Shabbat Candlelighting 7:38p.m.                                                Friday, April 9, 2010/18 Nisan 5770

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Tracking Events in Kyrgyzstan
The headlines of the past two days about the revolt in Kyrgyzstan are a potent reminder of the tremendous political instability that continues to roil beneath, and sometimes above, the surface throughout the vast regions that used to comprise the Soviet Union. Many of us would probably be hard placed to precisely locate Kyrgyzstan on the map, but suddenly we are learning of its strategic importance to the Russians, to the Americans, and in the battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Coming as it does in the midst of the current rift between Afghani President Karzai and his Western allies, it poses enormous strategic issues.

In the midst of this, you may be interested to know that there is a small Jewish community of less than 1,500 in Kyrgyzstan, primarily located in Bishkek, the capital city. Through the Joint Distribution Committee, our agent for world-wide relief and rehabilitation efforts, there has been close communication to monitor how the crisis is affecting the community there. It is still a violent and chaotic situation, and there have been reports of incidents directed at the Jewish community stemming from the revolt. We know from the community leadership there that the political instability is likely to be somewhat prolonged, and that can have a terrible impact on all innocent civilians.

At times like these we are reminded of the value of being part of a global community which bands together to support one another in good times and bad. Imagine the comfort it brings the community there to know that even as the crisis erupted, there were fellow Jews around the world checking in with them to make sure they were safe, and to see what they needed.

Chutzpah! Festival Ends with a Bang
This year, Chutzpah! The Lisa Nemetz Showcase of the Jewish Performing Arts spanned an unusual length, beginning in mid-March and finally closing after Passover with a final performance by Les Yeux Noirs at The Venue last night. This outstanding group energized the audience with its unique fusion of gypsy, klezmer and jazz. Kol HaKavod to all involved in bringing us another diverse, challenging, engaging and entertaining festival!

Yom HaShoah Commemorative Evening This Sunday
The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre’s annual Commemorative Event takes place Sunday at 7:30 pm at the JCCGV Wosk Auditorium. Featuring local survivor David Ehrlich, the program focuses on the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, along with musical performances.

Parashat Shemini
This week’s parasha opens with instructions to Aaron and his sons on the sin offerings to be brought for atonement. Two of Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, are punished by death after they fail to follow the specific instructions, and Moses instructs Aaron and his remaining sons not to mourn their deaths. Over the years the commentators have struggled to understand the harshness of the penalty for getting the sacrifices wrong.

A number of commentators conclude that Nadav and Avihu made more than a simple mistake, and rather they overstepped their authority or challenged Moses and Aaron by bringing forward an alternative offering. These commentators explain that the harshness of the penalty was intended to ensure that the Jewish people understood that their leaders’ authority emanated from God and wasn’t to be challenged.

Challenge to traditional authority is a theme replayed throughout history – we see it in today’s headlines both in the issues the Catholic Church is facing around its handling of clergy accused of abuse, and in this week’s revolt in Kyrgyzstan.

Shabbat Shalom!

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