There are more than 26,000 Jews who live in Metro Vancouver. There is no possible way that a weekly newspaper can cover every event that happens, every milestone that is celebrated and every challenge that we face. But each week that we publish, we can provide a glimpse into the state of our community. And what we see is heartening.
Last week, for instance, our community hosted both Daniel Pipes and Achinoam Nini, two people firm and outspoken in their political beliefs. One could safely argue they represent near-opposite ends of the spectrum in this regard, and yet they both have a place and an audience in our community. This is healthy.
As well, while Nini’s Yom Ha’atzmaut concert sold out, there were some who chose not to attend because they disagreed with her politics. A handful of them protested peacefully outside of the concert; others chose to hold their own Israel Independence Day gathering. Our community can accommodate varied interests and opinions without coming apart at the seams. This is positive.
Currently on display at the Zack Gallery is a group exhibit inspired by Festival Ha’Rikud. The festival brought together dancers from Metro Vancouver, Miami and Kiryat Shmona to perform folk dances with elements from places such as Russia, Yemen, Georgia, Greece and Morocco. And the art exhibit, A Tapestry of Cultures, also celebrates “the diversity as well as commonality of the social groups and micro-societies that make up Israeli culture.” This is enriching.
With a strong understanding of their own culture and religion as their foundation, Vancouver Talmud Torah Grade 6 students have been exploring other faiths and spiritual practices. The students identified similarities and differences across the religions, and their essays show the breadth of what they’ve learned and the enthusiasm with which they have learned it. This is inspiring.
Tikkun olam even finds its way into the publication of a new novel for young adults, with the author donating 10% of the proceeds from sales to charity. And a high-tech entrepreneur is trying to save us from ourselves, and allow us to really – not just virtually – connect with each other via social media. These acts are motivating.
And these stories don’t even touch the surface. We are busy, engaging in the world around us, trying to make it a better place. When we do disagree, it is usually because we care so passionately about the same things. It’s worth stepping back now and then to acknowledge we are part of a community of which we should be deeply proud.