All Posts Tagged With: "Judaism"
How UofMosaic is tackling tensions on campus
A group called Laurier 4 Palestine (L4P) tacked up illustrated posters in the atrium of Wilfrid Laurier University’s main building in Waterloo, Ont. during Israeli Apartheid Week, earlier this month.
One was of a gaunt and lifeless body beneath a barbed-wire fence with an Arab keffiyeh around his neck and wearing a striped uniform. The juxtaposition of the keffiyeh and the stripes ignited a war of words between Muslim L4P members and Jewish students from Hillel Waterloo. It was the type of uniform that Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust, says Hillel Waterloo director Jessica Kronis. The poster implied that the occupation of Gaza is comparable to the genocide that killed six-million Jews. Kronis says it made Jewish students feel unsafe.
Jewish student complained
The University of Windsor’s Leddy Library removed three globes earlier this month because of what appeared to be anti-Israeli vandalism. Gavin Wolch, a third-year law school student who is Jewish, told The Lance student newspaper that he complained more than once about the globes before they were removed. A library official denied that he’d received earlier complaints. This is not the first time that ethnically-motivated graffiti has been reported at the university. In November, anti-Arab and anti-South Asian graffiti was found in the washrooms near Windsor’s multi-faith space.
As the Jewish tongue dies at home, scholars step up
The old language of Eastern Europe’s Jews—the tongue that brought us such lively words as schmooze, glitch, klutz, chutzpah, nosh, schmuck and schmo—has been through a lot.
Yiddish was threatened by the holocaust when five million speakers—roughly half of the total—were murdered in the genocide, writes University of Ottawa researcher Rebecca Margolis.
Then it was threatened by a generation in the diaspora that was sometimes embarrassed of their parents’ foreign tongue and preferred to converse in English or another vernacular anyway.
Today, Yiddish contends with the fact that its keepers are mainly Bubbes and Zeydes of the diaspora, who may not be around much longer. According to Statistics Canada, between 2001 and 2006, the number of Yiddish speakers declined from 37,010 to 27,605 nationally. More than a third of those who remained—9,305—were over 75 years-old. Only 1,345 were under age five.
Saying goodbye can be tricky at this time of year.
Cape Breton may be the last place in the country where people unabashedly wish you a Merry Christmas at this time of year. Not Happy Holidays, I mean, but actual, full-throated, unironic, “Merry Christmas.”
I hear it a lot at the university because December exams (Christmas exams as we say at CBU, though they do not feel like a gift to the students or the faculty) because the end of the examination period quite clearly marks the last time we will see each other, at least until January, depending on the course. After ten years, it still makes me a bit uncomfortable.
When I was a student in Ontario, I made a point of not saying “Merry Christmas” to my professors because I usually did not know them well enough to presume that they did celebrate Christmas, and I did not want to cause offense. So I usually said, “have a good holiday” which worked for people celebrating Hannukah or Christmas or whatever, but could also be taken to meant the time off between semesters.
My students seem to have no such compunctions, and every time I hear them say “Merry Christmas,” I wonder if they have considered whether I might be, for instance, Jewish. And if I were, wouldn’t “Merry Christmas” be a bit insensitive? I’m pretty sure that they don’t think about that, and if they did, I’m pretty sure they would reply that they wouldn’t be offended by “Happy Hanukkah.” But that’s only because most of us here in Cape Breton are Christians or (like me) descended from those who were. “Happy Hanukkah” doesn’t bother us, because we have never felt marginalized by the domination of Hanukkah in December, or by the domination (and oppression) of Christian culture in general. I wonder how my Jewish colleagues feel about this.
And this is to say nothing of other groups who do not celebrate Christmas such as Muslims, and, perhaps surprisingly, some Christians. As it happens, I do celebrate Christmas as a winter festival, but it makes me uncomfortable when students assume that I do, because I feel like they are making me part of that in-group where it is assumed that everyone has the same values and traditions.
What should you say to your prof as you leave the exam room? Something friendly. “Have a nice break,” or “see you next semester,” or steal my “good holiday” line.
Just not “Merry Christmas.”