Tikva Housing Society is thrilled to share that the Ronald S. Roadburg Foundation has provided a grant of $255,000 to support Tikva’s mission to offer affordable housing solutions to the Jewish community.
“A gift of this magnitude provides help and hope at a time when economic uncertainty is definitely impacting housing insecurity,” said Anat Gogo, executive director of Tikva Housing Society. “The Ronald S. Roadburg Foundation’s tremendous generosity means that we will have the financial resources to build capacity on an operational level. Tikva is on an unprecedented growth trajectory and this gift is critical to support our growing housing portfolio, allowing us to say ‘yes’ to a number of new opportunities on the horizon.”
The need for affordable housing continues to be first and foremost on the minds of many in the Jewish community. This gift will be put to work, empowering individuals and families by providing affordable housing – allowing them to build long-term change in their lives and beyond.
Tikva Housing Society is grateful to the Ronald S. Roadburg Foundation for its partnership in addressing the issue of housing insecurity. Tikva appreciates the foundation’s focus on strengthening the capacity of the community’s organizations and its commitment to tikkun olam, repairing the world.
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Vancouver Talmud Torah, Congregation Beth Israel and Jewish Family Services are elated to share with the community that a gift of $100,000 has been received from the Ronald S. Roadburg Foundation to support the Vancouver Jewish Community Garden. This gift enables the building of the garden to begin in earnest and it is anticipated that construction will begin this fall. Thanks to the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver’s Transformation Grant and the Diamond Foundation, the garden will be located and built above the shared BI and VTT parkade.
The garden aspires to positively impact many members of the local Jewish community and to be a hub for celebrating and honouring nature, imparting Jewish teachings and values, promoting collaboration, and enhancing the community’s well-being. Studies show that spending time outdoors in nature has been directly linked with lessened anxiety and depression for adults and children alike and helps people better manage stress.
“It is exciting and encouraging to see several important communal institutions come together collaboratively to advance such a positive new opportunity. The Vancouver Jewish Community Garden will be an opportunity to teach community members of all ages about agriculture and the importance of a healthy earth, to enable volunteers to contribute to our community and to help feed those in need. The Ronald S. Roadburg Foundation is pleased to help advance the project towards completion,” noted Bernard Pinsky, Roadburg board chair.
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Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver is delighted to welcome two new members of its team: Gayle Morris and Alisa Farina.
Morris is the new director of the Federation annual campaign, the community’s central fundraising initiative. Building relationships is central to this role, and Morris brings an incredible depth of experience in that area, and so much more. She is an accomplished and multifaceted sales, marketing and business development leader who has extensive experience in both innovative startups and not-for-profit organizations. She is also an active member of the community with extensive volunteer involvement.
Farina has been hired as the child, youth and young adult mental health worker, and Federation is grateful to the Mel and Gerri Davis Charitable Trust for the support to enable the creation of the new position.
Farina holds a bachelor’s in child and youth care and comes to the job from a 25-year career with the Burnaby School District, the last 10 of which she focused on working with high-risk, vulnerable youth and their families. Farina is currently completing her master’s degree in clinical counseling. She grew up in the Lower Mainland and was involved with BBYO and Camp Miriam.
After an acclaimed run at the Vancouver Fringe Festival in 2021 and the Edmonton and Montreal Fringes this year, Everybody Knows returns to its creator’s hometown and the Vancouver Fringe Festival. In this semiautobiographical, one-woman musical set to nine covers of Leonard Cohen songs, Rita Sheena creates a spiraling narrative using contemporary dance, post-modern quirk and the haunting melodies of First Aid Kit.
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In 2015, Jem Rolls brought his one-man show about Hungarian Jewish physicist Leo Szilard, The Inventor of All Things, to the Vancouver Fringe Festival. This year, he’s back with another show about a forgotten Jewish nuclear physicist – Lise Meitner. The Walk in the Snow: The True Story of Lise Meitner explores how a shy Austrian, who only graduated high school at 23, opened so many doors and achieved so much; how she pushed against age-old sexism and murderous antisemitism; how she was the first or second woman through a whole series of doors; and how she was one of the very few physicists to refuse work on the bomb.
