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Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

January 18, 2019 | 12 Shevat 5779 | Candlelighting at 4:28 p.m.

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We consider our partnership region of the Upper Galilee Panhandle to be an extension of our community, so we have been following particularly closely Operation Northern Shield and the effect that the discovery of the tunnels has had on residents. Here is the latest update from our Israel office:

After finding the sixth attack tunnel on the northern border, the IDF announced the imminent end of the operation Northern Shield. The IDF spokesperson said the sixth tunnel was the largest and most sophisticated tunnel crossing the border, calling it a “highly advanced tunnel.” The tunnel had a rail system to move equipment and garbage, electricity, stairs, and other features that made it more sophisticated than previously discovered tunnels. It is also the longest of the exposed cross-border tunnels, extending 800 meters in Lebanon and 10 meters into Israel.

On December 27th, after three weeks of the operation, the IDF announced that they had found all the tunnels in Metulla and neutralized them. Mayor David Azulay expressed his appreciation for the hard work of the IDF in Metulla and for bringing back the feeling of safety to the residents.

We have a few great Israel connections coming up in our community this week. The first is the Mega Event, featuring Netta, at the JCC next Saturday night. While there, stop by the Axis table and meet Anna Labadze, our new manager of young adult initiatives, and Lianna Philipp, chair of the Axis Steering Committee. They and their committee have begun planning a great 2019 for young Jewish adults, including Axis’s upcoming Bar Nighttomorrow, as well as Theatre Jam workshop with Axis and Bagel Club, an Axis and Hillel co-hosted pre-event reception at the Jewish Book Festival event featuring a writer from The Simpsons, and an Axis sponsored post-event reception at Shticks and Gigglescomedy night, all happening in February. These aren’t just fun events for young adults, they’re a key aspect of our 2020 Strategic Priorities, which make engaging that demographic a priority. If you’re in your 20s or 30s, come and connect with your community. And if you know any Jewish young adults, please forward this email to them.   

Speaking of young Jewish adults, kol hakavod to Hillel for hosting a wildly successful Shabbat dinner last Friday. Hillel hosts Shabbat dinners monthly, and this was the first one after everyone came back from winter break. More than 110 students, including members of various faith-based and ethno-cultural groups, packed the second floor. Shabbat dinners at Hillel are pluralistic and accessible to Jewish students from across the religious spectrum, and Hillel students often bring friends from various backgrounds to participate in Shabbat rituals. We are thrilled to see such a rich variety of opportunities for young people to connect, whether on campus or off.

Back to those Israel connections; Israel hopes to send its bobsleigh and skeleton team to Beijing’s 2022 Olympic Winter Games. But first, it will tackle the BMW IBSF World Championships in Whistler next month, and some members are already there training. This is the first time in 14 years that an Israeli bobsleigh team has qualified for the North American circuit. Even more impressive, brakeman Dave Nicholls, paralyzed from the waist down, competes in the able-bodied competition because the rules say the team is allowed to have one member seated. David Greaves, a founding member and president of Bobsleigh Skeleton Israel, encourages fans in Whistler to wave Israeli flags while cheering on the athletes.

In other positive news, the Sidney & Gertrude Zack Gallery at the JCC is currently exhibiting a beautiful art show entitled Community Longing and Belonging, in honour of Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month. The show features works about longing and belonging by some 50 artists, of varying degrees of ability, faith and perspective. Visitors are encouraged to write their bids for these works on the back of the artists’ statements. Bids start at $36. Whether you choose to buy or not, this is a remarkable exhibition that we are sure you will enjoy.

On a final note, as we approach International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27th, we want to share with you our #WeRemember photo. Please take your own photo and post it on social media with #WeRemember. We’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the vital work of our partner, The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre.

Over the years, we have had the pleasure of bringing a number of speakers to our community who have had a lasting impact on Holocaust education and human rights advocacy. We were delighted to hear the news that the nomination of the Honourable Irwin Cotler for the Nobel Peace Prize has been endorsed by former Prime Minister Paul Martin and former Israeli cabinet minister and Jewish Agency chair Natan Sharansky. And so we will leave you with this article, which Irwin Cotler wrote just a few months after he addressed our community at FEDtalks.

Shabbat Shalom.

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

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