 1pm at City Hall. Knowing the level of hate and vast numbers that come out from the pro-Palestinian side, we ask you to please exercise caution if you plan to attend.
Wishing everyone a peaceful and restful Shabbat. Our next update will come after our trip to Israel. Am Israel Chai!
Lisa Libin is President and Adam Silver is CEO, Calgary Jewish Federation.