BUILDING BRIDGES: Solidarity glow brightens

BUILDING BRIDGES: Solidarity glow brightens

Family, cultural traditions instill hope

I’m not sure about in your home, but in ours, Saturday nights lately are for early dinners, pyjamas by 5 p.m., Christmas tree lit and fireplace blazing.

Oh, and cuddling up in front of a Netflix Christmas movie.

It’s a highlight of our week, being in one room at the same time, and we are ridiculously excited about the holidays that promise more of these moments.

Another thing we love to do during family time is talk – about everything from sports and school, to spirituality and social justice.

Our dream is to explore other parts of the world; we have started doing this by bringing the world to our home through learning languages and learning about other cultures.

On a recent Saturday, we unexpectedly had some of these topics come together at once.

After our Christmas movie ended, my son asked if we could watch a Tumblebook on the Santa Tracker channel.

If you are unfamiliar with Tumblebooks, they are essentially digital books where pages turn, and words and pictures appear while a narrator reads the story.

He clicked on A Light in the Darkness by Aaron Zevy.

This story is narrated by the main character, Willy C. Jackson, a young black boy. He tells us about his best friend and neighbour, Josh Siegel.

The pair have much in common; they love to play basketball, watch scary movies and eat junk food.

Josh also happens to be Jewish, and Willy is excited to be invited over for dinner on the first night of Hanukkah.

In a simple, perfect way, Willy introduces the idea of this Jewish tradition.

On that first night of Hanukkah, after everyone is in bed, Willy is woken up by a crash and the sound of glass shattering. A stone has been thrown through the Siegel family’s window, directly at the menorah.

The police arrive and recommend that the Siegel family not light the menorah the next night. But they do and the same incident takes place.

Willy feels bad for his neighbours and comes up with an idea that requires going to a store with his dad and using up his allowance savings.

After the shopping trip, he tells each of his cul-de-sac neighbours about his idea and hands them the mystery purchase.

The story ends on that third night of Hanukkah with all the homes bearing a glowing menorah in the window.

After nearly three years of sharing my thoughts in this column, I hope it’s apparent that a story like this would truly move me.

I glanced over at my eight-year-old – a mother’s instinct to check in on her sensitive son. Sure enough, his head was bowed, his fingertips stroking his forehead. A telltale sign that he was also fighting a lump in this throat.

“Are you OK?” I asked.

“That was really sad. I feel bad for that family…

Would somebody do that to us?”

“No.”

My mama bear, protective mode turned on.

“But you said Jewish people are our brothers and sisters.”

“Yes, they are. But, everybody is. Did you see the ending of the story? What did it mean that everybody had a menorah that night?”

“That they were being kind.”

“Yes. And there’s a really good word you should know: solidarity.

“The neighbours were showing solidarity, which means they were telling the Siegels that they were not alone, that they were supported and that the neighbours were standing together with them.”

I hugged my son by the glow of the Christmas tree.

Look out, world. Eight-year-old boys are learning the word ‘solidarity’. Eight-year-old boys are shedding tears at injustice.

All of this is moving with us into 2019 and that gives me hope.

Columnist Taslim Jaffer writes monthly on multicultural connections.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hugh Dobbie’s South Surrey-based tech business Yare Media was recently acquired by California’s Visaic Inc. (SFU photo)
South Surrey tech company acquired by California business

Hugh Dobbie founded Yare Media in 2016, and ‘will remain involved’

Fraser Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Newton Elementary School in Surrey, according to an information bulletin Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. (Image: Google Street View)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at second Surrey elementary school

Newton Elementary closed for two weeks, set to reopen Dec. 14

Joy Johnson, seen here during an installation ceremony on Oct. 22, is Simon Fraser University’s 10th president and vice-chancellor. (Submitted photo)
SFU’s Surrey campus tackling COVID-19-related research

‘We can learn now,’ SFU president Joy Johnson said, ‘so should something like this happen again we’ll be prepared. We have to learn from this current pandemic’

Mayor Darryl Walker gives a welcoming hug to Semiahmoo First Nation Chief Harley Chappell at the inaugural meeting of the current White Rock council in 2018. (Alex Browne photo)
White Rock council under fire for inaugural prayer

BC Humanist Association charges city violated Supreme Court ruling two years ago

Chief Robert Gladstone of Shxwha:y Village at a federal flood funding announcement April 24, 2019. (Jenna Hauck/Chilliwack Progress file)
Consortium of Indigenous chiefs seeking a way to participate in cannabis economy

All Nations Chiefs from the Shxwha:y, Cheam, Soowahlie and Sq’ewlets holding online forum Dec. 2

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

Chilliwack school board trustee Barry Neufeld is taking heat over using a ableist slur to refer to three Black Press employees. (Paul Henderson/ Progress file)
BC School Trustees Association president keeps heat on Chilliwack Trustee Barry Neufeld

In a news release, Stephanie Higginson called on voters to take careful note of Neufeld’s behaviour

Most Read