Shabbat Candlelighting 4:09 p.m.                                             Friday, November 26, 2010/19 Kislev 5771

This message has 1,029 words, and will take about 3-4 minutes to read.

Busy Sunday
Last Sunday was one of those extraordinarily busy community days where it seems that anybody and everybody was doing something Jewish:

The PJ Library – 40 families gathered at the JCCGV for a family education program centered around Leslie Simpson’s The Shabbat Box. After reading the book, The PJ Library outreach coordinator Lissa Weinberger led families through a series of hands-on crafts to create their own Shabbat boxes and challah covers. The PJ Library is a terrific program, which is building early Jewish literacy by providing families with a home library of Jewish books and other materials. Since launching last spring we’ve filled the initial 360 enrollment spaces available. More spaces for children ages 6 months to 5 years will open this March, and we’ve started a waiting list. We’ll be working to expand the capacity of the program to clear the waiting list as quickly as possible. To get on the waiting list, contact Samara Bordan at 604.257.5100 or To help with a targeted donation to support The PJ Library program, contact me by reply email.

• Supplementary School Family Education Initiative – This year we are providing grants to the supplementary schools to create or expand their family education programming. Over 100 students from four supplementary schools joined together to participate in a highly experiential program called Journey Through Jewish Literature, which was held in partnership with the Cherie Smith JCCGV Jewish Book Festival.

Cherie Smith JCCGV Book Festival – On top of hosting the other programs, the JCCGV was in full swing with its annual book festival, with several events taking place on Sunday.

Congregation Schara Tzedeck facilitated a social action project, in partnership with Yaffa Housing Society, to create a new outdoor vegetable garden for Yaffa’s side-by-side homes on the east side. Over a dozen volunteers gathered for step one – constructing cedar garden boxes. When the weather gets warmer, they will move onto placing and filling the boxes, and planting vegetables.

Vancouver Hillel Foundation held its annual gala, featuring columnist and satirist Mark Steyn. Steyn was true to form, by turns entertaining, stimulating and provocative. For me the real star of the evening was Rael Katz, leader of Hillel’s Israel Action Club, who reported on the creative and effective leadership that campus leaders have provided at this summer’s Pride Parade, and this week in responding to George Galloway’s visit to Vancouver (more below). Kol hakavod to Hillel students and staff, who are making a real and serious contribution to our community’s Israel advocacy efforts.

George Galloway on Tour
Former British MP George Galloway, noted for his outspoken support of Khomeinist forces in Iran, Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, and, of course, Hamas leaders in Gaza, made his way across Canada this past week, stopping in Vancouver at the beginning of the week. The best analysis I’ve seen of the issues surrounding Galloway have been penned by journalist and blogger Terry Glavin, who is quite skilled at using facts to cut through the rhetoric of the radical left. Glavin’s two pieces from this week are worth a read:

Vancouver Hillel made its own unique and effective contribution to responding to Galloway’s visit by unmasking the fallacious claims of support for his visit. Galloway’s visit was coordinated by StopWar, an organization which was quite active a few years ago at the time of the World Peace Forum, but which seems to have devolved into a very small group of radical left activists. At the time of the World Peace Forum they had built an impressive list of endorsers. Several years later, without checking in with people, they are still advertising that list of endorsers for activities such as Galloway’s visit.

Hillel activists started contacting people on that list to make sure that they knew that their name was being used in association with Galloway’s visit, and that they knew what Galloway was involved in. The beauty of this approach is that it doesn’t challenge Galloway’s right to speak. Rather it focuses attention on what Galloway really stands for, so people can draw informed conclusions. What followed was a series of quick statements from individuals and organizations disassociating themselves from StopWar, including environmental activist David Suzuki. Also, the pastor of the church at which Galloway spoke issued a statement disassociating the church from the event.

In the context of all this, we welcome Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s statement this week that Canada would not participate in the Durban III Conference because it would perpetuate the “hate-fest” that the Durban anti-racism process has become. Unfortunately, the UN General Assembly has continued down the path with this flawed process. Fortunately, the Canadian government, in a clear-minded way, is unambiguous in reminding the world about the dangers of continuing to promote “the big lie”. It is worth noting that the Liberal Party endorsed this stance.

BUYcott MEC this Chanukah
As you start your Chanukah shopping, please consider the ongoing BUYcott of MEC, which helps show support for their ethical sourcing policy and counter the effects of the calls to boycott that MEC continues face as a result of sourcing products from Israel.

Parashat Vayeshev
This week’s parasha relates the beginning of the Joseph story, focusing a great deal on his ability to interpret dreams. Joseph displays a reckless disregard for how others might react both to his dreams and his skills, but nonetheless is consistent in attributing his abilities to God. As I read the narrative of the Joseph story I am struck by his lack of complaints. He is sold into slavery by his brothers, imprisoned falsely in Egypt, and yet we don’t hear him crying out to God for help. From his early dreams he knows that, ultimately, he will rise above the current challenges to a position of great power.

Most of us do not live with that kind of certainty about our future. We go through life buffeted by events and fate, and don’t feel the immediate presence of God in a way that would enable us to face life with calm and certainty. Joseph faced his trials alone, often in solitude. We have the benefit, if we choose, of leaning on community to help us along. The value of community is that we don’t have to be isolated and alone. In fact, supporting one another and standing together, whether in celebration or consolation, is one of the best ways I can think of to feel the presence of God in our lives.

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.