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July 2, 2010

Rainbow’s 20th year


There was a reunion-like atmosphere at the Marine Drive Golf Club last month, as about 80 people gathered on June 13 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Jewish Women International, B.C. chapter’s annual Rainbow Luncheon.

Laurie Zlotnik, past president, briefly welcomed the guests, before turning the podium over to Nava Rosenberg, who spoke about some of JWI-BC’s accomplishments and the women to whom the Rainbow Luncheon has paid tribute.

“Today, we salute the honorees who have been recognized by Jewish Women International over the last 20 years,” said Rosenberg. “These individuals range in talents, ages and backgrounds and, like the women of Jewish Women International, each contributes something unique and measurable to our community. In retrospect, it is no wonder that this annual event is called the Rainbow Luncheon for, just as it takes the coming together of different colors to create a bright, formidable bridge that we know as a rainbow, so, too, does it take the initiative, the genuine concern and the action of different women to ensure solid and supportive community.

“Upon seeing a rainbow in Judaism, we recite a specific blessing,” she continued. “We say, ‘Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who remembers the covenant, who is faithful to His covenant and who keeps His promise.’ I’d like to think that Jewish Women International members, on a very humble level, and through their own exemplary actions, call on us all, too, to remember our responsibilities to community and the covenant we entered into at the time of our own bat mitzvahs; to remember to devote ourselves to our people.”

Eedie Fitzsimmons, past JWI regional board chair, made the toast to the past honorees, thanking them for the great work they have done and continue to do, and Sara Ciacci said a few words, thanking all of the committees that have organized the luncheons over the last 20 years. Judy Losberg and Harriet Permut gave the invocation and Hamotzi, while Judi Donal, JWI-BC vice-president, gave the closing benediction and a surprise presentation was made to Ciacci, who established the annual luncheon. Lunch was followed by a fashion show put on by the Bay.

Throughout the event, a projector flashed images of the 39 women who have been honored by JWI-BC for their volunteer work: Debbie Izen (z’l), Lori Sheckter, Bluma Tischler, Gyda Chud, Esther Dayson (z’l), Rosalie Segal, Sandra Miller, Sella Heller (z’l), Freya Libby, Carol Henriquez, Reta Wolochow (z’l), Shirley Barnett, Sara Ciacci, Roslyn Kushner-Belle, Frances Belzberg, Leslie Diamond, Isabelle Diamond, Myra Michaelson, Dena Wosk (z’l), Marie Doduck, Tzvia Estrin, Grace McCarthy, Ruth Sigal (z’l), Rochelle Moss, Nava Rosenberg, Linda Frimer, Shirley Hyman, Gisi Levitt, Lillian Nemetz, Rita Akselrod, Isabelle Somekh, Debbie Havusha, Susan Quastel, Marilyn Hooper, Laurie Zlotnik, Sally Rogow, Melanie Samuels, Naomi Frankenburg and Lana Marks Pulver.

“Each and every one of our stars has been an exemplary model for young and aging members of our community,” reads the tribute in the luncheon booklet. “They have spread the light of compassion and caring with no thought to personal gain for themselves. These stars have all contributed to the well-being of women, children and families.”

JWI-BC has initiated, or is involved with, many programs in the community, such as Strong Teens ... Healthy Relationships, which helps youth understand what constitutes healthy personal relationships; Noah’s Ark, which provides infant car seats, specialty strollers and many other infant-related items to 10 Lower Mainland hospitals for families in need; supports the Jerusalem Hills Therapeutic Centre, which treats emotionally disturbed youth in Israel; works with the local Jewish Food Bank; created and funds ASTEH, Alternative Short-Term Emergency Housing, and other programs to help women and children who have suffered domestic abuse. JWI-BC also provides funds and/or volunteers to a number of other community projects and service organizations. For more information, call 604-838-5567.