Shabbat Candlelighting 5:44 p.m.                                                Friday, March 5, 2010/19 Adar 5770

This message has 980 words and will take approximately 3-4 minutes to read.

The PJ Library Launches
Thousands of households across the Lower Mainland received an introductory mailing this week from The PJ Library, one of the great Jewish family outreach programs in North American Jewish life. Greater Vancouver joins the more than 130 other communities now involved in this program. The PJ Library (PJ as in pajama) offers Jewish families the opportunity to enroll their children ages 6 months – 5 years old, to receive a FREE monthly delivery of a Jewish book or CD over the course of three years.

The Harold Grinspoon Foundation
, the national sponsor of the program, along with local sponsors (our Jewish Federation and Jewish Community Centre) are pleased to be bringing this program to our community, with the support of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Vancouver and several private donors.

The program will introduce hundreds of young children and their families to the joys and insights of Jewish tradition and culture, and start these families off on building a home library of Jewish resource materials. Each book delivered is a special edition published for The PJ Library, and includes a parent guide for how you and your child can connect with the Jewish themes and values reflected within.

We have capacity to enroll 360 children in this first year. For information on how to sign up, please visit our website If you don’t have children in the target age range, please pass the mailing along to someone you know who does. And grandparents, of course, are welcome to enroll their grandchildren!

Important Mountain Equipment Co-op Update – Vote Online Today
Last year Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), was the unfortunate target of an effort to politicize its sourcing practices in an effort to delegitimize Israel. This year MEC’s board is attempting to protect its business practices and ethical sourcing policy by adopting a number of special resolutions that will provide better organizational controls as to how issues and resolutions can be introduced for consideration at their Annual General Meetings. If you are a member of MEC, you can help them in this process by voting now. Click here for more information. Voting ends April 8th.

Anti-Apartheid Week a Weak Attempt this Year
Anti-Apartheid Week on North American university campuses has become an unfortunate annual ritual, and emails and alerts have been flying around the Jewish world raising alarms and reporting on various outrages. There is much to be outraged about. However, an objective analysis of what is going on across Canadian campuses shows that the groups organizing the Anti-Apartheid Week efforts are putting forth a fairly weak and disorganized effort this year. More encouraging, they are being met with smart and effective responses being mounted by Jewish student groups, assisted by the University Outreach Committee of our Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy.

Gaining particular notice is the Size Doesn’t Matter campaign, a cleverly crafted series of videos aimed at changing people’s perceptions about Israel, and moving the discussion beyond the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The videos are aimed primarily at young adults and are edgy in content. The first one has certainly helped create buzz on campus, although not everyone appreciates the approach taken.

A number of university presidents and politicians have come out with public statements opposing Israel Apartheid Week as counter to the values of free-speech and the open exchange of ideas to which universities should be home, including local MP Joyce Murray, within whose riding UBC is located.

Chutzpah! Festival 2010 Also Launches this Week
The JCCGV’s Chutzpah! Festival 2010 opened last night with an extraordinary concert by the Idan Raichel Project. This annual festival, with its outstanding line-up of Jewish performing artists in music, dance and theatre, is one of the cultural highlights of our community’s annual cycle of events. Several of the events are also part of the Cultural Olympiad.

Jewish Federation, through our Israel and Overseas Affairs Department, has partnered with the JCCGV over the past several years to ensure that Chutzpah! has the opportunity and resources to include Israeli artists as part of the schedule, and we were thrilled to co-sponsor last night’s show. The Idan Raichel Project was a blockbuster of a launch for Chutzpah! The ensemble brought together the cultural richness and diversity of Israeli life for a stunning musical performance. Kol HaKavod to festival director Mary Louise Alpert and to the JCCGV and Chutzpah! teams for bringing the very highest caliber of Jewish performing arts to our community.

Don’t miss your opportunity to see great entertainment over the next several weeks. Visit the Chutzpah! Festival 2010 website or call 604.257.5111 for tickets.

Parashat Ki Tissa
In this week’s parasha, the Israelites are restive and rebellious while they await Moses’ return from atop Mt. Sinai. They demand that Aaron fashion for them an idol they can worship in the mode of the Egyptians, and in his weakness, he accedes to their demand. The moment carries with it all the power and drama involved when a large mob coalesces. Emotions are high; social norms go out the window. It takes but a few people to transform the moment into a dangerous one.

Over the past weeks we saw large crowds, some you might even characterize as mobs, gather here in celebration of the Olympics, and especially the dramatic finish to the men’s gold medal hockey game. Everyone marveled at how peaceful and joyous everyone was, and at the tremendous positive spirit that overtook our region and country. But imagine if Canada had lost the game. Would we have seen the emotional crowds tip over the thin edge where they might have been swayed by a few for ill?

The constant opportunity to reach back through biblical text into our distant past and see parallels and examples of issues and moments of today is truly amazing.

Shabbat Shalom!

This is an official email sent to you from the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver. Federation respects and upholds an individual’s right to privacy and to protection of his or her personal information. We use personal data for providing up-to-date information on our objectives, services, to process donations.