Left to right: Gary Segal, 2014 Jewish National Fund Negev Dinner honoree, 2016 honoree Shirley Barnett and Ilan Pilo, Jerusalem emissary and executive director of JNF Pacific Region. (photo by Robert Albanese)
The tally is in. On April 10, the Jewish National Fund, Pacific Region’s soldout Negev Dinner raised a record-breaking $1 million to rebuild a shelter in Rishon LeZion. To be called the Vancouver Shelter, it will be a safe haven for families of all religions and backgrounds while providing them with the time and space to forge new independent lives. It will be run and operated by the Israeli nonprofit No to Violence Against Women, which works with women and children fleeing domestic abuse. The shelter project was selected by dinner honoree Shirley Barnett.
Josh Cooper, chief executive officer of JNF of Canada, praised Barnett for her community leadership and Frank Sirlin, JNF-PR president, lauded her dedication to the Jewish value of tikkun olam, repairing the world. Addressing the dinner guests, Sirlin said about Barnett’s philanthropic work, “Shirley knows what she wants and she makes it happen.” He also thanked the JNF-PR’s board and donors for making the event a great success.
Ilan Pilo, JNF Jerusalem emissary and Pacific Region executive director, spoke about the importance of the shelter and the funds raised from the dinner for it. He thanked the community at large, as well as the volunteers, lay leaders, dinner chairs and committee and all JNF supporters for supporting the project and for making it a record-breaking year.
Attending the dinner, which was held at the Four Seasons Hotel, were several dignitaries, including Consul-General of Israel to Toronto and Western Canada D.J. Schneeweiss, Premier Christy Clark, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Linda Reid, Minister of Justice and Attorney General Suzanne Anton, Minister of Advanced Education Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP House Leader and Official Opposition Solicitor General Critic Mike Farnworth, former member of Parliament Stockwell Day, former member of the Legislative Assembly Grace McCarthy, and founder of No to Violence Against Women, Ruth Rasnic.
Entertainment for the evening was provided by Arik Davidov, an Israeli trumpet player, who also impressed the audience with his shofar playing. Arnold and Anita Silber were this year’s honorary chairs for the Negev Dinner and television and radio broadcaster Shane Foxman was master of ceremonies. Lorne and Melita Segal hosted a reception at their home the night before the dinner.
Since its inception in 1901, JNF has been the sole agency responsible for the development and infrastructure of land in Israel. Its many programs include land reclamation, reforestation and road-building.
Donations go directly to fulfilling the needs of one of the many development areas such as water, forestry and environment, education, community development, security, tourism and recreation, and research and development. For more information, contact Pilo at [email protected] or 604-257-5155, ext. 821.