Even before Halloween was happening I started to see commercials on television advertising Christmas shopping, I was bitter. “It’s not even Halloween!” I yelled at the television. Really, I did, you can ask Patrick, he saw me do it and raised his eyebrow at me, probably wondering if I was already starting to put on my bitter face for Christmas. You see, I’m Jewish – a label I’ve used my whole life, and it’s true, born to a Jewish mother, a Jewish father, both of whom have Jewish mothers, who also have Jewish parents, and so on and so on. I come from a long line of Jews – of course what this means to me is incredibly different to what it probably meant to my grandmother, or to my grandmother’s next-door neighbour who lived out her final years in downtown Toronto, but wore a daily reminder of the Holocaust tattooed on her arm – lucky to survive, but forever branded with a number.
On the Importance of Civic Space in Islam: The Aga Khan and the Prince of Persia – Suhayla (Leah) Wotherspoon
Last week, on May 28th, the spiritual leader of the world’s Shi’a Ismaili Muslims, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, visited Toronto with members of his family for the foundation ceremony of a new Ismaili Centre (a high profile prayer hall) and the first Aga Khan Museum for Islamic Art and Culture. The plan for the construction of this site in Don Mills, which includes what promises to be an exceptionally beautiful park, has been in the works for a number of years now, and is estimated to be completed in 2013. The Ismaili Imam’s visit to Canada was a doubly special occasion for the nation’s Ismaili Muslims, as the Imam was given by the Government of Canada honourary Canadian Citizenship, in recognition of a lifetime of work as the spiritual leader of the world’s Ismailis that has been in keeping with what were described by Stephen Harper as the very Canadian ideals of “pluralism, peace, and development“.
After years of litigation, Gurbaj Singh Multani, a Sikh student in a Montreal-area high school, wins his appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada and is allowed to wear his kirpan to school, provided it remains safely strapped to his body, beneath his clothing. Hérouxville, a small town in rural Quebec, passes a town charter that forbids, among other things, the stoning of women. A sugar shack closes its dance room temporarily so that Muslim patrons can pray. A YMCA in Montreal’s Rosemont neighbourhood frosts its windows after worshippers from the Orthodox Jewish synagogue across the street complain that the scantily clad women on the gym’s treadmills offend their religious sensibilities.
Thanks, Chris, for the link to Bill Maher’s “Burqa Fashion Show.” An interesting video, I must say, although it reveals more about Maher’s inelegance and his cheap comedy than about the burqa. Like some of his other shows on religion, this one has yet again proven to be void of taste and lacks perceptiveness of the subject matter. I watched Religulous when it first appeared. The only ridiculous thing I found in it was Maher. At least, George Carlin knew what he was talking about when he would attack religion, regardless of the flaws of his arguments. More importantly, he knew how to portray it in a humorous, but tasteful manner.
I am currently teaching a course on religion and multiculturalism. Whenever I run out of material to present in class, or when I see eyes drooping and decide that it’s time for a change of pace, I know of one sure-fire way to win back my students’ attention – mention the hijab. Trust me. Give it a shot. Conversations stop. Eyes snap to the front. Instant undivided attention.