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Equality And Diversity

Articles related to equality and diversity issues such as exploring rights of men and women, issues surrounding LGBT communities and how the progressive Jewish understanding shapes our attitudes to promote and encourage equality and diversity within our community and society as a whole.

I Am Spartacus

This Devar Torah for the week of Parashat Chukat was delivered at City Shul during Pride Week in Toronto, June 2015. This week­-long celebration of LGBTQ pride, that evolved from a moment of crisis for gays and lesbians after the "bathhouse raids" of Toronto, 1981, has become one of the largest celebrations of pride in the world. In the piece, I examine more closely that momentous instant, (the one I call “the Spartacus moment”), that leads long­ oppressed communities to regain their pride about who they are.

Why We Really Weep At The Western Wall

My Bat Mitzvah girl, Emily Wolfson, wrongfully detained at the Kotel for wearing a tallit (Jewish prayer shawl)
My Bat Mitzvah girl, Emily Wolfson, being wrongfully detained for wearing a tallit at the Kotel

Just as the new Chief Rabbi was announced in the UK, and just as he gave positive sounding comments about repairing the often damaging stand-off between the Orthodox movement he represents and the modern egalitarian Reform and Liberal traditions, many were shocked and disgusted to hear that two eighteen year old girls from the UK were arrested at the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem for the supposed "crime" of wearing a tallit (Jewish prayer shawl). The reality is that no such crime exists either in Israeli law or in Jewish religious law - the law concerning a tallit is that men are obligated to wear one, but for women, it is an optional commandment; they may choose to wear or not wear one as they personally feel is appropriate for them.

Letter To Ambassador Taub

Following the reports of the shocking treatment of Anat Hoffman in October 2012, I wrote the letter below to Ambassador Taub on 18 October to express my deep concern and to seek a meeting with him and members of the community who wished to discuss the situation with him.

Sadly, to date, Ambassador Taub has failed to respond to me - a very disappointing situation which seems to mirror the attitude towards Anat Hoffman.

Below, is the letter as delivered to Ambassador Taub on 18 October 2012 :

Dear Ambassador Taub,

East London Three Faiths Forum

I was invited to speak on "Women In Our Scriptures" at the East London Three Faiths Forum on the evening of 29 November 2012. I joined Khola Hasan, a well known Islamic scholar and speaker plus Nicola Vidamour, the minister of East Ham Methodist Church.

The subject was how women are portrayed in the sacred texts of the three Abrahamic faiths - i.e. the Quran, the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. The presentations were informative and quite fascinating. For instance, the slightly different stories that relate to Mary/Maryam that are found in the New Testament and the Quran. The questioners also addressed the topical issue of how in today's world women are regarded by each of the three faith communities as spiritual leaders, teachers and role models.

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