Shabbat Candlelighting 5:08 p.m.                                                Friday, February 12, 2010/28 Shevat 5770

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More Olympics Highlights
Well the big day has finally arrived. Not only do the Olympics formally begin tonight but it is also the beginning of Shabbat (couldn’t resist). Seriously, after years of preparations the Games are finally beginning, and it seems on just about every front that the Olympics are taking over our lives. My round-up last week missed a few Jewish community connections, so here are some more:

•It was a thrill to be included in the welcoming and flag raising ceremony for the Israeli delegation at the Olympic Village yesterday. Although I just barely managed to run the security gauntlet in time to catch the flag raising, watching the Israeli athletes and coaches posing for pictures with Quaatchi and Miga was a great moment. I snuck in for a picture too. Check out our Facebook page for more pictures.

Celebrate with the Israeli Olympic team this Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at the JCCGV. If you missed welcoming and meeting the Israeli athletes at the large community gathering sponsored by Magen David Adom last night at Temple Sholom this is your chance.

•We missed a few members of our community who had the wonderful opportunity to run with the Olympic torch. In addition to those I mentioned last week, we now know about David Klein, Bill Jaffe, Don MacGregor and Jon Reese. Check out the Olympic album on Facebook, fan us and add your pictures. Karen James’ moving story about her experience at the Munich Olympics was featured on the front page of yesterday’s Vancouver Sun. She's carrying the torch this afternoon.

Congregation Beth Tikvah is hosting an Olympic-themed Shabbat Kiddush this Saturday with guest speaker, Karen James. Next Friday evening, February 19th, Congregation Beth Israel and Congregation Har El are hosting Olympic Shabbat Dinners and Temple Sholom is celebrating an Olympic Purim on Saturday, February 27th. For those of you who will be enjoying the festivities in Whistler, there are a whole range of activities planned.

Oh yes, apparently there are some significant sporting events, free concerts, and other major happenings going on about town, if you want to reach beyond just the Jewish community activities.

Parashat Mishpatim
In this week’s parasha the Torah transitions away from a largely narrative story towards a compendium of laws and rituals we are commanded to fulfill. Included this week is the obligation not to collect interest from the needy. It is this commandment that has led to the development of Hebrew Free Loan societies (HFLA) across North America. By making interest-free loans available, HFLA provides community members with a dignified and meaningful way to obtain loans to meet a broad range of personal or family needs.

Over the past 30 years, HFLA of Vancouver has helped more than 1,300 people with over $3.8 million in loans, helping individuals and families face financial challenges such as housing, medical expenses, tuition for university, camp or school, purchasing a vehicle or computer for work or school, or dealing with a family emergency.

The Hebrew Free Loan Association is a wonderful example of how Jewish communities have brought our ancient tradition to life today in extraordinarily and meaningful ways.

To access information about HFLA’s loan programs or to join the organization, contact their office at 604.257.5151 or visit their website.

Shabbat Shalom!

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