Welcome to the CJCE Blog

Your Jewish student voices are important to us. We care and we want to hear what’s on your mind. Have any concerns about going to university? Are you a student on campus who has a story to share? This blog is designed to address your campus concerns. So kindly let us know what you are thinking and feeling and let us know how we can help to make your campus experience as fruitful as it can be.

20 Comments

  1. “I commend you on this very important endeavor to combat antisemitism. Empowering young people with the necessary facts and tools to do so is beyond important!”
    – – Ross Berg, Temple Administrator, Author, and Jewish father

  2. It is a shame that young Jewish students who are under so much pressure have to attend a university with so much negativity. Your work in combating anti-Semitism is commended.

  3. I’ll be attending McMaster University next year and I have some growing concerns about the current issues and protests that have taken place on campus recently. I don’t know how to react in a way that poses a strong defense while not responding offensively.

    1. Alexis:

      As you know, we are building CJCE to help high school students like you get ready for campus. We look forward to working with you this summer before you head off to MacMaster. Same goes for your brother when his time for university comes.

      Best,
      Vera

  4. I teach at U of T and, judging from the students’ comments, I think the work you are doing in helping students stand up for themselves, and combat anti-Semitism, is important.

    1. We would love to hear personal stories from UofT students. If you happen to know any who are willing to share, please let us know.
      – Lisa

  5. Kudos to your team for your hard work and dedication in creating this very important tool/ resource. It seems to be one area that hasn’t as yet been fully addressed to this extent in the Toronto Jewish community.

    Hester Springer, retired elementary school teacher.

  6. Thank you so much for this great initiative! The stories of student persecution are not a surprise, but they are heartbreaking. As a former member of the Canadian Forces, and as a son of Dutch parents who lived under Nazi occupation and saw Jews taken away to be murdered, I am angered that in my lifetime Jews are afraid once again—in my country of Canada, no less.

    I hope you will consider soliciting and curating a collection of these testimonials as evidence to support bold action. Clearly, whatever is being done to fight Jew-hate on campus isn’t working very well.

    It is my firm belief that Jewish and pro-Israel students need a new approach: they need to know what to say when the false accusations of ‘occupation’ are made, and they need to know how to control the debate from a position of strength. We are losing this battle because some Jews are afraid to speak the truth: Jews are owners, not occupiers. Forgive me if I insert a plug here for our ‘No Peace Without Truth’ campaign (http://www.nopeacewithoutruth.ca). Students can learn about Israel’s land title deed and how to control the narrative.

    Keep up the good work! It’s an honour to call you friend and ally.

    Mark Vandermaas, Founder
    Israel Truth Week

  7. Last month, I accompanied my grandfather Ed Carter-Edwards – a survivor of Buchenwald Concentration Camp – back to Germany for ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the infamous camp’s liberation. Having made that trip several times with my grandpa I was prepared for the powerful mix of emotions that time spent with survivors inspires: humility, heartbreak, inspiration, admiration.

    I was less prepared for the dire warnings being given by survivors, but also politicians ranging from the local mayor to the President of the European Parliament that the intolerance and ultra-nationalism from which Nazism emerged is on the rise in Europe. Unfortunately, the same thing is happening here at home as well. It’s a tragic truth that wherever and whenever racism is on the rise, anti-Semitism is always front and centre.

    While it should be a civic duty for everyone to fight against anti-Semitism in all its forms, that’s not the way the world works. Empowering young Jews and their allies to face and confront anti-Semitism while still succeeding at education and in the work place is, today and always, a social necessity.

    There is no one better to teach young Jews how to hold their heads high, manage the impacts of bigotry and confront anti-Semitism on every front than Vera Held. I am confident the CJCE program will produce a generation of Jewish leaders who succeed in life, support their peers, tackle bigotry head-on and promote a better world for all.

  8. Students in Toronto’s schools can longer trust their history books; good is bad, up is down, and right is wrong.

    And of course, the worst bad guys are the Jews of Israel. In order to accept this “truth,” you need to forget that the Nazis killed 6 million Jews, that British officers manned the Arab Legion in 1948 and fought against the newly created state of Israel. You must also forget that the Mandate for Palestine was approved by the League of Nations and then the United Nations.

    You must forget that Jordan is a Muslim Arab Palestinian state created in 1923. You must also forget that the leader of the Arabs of Palestine, Hajj Amin al Husseini lived in Berlin and raised Muslim troops for his close friend Adolph Hitler and, you must forget the millions of innocent people that died in the slave camps of Communist Russia and China until 1990. Oh yes, there are only six million left in China’s camps. You must forget about them also.

