This month, Canada is celebrating our first ever Canadian Jewish Heritage Month, in response to the inspiring Private Member’s Bill of Michael Levitt MP. For over 250 years Canada has benefited from the generations of strong Jewish families that have made their home in Canada.
I remember making my first Jewish friends in my Brownie Pack at Forest Hill United Church. I grew up in a conservative protestant home, and suddenly I was singing Shalom Chaverim every week. I loved it!
As a new Member of Parliament, I was honoured to become Chair of the Canada-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group, where I met so many incredible individuals. Irwin Cotler became a wonderful friend. His ongoing devotion to human rights and his fight against all forms of hatred and racism is an inspiration to all of us.
In each of my eight visits to Israel, I have come to truly understand the importance of the word Shalom. We all must share the imperative of working for peace. So many Canadians have never really experienced what it is to live in a region in which peace is absent.
Today, I am so proud to serve and represent the strong Jewish community in Toronto-St. Paul’s. Jewish values – the focus on family, education, science, arts, culture, and business – have truly improved the quality of life for all Canadians.
As we celebrate Canadian Jewish Heritage Month, let us all work to eliminate the hate and discrimination that the Jewish community still faces. We all can aspire to the principle of Tikum Olan which brings people together to foster inclusion and to work for positive change for the world.
Let’s all take this time to celebrate Jewish Heritage and reaffirm our commitment to the diversity that makes us a stronger, more inclusive, and prosperous Canada.