blog stuff, Random

My attempt at being artistic & funny

Jan 29 cartoonIn most newspapers, you can find this wonderful feature in the Editorials/Opinions section of the paper. It tends to add a little colour to the page (and I’m not talking about the content;)
At the Observer we’re pretty fortunate and we get to do one. It’s probably because G-d forbid the real thoughts and perceptions of our student staff receive more space, but regardless it’s nice to add some character.

I was the guinea pig for the first cycle, and liked doing it so much, I did it again. Continue reading “My attempt at being artistic & funny”

blog stuff, Current Events, Israel, media, News

Observer Archives: Activists protest anti-Israel boycott by CUPE

As published in the Toronto Observer on January 10th, 2009

By Tevy Pilc

CUPE Protest

Activists braved frigid weather yesterday to picket outside the office of CUPE Ontario to protest against a proposed boycott of Israeli academics at Ontario Universities.

Last Friday, CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan called for the boycott of Israeli academics and educators who do not condemn the Dec. 29 bombing of the Islamic University in Gaza and “the assault on Gaza in general.”

Tevy Pilc reports. Continue reading “Observer Archives: Activists protest anti-Israel boycott by CUPE”

blog stuff

Things I’ve been working on

I haven’t posted for a while and with good reason – having a real journalism job is time consuming!

I’ve decided to post some of my older work that I’ve done with the East Toronto Observer and the Jewish Tribune and anywhere else that my work has gone. To be honest, it’s just to keep the blog circulating with consistency but at least readers will know know I haven’t delved into seclusion (though contrary to popular belief).

Don’t know how the  work will translate through number of posts but it’ll still look nice.

Look out for my work in the Tribune… I’ve got a relatively big story or two lined up  in addition to the regular stuff I’m already working on covering.


What a crazy day…

You know what freaks me out the most, when crazy things happen that are completely out of your control. That’s kind of how it felt today after realizing that my bus driver had just hit a pedestrian crossing the street on my way to school today.

Boy was that fun.

My day actually got off to a pretty good start even though I didn’t get a ride to the bus stop like I usually get in the morning. But I had enough time to get myself ready to catch a decent bus to the main stop I’d normally get a ride to. So what happens? The first bus I take comes late (which takes me to another bus station where I catch an express bus that takes me to school). I just miss catching my second bus by like a second and end up waiting for another half hour. Another bus comes at about 9:30am (after leaving home at 8:25… whoopee…

So I’m on the bus working on my laptop sitting in the second row. The bus is kind of like a coach bus (for you Ontario people – it was a GO Bus). We’re leaving the first stop, which is a big mall in Scarborough, the town I go to school in, and as the bus is making a left at a traffic light, all of a sudden it comes to abrupt stop – and boom!

After hearing that and than an expletive from the driver, who proceeds to rush outside, I take a look right on front of the bus, and low and behold, there’s a person – on her side, clutching her arm, shaking in obvious pain.

Talk about a scary site. I’ve been in car accidents before, but none like this. Thankfully, many people came to assist the driver (who was seriously freaking out) and eventually (within 5 minutes) and ambulance arrived. She was sat up and than taken away on a stretcher in the ambulance. Nothing serious. She was alright.

So after the hour of waiting, talking to police, filling out forms and stuff, I finally made it to school at 11:15, settling into the newsroom by 11:20 pm. Thus begins more craziness as we scramble to finish our newspaper before we leave (which could be whenever). It actually wasn’t that bad, I left at 7pm but the time in between was interesting to say the least.

But something else bothered me about the whole situation. I called my mom to tell her what happened and the second question she asked me after “Are you and everyone else alright?” was “Can you cover it?”

I laughed and told her no (it was out of coverage area), but I had thought about that before speaking to her. Had I been in the area, I probably would’ve been all over it. But I don’t know about you, but if you had just been caught in this kind of accident as a passenger on a bus, where the driver is freaking out and needs your total cooperation, how can you not feel like a jerk when putting on the reporter cap? I’m real sensitive to rubbing people the wrong way in that light, especially when they’re in complete chaos mode. A fellow classmate just told me, once that journalist mindset kicks in, it stays there. It builds a nest, and a along with your brain it makes babies, or should I say stories. You can’t just kick it out like that. It almost makes me want bad things like accidents to happen, so I can get a story out of it. I feel horrible saying that, but I’m reminded that like most bad things that happen in life, they end up happening for a good reason in the end.

