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2008: Responding to the Challenge of Diversity in Canada, Israel and Beyond

Responding to the Challenge of Diversity in Canada, Israel and Beyond
 
12th Biennial Jerusalem Conference in Canadian Studies (2008)
 
Conference PanelIn a city that is the spiritual home to several of the world's major religions, in a country often challenged by the demands and seemingly competing needs of its various populations, it seemed highly appropriate that, from June 16 to 19, 2008, more than 80 academics, representing 11 countries, gathered to discuss the theme of the 12th Biennial Jerusalem Conference in Canadian Studies: "Responding to the Challenge of Diversity: Canada, Israel, and Beyond.”
 
The conference, held at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Mount Scopus campus in association with the Halbert Centre for Canadian Studies and the Israel Association for Canadian Studies (IACS), brought together leading scholars and experts on issues of Canadian, Israeli, and global diversity. The Hon. Bob Rae, MP, Toronto Centre, delivered the keynote address, "Identity and Pluralism: Some Thoughts on Canada and Israel.” Canadian ambassador to Israel Jon Allen, Hebrew University president Menachem Magidor, and Ralph Halbert were among the distinguished guests who joined conference participants at the opening session.
 
At the dinner following Rae's address, Daphna Oren, administrative coordinator of the Halbert Centre, received a certificate of merit in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the development of Canadian Studies. Cornelius Remie, president of the International Council for Canadian Studies, presented the award. Michal Schuster, Anna Kosner, and Israel Pupko — recipients of Halbert Centre and IACS academic grants — discussed their research topics and plans. A written message from a fourth grant recipient, Uriel Aboluf, was read by Allen Zysblat, a member of the conference steering committee, which also included Shuli Barzilai, Arza Churchman, and Rita Watson.
 
Janice Stein, director of the Munk Centre at the University of Toronto, presented the first conference session, a well-attended workshop on "Religion, Culture, and Rights: A Conversation about Women's Rights.” Prof. Nachman Ben-Yehuda, head of the Halbert Centre's academic committee, chaired the session. Respondents to Prof. Stein's lecture included Profs. Bruce Elman, Noreen Golfman, Mordechai Kremnitzer, Vered Vinitzky-Seroussi, and Shira Wolosky. A lively open discussion followed the lecture and responses.
 
The ensuing sessions provided a platform for discussion on a variety of topics related to the conference theme. Several panels focused on the Bouchard-Taylor Commission and Canada's First Nations. As in recent years, the conference was also the occasion for the annual meeting of the Halbert Centre advisory committee and the general assembly of the IACS.
 
A memorable evening in honour of the late Prof. Arie Shachar was held at the Israel Museum on June 17, chaired by IACS president Daniel Ben Natan. Prof. Shachar was the first director of the Halbert Centre and the first president of the IACS. Family members, friends, colleagues, and former students paid tribute to his personal and professional contributions; the speakers included Ralph Halbert, David Cameron, David Morley, Daphna Oren, Eran Razin, Gillad Rosen, and Tmima Shachar. Peter Oberlander, who was unable to attend, sent a message that was read to the audience. Two of Arie Shachar's children, Tamar and Erez, attended the event.
 
The evening was also the occasion for the inauguration of the Arie Shachar Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Canadian Studies, which was awarded to Dr. Gillad Rosen for his research on "From Public Space to Private Places: The Rise of Gated Communities in Israel.” The award was presented by Halbert Centre director Shuli Barzilai and by Daniel Ben Natan. The fellowship is co-sponsored this year by the Halbert Centre, the IACS, and the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University.
 
On June 18, the Emmy award–winning Canadian-Israeli producer and director Simcha Jacobovici presented his documentary film, Northern Justice, about the Canadian legal system and the indigenous population of the Canadian Arctic. The screening was followed by a discussion with the film audience, presided over by Simcha Jacobovici and the Hon. Irwin Cotler, Canadian MP and former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada.
 
The conference concluded with a guided tour of the Old City of Jerusalem. In keeping with the conference theme, the tour focused on several holy sites central to the religions represented in Jerusalem.