Housing, high-tech, musicals and more – this week in the community
Tikva welcomes residents: The Storeys Complex in Richmond. (photo from facebook.com/tikvahousing)
We are taught from an early age that giving, repairing the world and being kind are the tenets of living a Jewish life. In our community we don’t have to look very far to find people who fit this description. One of the latest projects that has come to fruition is the Diamond Residences in the Storeys complex in Richmond. Thanks to the generosity of the Diamond Foundation, Tikva Housing Society now owns 18 (chai!) units that are being rented at below-market rates to people in the community for whom stable, safe housing was unpredictable and unaffordable, at best.
Tikva Housing partnered with four nonprofit societies and the City of Richmond to build these and other apartments. Tikva worked hand in hand with community agencies such as the Jewish Family Service Agency to place tenants in need in these units, as well as with the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and B.C. Housing. Most of the tenants will have moved into their units by the end of this month.
The Diamond Residences will house six singles and, of those, five are seniors. Also, 12 families and a total of 22 children will be living there. One 83-year-old woman cried when she was told she would be moving into a studio unit, as she has not had a place to live for years and was sleeping on someone’s couch. A single Israeli mother with two children is moving into a three-bedroom unit; her kids have never had their own rooms. Another single mother with three children has been sharing a two-bedroom place and has not had her own room in two years. One family has moved to Greater Vancouver from out of town and can now attend Shabbat services, be close to their family and the Jewish community. There are many more such stories.
– Courtesy of Tikva Housing Society
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Simon Fraser University recognized four distinguished alumni on Sept. 13 at Four Seasons Hotel. Among them was Gary Cristall, co-creator of the Vancouver Folk Festival.
The annual awards, presented by SFU and the Alumni Association, recognize those whose accomplishments and contributions reflect the university’s mandate of engaging the world. An advocate for the arts and human rights, Cristall has been a cultural groundbreaker, having co-founded the Vancouver Folk Music Festival in 1978. In an industry plagued with an unscrupulous reputation, Cristall has been instrumental in fighting for the rights of artists to be treated professionally and with respect while also defending their rights to fair performance fees and copyright ownership.
Cristall served as acting head of the music section of the Canada Council for the Arts and was the founding president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the first union at the Canada Council. Today, Cristall continues to serve as a prominent mentor and educator, assisting artists in building their careers and guiding communities in enhancing dynamic cultural interactions that enrich and benefit a healthy, democratic society.
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After a grueling 33 hours of programming, DragonFruit – Benjamin Segall, Jacy Mark, Viniel Kumar and Pritpal Chauhan – completed StoryTree and demonstrated it live to a panel of judges at Hack the North, an international student hackathon held at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, which this year took place Sept. 15-17.
Canada’s biggest hackathon, Hack the North was founded and is organized by Techyon, a student-run nonprofit organization, in partnership with Waterloo Engineering. The event brings together 1,000 students from top universities across 22 countries in the world. Students collaborate and create impactful new hardware projects or mobile and web applications of their own design for a weekend at the University of Waterloo, all expenses paid.
DragonFruit’s StoryTree was one of the 14 projects chosen out of the more than 250 demonstrated at Hack the North. StoryTree is an online workspace for aspiring authors to collaborate on books together. All you have to do is write a paragraph or a chapter, or even just a sentence, and, as more and more people add or branch off from a story, that story you’ve always wanted to write becomes a reality.
DragonFruit will be continuing the project and are looking for alpha testers for January 2018. If anyone is interested in being a part of this project or for more information on it, contact them via facebook.com/dragonfruitcode or dragonfruitcode.com.
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Rehearsals have started for Two Views from the Sylvia, a new musical theatre production by Kol Halev Performance Society. This original production – which will be at Waterfront Theatre Nov. 8-12 – tells the story of the iconic Sylvia Hotel and its historic connection to the local Jewish community and the city of Vancouver.
Two Views from the Sylvia comprises two one-act plays.