Hopefully in the future, occurrences like these aren’t all that often, but if they do, with G-d’s help I should be able to approach them with the appropriate attitude necessary to maintain my dignity. (and maybe get a nice story too…)

(I know… the nest and babies were lame metaphors, but they work :p)

Judaism, News

Saving Auschwitz

A classmate of mine brought this to my attention yesterday. We were in the middle of an interview where she was telling me about her experiences while on The March of the Remembrance and Hope (a story for another time) and than she told me about this….

Two weeks ago, the 64th Anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkeneau concentration was commemorated. On Jan. 27, 1945, the Soviet Amy became the first outsiders to witness first hand the terrors of these  “hells on earth”. But 64 years later, those “hells on earth” are mere remnants of once what they once were. Literally.

Here’s what the reports have said:

“Polish officials who oversee the camp say at least £93.5m is needed in the next 15 to 20 years to maintain the site – money it has so far failed to raise from the international community.

The museum has already had to seal off crumbling barracks for fear that visitors could get injured.

And the remains of the former gas chambers and crematoria are also deteriorating.”

“If we can’t secure the buildings and conserve the site properly, we will be forced to close it to the public in a few years,” says Auschwitz spokesman, Pawel Sawicki

So what do we do? Do we keep them around, or let them rot?

I think it’s an obvious question (Keep them around) , but when you think about it, it’s a really strange question to consider.

Doesn’t it seem odd that the people who were once made victims in such a place now rally around save it years later? I mean the psychology behind this question from an impartial point of view seems very bizarre.

Here’s two reasons why they should be kept around: The March of the Living AND The March of Remembrance and Hope. Those trips are too important to hindered by the closing of these camps.

But what do you have to say about this? It’s an interesting dilemma. For more information, here’s a link:

media, Opinion, school

My First Article in the Observer

One of cool things we get to do in my journalism program is to publish our own newspaper. However, it’s not a school newspaper. Rather, it’s an actual community newspaper serving real neighbourhoods. The endeavour is a actual course in our program (Newspaper Laboratory) and it spans over two semesters – this one and next one (Jan 2009- Jan 2010 with a summer break in between). It’s called “The East Toronto Observer.”

We just published our first paper (yay!) and yours truly had a significant contribution. I got to write the feature editorial on our Comment page, and draw the cartoon too. Here’s a piece of what I did below. If you can’t read it, my article can be found here @ the online edition of our paper.

Cartoon (above) Article (below)

The entire text from the story as seen from the paper

The East Toronto Observer is the only print news outlet serving the neighbourhoods of Malvern, Highland Creek and West Hill. About 5 years running, the paper is completely made and published by the University of Toronto/Centennial College journalism students (under faculty supervision of course). To give you an idea of what everything means, this is what we do:

Writing, Reporting, Layout (every single detail you see in the paper, like spacing and fonts etc.), photography, web publishing, delivery (yes we do the actual legwork of getting the paper on every doorpost), yelling, screaming, interviewing, staying up late, waiting hours in the cold for a bus to take you home (and to school), and of course shenanigans (my favourite)…

Our class makes up the staff and we get to do something new every week, such as editing articles/production (layout)/photos, writing about news, education, sports, arts & life, editorials, PSAs and a bunch of other stuff too…

Facebook, Judaism, media, Politics, Random, school

Professor Obama

Like many yesterday, I took the time to watch inauguration ceremonies.

The location: From the seat of my Magazine Journalism class. For me, it seemed different not sitting @ home watching something like this, rather @ school. But I don’t think it’s that unusual nowadays that technology has allowed us access to pretty much whatever we want, wherever we are.

Nonetheless, our entire class was fixated towards the overhead screen at the front of the class and with several others were right outside our class watching off an even bigger screen in the main atrium of the HP Campus @ Centennial College. Having President Obama in a sense “give us lecture” with his inauguration speech was fun to watch.

Things that stood out from yesterday’s proceedings:

1) Rick Warren reciting the Shema: Talk about catching me off guard… I was sitting @ my desk working on an in-class assignment meanwhile the CNN feed is being shown on the overhead because our Prof wanted to watch it. I wasn’t constantly watching, but I heard everything loud and clear. All of sudden I hear the words “Hear O Israel…” and I’m thinking What? I turn to look and yes indeed, Rick Warren was reciting the Shema. For those who don’t know, the Shema is the most important verse in Judaism. Written in the Torah, it’s recitation represents a fulfilment of the paramount commandment of acceptance of G-d’s absolute sovereignty (Artscroll Siddur). Good for Warren, who’s also a pastor, for reciting the holy words. Jews all around the world watching must have felt special @ that moment…

2) Wow did Chief Justice John Roberts screw up reciting the words for Obama during the swearing in. He said way too much for him to repeat afterwards and spoke way to fast. To be honest, Obama did look a little nervous. And @ one point I actually thought he said one of the words wrong… And every time I watched a replay on the news, you didn’t hear the mistakes, rather a quick snippet of Obama reciting a line or two. Wonder if anyone else noticed it?

