Shabbat Candlelighting 5:50 p.m.                                             Friday, October 22, 2010/14 Cheshvan 5771

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New Diamond Foundation Centre for Jewish Campus Life Dedicated
This past Sunday was the formal dedication of the Hillel house at the UBC campus. The building is called The Diamond Foundation Centre for Jewish Campus Life in recognition of the magnificent lead gift for this project by The Diamond Foundation. The beautiful sunshine on Sunday showed the outstanding new building to great advantage, as visitors were able to appreciate the light and open design. I talked with many UBC alumni from our community who remember their days in the World War II era quonset hut that served as UBC Hillel’s home for many decades. The new building is not just a tremendous improvement on that particular facility, as we heard from current and past officials from Hillel International, it is among the most beautiful and thoughtfully designed Hillel centres in the world.

There has been a steady growth in the reach and sophistication of programming of our Vancouver Hillel Foundation. With facilities on the UBC, SFU and UVic campuses, and a growing range of social, religious, cultural, educational and Israel-related programs, the Vancouver Hillel Foundation has emerged as one of the strongest Hillel programs in Canada, and most likely across North America. As our Annual Campaign has grown, our Federation has been able to help fuel Hillel’s growth over this period, both through direct allocations, as well as through nationally funded advocacy programs for campuses that are also supported through the campaign.

Jewish Federation was pleased to take part in Sunday’s dedication as an opportunity to salute capital campaign chair Isaac Thau, Vancouver Hillel board president Alan Marchant, executive director Eyal Lichtmann, the Diamond family, and the many donors, board members, committee members, volunteers, and students who worked for many years to bring about this great result. I encourage you to make your way to the very heart of the UBC campus, across from the Student Union Building, to visit a great new addition to our Jewish community.

Rabin Memorial Brings Together Wide Coalition of Groups

A broad coalition of community groups came together Wednesday evening for one of our community’s largest youth-led programs – the annual Yitzhak Rabin memorial. Youth leadership from Habonim Dror, JCCGV’s Eidan youth leadership program, King David High School, the TAG and Torah High supplementary high school programs, United Synagogue Youth, Vancouver Hillel’s Israel Awareness Club, and Vancouver NCSY all participated in leading sections of the program, and bringing their membership out for the evening. Both Jewish Federation and the Jewish Community Centre provided logistical and financial support to make the program possible.

The focus on memorializing Yitzhak Rabin, the popular Israeli prime minister who was assassinated 15 years ago while attending a peace rally, clearly touches a chord with young adults who want to support Israel and who want to connect with Israel around a message of peace.

Parashat Vayera
In this week's parasha, Abraham is sitting outside his tent recovering from his adult circumcision when three strangers come by. Despite his pain, he jumps up to offer them hospitality. This story is the root of the Jewish value of hachnasat orchim - the welcoming of strangers. This value is incorporated into many mitzvot (commandments) that are part of our Jewish life and calendar. We are commanded to welcome guests to our sukkah and Passover seder table. It is both a personal and collective responsibility to offer hospitality and support to newcomers to our communities.

Within our Federation family of agencies, there are several that play an integral role in welcoming newcomers on our collective behalf. Jewish Family Service Agency and Shalom BC both play critical roles in assisting new immigrants and other newcomers to our community. The Vancouver Hillel Foundation, by creating a Jewish community in various campus settings, welcomes many students from elsewhere. Welcoming and integrating new immigrants is also a fundamental role of the Jewish Agency for Israel, the primary organization through which our campaign funds are deployed in Israel.

Shabbat Shalom!

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