The first play, Sylvia’s Hotel, is set in Vancouver in 1912. It brings to life the origin of the Sylvia Hotel, named for Sylvia Goldstein (Ablowitz) and the story of the Goldstein family who built it. Young Sylvia Goldstein and the legendary Joe Fortes, the beloved English Bay lifeguard, develop a bond that helps Sylvia realize her dreams.
In the second play, The Hotel Sylvia, the story continues as we meet the characters whose lives and loves became interwoven with the story of the Sylvia over her 100-year history. It includes vignettes revealed to the production’s researchers by Huguette, the front desk clerk who worked at the Sylvia for 35 years.
Jewish community members play key roles in both plays. In the lead roles are Advah Soudack (as Sylvia) and Adam Abrams (as Abraham Goldstein); Anna-Mae Wiesenthal and Joyce Gordon are cast in important supporting roles. Behind the scenes are Sue Cohene (producer) and Heather Martin (associate producer), as well as Gordon (assistant producer) and Abrams (graphic designer and webmaster) and Gwen Epstein (production team). Marcy Babins and Michael Schwartz collaborate in their roles at the Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia, which has created an historical photo display to accompany the production.
Two Views from the Sylvia is a project of Kol Halev in partnership with the B.C. Arts Council, Government of British Columbia, City of Vancouver, Granville Island Cultural Society, CMHC Granville Island and the JMABC. For information and tickets ($28), visit sylviamusical.com.
– Courtesy of Kol Halev
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Bema Productions’ Victoria Fringe Festival play Horowitz and Mrs. Washington was a great success. All seven performances at Bema’s Black Box Theatre at Congregation Emanu-El were sold out and the production company’s work was once again as one of the best dramas in the Victoria Fringe.
Mrs. Washington is hired to nurse Sam Horowitz, who’s been mugged and had a stroke. She’s a determined tyrant and he’s a bigoted Jewish widower. The two must find a mutually beneficial relationship when his daughter tries to make him leave his home. The play by Henry Denker reflects the attitudes of the 1970s and illuminates the power to be found in ordinary lives.
“The electric performance of the actors enabled the audience to visit uninhibitedly the issues of racism, stroke recovery and aging in place,” reads the review “Bravo Bema!” on Emanu-El’s website.
“For the most part,” said the review, “the actors were provided with a very humorous script that relied on stereotyping but went beyond it for its punchlines. The audience was asked to stretch their imaginations – who would have considered invoking Michelangelo to explain why the naming of a grandson ‘Douglas’ instead of ‘David’ was inappropriate? There were a few moments when the pace flagged but very few.”
While the play “revealed little about the face of contemporary racism,” the “potential disempowering of aging adults by their loving offspring is an issue of contemporary concern.”
The Bema production was directed by Zelda Dean and Angela Henry and was performed by David Macpherson, Rosemary Jeffery, Christine Upright, Alf Small, Cole Deo and Graham Croft.
– Courtesy of Bema Productions
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Chabad North Shore hosted a challah bake at Mia Claman’s store in West Vancouver on the night of Sept. 6. Miki Mochkin taught a class on baking challah to local women. While the bread was rising, she explained the significance of each ingredient for Jewish women. From the sweetness of the honey to the harshness of the salt, every element serves to remind the baker of its symbolic role in our lives as women and mothers.
– Courtesy of Shula Klinger
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In the photo, left to right, are Congregation Beth Israel Rabbi Jonathan Infeld, King David High School head of school Russ Klein, Vancouver Catholic Diocese Archbishop Michael Miller, Vancouver Police Chief Constable Adam Palmer, B.C. Court of Appeal Justice Sunni Stromberg-Stein and MLA Andrew Wilkinson. On Saturday night, Sept. 16, at the synagogue, this panel of speakers took on the topic Our Leaders: Are They Above the Law? Infeld framed the contemporary discussion around a talmudic discussion regarding an important rabbi in a community, rumours surrounding his conduct and whether the rabbi should be excommunicated. The panelists took this starting point to talk about their own professions, present-day accountability standards and various other issues.
– Courtesy of Cynthia Ramsay