Shabbat Candlelighting 3:58 p.m.                                             Friday, December 16, 2011/20 Kislev 5772

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Canadian Government Extends Security Infrastructure Program
This week, the Canadian government announced a new round of funding to assist at-risk communities to protect their communal institutions and their members from violence and vandalism. Unfortunately some communities, including the Jewish community, need to worry more about their safety than others and expend resources to address that challenge. But, it is indeed comforting to know our government understands these concerns and is prepared to offer assistance.

David Koschitzky, chair of The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs noted: “When an act of vandalism or violence is directed against a place of worship, a school, or a building that is identified with one community, the fabric of Canadian life is damaged. Thankfully, we live in a country that understands that hate is incompatible with our core values and that in order for any community to thrive and contribute to the rich cultural landscape of our nation, we all must feel secure and protected. We applaud Minister Toews and the federal government for joining with at-risk communities to help them protect against acts of hate.”

As with past rounds of funding, Jewish Federation will work with eligible community organizations to make sure they are aware of the opportunity, and assist them in applying.

Local Industrialist, Author Seeks Integration Between Science and Faith
Daniel Friedmann, CEO of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) (of Canadarm fame), is one of the top leaders of local industry in our Jewish community, leading a major corporation that provides information solutions in a wide variety of arenas. He is also a serious student of Jewish texts. Daniel's new book, The Genesis One Code, is an exploration of the degree to which scientifically documented phenomena parallel the basic outline of the creation story contained in the Torah. Drawing on a wide spectrum of Jewish texts, from rabbinic exegesis to kabbalah, he points to observations about our natural world, some made many centuries ago by rabbis, that correlate with contemporary explanations such as the Big Bang theory.

It is a rare thing to see a scientist and business leader undertake a personal exploration such as this, and worthy of recognition. The Genesis One Code is available for purchase at Banyen Books, and online at Proceeds from the sale of the book will go to tzedakah.

Kiryat Shmona Youth Wins National Volunteer Award
Dean Shoshan, a Kiryat Shmona teen who volunteers at Beit Vancouver, was named by the Israeli Ministry of Education as the first recipient of a new national award recognizing youth volunteers. The prize is given in the name of Elad Riback, a young man who died while fighting the Carmel fires last year. The core of the Beit Vancouver program revolves around youth volunteerism, as the older youth take on the responsibility of running activities for younger kids. The youth movement of the city – Idan – provides training and supervision for these youth leaders, and also engages them in running city-wide events and activities. Our own JCC’s youth program is modeled on Beit Vancouver’s Idan Program.

In addition to his activity at Beit Vancouver, Dean is a member of the Hora Goel dance group, volunteers in Krembo Wings (a youth movement for children with special needs), co-produces the Danziger High School musical, helped create his school newsletter, and is active in a youth leadership training program.

Coming on the heels of the recent announcement that a youth in the region was chosen to represent Israel in a gathering of young scientists from all around the world and present her research work to the 2011 Nobel Prize winners, it is further evidence that our investments in closing social gaps in Israeli society by focusing on youth and education is taking root and bearing fruit.

Give Now to Ensure Your 2011 Tax Receipt
It is not too late to receive a 2011 tax receipt for your donation to the Annual Campaign, our community’s central fundraising effort. Now is the time to make and/or pay your pledge to meet the growing complexity of our community’s needs. With the exception of statutory holidays on December 26th-27th, the Jewish Federation office is open through December 31st. Of course, you can go online to to make your gift at any time that’s convenient for you. With your generosity, more will receive the help they need.

Israeli Militants Pose Threat to Democracy
This week's news from Israel carried stories of several incidents in which militant youth have burned mosques and attacked Israeli army forces. Israel's top leaders have been clear in responding forcefully to these incidents and it appears certain that the violence will get worse. It is akin to conflicts such as the Caledonia situation here in Canada, where a democratic society tries to balance the need to restore public order and safety, with the desire to avoid bloodshed and violent clashes between army or police authorities and militant citizens. For more information on this week's events, click here.

Chanukah Lights Our Way to Hope
At the darkest time of year comes our festival of light. This year the beginning of the holiday actually falls on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. It is easy to be overwhelmed by darkness at this time of year: the economic environment, political instability and gridlock throughout the world, ongoing conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere. The opportunity to come together to celebrate miracles of our past history also reminds us of our power today to overcome adversity and overwhelming challenges.

Despite the heroics of the Maccabee family, their triumph wasn't theirs alone - it was a collective effort that led to their victory, and a collective effort that resulted in the rededication of the Temple. Leadership matters, of course, but it is what we all do together that truly shapes our world.

Shabbat Shalom and Chanukah Sameach!

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