Shabbat Candlelighting 5:06 p.m.                                             Friday, February 11, 2011/7 Adar 5771

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Protests Erupt Across the Mideast
Day by day, the world has watched much of the Arab world erupt in massive street demonstrations that have spread like wildfire across the region. One by one, autocratic leaders are grappling with what degree of freedom they can allow, how quickly they can introduce new economic measures to drive job growth, and whether their regimes can outlive the rapid pace of change in today’s world.

Notwithstanding Hosni Mubarak’s pledge not to stand for reelection next fall, it is hard to imagine how his rule will last much longer without the army stepping in to restore order. And, it is not so clear that the Egyptian army will do his bidding at this stage. The uncertainty of where things will end up in Egypt and many other Arab countries, poses great challenges for the West and for Israel. The balance of power is shifting, but to what new equilibrium, and how long will it be before that picture becomes clear?

There is a very long history of Jewish presence in Egypt. Of course, there is the history of slavery and redemption during the biblical period, but for many centuries there were significant Jewish communities in Cairo and Alexandria. If you are interested in learning more about the history of Egyptian Jewry, the JIMENA website is a great resource.

In Israel many feel caught between a natural sympathy for Egyptians seeking a more democratic and open society, and deep fear about the potential rise of another radical Muslim state, this time on Israel’s southern border. The uncertainty about what role the Muslim Brotherhood will play in whatever government emerges, and whether any new government will honour the peace treaty forged at Camp David over 30 years ago, leaves many feeling great anxiety.

For a comprehensive overview of the situation in Egypt, click here.

Birthright Registration Opens February 14th
Jewish Federation is helping fund extra spots on Birthright for local young Jewish adults to meet the growing demand, and to minimize the number of applicants from our community who are waitlisted. If you know of any young adults aged 18-26 who are interested in a free first-time experience in Israel, let them know that registration opens on February 14th for previous applicants, and on February 15th for new applicants at For 18-21 year olds we are working to have a Lower Mainland community bus in May – if interested applicants should choose May as their preferred travel time. For more information, contact Shelley Goldberg at or 604.257.5100.

Parashat Terumah
This week’s parasha describes in great detail the specifications for building the Tabernacle, the portable home of the tablets containing the Ten Commandments. The materials to be used, the dimensions, shapes, fittings and coverings are all outlined. In a later reading the actual construction will be recorded. This reading focuses on the assembly of the necessary materials, all to be gathered through public donation. Terumah means gift, but its Hebrew root means “to elevate”. Making a gift to God is an act of elevation; it brings you to a higher level. We know that people give tzedakah for many reasons, sometimes altruistic and sometime less so. Whatever the reasons of the donor, however, the act still has an elevating impact, because of the homage to God it represents, and because of the great good that can result.

Shabbat Shalom!

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