Shabbat Candlelighting 9:03 p.m.                                             Friday, June 24, 2011/22 Sivan 5771

This message has 870 words, and will take about 2-3 minutes to read.

Transition of Federation Leadership
Jewish Federation held its Annual General Meeting this week, marking a transition of leadership. Michael Fugman, outgoing board chair, stewarded our Federation through a difficult period, especially on the financial front. Nonetheless, these two years saw our campaign grow significantly, almost uniquely among North American Federations, to beyond pre-recession levels, reaching $7.8 million last fall. During Michael’s tenure we launched The PJ Library and Moishe House, two outstanding programs that help build a more engaged and connected Jewish community. We also completed planning studies on young adults, frail seniors and adults with mental health issues, each of which has led to new community initiatives launched even in the midst of the recession. For an excerpt of Michael’s report from the meeting click here.

Stepping in as our new board chair is Mitchell Gropper, past co-chair of the Federation Annual Campaign, and, most recently, board chair of the Jewish Community Foundation. Mitch brings a wealth of leadership experience and talent to his new role, and has already started the process of meeting with key officers and committee chairs on plans for his term.

Also in new roles on our board are Jill Diamond, vice chair, planning and agency relations; Jeremiah Katz, vice chair, next generation initiatives; Audrey Mehler, secretary; and Ron Rozen, board chair, Jewish Community Foundation. For a copy of the Nominating Committee Report click here.

Annual Report Available Online
Last year we began posting our annual report online, eliminating a printed annual report, saving paper and significant costs. You can view this year’s report here.

Community Leaders Meet With Minister Ida Chong
We were fortunate to have the assistance of MLA Dr. Moira Stilwell, who coordinated a meeting for representatives from 14 local Jewish community organizations with Minister Ida Chong. Chong is the minister responsible for community, sport and cultural development, as well as for gaming grants. This was a follow up to a previous meeting with Stilwell where concerns were raised about provincial cutbacks to the grant program.

Minister Chong announced that the government will undertake a review of the casino grant program, shared the government’s priorities, and noted that the provincial government is looking for other ways to assist non-profits.The meeting provided an important opportunity to educate a key provincial minister about needs in our community.

Moishe House Gaining Momentum
Moishe House is now in its second month of programming in our community, and an ever growing circle of young adults are connecting with the residents and each other through its diverse programs. I had the opportunity to join Baruch, Jacob, Kiki and Rotem last week to tour the home and chat about their plans. They are a wonderfully diverse group, in many ways reflective of the diversity of the young adult community here on the Lower Mainland. To learn more about Moishe House Vancouver, click here. With a minimum of five programs each month, there is a lot to choose from.

Dragon Boating to Make Debut in Israel
The first ever dragon boat festival is now being planned for next May on the Kinneret. The project is being supported through our Partnership 2000 program with the Upper Galilee Panhandle communities. Popular throughout the world, dragon boating has not yet made its way to Israel. We have an exciting opportunity to introduce a new sport, and to bring hundreds of participants, Jewish and non-Jewish, to join Israelis for this festival. Local organizers Carol Oreck, Ruth Ross and Jennifer Zatser hope to mount two teams from our area. If interested, contact Shelley Goldberg at or 604.257.5100.

Gilad Shalit Now Five Years in Captivity
This week sadly marks the fifth anniversary of the capture and imprisonment in Gaza of Gilad Shalit. This Israeli soldier was kidnapped from within Israeli territory and brought over the Gaza border, where he continues to be held by Palestinian militants. His captors and the Hamas leadership in Gaza have used his imprisonment in brutal and cynical ways, in full contravention of international law. To read more about his plight click here.

Parashat Korach
This week’s parasha describes the rebellion of Korach, who challenges Moses’ leadership. It echoes the themes I talked about last week, where mob psychology takes over and people lose their reason, committing acts that they probably never imagined themselves doing. Much as Korach echoes themes from the week before, the echoes of the recent riots are still reverberating loudly, especially as we see a different manifestation of mob mentality play out in the social media world.

On the one hand, social media has proven a valuable tool in “outing” people who were involved in violent and criminal acts during the riots. On the other hand, it has also been used as a tool to falsely accuse people through doctored photos, to damage people’s reputations because of the behavior of other members of their family, and to impugn people’s motives when they’ve attempted to apologize for their actions.

The riots were painful for the people of Vancouver to experience, and it is important that those who are found guilty be held accountable. But, how much more bitter will the whole experience be, if, in the pursuit of justice, we fail to provide a meaningful path to tshuva (repentance) on the part of wrong-doers.

Shabbat Shalom!

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