Educator Says Quebec Jews Should Support Struggle of French Canadians

A Jewish educator and youth leader from Montreal believes that Jews in Quebec province should support the struggle of French Canadians for self determination and try to understand their legitimate grievances. According to Yaakov Gladstone, community coordinator of the Center for Russian Jewry in N.Y. and former executive director of Hatzaad Harishon, Jews find themselves caught in the middle of the polarization taking place between the English and French Canadians. Gladstone spoke on the topic of “French Separatists and the Canadian-Jewish Community” at the Theodor Herzl Institute here. He noted that whenever a crisis develops in any country, Jews are usually caught in the middle and get hurt badly. “The Jewish leaders in Quebec have adopted a policy of silence with regard to the Separatist Movement,” he said. “This ‘wait and see’ attitude seems to be the answer of the majority of Quebec Jews as well.” Privately, however, Jews express fear, so much so, that some of them, like other non-French Canadians, are thinking of moving out of the province. According to Gladstone, “the ideal solution would be to prepare for aliyah, but since Quebec Jews are not likely to do that, I feel that they must accept the French reality.” At the same time, he said, “the Jewish community must become more democratic in its structure, tune in to the voice of its activist youth, and involve themselves actively and seriously in strengthening the national and cultural identity of the Jews.”

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