Last night on December 7th, Ellen Scheinberg and Brooky Robins attended a Chaunkah party at the Legislature Building hosted by the Ontario Liberal Caucus. This was the first time they have held this type of event and it was a splendid affair. Monte Kwinter (MPP,York Centre) and Dr. Eric Hoskins (MPP, St. Paul's) the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, co-hosted the reception.
There was a large group in attendance that included senior UJA Federation lay people such as Elizabeth Wolfe (Chair, UJA Federation) and David Spiro (Chair, Committee of Public Affairs for UJA), all of the CJC staff, some UJA Federation staff and many other community leaders. There were also major philanthropists there as well such as Joe Lebovic.
A number of the Liberal MPPs, besides Kwinter and Hoskins, attended as well. We had the opportunity to chat with Michael Colle (Eglinton-Lawrence), David Zimmer (Willowdale), Tony Ruprecht (Davenport) and Linda Jeffrey (Bampton-Sprindale), the Minister of Natural Resources. Everyone was very friendly and and in good spirits. I particularly enjoyed my conversation with Linda, since she came across as being very open and willing to reveal some of the interesting challenges she was confronting today.
The Chanukah ceremony began with a brief opening speech by Dr. Hoskins, followed by an address by Monte Kwinter. Monte introduced Rabbi Goldfarb from Holy Blossom Temple, who recited the prayers for the lighting of the menorah. The honour of turning the lightbulbs on the electric menorah that they had was given to Premier Dalton McGuinty. He did a commendable job pronouncing "chag Sameach" and seemed to enjoy this role.
After the ceremony, the crowd continued to mingle and enjoy the wine and hors d'oeuvres that were available. Everything was delicious, however the Legislature could truly benefit from my bubbie's latke recipe. Their latkes were a little too moist in the middle and lacked the crispyness that most of us appreciate. Given that this is their first year hosting a Chanukah event, I suspect that they will address this concern and refine their recipe, so that those who sample their latkes will be taken back to the Kensington Market era and the delicacies that were enjoyed in restaurants like United Bakers and Goldenbergs.
On the whole, I would rate this Chanukah party very high and felt it was a very successful reception. The Liberals have been very committed to supporting Jewish initiatives and voicing their objections against anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propoganda and actions within the province. In turn, Monte Kwinter has made great efforts to promote education about the Holocaust, by taking part in the Yom HaShoa event and briging that important issue into the Legislature each year. They should certainly be commended for their responsiveness to these issues and support.