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Posted by Shirley Anne Haber on 19:40:33 2004/04/11
In Reply to: Anti-Israel Fire-Bombing in Montreal posted by Al Gordon
This past week I received many letters and articles about the devastating fire bombing of the library of the United Talmud Torah Day School in Montreal on the first day of Passover, Tuesday April 8, which destroyed most of the books and library as a result of this vicious hate crime. Howard Liebman, a member of our group, in his letter printed in the National Post, the Montreal Gazette and the Toronto Star on Wednesday, stated that we all need to respond to the hateful attack united in the face of racism and resolute in our unequivocal condemnation of those who seek to divide us . His letter is a must read (see below).
There is a country-wide appeal for everyone to participate by making a donation for at least one book, to replace this library. Anyone involved in education knows only too well the importance of books in the education of young children. As well, we all know the ugly symbolism of burning books which should give us added motivation to participate in correcting the results of this evil deed!
Below is a letter by Josh Cooper on behalf of UJA, on how you can easily send a donation by mail (see address below letter) which will go directly to the purchase of new books for the UTT. As well, at the bottom, is an open letter by the new editor-in-chief of the Globe and Mail which was in the Saturday Globe showing how many Canadians are taking seriously the need to help replace this library. This is a time when we all need to get on board to assist this school.
This was a terrorist act against young children in Canada for no other reason than that they were Jewish. It is up to all Canadians to stand together to support a segment of our community, the Jewish Community, which has been targeted by hate and intolerance to create fear in children and dissention with the Jewish Community. It is now that we must all stand together since what affects one part of our community affects us all! Supporting a new library is one way to begin.
Shirley Anne Haber
The Media Action Group
As you may be aware, United Talmud Torahs of Montreal (St. Laurent Campus), the oldest Canadian Jewish Day School (est. 1896), was fire bombed on the first night of Pesach. The fire destroyed their 10,000 book trilingual library and caused extensive damage to the building. It brought to Canada another disgusting example of the recent increase in hate related crimes.
Many people have wondered how they can help, especially when they don't live in Montreal. Therefore, we have started a fundraising drive with the goal of replacing each book, one at a time. This drive is in conjunction with United Talmud Torah and UJA Federation Toronto. At an average cost of $25.00, please purchase a book (or more). You may make your cheques payable to: UJA Federation UTT Library Fund. A charitable tax receipt will be issued. NO ADMINISTRATION FEES WILL BE DEDUCTED FROM YOUR DONATION! All of the money raised will go directly towards repurchasing donated books as they will not be covered by insurance.
If everyone who receives this email buys a book (or more), the children of Talmud Torah Day School will have their library replaced. Please don't wait to make a donation, they need their library NOW!
Josh Cooper, Chair
UJA Federation UTT Library Fund
All cheques are to be made payable to: "UJA Federation UTT Library Fund".
You may mail your cheque to:
UJA Federation-UTT Library Fund
4600 Bathurst Street
Apr. 7, 2004. 01:00 AM
We do not stand alone
By Howard Liebman Montreal
Heartened by instant gathering of leaders and officials to condemn attack on the Jewish people
`Not our Canada'
Fourteen years ago, I stood on the podium at Place des Arts as the elected Hebrew-language valedictorian of the trilingual United Talmud Torah-Herzliah High School class of 1990. Today, I stand in shock, together with so many Montrealers, in the wake of a vicious hate crime that has targeted my alma mater and by extension, Canada's cultural mosaic.
One month prior to my high school graduation, my classmates and I had joined thousands of young Jews from around the world to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day in a March of the Living at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration camps where we pledged ``never again." We then flew to the national home of the Jewish people, the state of Israel, to celebrate its 42nd independence day. Today we, members of the Jewish community together with all Montrealers of conscience, face the prospect of a tiny minority, so filled with hate that they would not hesitate to use force, targeting places of worship and an elementary school library. However, we know that in Montreal, in Canada, we do not stand alone.
Having witnessed the remnants of the horrors of the Holocaust, I could not have imagined having to respond to violent anti-Semitic attacks here in Montreal. It simply couldn't happen. And yet it did.
The question now must become how do we, as a peace-loving, orderly society, respond? Unlike Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, the Jewish people do not stand alone to bear the brunt of racist violence on our own as a kind of litmus test for the climate of hate in a society.
I was heartened by the instant gathering of community leaders and elected officials of all levels at the site of the firebombing to express their condemnation and to stand together with the Jewish people who were the target of the attack. The Prime Minister himself, a Montreal parliamentarian, added his principled voice within hours of the attack, unequivocally condemning the hate crime and ensuring that Canadians coast to coast stood together as anti-Semitism again reared its ugly head in our midst.
Canada has indeed come a long way since Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis were turned back in a policy of ``none is too many." While Montreal's Jewish community has faced violence before, most recently having witnessed the Concordia riot over a peaceful, planned lecture by the former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, let us all respond to Monday's hateful attack united in the face of racism and resolute in our unequivocal condemnation of those who seek to divide us.
Howard Liebman, Montreal.
