Monday, November 14, 2011


When I was starting school in Montreal, Quebec, in the 1940's, the dominant school system was Roman Catholic and mostly French.
Well, the Roman Catholic mostly French school authorities didn't want the Jews, so the secondary school system - Protestant and mostly English - got stuck with us by default.
Consequently in our neighbourhood around Park Avenue, almost all the kids in our school were Jewish and we studied in English. French studies began in third grade.
We learned English. We learned French. And most of us remained a part of the English-speaking community. In later years, Quebec separatists blamed us for siding with the English. Hmmm.
McGill University didn't want Jews either. So they set higher standards - quotas - against Jews, Roman Catholics and people of colour.
In order to be accepted to study law or medicine at McGill, our kids had to have higher marks than non-Jews.
So, what did we do? We ensured that our children studied extra hard day and night - no fooling around. We didn't have television or iPods or any of those gimmicks back then. We had radio. We had books. And the Jewish students excelled and surpassed the gentiles with higher marks.
Since then, McGill University has graduated hundreds of Jewish doctors and other professionals who are extolled for their brilliance. Those you meet today are often the sons and daughters of those who worked so hard to overcome the obstacles put in place by bigots. Bigots gave them the drive to succeed, to be better than those the system protected, and their success continues down the generations.
If those who hold power make it tough for you to succeed,
Beat them ! Work harder.
Be better.
Make bigotry pay !

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