Shabbat Candlelighting 7:59 p.m.                                                Friday, April 23, 2010/9 Iyar 5770

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Yom Hazikaron Ceremony Moving Beyond Words
This past Sunday evening about 500 community members gathered to observe Yom Hazikaron – Israel Remembrance Day, on which we remember members of the Israeli Defense Forces who have fallen in the line of duty, and those who lost their lives in Israel as victims of terror. The local organizing committee for this event put together another deeply moving evening, involving local community soldiers who have lost family or friends, and telling the stories of some of those lost who have Greater Vancouver connections. This year the ceremony was held at Temple Sholom, in order to accommodate the large participation that the event draws.

Youth Rock Out at Yom Ha’atzmaut Concert
Our annual Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration was another stellar concert, this year featuring the Israeli band, HaGroovatron. The group’s trademark is performing new and innovative arrangements of some of Israel’s classic and favourite songs. More than any other group we’ve seen perform here before, HaGroovatron's spirited performance got the almost 1,300 person crowd into the show, and by the end of the evening there were groups of teens and young adults dancing at the front of the hall and in the aisles.

The inclusion of performances from the JCCGV’s youth programs, including ‘Gotta Sing Gotta Dance’ alumni, Or Chadash and younger Israeli folk dance troupes added an extra degree of community connection and excitement to the evening.

The days leading up to the concert were tense for the organizers, with a lot of uncertainty about whether HaGroovatron would be able to get to Vancouver, given volcano-induced flight disruptions. In the end, all but one group member made it in for the performance. To view photos from the event, click here.

King David Hosts VTT and RJDS Students
For the second year in a row, King David High School hosted a Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration for the upper grades of Richmond Jewish Day School and Vancouver Talmud Torah. I caught the first part of the program, which again focused on remembrance for Israel’s fallen, and was impressed with the care and thought that the KDHS students put into the presentation, and with the respect and attentiveness of all the participants.

Allocations Committee in Process
Federation conducts a bi-annual allocations process with our local beneficiary agencies. Allocation applications were due in just before Passover, and our Allocations Planning Committee (APC) has been hard at work reading through the voluminous material presented by 21 local agencies. With weekly meetings continuing through the next month, the committee will have its recommendations ready for review by the Federation board at the end of May.

Mountain Equipment Co-op AGM this Thursday
Mountain Equipment Co-op is holding its AGM on Thursday, April 29th from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Simon Fraser University Segal School of Business at 500 Granville Street. It is important that our community show its support once again for MEC’s ethical sourcing policy and its continued business with Israeli companies, despite ongoing political pressure to boycott Israeli products. We must not let complacency or apathy catch us off guard. If you are a member, we urge you to attend this meeting. You should arrive at 4:00 p.m., or as early as possible as seating is limited and admission is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Last year, many people arrived too late to be able to enter and vote. For more information, please contact Dan Schloss, Canada-Israel Committee Pacific Region at 604.622.4242 or

Parashat Acharei Mot/Kedoshim
This week is another double portion. The second, Kedoshim, continues what is referred to in our tradition as "The Holiness Code", called this because it includes a litany of things we are commanded to do or not to do, punctuated occasionally with the statement "I am the Lord". The set of commandments includes both ritual and moral behaviors. It includes commandments about how we are to treat other people (ie. honour the elderly; don't hold your workers’ wages overnight), how we are to treat the earth (ie. don't mix seeds when planting a field), and how we observe certain rituals (ie. when it is okay to eat from sacrifices).

Taken as a whole, Kedoshim provides a unique guide to ethical behavior - one that consciously set the Jewish people apart from the other nations around them. While some of the detailed commandments may no longer be relevant in contemporary society, a great many of them form the core of established moral codes in Western society.

Shabbat Shalom!

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