by Lisa Libin and Adam Silver
(Calgary) – Good Afternoon,
As the Israel-Hamas fighting continues to escalate, we are unfortunately continuing to experience increased anti-Israel sentiment and pure antisemitism throughout our city. While this is not unique to Calgary, we are all very concerned, scared, and angry around the Jew-hate that currently surrounds us. Calgary Jewish Federation (CJF) is working tirelessly to generate support, allyship, and action from our government and external communities, ensure the safety and security of all community members, while also providing the opportunity for us to be together through community programs and support groups. Please see our current update below:
- Due in large part to the leadership of Lorne Paperny and Marina Paperny, our Calgary Israel Emergency Fund is approaching $3 million, and a portion of it has already been forwarded to provide immediate and meaningful assistance to our Israeli brothers and sisters. We have seen several other Calgary donors and families leap up at this time of immense need – for which we are incredibly grateful and fortunate. The needs continue to grow, and the timeline continues to lengthen. As we learn more about the triage required, as well as the decades-long support that will be needed, Jewish Calgary must continue to support Israel at this moment of existential threat. Please give generously – give uncomfortably.
- Despite continuous efforts to have our elected officials as well as our own friends and colleagues stand up and denounce the hate, it is a struggle. CJF President, Lisa Libin, penned an op-ed in today’s Calgary Herald stating why Calgarians need to speak up. Please feel free to share with your own external community.
- To amplify our community’s voice, CJF will be holding a rally on Sunday, November 12, 2023 at City Hall. Timing and further details to come next week. We invite all community members to join us, bring your voice, and invite allies to join us. Calgary police will be present.
- We have also connected with Mayor Jyoti Gondek, and Councillors Kourtney Penner and Dan McLean about the growing hate our community is experiencing day to day, but also during various pro-Palestinian protests downtown and elsewhere. We thank Councillor McLean, in particular, for using his voice to openly communicate his support for our community. We hope that other city councillors will follow suit.
- We also met with NDP MLA Nagwan Al-Guneid today around the need for a strong bipartisan approach to calling out antisemitism. We spoke openly around the need for post-secondary education support on our campuses, as well as day school support for our students. The discussion included the need for changes to current legislations and laws around hate speech, enhanced opportunities for security funding, and embedded Holocaust and antisemitism content in the curriculum.
- Last Sunday, the Paperny Family JCC held Unity Through Music – A Concert for Israel, bringing over 100 community members together as proud Jews and proud supporters of Israel. Over $4,000 was raised for our Israel Emergency Fund, and we continued to show we will not let those who hate us take away our spirit.
- Earlier this week, 18 university and high school students met to support one another, share their at-school / on-campus experiences, and to simply enjoy each other’s company. The session was facilitated by Stephanie Feldman, MSW, RSW. If you know someone who is high school or university age and would like to join the sessions, please email Ishmaeli Goldstein or Hannah Giesinger.
- The Paperny Family JCC and House of Jacob Mikveh Israel hosted the Shabbat Challah Project on November 2. More than 60 participants of all ages came together to celebrate Jewish unity, pride, values, and delicious challah!
- Law enforcement at all levels continue to provide updates and engage with our community, and Calgary Police Service (CPS) has maintained directed patrols and visitations to our communities’ institutions. A reminder that if you experience hate or discrimination, report to the CPS non-emergency line at 403-266-1234. Of course, please call 911 if you are experiencing an emergency. We ask that you be in touch with us via email if you do file a police report so that we can follow-up with CPS’s Hate Crimes Investigator.
As we wrap up another week of uncertainty, watching our strong and resilient community gather and support one another continues to inspire us daily. We thank everyone for coming out and supporting each other through your attendance at various community programs and through your generous financial gifts. Our community will not be silenced and we are committed to ensuring that even when others choose to be quiet, we will use our voice. We look forward to gathering with all of you on November 12.
Lisa Libin is President and Adam Silver is CEO of Calgary Jewish Federation.