Shabbat Candlelighting 7:06 p.m.                                             Friday, September 16, 2011/17 Elul 5771

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JCCGV Art Exhibit Provides Personal Lens into 9/11
At about the time last week’s message was arriving in your inbox, I stopped at the JCCGV’s Sidney and Gertrude Zack Gallery on my way out of the building to look at the new exhibit by local artist, Peter Sarganis. Titled Dust and Breath, the exhibit brings together a number of different elements that are interconnected reflections on the World Trade Center attack. The most visually striking element is a series of portraits of Noah Klein, now a 14 year old member of our community. At the time of the 9/11 attacks, Noah and his family were living in New York. Born with a series of serious medical challenges, Noah had recently undergone a tracheotomy and the huge dust cloud covering large portions of New York City created an immediate crisis for him. A stranger ripped off a piece of shirt to provide a screen for his air intake, probably saving his life. A shirt remnant and a series of photos of the bright yellow stroller in which his mother was trying to race him to safety are also on display. The portraits of Noah, combined with the back story of his and his family’s brush with 9/11, are very moving. The exhibit is on display until Monday, September 26th.

Drama at UN Continues to Build
The Palestinians are continuing their march towards a vote at the UN General Assembly on admittance to the body. The Palestinians’ aim is to further isolate Israel internationally and thereby bring pressure to bear on Israel. The Israelis continue to hold that only direct negotiations can bring a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Both Mahmoud Abbas and Binyamin Netanyahu will address the UN next Friday.

Two recent opinion pieces published in Canadian papers this week reflect the perspective of Canada’s organized Jewish community – one by Shimon Fogel, CEO of the newly reorganized Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, and one by Michael Elterman, former chair of the Canada-Israel Committee, Pacific Region.

Former Israeli ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman will be with us the following Monday, September 26th at the Federation Annual Campaign Opening Night event, providing his incisive analysis to events as they are breaking. This is a rare opportunity to hear directly from someone uniquely positioned to reflect on what is happening in the region. At a time with strained diplomatic relations with Turkey, attacks on the Egyptian embassy and the uncertainties within Syria, Amb. Gillerman will shed light on Israel's situation, helping us to understand these rapidly evolving situations.

Welcome Orly and Reut
For the third year, we are hosting Ethiopian Israel students in Vancouver for internships that help advance their professional education. For the past two years we’ve had law students, but this year we have two business students from the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herziliya. Reut Worka will be working with the Lanyard Group of Companies, a local real estate development company, while Orly Pakado is hosted by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The on-the-job work experience in their fields helps build their skills and confidence, a definite boost to Ethiopian Israeli students who are already overcoming many challenges advancing in Israeli society. In addition to their internships, both women will be visiting and speaking at various community organizations during the course of their visit, touching hundreds of people within our community and beyond. We know from past years that the interactions they have with non-Jews in their internship settings often prove very valuable in changing people’s perceptions of Israel in positive ways.

If you are interested in meeting and hearing Orly and/or Reut speak, click here for a schedule of their appearances in our community.

Security Briefings for Community Organizations
With the High Holidays approaching and the growing attention to the coming UN General Assembly, security concerns for Jewish institutions are high on the radar screen. Jewish Federation hosted a two-day visit by Doron Horowitz, director of national security infrastructure for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. Horowitz, together with Jewish Federation associate executive director Shelley Rivkin, met with the council of presidents and synagogue leadership to review preventive strategies and address any particular security concerns. The briefings are part of an ongoing initiative around community security which began several years ago, aimed at heightening both awareness and precautionary measures to ensure the safety of our community.

Checking in on Moishe House
This week, Moishe House Vancouver hosted an open house for Jewish Federation leadership, the project’s donors, and leadership from other organizations in the community. Guests met and spoke with both residents and participants in Moishe House Vancouver programs, as well as staff from Moishe House offices that now coordinate 38 Moishe Houses around the world.

As the organization stays very close to what is happening with 20-somethings, they’ve gathered the following data:

• 35% of 20-29 year olds have moved at least once in the past year;
• 20-29 year olds have an average of seven jobs during those years;
• They are more interested in traveling than settling.

Accordingly, connecting 20-somethings to the established Jewish community is increasingly difficult. But, it doesn’t mean they aren’t looking for community. Since opening in May, Moishe House Vancouver has held 21 programs and reached over 400 participants. Based on Moishe House’s evaluation of other established homes they know that:

• 76% of participants feel connected to Jewish community, compared to 42% among non-participants;
• 77% of participants report having a strong supportive group of Jewish friends, compared to 50% of non-participants.
• 84% of participants report having a place to go to connect with Jewish community vs. 46% of non-participants.

Check out Moishe House Vancouver.

Parashat Ki Tavo
This week's parasha, Ki Tavo, starts with a command that you should, upon entering the Land of Israel, provide an offering – a portion of your harvest. Part of the offering was to support the priests in the temple, and a portion was for the poor and needy. In making the offering, a set speech was to be recited which we now read every year in the Passover Haggadah and which provides the narrative framework of the Maggid - the portion of the seder where we retell the story of the exodus. Thus the process of giving thanks for what we have is linked to the process of caring for those in need, a natural enough connection. But, it is also tied directly to the core narrative of Jewish history - the story of the exodus - in which we are redeemed from slavery, formed as a nation, bound together with a moral code, and brought into the Land of Israel. The act of giving is thus inextricably bound up with who we are as a people - hard-wired into our national genetic code. When you make your gift to the Federation Annual Campaign you are continuing a tradition that for millennia has been a fundamental part of our collective Jewish identity.

Shabbat Shalom!

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