Shabbat Candlelighting 6:51 p.m.                                             Friday, September 23, 2011/24 Elul 5771

This message has 1,113 words, and will take about 3-4 minutes to read.

Brinksmanship at the UN
As my message coincides with the addresses of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Abbas at the UN, I will likely not be capturing the very latest developments. Suffice it to say that diplomatic activity has been at a feverish pitch as world leaders try to avoid a train wreck. I had the opportunity to speak with Dan Gillerman, Israel’s former ambassador to the UN, in preparation for his visit here Monday. He was in New York working with the Israeli UN delegation. It was clear from the conversation that there is much happening behind the scenes, and it is difficult to tell where things may be by Monday.

His appearance in Vancouver on Monday evening provides an outstanding and unique opportunity for us to hear from a first-hand observer who is literally in the midst of the action. You can purchase your tickets online at, or call the office Monday at 604.638.7281. Tickets will also be on sale at the door at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts as of 6:30 p.m.

I want to gratefully acknowledge the support of BMO Financial Group, the event sponsor again for the Annual Campaign Opening Night. Their support enables us to bring world class leaders like Amb. Gillerman to our community, and launch our campaign in a strong and visible way.

To read the latest update provided by Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, who was also at the UN this week, click here.

Canada Leads the Way in Signing the Ottawa Protocol
Canada became the first nation to sign the Ottawa Protocol, an action plan developed during the second annual conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA) which took place in Ottawa in November 2010. Signing it demonstrates Canada’s support and commitment to its goals. Federal ministers John Baird and Jason Kenney signed on behalf of the Canadian government at a ceremony Monday evening. Past Jewish Federation board chair Michael Fugman was on hand for the ceremony.

At the ceremony Minister Kenney noted that, “The Government of Canada is a leader in the fight against anti-Semitism. The Ottawa Protocol complements what Canada is already doing to combat hatred and discrimination, including anti-Semitism. We are a member of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research. Here at home, we have launched programs to promote integration and social cohesion of Canadians from all backgrounds.” The protocol will help nations measure and articulate their progress in combating anti-Semitism. It calls for leaders of faith groups to combat hatred and discrimination, including anti-Semitism; governments to reaffirm and implement the United Nations’ 1948 Genocide Convention; the establishment of an international task force to identify and monitor hate on the Internet, and the development of a comprehensive system to record all hate crimes, including anti-Semitic ones.

Vancouver Public Library Hosts Another Event Focusing on Delegitimizing Israel
Over the past few years, many community members have watched with increasing concern as the Vancouver Public Library has rented meeting room space for a number of events featuring speakers with an anti-Israel focus. This past Sunday, the library rented space for an event which specifically focused on promoting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel. The library’s consistent response to complaints about such events is that it maintains an open rental policy for outside groups to hold programs. As long as the programs don’t violate civic laws around hate speech or incitement, they fall within the library’s broad mandate to serve as a forum for ideas. As concern built within our community last week over the issue, Jewish Federation sent a letter to the chief librarian expressing our concern over an evolving pattern we see related to such events.

This is an inherently difficult issue, because within the context of Canadian democracy in which we have been able to thrive as a community, we don’t want to end up on the wrong side of a free speech debate. The event that took place last Sunday, as unhappy as we might be with it, does not cross the line of hate speech. At the same time, we believe it is important for the library’s management to recognize the impact on our community when a pattern of events unfolds with a clear and consistent message targeting Israel. We will be seeking a meeting with the library’s management to further discuss these concerns.

Shalom BC
As a follow up to my recent comments about the closing of the Shalom BC office, information from the website created by Shalom BC is now hosted on the Jewish Federation website, and can be accessed there. Click here for an updated joint statement from Shalom BC and Jewish Federation.

Israeli Foreign Minister Stops in Vancouver
Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Foreign Minister, passed briefly through Vancouver on his way to the UN General Assembly, also making stops in Montreal and Toronto. The short visit provided a brief window of opportunity for Lieberman to meet with a group of Russian Jewish community members, broadcast an interview on Radio Vera– the Russian language radio program of Fairchild Radio, and meet with a group of community leaders. In Lieberman’s meeting with the leadership he outlined the various challenges Israel is facing in the international arena in light of the Palestinian initiative at the UN, and the upheaval in the neighbouring Arab world.

Parashat Nitzavim-Vayelech
This week’s double parasha tells the story of one of Moses’ last moments addressing the Israelites, and within the passages he names and anoints his successor, Joshua. This moment of generational transition marks an extraordinary passage of the leadership mantle, but it also reflects a concern about generational continuity that has been omnipresent in Jewish tradition and culture throughout our history. The focus on ensuring that our children and grandchildren will take on the mantle of Jewish identity and commitment is embedded in the entire ritual and educational structure of Jewish life. It is why so many of our key holiday rituals are home-based.

In our time, when the open society in which we live and the forces of assimilation threaten this generational continuity, we work collectively through a broad range of community institutions to try to ensure Jewish continuity to the next generation and beyond. Across our community our day and supplementary schools, camps, synagogues, Israel trip providers, youth groups, JCC, Hillel and young adult outreach programs are all focused on this challenge. Your support of the Federation Annual Campaign supports a very broad spectrum of all this activity, helping nurture our collective Jewish identity now and for the future.

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.