This week, Jewish children around the world will gather in their family’s sukkah, wave the four species, and learn from their parents and grandparents the traditions of the beautiful festival of Sukkot.
There are many powerful lessons to be drawn from the rich symbols of this festival. One favourite is the idea that the four species – the etrog, lulav, hadass, and aravah – represent the diverse spectrum of the Jewish people, and it is only when we are united that we can achieve our unique purpose.
The sukkah itself is a poignant reminder that, despite the material prosperity represented by our permanent homes, it is our Creator who sustains us – a fact that should inspire the gratitude and humility symbolized by our temporary dwelling.
It is a lesson that should also direct our energies to advocacy. Tragically, far too many in our community and throughout Canada continue to struggle with inadequate, inaccessible, or unaffordable housing.
While many are affected, people with disabilities are among the most vulnerable. It is a sobering reality that 9 in 10 Canadians with developmental disabilities live in poverty. This is completely unacceptable in a country as prosperous as Canada!
This is why, working in close consultation with Jewish social service agencies, we are calling on all three levels of government to designate a set allocation of affordable housing funds for people with disabilities. To specifically help individuals with developmental disabilities, we are also urging governments to ensure that 5% of all affordable housing funding is devoted to those in this acutely vulnerable group.
To achieve this, we need your help. Just as the four species must be united to fulfill their purpose, our work is incomplete without the active engagement of our grassroots. Before you begin celebrating Sukkot, we ask that you take one minute – right now – to join us in telling our elected officials that affordable housing is a priority for you.