Shabbat Candlelighting 4:23 p.m.                                                Friday, January 15, 2010/29 Tivet 5770

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Relief Efforts Building for Haiti
The focus of the world is riveted on Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, and this week victim of a devastating earthquake. Port-au-Prince, the capital city, is largely in ruins, and significant sections of the country were heavily impacted. There are an estimated 50,000 casualties, and millions are homeless or otherwise affected by this tragedy. Because of limited and collapsed infrastructure throughout the country, the next days will bring countless more tragedies due to lack of food, clean water, medical attention, shelter and more.

Your Federation has joined with many other humanitarian organizations in encouraging you to help. Federation is accepting donations designated for Haiti relief which will be administered by the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). For 95 years, JDC has provided rescue, relief and rehabilitation services in more than 60 countries around the world, and has experience in providing non-sectarian aid in partnership with other relief agencies in these kinds of situations. More than 151 members of our community have already made donations to Federation's Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund, and yesterday our board approved an emergency grant of $5,000 from our Overseas Emergency Reserve Fund to support relief efforts. Furthermore, the Canadian government announced that it will be matching individual donations made through Federation for Haiti. Visit for more information and to make a donation.

Fifth Israeli Medical School to be Developed in Eastern Galilee
The Council for Higher Education in Israel decided on Tuesday to establish the fifth medical school in Israel in Tzfat under the umbrella of Bar Ilan University. This is an extraordinarily important development for the north of Israel and is the outcome of several years of planning and advocacy. Part of our 2006 Israel Emergency Campaign (IEC) funds were used to support research into health and education related issues as a part of a master development plan for Israel’s northern region, as well as to support a coalition of 13 mayors in the eastern Galilee focused on addressing these kinds of needs in their area. The Tzafona master development plan called for the creation of a new medical school, together with upgrading of the Tzfat hospital and creation of a new bio-technology research centre as an anchor for the social and economic improvement of the eastern Galilee. The mayors’ coalition has worked effectively, with our support, to advocate within the government process to bring the Council for Higher Education to Tuesday’s exciting announcement. This is a truly great example of a strategic investment of our IEC funding to help catalyze a large-scale project that will have a profound long-term benefit for Israel’s northern region.

JLinx Launches in Richmond
This past Monday night saw the inaugural event of JLinx, the new way to make Jewish connections in Richmond. A partnership of the Community Kollel and the Kehila Society of Richmond, organizers were delighted with the turnout. With the cooperation of the Richmond Country Club, events will be held in the club’s banquet hall. All ages were present to watch Monday’s hockey game, have a drink and enjoy meeting new and old friends. Plans are already underway for the next event which will be targeted to the 39+ crowd. For more information contact Debbie Cossever at 604.241.9270 or

Birthright Alumni Explore Jewish Identity
Also on Monday, the BC Birthright Alumni Committee and Federation brought about 25 young adults together at Enigma Restaurant for a screening of The Tribe. The warm atmosphere, delicious food, and fascinating film made for a great evening. The Tribe is an award-winning documentary that takes audiences on an electric ride through the complex history of both the Barbie doll and the Jewish people – from biblical times to present day. You can imagine the discussion that would have sparked.

MP Irwin Cotler to Speak on Raoul Wallenberg
This Sunday, the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre will be presenting the Honorouble Irwin Cotler, speaking on ‘Raoul Wallenberg – Righteous Among the Nations: Lessons for our Time’. Wallenberg was the Swedish diplomat working in Budapest, Hungary who saved tens of thousands of Jewish lives by issuing protective passports and other documentation on behalf of the Swedish government. Wallenberg was arrested by Soviet forces after they liberated Budapest from the Nazis, and he disappeared into the Soviet prison system, and never regained his freedom. The program takes place 1:00 p.m. at the JCCGV Wosk Auditorium.

Save the Date
On Sunday, February 14th, come celebrate with the Israeli Olympic team, Jewish Federation and the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver. The event takes place at 4:30 p.m. at the JCCGV. Stay tuned for more information.

Parashat Va’era
This week’s parasha continues the narrative of the confrontation between Moses and Pharoah, and God begins to set plagues on Egypt to punish Pharoah for his intransigence in not letting the Hebrews leave. In the face of the first five plagues, it seems that Pharoah is making his own decision to continue the enslavement. However, with the later references to the “hardening of Pharoah’s heart” we learn that it is as a result of God’s intervention. An interesting interpretation was offered by the psychologist Erich Fromm, who points to human nature. Fromm says that evil acts deaden people, ultimately to the point of no return, while good acts soften people’s hearts. The more extreme the plagues became, the less ability Pharoah had to divert himself and his people from the path of disaster. With each successive plague God brought, Pharoah became less the master of his own destiny.

Shabbat Shalom!

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