Shabbat Candlelighting 7:47 p.m.                                             Friday, April 15, 2011/11 Nissan 5771

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Come to Your Census... and Complete the National Household Survey
Between May 4th and 9th, every household in Canada will receive a Census package. This mail-out will include a link and access code for filling out a short online form. One third of households will also be asked to fill out the National Household Survey (NHS). The survey was formally known as the “Long Form Census” and was distributed every ten years. It is this survey that asks many more questions, including those about religion and ethnicity. I urge you to complete the Short Form, and if selected, to take the time to complete the National Housing Survey.

Why is this so important? The Census is one of the only tools available provides community planners with meaningful information on our community’s demographics. This information is used for many things:

· it is used by the Jewish community to lobby the federal and provincial governments about the need for additional financial supports and improved services for community members in need;

· it is used by local Jewish organizations to project future growth and plan their services (for example, our day schools can use this information to forecast enrollment figures); and

· it is used to help local volunteer and professional organizational leadership better understand the social and cultural makeup of our community and its various geographic regions.

I urge every household in our community to participate. If you receive the longer NHS, please proudly check off “Jewish” in the religion or ethnicity box. By doing so you will ensure that we have enough Jewish people responding to be able get the information we need and to have our voices heard.

Please pass this message on to others in our community so we can maximize participation, and collect the information we need to plan for our community’s future. It only takes only a little time to make a big difference. For more information, please visit

PJ Library Does Passover
Last Sunday, about 30 children ages 2-6 attended PJ Library’s Passover story time and crafts. Together with their parents, children built Egyptian storehouses and pyramids out of modeling clay and sugar cubes, decorated seder place cards, and created and stuffed Passover seder pillows. Families then gathered together to listen to two books, Passover! and Hoppy Passover, both of which were mailed to PJ families earlier in the month. The crafts the children took home complemented the themes and ideas found in these stories. The families attending came from all over the Lower Mainland – the North Shore, Surrey, White Rock, Richmond and Vancouver. There were many new and returning PJ families, and parents had the opportunity to talk with one other over coffee. For more information about PJ Library or to sign up a child, please visit or email Samara Bordan at

Reliving the Exodus and Making it Your Own Experience
This Monday evening, Jews around the world will participate in sederim and retell the story of our ancestors’ escape from slavery in Egypt. The seder is one of the most universally practiced rituals in contemporary Jewish life, probably because its structure lends itself to continual reinvention and interpretation. The Haggadah provides a basic structure to the evening – a sequence of prayers, rituals, stories and song. Food and wine, of course, play central roles. The real magic is in what the people around the table bring – their stories, questions and comments, their memories of past sederim attended, family traditions and recipes. Most important, is the opportunity to connect the themes embedded in the Haggadah to what is going on in our world today.

We were strangers in a strange land. What is our place in Canadian society today? Are we truly home, and what does that mean in terms of our distinctive Jewish identity within a larger Canadian society?

Once we were slaves; now we are free. What are the responsibilities that come with that freedom – to fellow Jews or to others who may still be oppressed in the world? What sense can we make of the ferment for freedom being so vividly expressed throughout the Arab world, and what are the chances that the various regime changes unfolding will really result in greater freedom?

Why do we praise God but never mention Moses? Doesn’t the hope for tikkun olam, the perfection of the world, depend on human action? Which of the political leaders vying for prime minister is most like Moses? Is this the year that the Canucks will go all the way? (I’ve got to believe that this last question will be raised at more than a few Lower Mainland sederim.)

So many questions! So many issues to discuss and debate! The beauty of the Passover seder is that we get to reinvent it every year, to make it real, to make our connection to our history and tradition so vibrant and alive, and to share it with others.

So here are four questions that you can consider bringing to your seder this year:

1) Passover is a festival of freedom. With so many millions of people crying out for freedom around the world, what can we do to help advance the prospects for greater freedom in our world?

2) Passover is a celebration of spring and the natural cycles of life. How can we bring greater awareness to the preciousness of our natural world, and ensure its healthy survival into the future?

3) Passover is a time when we remember that we were slaves and strangers. How can we extend ourselves more to take care of the poor, the newcomer, and others in need in our community and beyond?

4) Passover is a time when we focus on passing our traditions from one generation to the next. What can we do to strengthen the bonds that our children, grandchildren and all the children of our community have to Jewish life and community?

This Passover, reach beyond the words of the Haggadah and give voice to your own dreams and aspirations for Jewish life and for a better world.

May you, your family and friends have a wonderful and joyous Passover holiday!

Shabbat Shalom!

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