Antisemitism runs the whole gamut. At one end of the spectrum are a host of Holocaust deniers, including some who have been elected to office across the border. However, it’s not just the right that errs on the wrong side of antisemitism; British comic and television personality David Baddiel’s concise, 130-page polemic, Jews Don’t Count, was quick to take to task the progressive left that is eager to champion the fight against discrimination, racism and bigotry and yet turns the other cheek or summarily dismisses antisemitism. As news trickles in of the rescue of hostages from a Texas synagogue that was targeted by a British gunman, it is a pertinent reminder that the fight against antisemitism is an ongoing one, and has been so for eons.
To raise antisemitism awareness, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi virtually unveiled a mosaic art piece put together by local artist Lewis Lavoie at an event hosted by the Jewish Federation of Edmonton .
The Shine a Light on Antisemitism mosaic takes its inspiration from the traditional Jewish menorah. It includes 613 individual tiles that were drawn at a COVID-19 safe event during Hanukkah last year. The individual tiles were drawn by members of the Jewish community, students and staff of the Talmud Torah School as well as public officials including Senator Paula Simons, MLA Lorne Dach, Sohi and city councillors Jennifer Rice and Sarah Hamilton.
Antisemitism awareness is part of Sohi’s larger push against racism. The first motion the new city council unanimously passed was an anti-racism strategy.
While speaking at the virtual event Sohi, stated that being part of this project helped him understand the common fear of many communities and how they can come together to tackle racism.
“That’s how we can do anti-racism work — diverse groups of people coming together, sharing our stories and really tapping into a sense of community that allows us to learn from each other, that allows us to grow together and face these challenges together,” he said.
Sohi added that interacting with students during the event and learning about the challenges they’re facing in school because of their Jewish background brought back memories from when he first moved to Edmonton in the 1980s as a teenager and the “loneliness and marginalization” he faced then.
You can watch a virtual exhibit of the mosaic here.