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Board of Beth Israel Congregation’s Statement Re:

INSPIRE Peterborough Cancelling

Leah Goldstein

The Beth Israel Board is issuing a statement about a situation that has occurred in Peterborough. Here is some background. 

BACKGROUND

In 2023, Leah Goldstein, a Canadian cyclist was hired by a local group called Inspire to speak at their Women’s Day event on March 8, 2024. When the details were shared about the speaker they included her sports accomplishments and her time in the Israeli military and police force 30 years ago. The organizers of the Inspire group were subsequently harassed and intimidated until they canceled Leah’s presentation in January 2024.

This situation has not died down. By mid February, the story was picked up by many national and international news services. Pressure has been put on the federal government to stop funding Inspire. The organizers of Inspire have erased any social media articles about the event. And promoters of other Women’s Day events in Peterborough have reported being “inundated with negative calls” out of confusion with the Inspire situation. 

BOARD DELIBERATIONS

The Beth Israel Board has spent many hours trying to compose a statement but consensus was not possible. This is not a criticism but an acknowledgement that the diverse views of our membership are also reflected in our board. Board members have their own views about this event according to their own lived experiences and perspectives. As a community, we strive to celebrate these differences, but at this time, the majority of Board members want to make a statement about this situation. 

We encourage every member of our congregation to make up their own minds about this situation. We are providing contact information for other channels if you wish to express your concerns:

Beth Israel Board president@jccpeterborough.com or boardsecretary@jccpeterborough.com

Mayor Jeff Leal jleal@peterborough.ca

Dave Smith, MPP dave.smithco@pc.ola.org

Michelle Ferrari MP michelle.ferreri@parl.gc.ca

THE STATEMENT

The cancellation of well known motivational speaker Leah Goldstein to speak at the INSPIRE: Women’s Portrait Project in Peterborough event is a blatant antisemitic act in response to pressure from anti-Israel groups due to both her Israeli heritage and her military service some 30 years ago. This dis-invitation is reprehensible and unacceptable. It also should be seen as what it is: antisemitism. Members of the Board of Beth Israel Synagogue in Peterborough have been shocked and moved by the massive increase in antisemitism in countries all over the world and at home here in Canada as Jews are attacked, threatened, excluded, fired, ejected, silenced and canceled. And now it has arrived here in Peterborough.

The act of holding Leah Goldstein, a Jewish woman, collectively accountable for the actions of the state of Israel is consistent with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s  (IHRA) definition of antisemitism which has also been adopted as a guidepost by our Federal government.

As reported in the Peterborough Examiner, well intentioned people who organized the Women’s Day event to benefit people in Peterborough were pressured into making this decision. Public discourse should not include intimidation. We must all speak up when such acts occur.

We are grateful for the resulting outpouring of support for speaker Leah Goldstein. We hope that another forum will be found for Leah to visit our community and inspire us with her story. 

Heather Pollock

Board Secretary, Beth Israel Peterborough

http://www.jccpeterborough.com/

Resources for Combating AntiSemitism

Resources for Combating

Anti-Semitism and Hate

In light of the increase in antisemitism at home and abroad, the Beth Israel Holocaust Education Committee has compiled a list of community and educational resources to combat antisemitism and hate here. If you have further resources you would like to suggest, please email Ralph. shoaheducation@jccpeterborough.com https://jccpeterborough.com/events/education/stop-hate-resources-for-confronting

 stop hate