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Jewish community welcomes Ben-Gurion University of the Negev medical students

BGU medical student Zoe Attal with Sam Vickar of Vickar Chev

By MYRON LOVE On October 6, Maya Weinrich, a third-year student at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Medical School for International Health (MSIH), was preparing to go back to Beersheva after spending Sukkot with her family in Toronto.
Then the gates of hell flew open.

Mya Weinrich


With all flights in and out of Israel temporarily grounded, Weinrich, and her sister student, Zoe Attal, who was similarly visiting family in Montreal, were stuck.
Fortunately, their home university was able to make arrangements with the University of Manitoba’s Rady College of medicine for the two of them to temporarily continue their studies in our community – and the two students are quite happy to be here.
They arrived here at the beginning of November and are pleased with the reception that they have received from our Jewish community. “We have been welcomed with open arms,” says Weinrich. “Everyone has been really helpful.”
While she is here, Affal is staying with Michael and Lauren Narvey while Weinrich’s temporary home is in an apartment belonging to a friend in Toronto.. As well, through the Narveys, Sam Vickar, the dealer principal at Vickar Community Chevrolet, has gifted the students a vehicle to share during their stay in Winnipeg.
“Sam has been a lifesaver for us,” Weinrich notes. With the vehicle, it makes it much easier for us to get around.”
Affal and Weinrich arrived at their current location by quite different routes The latter was born in Israel but grew up in Toronto.
“It is hard getting accepted into medical schools in Canada,” she notes. “So I applied to schools elsewhere and was accepted at MSIH. Thye school offers a specific medical program focusing on international health issues.”
While Affal’s mother is from Montreal, she was born and raised in Paris, where her French-born father is a radiologist. After graduating from high school, she chose to broaden her horizons by enrolling in Science at University College London.
“I wanted to improve my English,” she says. “I could have studied in the States, but the British universities are not as expensive.”
For her medical studies, she was accepted by both the University of Toronto and Ben-Gurion. She says that she chose the latter because it is closer to home.
Both young women started their studies at BGU in the fall of 2021. The classmates are doing their obstetrics and gynecology rotations here – a specialty that Weinrich says she is interested in pursuing – working at several different clinics around the city.
The two friends are scheduled to return to their home university to continue their rotations on December 17 and expect to graduate in the spring of 2025.
Weinrich says that she would like to return to Canada to practice after graduation.

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Winnipeg Council of Rabbis criticizes suggestion that Simkin Centre ought to offer non-kosher meals – as well as kosher meals

Rabbi Yosef Benarroch

We received the following letter from the Winnipeg Council of Rabbis in response to the suggestion that the Simkin Centre ought to offer non-kosher meals (Read story at https://jewishpostandnews.ca/faqs/rokmicronews-fp-1/is-the-high-cost-of-kosher-food-affecting-the-quality-of-food-served-at-the-simkin-centre/🙂

Dear Bernie
 
We read your opinion piece on kashrut at the Simkin Centre with a certain amount of shock, as you advocated that the Simkin Centre not be a kosher facility. After a long discussion we had with food services at Simkin, it is clear that your statements about the quality of food are simply wrong. Residents at Simkin receive meals that are on par with all other similar facilities in Manitoba. The menu includes chicken both dark and white, meats including roast beef, ground meat, and much more. The only item not offered at Simkin that is offered at other similar homes is pork, which we hope you are not advocating for. 

In addition, every major Jewish organization in Winnipeg has a Kashrut policy in place. The reason for this is simple. Kashrut is a Jewish value — and for many, a core Jewish value —  and it is the responsibility of Jewish organizations to uphold Jewish values. How odd is it that Winnipeg’s “Jewish” newspaper would be advocating for treif food, and in your words  will “never give up the fight” to make sure it happens. A Jewish newspaper should be advocating for Jewish values, period. 

Finally, Kashrut allows the Simkin Centre to be an inclusive Jewish institution that accommodates the needs of the entire Jewish community. There are many residents and families that consider kashrut as an integral element in how they express their Judaism. They would have no other place to send their loved ones if the Simkin Centre was not Kosher.

The vast majority of Jews in Winnipeg want to see the Simkin Centre continue to be Kosher, and we hope you will either reconsider your position or not press a minority position onto the majority. We, as the rabbis of the Winnipeg Council of Rabbis, all endorse and fully support this position.

