Member Statement: Jewish Heritage Month 2023

Hi, I’m Laura Smith, Member of Provincial Parliament for Thornhill.

As the member representing the riding with the largest Jewish contingent in all of Ontario, I know that Jewish Heritage Month is an important time for many of my constituents. 

Jewish Heritage Month was legislated provincially in 2012, and Federally in 2018. It provides us with the unique opportunity to learn, share and celebrate the history and culture of Jewish Canadians. The Jewish population in Canada is approximately 400,000 people, making it the fourth-largest Jewish population in the world; Over half of that number is settled in Ontario.

Jewish Ontarians have contributed in so many incredible ways to our community and our province, they have founded institutions that continue to serve us to this day.

Mount Sinai Hospital was founded originally to serve Toronto’s poor, Yiddish-speaking immigrant population. It welcomed Jewish doctors and medical interns, who were often rejected by other institutions back in the day. Mount Sinai has grown, of course, into one of North America’s top teaching, research and medical institutions.

Baycrest hospital was founded by the Ezras Noshem Society, which was a charitable women’s group, to care for the elderly. This facility, too, has grown into one of Canada’s leading institutions in aging and brain health research and innovation.

Reena and DANI, both founded by members of the Jewish community, are a massive support system for differently abled people of all ages all across the GTA. 

Unfortunately, antisemitism continues to be an issue for members of the Jewish community.

Our government will always stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Jewish community and condemn antisemitism and any act of hatred or violence that target faith communities. 

We will continue to work with Jewish community partners to fight antisemitism and build a safer and more inclusive Ontario. 

Thank you, and Happy Jewish Heritage Month