Book donations rise from ashes
By Edward Greenspon
Saturday, April 10, 2004 - Page A2
Every once in a while a story really hits home. Such was the case when I heard on Monday about the firebombing of a Hebrew day school in the Montreal suburb of Ville St. Laurent. I spent my first nine years in St. Laurent, and quickly realized we were talking about the school I attended from nursery school through Grade 3.
In some ways, the next day's story by Ingrid Peritz touched me even more deeply. She interviewed Dan Holobow, the school librarian, and referred in her first paragraph to some of the destroyed books, including Harry Potter and "a well-thumbed copy of Charlotte's Web."
Of course, I went to school long before J. K. Rowling dreamed up her magical leading man, but I will never forget my spellbinding first encounter with Charlotte and Wilbur. Our teacher at Talmud Torah in St. Laurent read it day after anticipatory day. Who knows, perhaps my thumbs were among those that wore down the copy in the burned out library.
I was not the only one moved. As soon as our story and front-page picture ran on Tuesday morning, Ingrid began to field calls and e-mails from people who wanted to help. Then came her interview with the school librarian, and his disheartening conclusion that nothing from the 10,000-book collection was salvageable. More calls and more e-mails. Readers, across religions, said they couldn't accept the thought of a children's library -- a refuge and place of learning -- being so victimized.
Ingrid told me later in the week that a woman in Vancouver said her kids' grade school wanted to send a note and a donation. A reader in Peterborough, Ont., said she was arranging with the local kids bookstore to let children go there and pick a book, which would then be purchased and forwarded to Talmud Torah.
One of the e-mails in Ingrid's inbox was from Joan Eaton, a teacher-librarian at Glenrosa Middle School in Westbank, B.C. Ms. Eaton offered to ask her colleagues to help restock the library.
Ingrid reached Ms. Eaton in the library of her Okanagan Valley school. She reported that she had sent out an appeal on a school-librarian's discussion group, and had been inundated with responses. "Joan said she would send Talmud Torah whatever it needs most, but she was hoping to get every school in her network to send the Montreal school a single book, stamped with the name of the B.C. school inside it," Ingrid related.
"The library is the heart of the school," Joan told Ingrid. "Without a well-stocked library, kids are shortchanged. We didn't want to see that happen to those kids.
"To see a library go up in smoke just breaks your heart."
All over the country, people wanted to help. Over at the Historica Foundation, George Goodwin studied The Globe's front-page picture and noticed five distinctive spines of the Junior Encyclopedia of Canada on one of the charred shelves. Four years ago, philanthropist Avie Bennett handed Historica rights to the Junior Encyclopedia as part of a wider gift.
Mr. Goodwin raced around the offices, finally locating a copy of the out-of-print encyclopedia in a back room. He told Historica executive director Tom Axworthy that he wanted to send it to the school as a gesture of support. Mr. Axworthy suggested supplementing the gift with other Historica material.
Doug Gibson, president of McClelland & Stewart, was pulling together their contribution of some of Roy MacGregor's Screech Owls hockey series, A Short History of Canada, and classic children's tales by Farley Mowat and James Houston to send to the school.
Here at The Globe, children's books columnist Susan Perren had a brain wave: why not ask Canadian publishers and distributors to donate titles from their back lists. Deputy editor Sylvia Stead took up the project with gusto and Books-section editors Martin Levin, Jack Kirchoff and Alison Gzowski, along with Susan and Sylvia, began contacting publishers on Wednesday afternoon. By late Thursday, they had already brought on board HarperCollins, Random House Inc. House, Raincoast, Penguin, Scholastic, Groundwood, McClelland & Stewart's Tundra division, McArthur & Co., Oxford University Press, Fitzhenry & Whiteside and Annick Press, who all enthusiastically wanted to do whatever they could.
During the past couple of years, we have made a point of exploring the triumphs and challenges of Canada's remarkable evolution into a postmodern society. McLelland & Stewart has just published an expanded version of our New Canada series. In today's paper, Jan Wong wraps up her terrific 10-part examination of a remarkable Toronto neighbourhood called Thorncliffe Park, one of Canada' s poorest and yet most hopeful enclaves.
This week's firebombing and other racist acts notwithstanding, Canada stands out in the world as a place of harmony amid diversity. When European Union officials visited Ottawa for a recent summit, they were intently interested in the lessons Canada could pass along. We are a model to which the rest of the world aspires.
We agree with the words Prime Minister Paul Martin uttered this week. The attack on Talmud Torah is an attack on the Canada we have become. It must be condemned with every fibre of our being, as must attacks on other groups and their institutions.
In Charlotte's Web, Charlotte, a spider, sets out to save Wilbur, a pig, from slaughter. Author E. B. White once described the book as "a story of friendship and salvation."
He didn't intend it, of course, but White's book speaks to the spirit of the New Canada -- a spirit so violated this week. We have felt this spirit in the public response to the attacks; the spirit of spiders caring about pigs. Because, after all, we all inhabit the same barn.
It is a spirit we must be vigilant to defend.
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