Why doesn’t TIFF care if the Jewish community attends the 2013 Festival?

I am the volunteer Librarian in Temple Sinai on Saturdays.  Every week a group of my buddies and I meet at United Bakers at 7:00 a.m. for coffee and bagels before I go to “work”.  They include a major philanthropist, a garment industry entrepreneur, an accountant, a lawyer and two dynamite salesmen.  I am the only female which is great for me – and oh yes, we are all proudly Jewish.

This past Saturday one of our group, a person who attends at least 15 TIFF showings every year and has since its beginning, told us that in 2013, the opening day of TIFF falls on Rosh Hashonah.  The closing gala, ten days later, preceded the night before by a VIP movie showing will be held on Kol Nidre night and Yom Kippur day.  I was stunned…and so were the others. A lively discussion followed.

“But doesn’t the TIFF have Jewish board members?  What about the show biz people?  What about the ordinary ticket buyers who won’t attend?  Would they hold the TIFF on Christmas Day?  Or on Easter Sunday?  Or Good Friday?  What about the Eid?  Would they offend the Muslims like this?”

The jokester in our group said, “well, at least they know that the Toronto Jewish Community won’t send out any suicide bombers in response to this insult”.  No one laughed.

When I got to Temple Rabbi Michael Dolgin walked into the library and into a barrage of words from me.  “Why are they doing this?  What can we do about it?  How can Jewish people who are involved in TIFF turn their backs and pretend it doesn’t matter?  Telling people that it is their individual choice whether or not to attend shows no respect and is a cop-out. TIFF shouldn’t be happening on the two holiest days of Jewish life – even for those who aren’t observant.  Rabbi, can you think of any words from the Torah that we can throw at them?”

Actually “yes”, was his reply.

And the Lord said….. don’t put a stumbling block before the blind – don’t create opportunities and temptations for the weakest among us to stumble.
Leviticus – #19

As a Jewish community we must learn from the past and stick together when it counts.  And I think this exercise counts.  TIFF could have easily accessed the Jewish calendar years ago and avoided this conflict.

It would also be very appropriate if they made a clear announcement that in the coming years, TIFF will respect all religions, including ours.   What do you think?