Jewish Heritage Month (May 2023)

May has been recognized in Canada as Jewish Heritage Month since March 2018 after a unanimous vote in the House of Commons: Canadian Jewish Heritage Month Act. The intention is to remember and honour the contributions of Jews and Jewish communities that have made a difference to Canadian lives and to educate future generations about the role that Jewish Canadians have played and continue to play in communities across the country. Canada is home to approximately 400,00 Jews, more that 1% of the Canadian population and the third largest population of Jews in the Jewish Diaspora. Jewish Canadians have excelled in a wide range of endeavours including arts, medicine, law, philanthropy, entertainment and business making significant contributions to Canadian life. Each week in May, B’nai Brith will share messages from prominent individuals recognizing Jewish Heritage Month

Despite the positive contributions made by Jews here and around the world and despite the lessons learned from the Holocaust antisemitism in all its forms and expressions is not only present but on the rise in Canada and throughout the world. The annual audit by the Jewish Advocacy group B’nai Brith found record levels of antisemitism in Canada last year, with 2,799 anti-Jewish hate crimes, including beatings, vandalism of synagogues and swastikas in schools. 

Discrimination, prejudice, harassment, vandalism, hate crimes and violence targeting Jews on the basis of prejudice and bigotry toward their religion and culture are everyday expressions of fear of and hatred towards Jews. 

Despite the prevalence of these acts of aggression toward Jews they are often met with a strangely muted response and a tendency to “shrug off” antisemitism on the basis that “Jews don’t count”, reflecting a misguided view that Jews are part of the white privilege dominant class and should not be seen as oppressed. Antisemitism constructs its Jewish targets as the privileged and powerful which sets antisemitism outside of the circle of racism and discrimination with respect to which people will take a stand against. 

We encourage all members of our community to reject complacency as a response to antisemitism and to stand in solidarity to condemn prejudice and acts of hatred and discrimination against Jews with the same vigor we condemn other expressions of racist and discriminatory attitudes and all forms of hate and discrimination.  

Learn how to recognize and combat antisemitism. Learn about the history and diversity of the Jewish people and the history of antisemitism and its persistence on our campuses, and communities across Canada.