3) My mom asked this one: “What if Obama has to go to the washroom?”
It’s not like he can’t go during the speeches, parades, balls, or whatever event that requires him to be on television. They probably snuck him out in between proceedings.

4) How much bloody coverage Michelle Obama’s dresses get: Okay, I maybe conservative in this case but honestly, is it really that important to know every single detail about the clothes worn by the First Lady? Maybe it’s because I’m a guy too… At one point when discussing the dress, I actually learned something interesting about the dress – it had to do with the tradition of these balls and the likeness of Michelle Obama towards Jackie Kennedy and what they both symbolize to the American public. Fine. But they still went overboard with the coverage…

5) The balls: 10 Balls? He had to go to 10? And dance @ them all? The same dance? Talk about patience… It’s actually quite admirable to see someone who genuinely seems to enjoy and care about all the places and things he saw and heard. Must be gratitude. Michelle Obama on the other hand… you could tell her attention span was dwindling @ times…

6) CNN’s Live Feed + Facebook Statuses: How cool was that? In addition to watching the inauguration, you could also check your friend’s Facebook statuses too. In fact, most of them were probably watching the inauguration the same way you were too. I was very impressed.

So January 20th, will be a day history will never forget.
They better not forget it. I had my Bar Mitzvah on January 20th (2001).


Two Days + Two Rallies + Two Issues = One Cause

“Tevy, the world is going crazy right now.”

That was the first thing I heard as I stepped into my buddy Josh’s van that was picking me up to go to the rally. I thought to myself yeah, it’s crazy, but let’s go do something about it.

In case you’ve been living in a cave (like the terrorists), or a bomb shelter (like those been put there by terrorists) or simply been hiding out somewhere, not paying attention to anything (like the Hamas soldiers who hide in civilian areas, calling on Israel to retaliate and make the world pressure them even more while mindlessly firing rockets into Israel without any regard as where they may land), ** the world is going through some crazy times as we speak. I speak, in case you haven’t noticed by now, specifically about the military crisis that’s going on between Israel and Hamas. I haven’t devoted a post entirely to Israel yet, but like Israel, who unfortunately didn’t do very much when being bombarded by rockets and other attacks from Gaza since 2005, they decided to finally fire back. And now it’s my turn…

Within the span of 24 hours, I attended 2 rallies in support of Israel. The first one was organized by the UJA Federation (UJA- United Jewish Appeal) and entitled “The Rally for the People of Israel and Freedom from Terror.” Geared towards the entire Jewish Community of Toronto, the rally featured a number of speakers including one of my new favourite people: the Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of State Foreign Affairs and Member of Parliament for Thornhill (I even got to talk with him after the event was done!). Over 5,000 people attended the event which was held at Beth Tzedec Synagogue this past Thursday night (Jan 8).

The second event was a smaller, yet very enthusiastic protest at the Ontario CUPE Regional Office. Organized by the Jewish Defence League, it was arranged in opposition of a recent proposition made by CUPE Ontario (Canadian Union of Public Employees) to ban Israeli academics teaching in Ontario universities as its own protest against a Dec. 29 bombing that damaged a university in Gaza. At least 40 people showed up Friday (Jan 9) afternoon outside the Milner Avenue offices in the blistering cold weather to give CUPE and their despicable president Syd Ryan, a piece of their minds. This is the same CUPE (which is made up of several divisions within the province) that’s responsible for the two-month long strike at York University too.

**Before I go on about the rallies, I just want to make clear that even I’ll probably make it very clear what my views are within these writings/reports, but I won’t go on 100 different rants about the whole conflict. At least in this post…maybe another time. I was very close to ranting about CUPE when the story first came out, but then the rallies came up I held off and decided to write about them instead. And in all honesty, who doesn’t go on a rant when talking about Israel and the Palestinians?

