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Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

January 20, 2017 | 29 Tevet 5777 | Shabbat Candlelighting at 4:43 p.m.

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A couple of months ago we announced that our Federation had been selected as only one of three organizations across North America to receive a prestigious grant from PresenTense and the Covenant Foundation to host a “community hackathon.” Our young adult program, Axis, is leading this locally and on Sunday we took the first step in that process by hosting a pre-hackathon workshop for young Jewish adults that generated ideas for improving the Jewish community experience for their peer group.

Their ideas will be refined into a single question that will be “hacked” at the community hackathon this spring, where the top three solutions generated will receive $2,500 each in seed funding from Covenant Foundation. It’s very exciting to see this start to happen and to know that there will be immediate support to trial some innovative new ideas put forth by young adults for young adults. You can read more in our monthly newsletter e.yachad.

Also in e.yachad is an article announcing that the Jane Bordeaux band will be playing at our Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration this year. One little insight I want to share with you is that it is actually a tremendous coup that we managed to book them. They are the hottest new band in Israel right now. Our Yom Ha’atzmaut committee, chaired by Pam Wolfman, recognized their potential and secured the Jane Bordeaux band early on, just as they were gaining in popularity. Since then they have really made the big time. The animation for their video for Ma’agalim (Circles) is masterful and it has had more than 2.1 million views. Check it out and then like our Facebook page to be the first to hear when tickets will go on sale.

While we bring a bit of Israel to BC with this event, there was also news about bringing a bit of BC to Israel this week with a Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) event on Tuesday that featured BC’s Minister of Finance Mike De Jong speaking about the provincial trade mission to Israel that he led in November. One of the things that struck me was the diversity of people in the room representing various facets of the Jewish and general communities indicating just how broad the support in BC is for Israel.

Partnerships between BC-based and Israeli companies are already happening as a result of this mission, which is heartening to see. Jason Murray, chair of CIJA-Pacific Region, remarked that “This trade mission assisted in cementing existing relationships, creating new partnerships, and promoting opportunities in the province by deepening the economic, cultural, and academic ties between Israel and BC.”

This was Minister De Jong’s second visit to Israel and while there he visited Yad Vashem and lit the ner tamid (eternal flame) a powerful experience for him. You may have seen #WeRemember on social media right now as part of a global campaign to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Our partner, The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre held a commemorative event featuring Dr. Mark Celinscak, who spoke about soldiers’ experiences liberating camps, particularly Bergen-Belsen, and his research uncovering an important Canadian military connection to the liberation of that camp. If you didn’t attend, you can listen to his interview on CBC starting at the 01:15:45 mark.

It was at this event that we saw the second reminder in as many days of the importance of leaders within the broader community pausing to remember and to reflect. Vancouver City Councillor Raymond Louie read the proclamation declaring January 27, 2017 International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Vancouver and spoke about how he teaches his children about the Holocaust, because it’s something he feels strongly that they need to know. Also in attendance were Vancouver City Councillor Andrea Reimer and consular representatives from Germany, Austria, Turkey, Mexico and Costa Rica. In a world where barely half the population has even heard of the Holocaust, their participation along with Minister De Jong and Councillor Louie’s words and actions are reminders that the responsibility to remember falls to each and every one of us.

Shabbat shalom.

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver