Shabbat Candlelighting 7:51 p.m.                                             Friday, August 26, 2011/26 Av 5771

This message has 647 words, and will take about 1-2 minutes to read.

Volatile Situation Continues in Southern Israel
With the start of a cease fire last weekend, things quieted down for a few days. Yesterday saw a renewed barrage of rocket attacks from Gaza, with retaliatory strikes by the Israeli Air Force. The situation is tenuous at best, and given all the various forces at play across the Mideast, it seems likely to me that there will be further bursts of violence. In the latest barrage, a nine month old baby was wounded by shrapnel when a car was hit south of Ashkelon.

Victor Yagoda, one of our Israeli colleagues who community members who have traveled to Israel on Federation missions and trips have met over the years, offered a moving personal reflection on the recent attacks based on his family’s experience last week.

Pop singer Katy Perry stepped into the fray this week with a tweet supportive of Israel, which prompted a barrage of angry and hostile responses on Twitter. On yesterday's broadcast of the Sun News program Byline, John Robson interviewed Steve MacDonald, associate director of communications for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs about the blurring lines between anti-Israel activity and anti-Semitism.

Campaign Top Gifts Event Gets Us Started
Community philanthropists Syd and Joanne Belzberg graciously hosted our top donor families, who contribute $50,000 or more to the Annual Campaign, for a beautiful dinner at their home last night. Micah Halpern, a journalist and commentator on Mideast and terrorism related issues, offered his insights into the rapidly breaking events of the day. We were able to report that we have already raised $975,000 of our $8.2 million goal and are off to a strong start with an average 12% increase on the gifts that have closed.

Expanded Housing Options for Adults with Mental Illness
Our community is benefitting from an expanded range of housing options for adults with mental illness, which helps ensure that people with specific housing and support needs are able to access suitable arrangements. This fall a new building with 50 units at Dunbar and West 16th Avenue will open. The project is a consortium effort involving Vancouver Coastal Health, Coast Mental Heath and the City of Vancouver. Five units have been designated for the Jewish community, through Yaffa Housing Society, for people who are able to live independently. These units are in addition to the two group homes currently operating in Vancouver. In addition, Dany Guincher House and B’nai Brith Housing Society also provide options for individuals who are in need of housing and are able to live on their own.

Each of these buildings supports people with different levels of need, which is leading us towards greater coordination around the referral and admissions process. Federation continues to work with the various Jewish housing societies, Jewish Family Service Agency (JFSA) and other housing providers in the general community to effect greater coordination. If you are aware of someone in our community who is in need of affordable supportive housing, we encourage them to contact Laura Stannard, housing coordinator at JFSA to get on the appropriate waitlist.

Parashat Re’eh

This week's parasha begins with a set of verses that emphasize the nature of human choice. "See, this day I set before you blessing and curse: blessing if you obey the commandments...; and curse if you do not obey..." (Deuteronomy 11:26-28). We have the opportunity to choose the values by which we live, the ability to control urges and instinct. Religious codes, at their best, provide people with a moral compass, guiding them to preferred behaviours. Our Jewish religious tradition provides a set of precepts and rituals that reinforce core values of compassion and responsibility towards one another. The Jewish Federation is effectively our collective way to operationalize these values. When we come to the community, in an organized way as we are now beginning to do for our 2011 Federation Annual Campaign, we are essentially asking you to affirm the blessings of life.

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.