Opinion

Self-care tips for everyone

Self-care is a term that has become part of our vocabulary, particularly during these   challenging 15 months. When thinking of self-care, my mind used to resort to bubble baths, candles, and a good book. But I have come to realize, especially as a social worker in the Jewish Family Services of Calgary’s (JFSC) Seniors…

Finding truth in unequivocal holiness

I had two similar experiences that resembled coming out over the past decade or so. One was actually coming out as queer. The other, which happened a few years prior, was when I was finally ready to proclaim my desire to apply to rabbinical school and become a rabbi. Over the course of several years,…

Jewish Enough

Have you ever had an experience where you felt like you weren’t “Jewish enough” or felt inadequate in some Jewish situation? Same, and I want to talk about it. There is a common story many people have shared with me, which takes place on Shabbat. Honestly, I think it may have happened to me as…

A card spread for the in-between days

We are currently in the period of time known as the Omer, a 49-day stretch bridging the holidays of Passover and Shavuot. During this time, our ancestors wandered in the desert after escaping Egypt and leaving slavery behind. This is the liminal time between liberation and revelation*when we received the Torah at Sinai.  This year,…

It can happen to anyone: dispelling the myths around abuse

Please be advised: this story contains difficult and sensitive content and may be triggering for some readers. It’s hard to admit, but I used to believe those who experienced domestic violence (DV) and intimate partner violence (IPV) were from a lower socioeconomic class, or struggled with substance abuse, or grew up as witnesses or victims…

Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada fosters cultural awareness and community empowerment

Since its inception in 1999 the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada (JHCWC) has played a seminal role in documenting, preserving and disseminating information and knowledge on the culture and history of Jews in Western Canada. In addition, through the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre, the JHCWC promotes the awareness and understanding of the…

Hidden Legacy: in the footsteps of the Jews of Sefarad

In 1917, Polish-Portuguese mining engineer Samuel Schwarz “discovered” a community of hidden Jews living in the isolated village of Belmonte, Portugal. According to oral histories, these hidden or “crypto-Jews” believed they were the only Jews left in the world. They were shocked to discover that there were other Jews and Jewish communities besides themselves. The…

The importance of self-care for caregivers

When was the last time you focused on yourself?  If you cannot remember, you might be a caregiver. For many, COVID-19 makes for an uncertain future. For caregivers, the pandemic has heightened feelings of uncertainty.  It is a very human quality to crave certainty, without it, feelings of fear and anxiety may become more frequent.…

The value of praise over thanks

One afternoon, a few years ago, a large, overstuffed mailing envelope arrived in my office. The return address indicated it had come from an elementary school where I had recently spoken. In the audience that day were about 200 eager-eyed young students from Grades 1 through 3. Their teachers invited me to come and share…

Feminist Seders saved my relationship with Judaism

I grew up going to a conservative egalitarian synagogue in Toronto on the High Holidays and occasionally on Shabbat. Women have equal participation to men in the services and I was able to have my Bat Mitzvah reading from the Torah on the bimah. Our prayers included the forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob while also…

Why we fight for Nasrin Sotoudeh’s freedom

Although International Women’s Day took place last week on March 8, it shouldn’t be the only time we address notable women who are fighting for women's rights. The National Council of Jewish Women in Canada (NCJWC) endeavours to use this international time of reflection to spotlight Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.   Sotoudeh has devoted…

Getting to know myself through Spilling The Tea

When I was little, I didn’t often think about my mixed Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewish family. I loved partaking in my father’s Moroccan Sephardic traditions and my mother’s German and Hungarian Ashkenazi traditions, and never reflected on my experiences as unique. But they were, and are. I realized this when I started to notice many…

How We Love

To truly love something, we must be in relationship with it; putting in our most valuable resources, such as time and affection. We should begin by acknowledging love is incredibly complex and no two people love in the same way. That being said, we all direct our love through the same three channels:  the love…

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY! (UGH): Natalie Norman’s 14 tips on love

Before you read this, I want you to know that I'm not a dating expert. In fact I have recently started my own journey of learning how to get better at dating via my podcast Red Flags with Natalie Norman. However, I know a few things and honestly I think maybe they can help you…

Justice Ginsburg’s legacy lives on: fighting against Quebec’s Bill-21

In the October edition of Niv, I reflected on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy and what she meant to me as a female Jewish law student. I discussed the important strides she made by working to fight discrimination, and how she overcame sexism and actively combatted it through her legal work. Her dissents forced American…

Oy to the World

I am a Jew who enjoys Christmas. Something I thought would never happen, especially because I always yearned for a Jewish practicing home.  I was raised by very secular parents. When I was a kid, I observed my dad bowing mockingly to the east on Rosh Hashanah. And while I know Jewish food doesn’t make…

Kindness for Chrismukkah

The portmanteau ‘Chrismukkah’ induces shudders for many people. As December approaches, Facebook groups like The Jews are Tired are fraught with frustrated and scathing posts complaining about stuffed Santas wearing tefillin (yes, that’s a thing) and menorah-shaped ornaments. Whether we like it or lump it, navigating the December holiday season is a reality many multifaith…

Religious carols should not be sung in public schools

Judaism is an integral part of my identity, instilling in my life, family togetherness and tzedakah. And while I’m always happy to share information about my religion and culture to others, I would never impose religious traditions on anyone.  Yet, other religious customs have been forced onto me like learning carols that reference Jesus, God…

Teaching students to bear witness

The Holocaust is an indelible stain on human history. There is a duty not only to study the history of the Holocaust but also to remember it, for there is no future without memory. Remembering what happened should rightly awaken the conscience of my students.  To that end I created the Bearing Witness program at…

Lessons from the Kosher Section

My mother looked exhausted as we entered our local No Frills. Even though I was nine years old at the time, I knew her fatigue was the result of a sleepless night followed by a 10-hour shift at a bakery on Bathurst Street. She had her hand on my shoulder steering me through crowds of…

My trip to Poland

 

It’s all in the Journey: reflections on founding ShadowLight

It’s been 75 years since the liberation of the concentration camps and the number of survivors and witnesses is rapidly dwindling. It is crucial to pass on the lessons of the Holocaust to future generations.  Holocaust education is key to making sure we never forget the atrocities the Jewish people experienced. It also teaches us…

Celebrating Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

FROM THE EDITORS We could not stand by ISSUE 2 if it did not pay tribute to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We dedicate this issue to her and to all the women who have fought and continue to fight for equality. We hope you’ll enjoy reading the different perspectives from female lawyers who celebrate a…

What we can learn when confronting anti-Semitism

We likely have all experienced hearing a close friend say something anti-Semitic. You probably start to do the calculations in your head: is it worth addressing? How exactly do I dissect this comment to reveal the implicit anti-Semitism? Will it make things weird between us? How will others react? What would my zadie—who came to…

Hope in Absence

I struggle with anxiety, but it never comes from what I write. I become anxious at least once a day, but not over what I say. My chest can turn so tight from anxieties’ grip that I can choke on air, but it has never been from the contents of my work. That all changed…

Seeing past "I’m sorry"

There is a well-known Hasidic parable in which a King, after fighting with his son, exiles him from his kingdom. Years later, the King’s heart softens, and he sends his ministers to ask his son to return. The son still resents his father deeply and rejects the invitation.  Upon hearing this, the king tells his…

(Don’t) Take Me to Church

My mother and I were listening to CBC Radio as we drove up Bathurst Street in Toronto to "sit shiva" for my uncle who had recently passed away in June. We turned on the radio and when CBC began their coverage of Premier Doug Ford's press conference, we quickly turned up the volume to hear…