FSWC Welcomes YRDSB Decision to Replace Menorah with Star of David in Multifaith Calendar

May 9, 2024

News Release

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Toronto (May 9, 2024) – Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) commends the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) for its decision to update its multifaith calendar by replacing the menorah with the Star of David as the defining Jewish symbol.

An email surfaced on social media yesterday in which a senior YRDSB administrator quoted an explanation provided by the Multifaith Calendar committee that’s responsible for YRDSB’s multifaith calendar, which stated that a menorah was chosen over the Star of David to represent Judaism because of its “purely religious significance, while the Star of David carries political connotations with the state of Israel.”

FSWC immediately contacted YRDSB senior officials to explain how outrageous it is to suggest the Star of David is a political symbol and how such a decision causes harm to the Jewish community, particularly in the aftermath of October 7. For centuries, the Star of David has been, by far, the most widely recognized symbol of Judaism and Jewish identity.

“Amid the current surge in antisemitism in this country, we are seeing aspects of Jewish identity, including the Star of David, attacked and demonized and increasing attempts to misconstrue it as political or even illegitimate,” said Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, FSWC Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy. “We are grateful to the YRDSB for acting quickly on our concerns and recognizing the harm caused to the Jewish community.”

In a statement issued this morning, YRDSB Director Bill Cober said the menorah has been used for several years, but “as a result of feedback received regarding the existing symbolism, we will be making changes to the Board’s online calendar to ensure it is representative of Jewish identity…. We regret any hurt or harm caused by this matter and the content of an email being circulated online; we are taking immediate action to make the correction.”