The first rally was something of your typical citywide rally and by the standards of Jewish community in Toronto that means two things are always evident: Lots of people & Lots of different people coming in solidarity. I’d say over the past 8 years since the conflict has escalated, I have never seen a citywide rally held by the Toronto Jewish community lacking in attendees. And what’s even more special is that no matter what your affiliation, all types of Jews come out to support. I mentioned to Josh’s brother Mike that you end finding someone you know at these rallies everywhere you look. It could be one of your best friends, a cousin, friend’s sister, uncle’s band mate, or random guys you haven’t seen for years since you attended public high school (Check marks on all those for yours truly)! Josh saw it a little differently, saying that unfortunately it takes someone else to knock the Jews as a whole in order for us to stop bickering with one another on regular basis and come together in solidarity. Nonetheless, the amount of people and solidarity was tremendous.

(Quick fact: Beth Tzedec is the largest synagogue in Canada. At the rally, not only was the massive main hall filled to capacity, but so was the adjacent chapel on the main floor, the reception hall on the second floor, and then people also began rallying outside the main entrance in cold! The three of us started out in the reception hall, but eventually moved into the hall later on.)

In addition to Peter Kent (whom Josh dubbed ‘The Man’), other speakers at ‘the sit-down and listen to prominent individuals embrace and Israel and inspire the crowd’ rally included Amir Gissin, Consul General of Israel to Toronto, who emphasized the significance of the public support the community must show in face of opposing public opinion.

Reiterating the Canadian government’s support for Israel, Peter Kent drew an enthusiastic response from the crowd. “Tonight, I am here, we are here, to stand with Israel,” Kent said. “Canada maintains these rocket attacks are the cause of this current crisis, and we support Israel’s right to defend itself against the continued attacks by Hamas.”

However, Kent also reiterated the government’s desire for an enduring peace and sustainable ceasefire, followed by a call for a Palestinian State. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding this conflict, I don’t think you will find one elected official, no matter what side or position they or their government/party holds on the conflict, who won’t be calling for ceasefire and for peaceful resolutions to take place. To me, that’s expected political talk… You may not agree with everything that’s said because due to several borders that exist between both entities, you know that it’s not as easy as it sounds. For Israel, I’d say hear it, accept it, but continue to push or support the government to support Israel.

I say this because of what keynote speaker Alon Pinkas, the former Consul General of Israel in New York, had to say. Offering some very intriguing insights and analysis of the on-going conflict, he personified what the operation should accomplish: “to exact an overwhelming military price on Hamas,” but not destroy it entirely. I especially liked what he had to say about the ridiculous concept of proportionality, in relation to the world saying Israel is not responding in proportion to what Hamas has done to them. He said that by using their (Hamas and the media’s) definition of proportional response would mean doing exactly what they do in return; an eye for an eye. That means firing 3000+ rockets arbitrarily into Gaza without concern for where they land, not warning civilians when attacks are coming and to take cover, not providing humanitarian aid, and blowing up buses with the intention of killing innocent people. Another thing he touched on was something I’ve wondered whether the world will ever understand: the ineptitude of the Palestinians to make smart decisions and constantly waste opportunities to better help themselves. If you do your research, you’ll be amazed to discover that Israel has offered multiple peace proposals over the years, and every single time, the Palestinian ruling body has said no. Not ceasefires. I’m talking about legitimate peace offers that have Israel giving up territory to Palestinian control and rule.

Also part of the rally was a live satellite feed to Israel at 3:45 a.m., from Beersheva, of the bigger cities facing a threat of rocket attacks from Gaza. Yossi Tanuri, Director General, United Israel Canada, new Beersheva Mayor Rubik Danilovich, as well as other valiant Israelis gave the crowd a firsthand look as to what they’ve had to deal with in the past few weeks. One of the most moving parts of evening took place during this segment, when video footage was shown of a live attack occurring Beersheva. It started with a Tanuri speaking outside a school that was close to a previous attack, only to be interrupted by the sounds of sirens notifying the town of an imminent incoming attack. The video than shows Tanuri and others rushing into the school bomb shelter and others throughout the city scrambling for shelter (from other footages mixed in). An explosion follows and is shown in the video. Soon after Tanuri and the arise from the shelter to see that it was the school they were hiding in that was hit, with the rocket landing in the middle of an empty classroom.

