TORONTO (Jun. 16)
Jewish spiritual and cultural survival through jewfish education and a revision of Jewish organizational mandates and responsibilities emerged today as two of the key issues before the several hundred delegates during the first business day of the 17th Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Jewish Congress.
The Assembly, which opened here last night with a musical presentation, has drawn delegate from all parts of Canada to participate in the deliberations of what is generally described as the “Parliament of Canadian Jewry.” The Assembly also has attracted a massive representation from all sections of the Canadian Jewish community to pay tribute to Saul Hayes CJC executive vice-president and national director, who is retiring after 35 years of service.
Hayes will be honored at a farewell dinner tonight to be addressed by Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, an old friend of Hayes from his college days.
The tightly-packed Assembly program include the widest possible range of issues from Jewish education to jurisdictional and philosophical differences between the CJC and welfare funds, from Holocaust programming to Jewish identity in the diaspora, and support in financial and public relations terms of the State of Israel.
Hayes said in his report that the Canadian Jewish community of nearly 300,000 actually “dealt with priorities” in terms of the needs “of the moment.” He said the threat of Jewish “misidentification” stemmed more from the “WASH” — White Anglo Saxon Hebrew, than from the Wasp syndrome. He also said that because Canadian Jews related more to the Anglophone than to the Francophone culture in Canada, it was possible that Ontario’s Jewish population would exceed that of Quebec, now the largest in Canada, in 10 years.
Sol Kanee of Winnipeg, completing a three year term as CJC president, said that “diaspora countries” are in a Jewish crisis and that “one of the dikes to prevent engulfment was Jewish education.” He added that “for the first time an entire community believed in it.”
Kanee, a member of the board of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, also repeated in his report a position, frequently challenged in the past, that the Canadian Jewish Congress and the welfare fund structures of Canadian communities should merge their activities under supervision of a form of “community councils.” The merger proposal has been resisted particularly in Toronto and particularly Montreal, headquarters of the CJC whose leaders have frequently stated their strong opposition to merger with the Allied Jewish Community Services of Montreal. Officials said that the election of Leon Titlebaum of Montreal as CJC eastern region president, a few days before the Assembly opening, had been interpreted as a decisive rejection of the merger principal involving the CJC.