Cabinet Ministers, Ambassadors, dozens of MPs and legislative staff filled the Commonwealth Room in the House of Commons at a Rosh Hashanah Reception hosted by Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) to welcome the New Year on Parliament Hill last night.
The day started off on a high note as FSWC President and CEO Avi Benlolo met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and presented him with a copy of Simon Wiesenthal's brief reflection on the nature of forgiveness titled "The Sunflower." Mr. Trudeau responded thoughtfully, observing the topic of forgiveness was much on his mind as he was preparing to speak at a synagogue on Yom Kippur, and hoped Wiesenthal's book might provide some guidance.
FSWC was also privileged to be recognized in the House of Commons by NDP MP for Victoria, Murray Rankin in a Private Member's Statement during Question Period. However, the greatest excitement was generated by the opportunity to showcase FSWC's signature educational initiative in one of the most visible and recognizable spots in the entire country, as the Tour for Humanity mobile Tolerance Education classroom (T4H) parked directly in front of the Parliament Building for an Open House. Reviews from parliamentarians were uniformly positive as a steady stream of MPs visited T4H to learn more about this unique educational experience, and to discuss bringing the Tour to their ridings. Finally, FSWC was immensely honoured to have close to 100 MPs, including Cabinet Ministers Stephane Dion, John McCallum, Ralph Goodale, Jim Carr, Carolyn Bennett and Maryam Monsef join in the Rosh Hashanah celebration. A special debt of gratitude is owed to Liberal MP Michael Levitt (York Centre), Conservative MP Michelle Rempel (Calgary Nose Hill) and NDP MP Murray Rankin (Victoria) for co-hosting the Reception, and to Israeli Ambassador Rafael Barak for making the event one of his first stops upon his return to Ottawa from Israel.
"This event was a truly special and timely reminder of the great esteem in which the Jewish community is held by leaders from right across the country," said FSWC President and CEO Avi Benlolo. "As the New Year begins it is important to acknowledge the support and friendship we have been shown from all parties in the House, and I look forward to working in partnership with Canadian leaders to achieve our mutual goal of making Canada a more tolerant and inclusive society for everyone."