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Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

October 25, 2019 | 26 Tishrei 5780 | Candlelighting at 5:45 p.m.

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We are in full Annual Campaign mode here, and on Thursday evening we had a wonderful opportunity to gather our donors who contribute a hundred thousand dollars or more each year through the Annual Campaign, to hear from General Yehiam Mart, formerly of Israel's Mossad, who provided an insider's view into this elite organization. That evening we had the distinct privilege of recognizing one of our community's and our Federation's longstanding leaders and philanthropists, Fran Belzberg. Her close friends Isabelle Diamond and Trudy Pekarsky, co-hosts of this very special event, truly made it a night to remember and deserve a huge todah rabah. So does our board chair, Alex Cristall, who delivered closing remarks, and our campaign chair, Jonathon Leipsic, who introduced Yehiam Mart with his unique brand of passion and love for Israel that we all enjoy. Jonathon also played a key role in bringing him to Vancouver. A special thank you to Nir Kushnir, who was instrumental in securing Yehiam Mart for this event. 

This weekend we look back to one year ago when the Jewish community of Pittsburgh suffered the most brutal anti-Semitic attack in the history of the United States when a gunman opened fire in the Tree of Life building, taking the lives of 11 innocent people from three congregations: Dor Hadash, New Light and Tree of Life * Or L’Simcha, all of whom were joined in prayer.
One year later, we will take a moment to honour their memory. In solidarity, we ask that you join us as we Pause with Pittsburgh. There are two ways you can do this.
First, join us and Jewish communities across North America on Sunday, October 27 at 2:00 p.m., as we share a collective moment of remembrance. When you register, you will opt in to receive a series of text messages which include:

  • A video with a mourning prayer and the names of the 11 lives lost.
  • A link to a livestream video where you can join the Pittsburgh community in a public memorial service.
  • An opportunity to submit a message of support.

No matter where you are, together, we will pause and pledge to maintain our abiding sense of unity and responsibility for one another. Click here and join us.
Then, come to Congregation Beth Israel at 4:00 p.m. that afternoon for a commemoration organized by the Rabbinical Association of Vancouver in partnership with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the JCC, Hillel and Jewish Federation.
It felt right to be with each other last year at the JCC and at the Solidarity Shabbat that followed. It feels right to be together again and we hope to see you there. As you will probably recall, Rabbi Infeld grew up in Pittsburgh and still has very close ties to their Jewish community. The commemorative event and the Shabbat that precedes it – wherever you attend services – will be full of emotion and meaning.
We know that this commemoration brings to mind concerns or questions about community security. It is something we take very seriously. We have shared the most recent update from our Community Security Advisory Committee a few times recently, but if you missed it you can click here to read it now.
It’s important to look back, to mourn and to remember. If you were at the JCC for the memorial, like I was, you’ll never forget the feelings that were so raw. For our friends and colleagues in Pittsburgh, the healing is not complete. It may never be. But we can show them once again that we stand together.
This week also brings opportunities to reflect back with fondness rather than in grief and to look ahead.
Switching gears, we want to ask for your assistance finding families who would benefit from a wonderful new Jewish after-school program we have coming up for children in kindergarten to grade three. There are two free sessions of JSprouts left in November and December before the full program begins in January on a weekly basis.
The program is open to all Jewish students, but the free trials are likely to be most convenient for families whose children attend schools near Little Mountain Neighbourhood House and the Croatian Cultural Centre, since that’s where the upcoming free trial sessions are located. If you know families who might be interested, please direct them here to register.
One of the many ways JSprouts will engage children in Judaism is through the arts, which is always a great entry point into community no matter your age and stage in life. That brings us to the Chutzpah! festival, which is on right now.
Chutzpah! is coming to the end of an era with Mary-Louise Albert overseeing the festival for the last time as artistic managing director. We’ve supported Chutzpah! since the beginning, and over the past 15 years Mary-Louise has been instrumental in growing Chutzpah! from a small, local festival into what The Vancouver Sun calls “one of the main events of its kind in North America.” In doing so, she not only created a world-class festival of which our community can be proud, but she has created new opportunities for unaffiliated members of our community to connect through Jewish culture and for members of the general public to engage with our community in positive ways.
We are looking forward to this year’s Chutzpah! lineup and wish Mary-Louise all the best as she moves on to the next phase in her career.

Shabbat shalom and I will see you Sunday as we Pause with Pittsburgh.

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

P.S. Help us plan ahead to meet the needs of our ageing population by filling out this short survey. We need everyone’s input not just our older community members.