Shabbat Candlelighting 8:03 p.m.                                                Friday, August 20, 2010/10 Elul 5770

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Ethiopian-Israeli Law Students Finish Whirlwind Visit
A few weeks ago, I reported on the visit to our community by Ruth Metaferya and Ilanit Bito, two Ethiopian-Israeli law students from the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. Their visit was funded by Jewish Federation as part of an effort to provide enriching experiences to Ethiopian-Israeli students pursuing professional careers that help them overcome challenges they will face in advancing in their fields. This is the second year we have hosted students, and the visit surpassed expectations for both the visitors and the hosts.

Beyond the practical experience their internships at Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy in Vancouver and Cohen Buchan Edwards in Richmond provided, Ruth and Ilanit visited several courtrooms to observe trials in progress, and spoke to colleagues at the firms at which they interned. Their English skills got an extensive workout as they spoke almost daily at synagogues, Jewish summer camps and other groups throughout the Lower Mainland and beyond. Their itinerary included trips to Camp Miriam on Gabriola Island and to Kelowna, where they met with both Jewish and Christian groups. Other groups that heard their amazing personal stories included Congregations Beth Tikvah, Beth Israel, Temple Sholom, Schara Tzedeck, Chabad, Beth Hamidrash, Ohel Ya’akov Community Kollel, Hillel’s Israel Awareness Club, Magen David Adom and L’Chaim Adult Day Centre. In a few short weeks they spoke to and met over 1,000 members of our community and others.

In addition to telling their amazing personal stories, Ruth and Ilanit also talked about the challenges Ethiopian-Israelis face integrating into Israeli society. Discrimination is an unfortunate reality, and they were direct and forthright in talking about its impact on their families and friends. They both volunteer with Ethiopian Israeli youth to help them see, through their personal examples, the value of staying in school, reaching high, and avoiding risky behaviors. Notwithstanding the challenges, they and their families are grateful to be in Israel and contributing to Israeli society.

Tired, and happy beyond words for the opportunity that they have had here, Ruth and Ilanit return on Sunday to Israel. There, they will rest briefly before gearing up for their second year of law school. Our sincere thanks to the law firms, host families, and others throughout our community who welcomed Ruth and Ilanit, and made them feel at home.

Joint Distribution Committee Accepting Donations for Pakistan Relief
The Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), our partner in providing services to Jewish communities throughout the world, is also a recognized international relief agency providing non-sectarian disaster relief services. This week the JDC opened a mailbox for donations to support relief efforts in Pakistan, which is enduring tremendous human suffering on an unimaginable scale from widespread flooding. Millions are homeless and at risk of disease and death. In areas like this, where it is impossible for JDC to operate directly on the ground, they work in partnership with other established relief agencies to coordinate and support efforts. If you are looking for a meaningful and secure way to support relief efforts in Pakistan through the organized Jewish community, you can donate to JDC’s relief efforts through Jewish Federation on our website or by calling our office at 604.257.5100.

Parashat Ki Tetze
This week’s parasha includes a litany of specific laws, among which are included laws about how to deal with lost property. We are obligated to go to great lengths to hold on to things we find that belong to others in order to keep them safe for the owner’s return. This kind of law reinforces the interdependence of community. Just as our Annual Campaign last year asked people to imagine themselves in the shoes of others facing difficulty, our tradition asks us, at a moment of potential windfall, to act for the benefit of the person facing loss. It is precisely that kind of interdependence that breeds mutual responsibility, an essential building block of a healthy community.

Shabbat Shalom!

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