By Diana Denza, Communications Specialist
Convention 2019 opened with a reception and creative workshops, which included Israeli folk singing, Jewish meditation, and an improv session.
After a welcome by Convention Co-Chairs Rabbi Lionel Moses and Rabbi Catherine Clark, we officially kicked off with a fast-paced and informative discussion among the leaders of five Conservative/Masorti Rabbinical Schools: Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson of Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies and Zacharias Frankel College, Rabbi Daniel Nevins of the Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Avi Novis-Deutsch of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, and Rabbi Ariel Stofenmacher of Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano. Rabbi Jay Kornsgold, secretary of our RA, moderated the talk. These leaders shared important insights about the future of the worldwide Conservative/Masorti movement, including the importance of making room for people of all genders and sexual orientations in the rabbinate.
After dinner, attendees boarded buses to Shaare Zion Congregation to hear special tributes to Rabbis Maurice Cohen z"l, Allan Langner z"l, Bernard Leffell z"l, Erwin Schild, Wilfred Schuchat z"l, and Zev Solomon. It was inspiring to hear how these former members enriched and inspired the lives of their colleagues and community members. The tributes were followed by MP Anthony Housefather introducing a video message from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who shared words of support for our Convention, the Conservative/Masorti Jewish communtiy, and the state of Israel.
Our keynote speakers of the night were Dr. Keith Neuman, executive director of the Environics Institute, and Dr. Jack Wertheimer, professor of American Jewish History at JTS and author of The New American Jew. Both Neuman and Wertheimer offered analyses of the attitudes of American and Canadian Jews toward Jewish identity, rituals, traditions, and the state of Israel. In relation to the United States, the Canadian Jewish community is distinct and exceptional. While the basis of Jewish identification is changing and the community is not a monolith, Canadian Jewish culture in general is not weaning away.
The evening concluded with networking at our dessert reception.
Looking forward to Day 2!