Sukkot Candlelighting 6:18 p.m.                                             Friday, October 8, 2010/30 Tishrei 5771

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Annual Campaign Launch Draws 1,500
Although we’ve been actively working on the Federation Annual Campaign for several weeks, this past Monday night was our community-wide opening event featuring Professor Alan Dershowitz at The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts. On behalf of Federation and all who had the opportunity to be part of Monday’s event, I want to express our deep appreciation to the BMO Financial Group, our sponsor for the evening. A few highlights from the evening:

Dershowitz A Great Example of Why Knowledge is Power

Professor Dershowitz spoke in a Q&A format moderated by local physician and media personality Dr. Art Hister. Seated with Dershowitz in a living-room style setting, Hister posed a series of questions contributed by audience members in advance of the program. The format played to Dershowitz’s great strengths, providing him ample opportunity to address a variety of issues - including the Middle East peace process, Iran, US politics and the Obama administration, anti-Semitism, Jewish continuity and the importance of the Federation Annual Campaign - in a spontaneous and engaging way. Dershowitz is extraordinarily knowledgeable on a wide range of subjects, able to marshal facts, statistics, historical information, humour and persuasives arguments to make his case, whatever the topic. We saw a great mind in action, and Dershowitz quickly demonstrated why he has had the impact in law, education and human rights that he’s had. The result was an extremely interesting hour with one of the great Jewish personalities of our time.

During the day Monday, Dershowitz filmed an interview with Fazil Mihlar, the editorial pages editor at The Vancouver Sun. You can see his interview here. Soon we’ll have the entire Dershowitz segment from our event available for download for those of you who missed him live.

Campaign Video Showcases the Reach of the Annual Campaign
A short video about the many ways in which your Annual Campaign gift touches virtually everyone in our community was a powerful component of the evening’s program. Take a few minutes to see for yourself at

Birthright Monologues a Pleasant Surprise
Although not advertised in advance to preserve the surprise, a key part of the program was a short presentation by The Birthright Monologues. Three performers, all Birthright Israel alumni, shared their personal stories in moving, funny and occasionally edgy fashion, bringing the amazing impact of Birthright to life. Over the past 10 years we’ve sent 1,800 young adults from the Lower Mainland to experience Israel on Birthright, changing many of their lives, and deepening their connections to Israel and Jewish life. If you are interested in seeing more of the monologues, or what you missed, check them out on YouTube.

Youth Get Private Time with Dershowitz
At the initiative of Rabbi Stephen Berger, director of Torah High, we were able to coordinate a brief private post-event Q&A session with Alan Dershowitz for a group of about 30 high school and college-age youth. It was a great opportunity for the students to ask their own questions and have a more personal engagement with him.

Campaign Riding Strong on Challenge Fund
Annual Campaign Chair, Mark James reported on the strong start our campaign has had due in part to The Challenge Fund – an incentive provided by a group of our community’s philanthropic leadership. Seven families have come together to create a $200,000 challenge fund through which every increase from other donors to our campaign is being matched by one-third. With that foundation, we’ve already closed 32% of campaign gifts and continue to run a consistent 17% increase on the gifts that have closed. Please help us keep the momentum going by making your gift now.

Sukkot a Reminder of the Fragility of Our Existence
Tonight we begin our celebration of the festival of Sukkot, the eight day holiday during which we are commanded to dwell in temporary huts to commemorate our long journey in the desert following the Exodus from Egypt. When we sit in our sukkah we are reminded of the fragility of our existence among the forces of nature. What incredible wisdom the rabbis had to bring us that reminder so immediately after Yom Kippur, when our hearts and minds are opened to our role in making the world a better place.

Reboot – a Jewish social entrepreneur organization - recently launched a contest in which architects and designers were challenged to create radical new sukkah designs in New York City’s Union Square. Check out the Sukkah City website to see the imaginative ways various teams have managed to meet the halakhic requirements for constructing a sukkah.

Chag Sameach!

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