The second rally, which brought a significant number of Jews to Scarborough (literally along my bus route), was more of a ‘let’s make some noise to show that we won’t stand for these kind of actions’ rally. I don’t like being judgmental about these events because of their main goals and purposes, but the event time it was planned for was doomed to prevent a greater number of people from coming. Friday afternoon in the wintertime is not the best time for a rally. Too many Jews have too many things going on before Shabbat to go out Scarberia and protest outside in the cold. (Read one of my future blogs for a personal experience of that nature!). Still, they’re no better than a recent group of coward protesters who showed up at the Israeli Consulate last week on a Saturday afternoon, or to many Jews – Shabbat (aka, when we can’t mobilize and defend ourselves in bigger numbers for obvious reasons…)

For those who are unfamiliar with this issue, earlier last week CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan called for the boycott of Israeli academics and educators who do not condemn the Dec. 29 bombing of the Islamic University in Gaza and “the assault on Gaza in general.” He also called the resolution a reasonable response to the attack, which he likened to the torching of books by Nazis during the Second World War. He eventually apologized for the Nazi remarks, but refused to retract the proposed resolution. Here’s one of the first reports to come out on it:

For me the rally was a great opportunity to not only show my support but to also practice a few on-site journalism reporting techniques. I came well in hand with a voice recorder, camera, and video camera, while waving a flag and raising a sign at the same time**

**Okay, I know what you’re thinking fellow journalism students (you too Ellin, I know your reading this), but where’s my objectivity? Yes, this report/writing is only for the blog and personal benefit, and not for an actual news outlet, but I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: even though I’m trying to be a wannabe journalist, which means utilizing every opportunity to push ‘the journalistic mindset’ button (I’ll come up with a better name and post later), I also won’t hesitate giving those who speak the truth and follow those morals and beliefs that I greatly value proper and valuable exposure when the moment is acceptable and appropriate. One day I’ll make a post that purely focuses on the challenges of maintaining objectivity when reporting on an issue one has a clear and definitive view on.

As for what I have to say about the whole issue, hey, I did go to rally on my own accord… I went because like those who attended, I don’t support the actions of CUPE. They not only criticize Israel unfairly, but set a bad precendent when attempting to pull off these kind of boycotts. The concept behind it all – why CUPE is doing, misrepresents a public union and all it’s members by associating it with a policy on an international (that it honestly has no business sticking its nose in). Where were they when Russia went into Georgia? Or China to Tibet? Why not boycott them for their academics? If you plan on reading the article in the link above, be sure to take a look at some of the other related articles dealing with the issue, such as Jonathan Kay’s column:

Bottom line, it was nice to see the Jewish community step up for Israel. The rallies may have different but they both made it know that the community has no problem with proudly expressing their support for Israel.

blog stuff, Judaism, media, Random, school

Tevy @ Centennial Journalism’s Weblog (and some shout outs)

One of our professors made a blog for our journalism class @ Centennial college. As “Centennial Journalism’s Weblog,” it’s got a ton of articles written by myself and my fellow classmates. It also has pictures 🙂

Check out a feature I wrote on kosher food @ the Royal Winter Fair back in October:

Also, check out a profile that was done on yours truly by a fellow journalism student at Centennial College. It’s a work of art! I had tears… tears of joy

Enjoy reading! And while I’m at it (it being publicizing myself, something I don’t like doing), I’ll shift the focus off myself to others with a few shout outs.

One…. (he gets first dibs cause he just told me he’s reading the blog) to Ed Abramovitz on his recent engagement to Michelle Rosen, and for simply being an awesome person

Two…. To Aaron Samole and Sarah Shainhouse on their marriage that took place a few hours ago! What a great night! Mazel Tov! (And let me make a quick note on something, when you say on faceboook you’re attending an event, ATTEND IT!! No one likes a no show) Regardless, t’was a great night for all who attended

Three… To Celeste De Muelenaere. Not only because she’s a fellow Centennial Journalism student, but it was her birthday yesterday too (and I probably missed a party:(

Four… To Heshy Freid and his website. When I found this, I was so happy to see that someone made a blog or some sort of collection of thoughts and writings of this calibre and particular topic of interest. I’ve always wanted to do something like that since leaving yeshiva but didn’t feel like the right person to do so. Glad to see that someone took advantage of a great opportunity and did it well so successfully (I even plugged it to a guy I met at the wedding I went to last night, thinking he’d get a kick out of it). And a belated happy birthday as well! And… If I may suggest for a new topic (if you end up reading this), I know you’ve done several wedding posts but how bout a list of all the dances you see @ frum weddings. we’re talking line dances, putting the chasan and kalla on top of a table and pray to G-d the group of guys don’t let go and drop the table. Oh, and to answer your survey: Mamma Leah’s (I’ve got old Ner connections)

Five… To Talia Shmuel who recentely wrote this fantastic piece: OR here (it’s my profile, but there’s a link there too)