October 19, 2023

"Never Again," Again

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by Faydra Shapiro, Senior Research Fellow

In recent days, as I try to digest news of the brutal massacre of innocent civilians in their beds, at bus stops, at a music festival, I find myself musing on one of my childhood figures.

I’m sure we all have them: characters now larger than life, perhaps long passed away, who will always have a place in our psyches, representing something beyond themselves. For me, it’s Mrs. Steinberg.

I grew up in a liberal Jewish family in progressive multicultural Toronto of the 1970s. John Lennon’s “Imagine” had just been released in 1971. Marlo Thomas’s children’s album Free to Be . . . You and Me came out in 1972. Sesame Street was brand new. I was Jewish, sure. But these were far more formative for me than anything in Jewish tradition, including the Bible.

I went to multicultural public schools (we weren’t fanatics), and I was one of only a handful of Jewish kids in schools that were mostly Jamaican, Italian, and Portuguese. We knew that Canadians were better than Americans because our society was based in multiculturalism rather than the American melting pot. We were all going to live together in harmony, with our different cultures, in the post-1960s better society that was unfolding for us.