Wither Goes The Canadian Jewish Congress

from NationalPost.com (Canada):

Canadian Jewish Congress afraid of losing identity

The legacy of Canada’s oldest Jewish organization may soon be at risk if its umbrella group pursues plans to form a central advocacy group for Jewish Canadians, observers say.

The 91-year-old Canadian Jewish Congress, founded by Montreal Jews who left Europe after the First World War, could be amalgamated into a larger unified Jewish public affairs organization if members at two board meetings in early December vote in favour of it. The Canadian Council for Jewish and Israel Advocacy, which oversees the CJC and four other Jewish groups, has been drafting the restructuring plans for months and says the community would be stronger and more efficient if there’s a consolidation of decision-making and and public affairs.

But though the CJC board says it’s all in favour of a more streamlined approach to advocacy, they worry the name and identity of their time-honoured institution will get lost in the shuffle, said vice-president Barbara Bank.

Here’s an op-ed from Andrew Cohen, whose great-uncle Lazarus founded the CJC:

Saving the Canadian Jewish Congress

Neither the reasons nor the plans for the new entity are clear. Some blame deep historical and regional resentments in Montreal – where Congress was based before moving to Toronto – among those high priests of the cult of efficiency.

The plan came to light in The Canadian Jewish News. “Congress wary of CIJA restructuring,” it said, referring to the intention of the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy to centralize control of all its agencies, including the CJC and the Canada-Israel Committee.

Supporters of Congress, among them representatives of politics, business, charity and the academy, appreciate the work of the CJC. They know that the Jewish community is not a monolith, that it comprises different views and that amalgamation isn’t the solution here. It’s a notion pushed by people with no sense of history. It would silence an authoritative voice of Judaism in Canada that has had a generous spirit, a distinct identity and an extraordinary brand.