Shabbat Candlelighting 7:22 p.m.                                             Friday, September 9, 2011/10 Elul 5771

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Now that the summer weather is here and schools have reopened, our Annual Campaign has started and everything across the community is running at full tilt!

Annual Campaign Launched in Earnest
Last night we held a first-ever Annual Campaign Kick-Off event for campaign leadership, volunteer canvassers and representatives of our local beneficiary agencies. The event provided a quick introduction to the community needs addressed by the Annual Campaign and helped get everyone in to campaign mode. We also reintroduced our campaign volunteer leadership awards, and recognized Eve Camerman, Karen James and David Waterman for their strong achievements as campaign volunteers. We are grateful to our sponsors Bull, Housser and Tupper and Wolrige Mahon, and to the Executive Hotel Vintage Park, which graciously hosted the event.

The campaign is off to a strong start. We are 20% of the way towards our $8.2 million goal, having raised $1.7 million with an average 10% increase on gifts closed to date.

TAG and Torah High Offer Teens New Learning Opportunities
TAG, our community supplementary high school program, has reformatted its program and has several exciting and engaging new learning opportunities open to teens. Join TAG at their open house this Monday, at 6:30 p.m. at King David High School to learn more about what they have to offer.

Running alongside TAG is Torah High, an alternative supplementary program sponsored by NCSY. This is the third year that the two programs are running together on Monday nights, creating a richer social environment for teens to gather for learning.

Birthright Registration Opening
Registration for winter Birthright Israel trips opens September 13th at 9:00 a.m. PST for past applicants, and on September 14th at 7:00 a.m. PST for new applicants at Our Federation has invested additional resources in recent years to try to ensure that all local young adults who want to participate can. The winter trips tend to have fewer applicants, so now is a great time to apply. For more information contact Shelley Goldberg at or 604.257.5100.

Dragon Boating in Israel
The Coast-to-Coast Canadian Jewish Federations are paving the way for introducing dragon boating in Israel. The first-ever Israeli Dragon Boat Festival will take place on the Kinneret this May. Information evenings are taking place this week.

March of the Living Running this Spring
Teens interested in the well-established March of the Living (MOL) program have the opportunity this spring to join thousands of young adults from around the world participating in this two-week trip to Poland and Israel. We anticipate much broader participation from the Greater Vancouver area than in past years, due to the strong efforts of our MOL committee led by chair David Emanuel. An information evening takes place on Tuesday, September 20, 2011. For more information contact Shelley Goldberg at or 604.257.5100.

There is also an adult MOL track running this spring, organized by United Israel Appeal Federations Canada. Past participants from our area have found the Adult MOL to be an extraordinarily moving experience. For more information on the March of the Living, click here.

Reflecting on September 11th
This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the United States and the collapse of the Twin Towers. I remember very well the intensive experience of helping the Cleveland Jewish community, where I was working at the time, dealing with the many security, emotional, social and political issues stemming from that tragedy. About six months later I moved here to Vancouver, bringing with me a deeper sense of the importance of sustaining democratic societies in the face of growing global threats. The pundits are busy debating whether the world is a more dangerous place than before September 11, 2001 or not. It was striking to see in yesterday’s Globe and Mail the juxtaposition of two stories on one page – one about an al Qaeda attack in India and the other about a conference taking place at Ryerson University focusing on whether the September 11th attacks were really the work of an external terrorist group.

Our worst fears in the wake of September 11, 2001 have thankfully not been recognized, probably in large measure due to some of the things that the United States, Canada and other Western nations have done to combat terrorism. At the same time, looking around our world, it is hard to argue that our world is a safer place today for democracies or for Jews. The range of social, economic and political forces sweeping the world, and the pace at which information flows, leaves many unsettled and anxious.

Probably as a function of the kind of work I do, the most powerful message to me about September 11th is the power of community. We live in an era of individualism. It is not so clear to me that countries and communities can command a sense of allegiance to collective identity that can bind people together in mutual responsibility and concern. Attacks such as September 11th remind us that our strength lies in community – in being together, reacting together, celebrating and mourning together. Traditional communities are giving way to the new world of social media and networking. In that environment, how can we foster connections through which people can recognize that there are times where they need to value the collective more than individual needs and desires? Without that perspective, I find it hard to believe that we can overcome the challenges of our day.

Parashat Ki Tetze
This week’s parasha includes a long list of laws ranging across many subjects. At the close of the parasha are laws that relate to leaving corners of your fields and the unharvested fruit of your trees to those in need. While some commentators note that this seems to leave the responsibility to care for those in need to the vicissitudes of a farmer’s forgetfulness or neglect, others point to the social intent. The message here is that we should learn to not want every last bit of what we produce. Rather we should recognize that there are others in greater need, and we can leave some of what we have for them.

We are not enjoined by our tradition from enjoying life and living well. But we are encouraged to recognize that there are always others in need around us, and we should provide for them. This sense of mutual responsibility is an integral part of our collective core Jewish values. And it is through our community’s Annual Campaign that we join together to live out those values.

Shabbat Shalom!

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