Some members of the Jewish community in Toronto are pushing back against conservatism through panels, presentations, protests, and parties.
For many in the community, it’s a welcome change. Since the demise of the Canadian Jewish Congress made way for organizations like the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs or the Canadian Jewish Political Action Committee, Jewish grassroots groups have been all but erased from the mainstream in favour of bureaucratic not-for-profit federations and lobby groups that need to play nice with conservative donors.
Bernie Farber, the former head of the CJC and the current director of the Mosaic Institute, spoke about this subject on the Treyf podcast. As Farber put it, where the CJC had a strong grassroots component and a civil rights focus, its dissolution in favour of new donor-led federations was primarily concerned with mobilizing political support for Israel. “[The CJC] always had a buffer of what I would call strong lay leadership,” said Farber. “UJA had a completely different way of operating, they were very much professionally driven.”
Today, it looks like that tide is turning.