Shabbat Candlelighting 5:42 p.m.                                             Friday, March 4, 2011/28 Adar 5771

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Join in Solidarity with Gilad Shalit
This Monday, a unique international webcast will join tens of thousands of Jews across Canada and Israel in solidarity with Gilad Shalit and his family. It is now 1,713 days since Shalit was captured by Hamas forces and taken into captivity in Gaza. Aside from a few broadcasts released over almost five years, Shalit remains isolated in captivity in full contravention of international law on the treatment of military prisoners.

At 10:00 a.m. PST on Monday, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and our local community joins all Jewish communities across Canada and the Shalit family in Jerusalem for a live webcast solidarity gathering. Gilad’s father, Noam, will participate direct from the Shalit family protest tent in Jerusalem. The 15 minute satellite broadcast can be viewed at the Jewish Community Centre, King David High School, or the UBC Hillel house if you would like to join together with other community members for this event, or you can access it online at

Got Ideas to Share? Join us at IdeaSlam!
If you are in your 20’s or 30’s and have ideas about how to build and strengthen our community, we want to hear them. Join us for IdeaSlam, Tuesday, March 15th, 7:30 p.m. at The Cellar.

IdeaSlam is a unique program format developed by PresenTense, an Israel-based organization focused on engaging young adults and emerging social leaders in reshaping their communities. We are exploring working with PresenTense to bring their community entrepreneurship partnership program to the Lower Mainland. IdeaSlam is a way for us to test out whether there is interest and a critical mass of young energy and ideas here to build upon. I’m betting there is; show up and prove me right. Follow the link to register your RSVP.

Mideast Turmoil Continues
The news out of the Mideast continues to be dominated by the conflict in Libya, where Muamar Qaddafi is waging full scale war against dissident forces seeking his ouster. As other Mideast autocrats have either fled or tried to negotiate their way to a transition of power, Qaddafi has hunkered down with the result of significant loss of life of Libyan citizens. The conflict there has temporarily overshadowed other countries where the desire for freedom continues to bubble out with varying intensity.

One of the more optimistic commentaries I saw this week on the seismic changes we are seeing in the Arab world came from a surprising source - Daniel Pipes, a generally conservative and hawkish analyst, published in the National Review.

Mountain Equipment Co-op Board Election Underway
Mountain Equipment Co-op, which has been targeted in recent years by anti-Israel activists seeking to block the company from carrying Israeli products, now has its annual board election process underway. Eligible MEC members have until March 31st to exercise their right to elect board members.

In previous years, we have asked community members to encourage MEC to maintain its ethical sourcing policy, and we were extremely encouraged that last year’s AGM resulted in the adoption of administrative procedures that limit the ability of political activists to manipulate the MEC AGM process for any cause.

In this year’s election, there are a few candidates among those vying for the three open seats with specific views on whether Israel should be singled out for a boycott of products. A variety of anti-Israel groups are asking their members to vote for Dru Oja Jay. Two other candidates openly oppose any boycott and affirm MEC’s current ethical sourcing policy: Bill Gibson and Morrie Schneiderman.

Parashat Pikudei
This week's parasha provides a detailed accounting of the expenses involved in furnishing the Tabernacle - the first Jewish communal audit, as it were. The commentaries relate this parasha to the common challenges that leaders have of maintaining credibility in front of the people, and the use of public audits to ensure accountability and transparency. Coincidentally, our Federation board received the report on our most recent audit from our finance committee earlier this week. We rely on community volunteers with experience in accounting and business to ensure that we are meeting established standards for financial reporting and accountability. Such volunteers, on our board and those of many other communal organizations, serve a crucial function, holding management accountable and preserving the credibility of our institutions.

Ironically, our newspapers are full these days of stories of despots who have plundered their countries and stolen their people's resources. To say that they haven't internalized this biblical lesson is perhaps an understatement. The accountability and transparency of those who lead, whether in government or the not-for-profit sector, is a vital principle that ensures that the people have a stake in their public institutions.

Shabbat Shalom!

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