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Vancouver-born, Jewish writer and performer ira cooper of Spec Theatre stars in the one-man show mr.coffeehead, which is arriving at the Vancouver Fringe Festival after a series of successful premières at the Winnipeg, Victoria, Edmonton and Montreal Fringes. In Montreal, the “foot-fueled, slapstick tragedy about bikepacking, dreaming big and giving up in your 30s,” which was written by cooper, was nominated for Outstanding Clown Show.
Leamore Cohen (photo by Efrat Gal-Or Nucleus Photography)
The Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver’s inclusion services program is one of the recipients of the Lieutenant Governor’s Arts and Music Awards, in the category of visual arts. This one-time honour, marking the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, recognizes organizations like the JCC that have excelled in fostering wide community engagement through a robust spectrum of arts and culture programs. Most important: the award emphasizes the JCC’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity.
It all began with a passionate letter of nomination by Chaia Schneid, whose daughter, Sarah Halpern, discovered “a previously untapped creative passion” in the Art Hive and Theatre Lab classes she attended, among other programs run through the JCC’s inclusion services. Writing to the Hon. Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of British Columbia, Schneid stated: “The quality of the arts and culture programs is unlike anything we have found elsewhere. They are professionally delivered and of the highest calibre, and yet individualized to meet the special needs of the diverse participants.” In particular, Schneid praised the JCC’s annual Jewish Disability and Awareness Inclusion Month (JDAIM). Schneid also praised current program director and inclusion services coordinator Leamore Cohen, calling her a “rare individual.”
Shelley Rivkin, vice-president, local and global engagement, at the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver wrote a letter of support for the nomination. In it, she highlighted several inclusion services arts and social programs, and Cohen’s leadership.
“Leamore Cohen is the driving force behind these programs and her compassion, creativity and commitment to inclusion shine through in all aspects of the program,” wrote Rivkin. “She is always generating new ways and ideas for participants to engage with the arts and to create to the best of their abilities. These programs break new ground by offering meaningful educational and recreational opportunities for people with diverse needs. Having had the opportunity to attend some events, I have seen firsthand the joy that participants feel in being able to express themselves in a variety of mediums and the pride that their parents and family members experience when they see the creativity and talent of their loved ones.”
For a growing number of Vancouverites from all religious and ethnic backgrounds, and across all ages and abilities, the calibre and range of the JCC’s work is well-known. A schedule of performing and fine arts programs coincides with an array of sport, leisure and fitness options inside a facility that houses a theatre, library, gymnasium and pool. The JCC is also widely known for its annual Jewish Book and Chutzpah! festivals – both occupying a key place in the city’s cultural calendar – alongside community services including preschool and toddler daycare.
“While the arts programming is the centrepiece of what is being offered,” wrote Rivkin, “other inclusion programming for adults includes free memberships and access to all the fitness and wellness facilities at the Jewish community centre along with two virtual classes offered five days a week that are designed to be sensitive to the sensory stimulation needs of participants.”
Noting that activities continued throughout the pandemic, Rivkin concluded, “the program demonstrates its dedication to equity and inclusion daily by the range of programs embedded in the arts that have been opened up to this population and, of course, commitment, both on the part of Leamore Cohen, who dedicates so much time and thought to designing these programs, and to the participants themselves, who have remained active and involved despite their personal barriers and the COVID restrictions.”
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On June 18, Annette Whitehead was awarded a Queen’s Platinum Jubilee pin by MP Joyce Murray. Whitehead was nominated for the honour by Kitsilano Community Centre for her outstanding commitment and dedication to her community. She also received a certificate as a sign of gratitude for all the wonderful and hard work she does for her constituency.
June 2022 marked the 70th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. To commemorate this milestone, Murray was issued a number of Platinum Jubilee pins, which she decided would be best used to celebrate and thank those who volunteer in Vancouver Quadra. The ceremony took place at Trimble Park.