    You must forget about rampant FGM (female genital mutilation) in the Muslim world. You must not read Huntington’s book, The Clash of Civilizations, you must not read Paul Johnson’s History of the Jews or, his History of America or his History of Christianity. And do not forget not to read Solzhenitsyn.

    Forget about the ten commandments and Jesus’ reminder to love your neighbor. If you forget all of these things, and a few more, you can study anthropology, sociology, women’s studies, humanities and near eastern studies at York University because none of your teachers there will ask you to remember any of these things.

    Good luck and God bless you.

  9. Jewish advocacy in schools is even more important now than ever before. Anti Israel and anti Jewish sentiments are vocal, militant and organized in Universities and our children must be given the tools with which to cope BEFORE they get on campus. CJCE is to be supported and commended for taking on this important role in today’s politically charged world.

  10. As a current student at York University and regularly witnesses the antisemitism on campus, it has become obvious that what Jewish students and supporters of Israel need is something to show that they are not on their own. This initiative does just that and could be a very valuable tool for future students experiencing antisemitism in school.

  11. This is a great initiative! I cannot stress enough the importance of such program. I am looking forward to seeing this program grow and I’d like to help in any way I can.

  12. We are grateful to live in a country where there is broad support for Israel. But there are increasingly worrying pockets of communities and neighborhoods where intimidation of Zionists and delegitimization of Israel is part of the course of daily life. At the center are college and university campuses. CJCE is doing great work to try and make a difference for Jewish students, and end this unacceptable trend. Keep it up!

  13. I have had the pleasure of meeting with Vera Held and learning about the Centre for Jewish Culture and Education. I am impressed by the conviction and seriousness the Centre is demonstrating in helping Jewish students on campus to confront anti-semitism and to stand up as proud and confident Jews.

  14. Our times are marked by dark and troubling signs. How edifying it is to see CJCE take up the gauntlet—to record, challenge and fight back against the open intimidation and harassment of Jewish students, some shockingly young.

    Where this is met with silence, deferral, and even cowardly acceptance or approval, CJCE’s counter-punches are welcome blows on behalf of tolerance, dignity, and defiant freedom.

  15. Helping Jewish youth, especially those in high school, get ready for the university campus is a great idea. I’d like to congratulate the CJCE on this fine initiative. It will help to preserve Toronto’s Jewish community for generations to come.

  16. The CJCE is a vital resource for young men and women should they find
    themselves confronting anti-Semitism at the secondary school and university
    level. Sadly, fellow students are not the only purveyors of anti-Jewish/anti-Israel views. This brand of prejudice is rampant among professors, the media and so-called “liberal progressives”. It is based on abject misinformation, deep-rooted biases – religious, cultural, political, ideological – and dangerous ignorance. No wonder, Jewish students feel intimidated about identifying their religious affiliation and expressing their beliefs.
    I do not have a drop of Jewish blood but here’s what I have observed: Israel is
    the only democracy in the Middle East. It is surrounded by tyrants and dictators who oppress their own people and call for Israel’s destruction. What other country
    lives under the constant threat of annihilation from its neighbours and is criticized as “the aggressor”? University faculty and students are baying for Israel’s blood with strident demands to “boycott, divest, sanction” anything related to that country. (BDS). But, remarkably, no mention, is ever made of the shameful human rights records of the majority of Middle Eastern countries and beyond.
    How and when did our institutions of learning cease to be centres of open inquiry, fair-mindedness, tolerance and free expression? When did it become fair game to “go after” Jews and Christians for their beliefs when it is political suicide to criticize people of any other religious persuasion?
    Based on their numbers, Jews have contributed disproportionately to the world of
    science, academia, commerce and the arts. Young Jewish students should be justly proud of their heritage. They must also be vigilant about the growing acceptance of anti-Semitism on campuses and in our society and the inherent threat it poses to their liberty and security. (The testimonials from students on the CJCE website offer chilling examples of what it feels like to be on the receiving end of anti-Semitism.) History has taken us down this road before and we know all too well what happens when certain groups our scapegoated and a mob mentality takes hold.
    If the high schools and universities won’t protect their students from intimidation then Jewish students must equip themselves with tools and information so they can effectively and courageously push back against anti-Semitic propaganda and poisonous invective. The CJCE is the organization that can help them do just that.
    Students of all religions and all backgrounds should be treated with respect and
    dignity. Regrettably, some will have to fight for what should be their due.

  17. In speaking with Vera Held I became aware of the work at the centre and I am impressed by the mission to help youth face what is still a reality in our society, unfortunately. In preparing youth to deal with the challenges that they may face in new environments that can hopefully be better versed and having self confidence and not being hurt by prejudice that still exists with some people. I applaud the work of the centre and hope that some day we will live in a world where we are truly one – at peace and working together for a better total planet and world together.

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