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In a talk to 500 viewers after her bombshell resignation as a New York Times editorial writer, Weiss proclaims: “It’s not enough for a Jew to be an anti-antisemite, we were put on earth to be Jews.”

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Bari Weiss speaking on Zoom for Montreal’s Federation CJA Community Recovery and Resilience Campaign on July 23, 2020.

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The resignation of Bari Weiss reverberated around the world, after the New York Times op-ed editor and columnist published a scathing open letter July 14 on her website. In it, she said she experienced a toxic workplace environment, that included being called “Nazi and racist.”

Nine days later, Weiss was the featured speaker for Montreal’s Federation CJA Community Recovery and Resilience Campaign, July 23. The twenty-minute Zoom address covered a variety of topics, including the growth of antisemitism, and the importance of maintaining Jewish values.

This moment in history is “an inflection point for the Jewish people in the Diaspora,” said the author of How to Fight Anti-Semitism to 500 viewers.

“The word that has defined this crisis is ‘essential’: what is vital in this Jewish community? Is it essential to live a full Jewish life? Is it essential that no one in our communities go hungry? Fancy galas, as fun as they are, do not make the list,” she said.

“It is an opportunity for teshuva, a return to what matters. How do we decide what matters? Remembering what our ancestors endured – they were able to rebuild, and we must remember what they sacrificed for us to be here… it shakes us awake, the resilience, creativity, for us to be the luckiest Jews in history.”

Some comfort must be taken in knowing that this crisis will be surmounted, as Jews have survival in their DNA: “We are the people that have renewed, and rebuilt, out of the embers, more than any other people in all of human history.” It comes with an overarching theme: “Every Jew is responsible for one another.”

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Many of those lessons can be culled from Jewish history, she said, which is not merely to be perceived as a “remembrance of things past,” but a “moral manual. It’s a lighthouse. It’s a compass.”

“By any rule of history, we should have disappeared long ago. It seems to me this (survival) is an earthy miracle more astonishing than the parting of the Red Sea… our secret isn’t in our superhuman strength, or our ability to wield political power, but our values and our ideals: one God, Shabbat, the preciousness of human life,” she said.

Meanwhile, in terms of antisemitism, the incidents at the Times were only the latest that touched her personal life. A clear-eyed moment for her came after a spate of violent attacks against Jews in America.

Bari Weiss’ resignation heard around the world citing the toxic workplace environment, which included being called “Nazi and racist” by colleagues, as well as experiencing harassment for writing on Jewish topics.

Pittsburgh-raised, Weiss held her bat-mitzvah at Tree of Life synagogue, where on Oct. 2018, a shooter killed eleven congregants. Her father knew six of the murdered.

“It transformed me. Not that I didn’t know antisemitism wasn’t on the rise. (I thought) America, by its exceptional nature, might have been inoculated by this terrible (hate) virus,” she said. 

In recent years that virus has spread farther, with examples she cited of the synagogue shooting in Poway, California, in April 2019, and the uptick in attacks against Jews in New York.

“It made me realize that antisemitism was alive and well, in a country that my grandparents taught me was the ‘new Jerusalem,’” she said. Before the wake-up call, she once believed “liberalism won, and now I got to enjoy its fruits… no, we’re very much living in history (repeating).”

In a series of tweets on June 4, 2020, Bari Weiss details the environment she witnessed during her tenure at the New York Times

In her own life, she noted how she was often a target of antisemitism, and received death threats. Ironically, these were some “motivating factors that inspired me to draw closer to Judaism.”

“I feel like I have a permanent kippah attached to my head at all times, as anyone who wears their Judaism at all times… I feel like I have to act like mensch, and in a way that reflects well on all of us,” she said.

And yet, a caveat: the entire purpose of living a vibrant Jewish life is not to be re-active, but pro-active, she asserted.

“It’s not enough for a Jew to be an anti-antisemite,” she said. “We were put on earth to be Jews. The more deeply I connected to my own Judaism, Jewish history, the stronger my conviction has become.” 

“I am just extremely clear on who I am, what I’m about, and what I’m fighting for.”

Dave Gordon is the managing editor of TheJ.ca. His work has appeared in more than a hundred media around the world, including all of the Toronto dailies, BBC, Washington Times, and UK Guardian.

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We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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