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May the Force Be With You
Posted Wed, Jun 22, 2011

Critics of the now-defunct long-form census delighted in supporting their argument for abolition by noting that in 2001, some twenty thousand Canadians listed “Jedi” as a write-in answer to the census religion question. I suppose some respondents did this to protest against the alleged intrusiveness of this question but I would bet that the majority did so as a joke, to “spoil the ballot”, as it were.
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Standing at Sinai
Posted Sun, Jun 5, 2011

I would venture to say that most people reflecting on the upcoming festival of Shavuot would identify it principally as “zeman matan torateinu,” the time of the giving of the Torah. It might even be suggested that God delivered the ancient Israelites from Egypt not simply to free them from the yoke of oppression but specifically to present them with the divine law. Read more »


The Monopoly of Truth
Posted Thu, May 12, 2011

The killing of Osama Bin Laden provided the occasion for Barack Obama to make his first official visit to Ground Zero in New York. By laying a wreath there after the successful raid on the compound in Abbottabad, the President provided symbolic closure almost a decade after the horrific World Trade Center attacks. “Justice was done”, he intoned, although everyone surely knew that nothing done to Bin Laden could possibly be commensurate with the evil he unleashed on that bright, beautiful September morning. The death of the madman of Tora Bora will always be an unmatched bookend to the 3,000 stolen souls of 9/11.
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The Mystic Chords of Memory
Posted Fri, Apr 8, 2011

American presidents today officially take their oath of office on January 20th. The framers of the US constitution, however, originally fixed presidential inaugurations to take place on March 4th. With Election Day in early November, that was the timeframe they deemed necessary in the late 18th century to determine the outcome, inform the winner and allow him to get to Washington, D.C.
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The Forgotten Exodus
Posted Tue, Mar 1, 2011

There’s a wonderful scene in the movie Amadeus where the composer Salieri plays passages from his oeuvre on a piano to a student who stares blankly at every note. Salieri then plays the opening of his rival Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” and the student’s face lights up in full recognition. “Of course,” Salieri wearily acknowledges.
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“A god who shall go before us”
Posted Wed, Feb 16, 2011

A great line making the Internet rounds has an Israeli saying: “Egyptian protesters-please don’t damage the pyramids; we will not rebuild.” Indeed, watching the recent tumultuous events in Egypt unfold, one can’t help but recall our own historic liberation from an earlier “Pharaoh” and the freedom we gained on leaving that country as the first step to people- and nationhood.
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“TO SAVE A NATION”
Posted Fri, Jan 14, 2011

On January 17, 1945 Raoul Wallenberg was arrested by the Red Army in Budapest, Hungary and disappeared, his fate unknown, into the Soviet gulag. What he was doing in Budapest in the first place is a tale of selfless heroism and extraordinary courage and underscores why in 1985 Canada bestowed upon Wallenberg its first honorary Canadian citizenship. Read more »


“The Madness of the Heart”
Posted Tue, Jan 4, 2011

The British scientist John Haldane once observed that, “…words are well adapted for description and the arousing of emotion, but for many kinds of precise thought other symbols are much better.” Read more »


The Arc of the Moral Universe
Posted Wed, Dec 1, 2010

Like most holidays on the Jewish calendar, Hanukkah is never on time.  This year, for instance, it is “early” but even coming at the beginning of December we can still use the light.
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The Courage to Continue
Posted Wed, Nov 17, 2010

Many professional athletes these days seek the help of sports psychologists to achieve elite levels of success in their field. One popular technique they employ is visualization: see the success in the mind’s eye and translate that positive image to specific action. I imagine this would be a productive confidence-building approach to plays that produce instant results like making a10-foot putt, kicking a field goal or landing a triple Axel.
Thinking about this notion of instant gratification reminded me of a story about Thomas Edison. Edison, of course, is one of history’s greatest inventors, but his inventions did not always come easily. The light bulb, for example, took him 2,000 tries before it actually worked. A reporter once asked him how it felt to fail so many times before ultimately succeeding. “Ah,” Edison said, “But I never failed once. I invented the light bulb. It just happened to be a 2,000 step process.”
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ERIC VERNON

ABOUT THIS EXPERT
Eric Vernon was born in Toronto in 1953. He was educated at the University of Toronto, University of Waterloo and Ohio State University, in history and political science.

For over twenty years, Mr. Vernon has been the principal lobbyist in Ottawa of the Canadian Jewish Congress, the lead advocacy organization for Canada's Jewish communities and UJA Federations.

In 1987, he established the Ottawa Advocacy Office of Canadian Jewish Congress and is currently the Director of Government Relations for CJC. In these capacities he has written numerous briefs, op-eds, position papers and correspondence on national legislation, public policy, and international issues affecting Canada and its Jewish community, including antisemitism, Israel and Holocaust commemoration.

Mr. Vernon has performed a wide range of advocacy duties with federal Members of Parliament and Senators, senior public servants, government agencies, members of the diplomatic corps and representatives of other non-governmental organizations. In conjunction with these duties he has staffed several Congress committees, represented CJC at inter-faith tables, organized conferences and been involved in legislative and social policy development for CJC on a variety of domestic and international issues.


 

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