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On July 7, the National Audubon Society announced the winners of its 13th annual Audubon Photography Awards. This year, judges awarded eight prizes across five divisions from a pool of 2,416 entrants from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and seven Canadian provinces and territories.
Local Jewish community member Liron Gertsman won three awards:
Professional Award Winner for his photo of a white-tailed ptarmigan,
Professional Honourable Mention for his photo of a sharp-tailed grouse, and
Video Award Winner for his sharp-tailed grouse video.
In a July 7 Facebook post, Gertsman writes about his wins: “Getting a chance to shine some light on these often under-appreciated birds brings a big smile to my face!”
He also writes about the white-tailed ptarmigan:
“Perfectly adapted to harsh alpine conditions, they spend most of their time foraging on small plant matter in the tundra, insulated from the wind and cold by their warm layers of feathers. Ptarmigan are also famous for changing their feathers to match their snowy surroundings in the winter, and their rocky surroundings in the summer. This mastery of camouflage makes them very difficult to find, and I’ve spent countless hikes searching for them, to no avail. On this particular day, after hiking in the alpine for a couple of hours, I stumbled right into my target bird! This individual was part of a small group of ptarmigan that were so well camouflaged, I didn’t notice them until some movement caught my eye just a few yards from where I was standing. Wanting to capture these remarkable birds within the context of their spectacular mountain domain, I put on a wider lens and sat down. The birds continued to forage at close range, and I captured this image as this individual walked over a rock, posing in front of the stunning mountains of Jasper National Park.”
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At the Rockower Awards banquet, held in conjunction with the American Jewish Press Association’s annual conference, June 27, 2022, in Atlanta, Ga., the Jewish Independent received two Simon Rockower Awards for Excellence in Jewish Journalism. These awards honoured achievements in Jewish media published in 2021 and there was a record-breaking 1,100-plus entries from AJPA members.
In the news story category, in the division of weekly and biweekly newspapers, the ˆI took second place for Kevin Keystone’s article “What constitutes recruiting?” The piece explored the allegation by a coalition of foreign policy and Palestinian solidarity organizations that Canadians are being recruited for the Israel Defence Forces.
For excellence in editorial writing, in which all member papers competed, the JI editorial board of Pat Johnson, Basya Laye and Cynthia Ramsay received an honourable mention, or third place. “Strong reasoning and writing, relevant to Jewish audience,” wrote the judges about the trio of articles submitted. The submission included “Ideas worth the fight,” about university campuses and the need to keep “engaging in the battle of ideas, however daunting and hopeless the fight might appear”; “Tragedy and cruelty,” about the response to the catastrophe at Mount Meron on Lag b’Omer in 2021; and “Antisemitism unleashed,” about how the violence in Israel in May 2021 year spilled out into the world with a spike in antisemitic incidents.
Myriam Steinberg’s Catalogue Baby: A Memoir of Infertility, with illustrations by Christache, has won two gold medals for best graphic novel. The first was the Independent Publishers (IPPY) Awards, and the second is the Foreword Indies Award. This is after having won the Vine Award for Canadian Jewish Literature last fall.
“This book was not only a labour of love, but also a call-out to the world to recognize and acknowledge the very real experience of so many people,” wrote Steinberg in an email. “Pregnancy loss and/or infertility touch almost everyone in some way or other. It affects those who are trying to conceive the most, but it also touches (often unbeknownst to them) their children, friends, family and colleagues.”
To celebrate the honours, Steinberg is offering a 20% discount on books bought directly from her (shipping extra). To order, email [email protected].
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The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) and the VSO School of Music (VSO SoM) are excited to recognize the appointment of Ben Mink, CM, as a Member of the Order of Canada. On June 29, 2022, Governor General of Canada Mary Simon announced that Ben Mink, who is a member of the board of directors for both the VSO and VSO SoM, has received the distinction “for his sustained contributions to Canadian music as a producer, multi-instrumentalist and writer.”
