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Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

February 17, 2017 | 21 Shevat 5777 | Shabbat Candlelighting at 5:18 p.m.

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There are two big milestones to share with you this week.

The first is that our campaign has passed into record territory yet again. This will be the third straight year that we have surpassed $8 million, which is huge for our community. From social services here and in Israel to seniors, Jewish education, youth, and arts and culture, funds from the campaign support programs and services that help thousands of our fellow Jews. We are still working with a number of donors on closing their gifts, so we’re not finished yet.

The second is the wonderful news that Justine Balin, a grade 12 student at King David High School did our entire community proud when she became the Food Network’s Chopped Teen champion. When we read the Vancouver Sun article on her win we were, of course, pleasantly surprised to see that she learned her audition was successful while on March of the Living, a trip we support. But we were especially pleased to see the shout out to King David’s Home Economics teacher, Hilit Nurick, who first brought the opportunity to Justine’s attention.

When we remember great turning points in our lives, often there was a dedicated teacher at our side or nudging us from behind, so it is essential that we help teachers stay inspired. This quote from Parker Palmer, highlighted in this article, sums up the need for ongoing professional development opportunities for teachers: “If we want to grow in our practice, we have two primary places to go: to the inner ground from which good teaching comes and to the community of fellow teachers from whom we can learn more about ourselves and our craft.” To that end, every second year, Jewish Federation sponsors and facilitates a professional development day seminar for all local Jewish day school teachers, the most recent of which was held on Tuesday.

More than 100 educators from the six day schools, as well as some supplementary school teachers, came to learn from experts and from their peers. The theme was Engaging the 21st Century Learner, and a key focus was the new BC curriculum.

Let me turn it over to Shelley Rivkin, our VP Planning, Allocations and Community Affairs to tell you more: “The keynote speaker was Rabbi Rafi Lipner, a former Jewish high school educator and the founder of the House, an organization designed to engage young adults in Jewish learning. He spoke on the valuable role that educators have in inspiring students. Workshop topics ranged from mindfulness and meditation to the power of stories from Jewish and First Nations perspectives. One of the highlights was a panel session with seven teachers from the various schools speaking about their ideas and strategies to address the new BC curriculum. Another was a session co-facilitated by Rabbi Stephen Berger and Vancouver Public Library First Nations Storyteller, Jules Koostachin, discussing her film, Without Words, which focuses on the experiences of a residential school survivor and a Holocaust survivor.”

Sharing experiences with your peers is powerful, as anyone who has been on Birthright-Israel will tell you. The free 10-day experience is open to young adults aged 18-26, and is made possible in large part by funding from the Federation Annual Campaign. Registration is open now, so if you know someone who wants to connect with their Jewish roots and have a life changing experience, direct them here.

Speaking of Israel, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War. Every one of us is familiar with the iconic black and white photo of the three paratroopers, and 10 years ago they recreated that photo and shared their memories of the battle and of being the first to arrive at the Kotel. We would like to give you a similar opportunity.

Whether you were in Israel or in the Diaspora, the Six Day War impacted all of us. In recognition of this, our Israel and Overseas Affairs department and the Jewish Community Centre together with the Jewish Independent and the Jewish Museum and Archives are working with a group of volunteers to produce a video of personal impact stories. If you or someone you know took part in the war, was personally affected by it, or has a poignant memory to share, please contact Anna Chernishov Cohen in our office.

Shabbat shalom.

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver