Shabbat Candlelighting 4:13 p.m.                                             Friday, January 7, 2011/2 Shevat 5771

This message has 684 words, and will take about 2-3 minutes to read.

Annual Campaign Update
As we wind down the 2010 Annual Campaign, I want to thank our donors who have recognized the value and importance of supporting our community through the Federation Annual Campaign, which touches thousands lives here in our community and around the Jewish world. We are currently focused on confirming gifts from a limited number of donors who have contributed in previous years. Our campaign currently stands at $7.6 million, and we are projecting finishing at about $7.8 million. We can all be very excited and proud to have done so well this year, increasing the funds raised for our community in the midst of still uncertain economic times.We will be focusing shortly on acknowledging the many campaign leaders, canvassers and event volunteers who have worked so hard to bring about this tremendous achievement.

If you have not yet made your gift, you can still do so online or by calling our office at 604.257.5100.

As we complete this year’s campaign we will be saying a very grateful thank-you to Karen James, our extraordinary Chair of Women’s Philanthropy, who is completing two years of service in that role. Karen’s incredible personal Jewish journey has inspired many within our own community, and as she has started speaking across North America, has touched thousands of Jewish women beyond our community. We look forward to Karen’s continued participation in leadership within Jewish Federation as our Vice-Chair for Financial Resource Development. We are very pleased that succeeding Karen is Diane Switzer, who has served previously as Federation Vice-Chair for Community Planning and for Leadership Development. Diane is also a past President of the Jewish Family Service Agency.

Parashat Bo
Every once in a while the weekly Torah reading is echoed so sharply in contemporary natural phenomenon that it can leave you scratching your head in wonder. This week we read Parashat Bo. While we've all been off vacationing the past few weeks, our forefathers' narrative has raced through our collective enslavement in Egypt; this week’s parasha picks up amidst the plagues God is inflicting on Egypt to convince Pharaoh to free the Israelites. This week we read about locusts, darkness, and the slaying of first-born children.

Earlier this week news reports appeared about thousands of blackbirds in Arkansas falling dead from the sky. This was followed by reports of large numbers of dead fish in waterways across the US, and additional reports about other mass wildlife deaths around the world. Scientists quickly gathered up bird and fish carcasses to research the causes of the mass deaths, and many wildlife experts have pointed out that such mass deaths are not that rare. But, many people focused on supernatural causes or religious symbolism to explain what was happening. In fact, the first news report I saw closed with language about "watching to see if locusts were coming next."

In the end, we probably will learn that the causes were some combination of natural phenomenon and the impact of human action. In a sense, we can say that about the biblical story of the plagues as well. Although the biblical story shows God as the primary actor, human action clearly plays a role. Yes, God brought the plagues and hardened Pharaoh's heart in order to bring about the terrible cycle of obstinacy and punishment. But, Pharaoh and the Egyptians were not blameless in the whole affair. It was their system of slavery and oppression which caused the Israelites to cry out to God for relief.

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.