Montreal, Canada – For three months now at the Bouchard-Taylor commission, they've heard criticisms of Jewish orthodoxy – its dress codes, its segregation of the sexes, its closed communities, even its kosher food.
Today the Jewish community finally came to its own defence. "Freedom of religion and conscience are fundamental freedoms," said Steven Slimovitch, legal counsel for B,nai Brith.
"What harm is there in a doctor at a hospital or a teacher at school who wears a religious symbol, whether it be a kippa or a crucifix?" Slimovitch asked.
"It might upset some people and offend others, but those people's tastes and idiosyncrasies shouldn't take precedence, even if they're members of the majority."
Going against the current of popular opinion expressed at the hearings, Slimovitch said there should be more accommodations of religious difference in Quebec, not fewer. For example, a Hasidic woman who doesn't want to take a government driving test with a male evaluator should be allowed to ask for a female one. [montrealgazette]