Winnipeg Council of Rabbis

  • Rabbi Yosef Benarroch, Adas Yeshurun Herzlia
  • Rabbi Allan Finkel, Temple Shalom
  • Rabbi Matthew Leibl, Simkin Center
  • Rabbi Anibal Mass, Shaarey Tzedek
  • Rabbi Kliel Rose, Eitz Chayim

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Bernie Bellan asks: If kashrut is so intrinsic to Jewish organizations in Winnipeg, why was the Rady JCC allowed to make its annual sports dinner non-kosher?

Bernie Bellan

Here’s a question for the Council of Rabbis – whose letter tearing a strip off me for daring to question the necessity of serving fully kosher meals to every resident of the Simkin Centre appears on this website: Have you ever considered the total hypocrisy inherent in your insisting that kashrut is vital to the Simkin Centre, while the Rady JCC some years ago abandoned the requisite that its annual sports dinner be kosher?
The sports dinner asks anyone attending whether they’d like a kosher meal (which is what I suggested the Simkin Centre could also do) and, from what I’ve been told, the number of individuals who respond in the affirmative can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
I don’t recall the council of rabbis kicking up a huge fuss over that change. But, to be consistent guys, (and by the way, only one of the five rabbis on that council is actually a subscriber to The Jewish Post, butI’m glad you’re all such vociferous readers), I expect you to demand that the Rady JCC sports dinner revert to being fully kosher.
After all, as Rabbi Benarroch so succinctly puts it in his letter: “Kashrut is a Jewish value — and for many, a core Jewish value —  and it is the responsibility of Jewish organizations to uphold Jewish values.”
I won’t hold my breath waiting for you to publicly demand that the sports dinner revert to being fully kosher. As I recall, the reason that kashrut was abandoned as a prerequisite for the dinner was because of the cost. So, when Simkin Centre CEO Laurie Cerqueti wrote me in an email,  “I know for this year as of the end of October we are over budget on food by $150,000. We must continue to fund any costs on food from our existing annual budget or through fundraised dollars,” I fully expect the council of rabbis – and anyone else who is adamant that the Simkin Centre remain absolutely kosher to join in a campaign to raise that $150,000 so that Simkin can remain kosher without cutting into other areas of operation. How about it, guys?
My point in advocating for Simkin to modify its kashrut policy was to be as realistic as the people behind the sports dinner were in recognizing that the cost of a full adherence to kashrut can be prohibitively expensive. But, the sports dinner still allows anyone who wants a kosher meal to have one. That’s all that I was advocating for the Simkin Centre. So, tell me rabbis: Where do you draw the line from one Jewish institution to another? Or, does the slippery slope that you’re on also have an off ramp that allows you to abandon principles when it’s expedient to do so?

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Ben Carr explains why he called for Israeli PM Netanyahu’s resignation

On January 29 a conference was held in Jerusalem titled “Settlement Brings Security.” Although the conference was not organized by the Israeli government per se, 12 members of the ruling right-wing coalition government of Israel were in attendance, including two cabinet ministers: National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.
At the conference strong support was given to rebuilding Jewish settlements in Gaza and the northern part of the occupied West Bank. Ben Gvir has also called for the forced resettlement of Palestinians from Gaza to outside of Gaza.
In response to that conference, Winnipeg South Centre Liberal MP Ben Carr suggested publicly that it would be in the best interests of the Middle East and the world if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were to leave office.

According to a CBC report, “Carr said that he has major concerns about the Israeli government and he hopes Netanyahu will be, in his words, ‘gone sooner rather than later.’
“Carr, who is Jewish, says he does not support politicians on the far right of the spectrum in Israel who display maps of Gaza with Israeli flags.
” ‘Governments change,’ said Carr, and Israel is still an ally that has an important security role to play in the region.
” ‘It’s very, very important that we remember that governments come and governments go, and our relationships with states are deeper than the relationship that we may have with the current government in power,” he said Wednesday, January 31.
” ‘My hope is that Netanyahu will be gone sooner rather than later, because I think that’s in the best interests of everybody in the region, and I think that’s in the best interests of everybody around the world.”
” Carr also made the point that the Liberal Party is a ‘microcosm of society,’ and there are various views about the Israel-Hamas conflict within his caucus.”
“Throughout the conflict, a handful of Liberal MPs, including Carr, have been vocal about their opinions on Canadian government policy — and not always aligned with it.
” ‘It makes sense that these conversations are happening and I don’t think that it’s a source of negativity or division,’ Carr said.”

On Monday, February 5, we contacted Ben Carr, asking him whether he would consent to an interview in which he could elaborate upon the criticism that he had leveled at Prime Minister Netanyahu the previous week.

Following is that interview:
Carr began by saying, “I want to start by responding, Bernie, to a point that I know some have raised – and there are often questions about whether it’s appropriate or the place of a Member of Parliament in Canada to comment on the affairs of another nation, in this case, Israel.
“What I want to say to that is that when the domestic affairs of that nation spill over into the domestic affairs of my nation, our nation, and impact those that I represent to the degree that this conflict has, I feel it is reasonable and responsible for me to lend my voice to the conversation. As I have said previously in written statements, throughout the course of this conflict, I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu has been an obstacle to peace in the region.
“The most direct and specific examples for me, in which this has been highlighted in recent weeks, include two things: One, his refusal to accept that a two state solution is a viable path forward, even if Hamas is not the representative body at the table. And secondly, his refusal or reluctance to criticize publicly or condemn the behaviour or views being presented by those on the extreme right of the political spectrum in Israel.
“I believe that continues to pose an obstacle to a peace that is so desperately desired.”

I asked Carr whether he thought national Jewish organizations, such as CIJA or B’nai Brith “should also be leveling the same kind of criticism at the Netanyahu government?”

Carr responded: “I’m not going to give any direction to what the leadership of national organizations may want to do or choose to say about this particular issue. That’s their business, not mine. I am happy, as always, to engage in conversations as I have from the beginning of this conflict with the leadership of both national Jewish organizations and local Jewish organizations.
“But the opinions that I’m sharing are the opinions of a Member of Parliament who is faced with the challenges brought to me by constituents daily in regards to this conflict. So my comments are in relation to the responsibility I feel I have as a leader at the federal level for people in Winnipeg South Center.
“So my commentary is rooted in that. What national Jewish organizations want to say, or feel they should say, are decisions that rest with them, and it is certainly not my intention, or desire, or business to provide them with any guidance on that front.”

JP&N: “Have you received any feedback following the reports in the media about what you had said?”
Carr: “Anytime a Member of Parliament comments on policy publicly, and particularly when a Jewish Member of Parliament, which I am, comments publicly on an issue as divisive, challenging, and sensitive as the Middle East, there will undoubtedly be reaction from folks with varying perspectives on the issue. In this instance, I would say that I have been met with more positive and favourable reactions from folks who also believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu currently poses an obstacle to peace in the Middle East than from those who believe that he is moving the region in a direction that they would like to see.”

JP&N: “What about from among your own colleagues in the Liberal Jewish caucus? Have you had reaction from them?”
Carr: “I’m not going to share the granular details of my discussions with colleagues as much of that happens behind closed doors. However, I would say, without speaking for them, because it is not my job to speak on behalf of my colleagues, that much like the reaction I have had from constituents, the reaction from those I work with, both within the Liberal Party and beyond, has been less on the critical side of things, vis-a-vis the comments I made about Prime Minister Netanyahu.”

JP&N: “One final question: Do you plan on pursuing this course of, of trying to raise the issue how Netanyahu is an obstacle to peace, or was that your one kick at the cat, so to speak?”
Carr: ” I want to be very clear about something. The decision as to who leads the Israeli government belongs in the hands of the Israeli people. I have not suggested, and I am not now suggesting, that in any way, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government or leadership is illegitimate. Nor do I believe that any foreign state, whether allies or not, should have a say in dictating the outcome of those elections.

“However, to the point I made earlier, I don’t believe it is unreasonable or irresponsible to lend a voice as an elected official on an issue with domestic consequences for those that I represent to comment. Bernie, I am not in Ottawa and the Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South Centre to focus only on one issue.
“There are dozens of preoccupations and issues on the minds of the people I represent, inclusive of climate change, affordability, health care, reconciliation, housing, that they expect me to be advocating for and representing their interests on in Ottawa. The Middle East is an issue that I am confronted with.
“It’s a serious issue. It’s a challenging issue. It’s a divisive and sensitive issue. My work will continue to be focused on representing a wide array. of the issues that matter to people in Winnipeg South Center. So, so far as my commentary regarding the conflict in the Middle East is concerned on principle, when I feel or where I feel people expect or deserve to hear from me, I will speak up and lend my voice.
“However, the issues facing the Middle East at the moment do not occupy the only piece of real estate in my mind or in my energy as it is concerned to the work I undertake as a Member of Parliament.”

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