Mink has amassed a critically acclaimed body of work spanning decades, styles and genres as an international musical force. His influence is tangible and enduring in the widest range of musical styles and directions, and his imprint can be found in countless recordings, film scores and television programs. As a producer, songwriter, and instrumentalist, Mink has brought his signature style and approach to major musical artists and productions. He has an impressive list of recording collaborations that include k.d. lang, Rush, Daniel Lanois, Roy Orbison, Elton John, Alison Krauss, Heart, Feist, the Klezmatics, Wynona Judd, Method Man, James Hetfield (Metallica), and many more.
He has been nominated for nine Grammies, winning twice for his work with k.d. lang. The song “Constant Craving,” which he co-wrote and produced with lang, won her a Grammy for best female pop performance and has been used in several TV shows.
In 2007, he was co-nominated for his work on Feist’s Grammy-nominated “1234,” which gained global popularity in the roll out campaign for the iPod Nano. His recent collaborations with Heart were Billboard hits. Mink’s work helped set new and significant directions in Canadian popular music, and his writing and producing has been recognized with seven Juno nominations (three wins) and the SOCAN Wm. Harold Moon Award for international recognition.
Reesa Steele and family have the absolute pleasure to announce the upcoming marriage of Talia Magder and Weston Steele on Sunday, July 24, 2022, under the chuppah in front of family and friends in Vancouver.
Mazal tov to Nicole and Philip Magder of Montreal and Reesa Steele and David Steele of Vancouver.
Mazal tov to Talia and Weston. May this be the first of many simchas ♥
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Emmy nominee Molly Leikin is the author of Insider Secrets to Hit Songwriting in the Digital Age, published by Permuted Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, in July 2022. It is Molly’s eighth book.
On May 25, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs honoured Chief Dr. Robert Joseph (holding the sculpture) with the Victor Goldbloom Award for Outstanding Interfaith Leadership. (photo from CIJA)
On May 25, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs honoured Chief Dr. Robert Joseph with the Victor Goldbloom Award for Outstanding Interfaith Leadership.
In memory of the late Dr. Victor Goldbloom, the Victor Goldbloom Award recognizes the contributions of leaders from various faith communities in advancing interfaith relations.
Joseph is a hereditary chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation and the founder and current ambassador for Reconciliation Canada, an Indigenous organization dedicated to dialogue with multifaith and multicultural communities. He is also the former executive director of the Indian Residential School Survivors Society and a member of the National Assembly of First Nation Elders Council. As a result of his work, he has received numerous awards and recognition for bringing people of different faiths together.
Joseph is a dear friend to the Jewish community who has worked with Robbie Waisman, a Holocaust survivor, to make connections between survivors of the Holocaust and the residential schools.
On May 26, representatives from the Sikh, Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Ismaili, Muslim, Ahmadiyya, Ukrainian Catholic, Anglican, Baha’i and Black-Canadian communities, as well as Indigenous leaders, joined to celebrate Chief Joseph’s lifetime of work serving British Columbia, urging people of all faiths toward truth and reconciliation, and renewing relationships between Indigenous people and all Canadians.
The Maccabiah Games take place every four years in Israel, and the 21st Maccabiah will take place July 12-26, with some 10,000 athletes from 80 countries competing in more than 40 sports. Seven King David High School students were selected to play in a variety of sports and faculty member Matt Dichter is the coach for a basketball team. KDHS is so proud and wishes them all a successful time in Israel!
On May 31, Birthright Israel Excel selected 60 college students worldwide for its fellowship in business and technology, which began on June 7 and runs in Israel for 10 weeks. Forty participants are from the United States, while 20 come from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, France, Mexico, South Africa, Spain and the United Kingdom. Thirteen of them will be visiting Israel for the first time.
One of the participants is University of British Columbia Sauder School of Business student Zac Abelson, 21, who is majoring in commerce, with a double minor in operations and logistics, and entrepreneurship. He will be doing his internship with Deloitte.
Since 2011, the Birthright Israel Excel Fellowship has selected top students from hundreds of applicants for summer internships with leading business and tech companies in Tel Aviv. This year’s cohort features an equal number of women and men and the most first-time visitors to Israel. Their internships will be in such areas as environmental sustainability, software development, consulting, finance, venture capital, engineering, marketing, cybertech, biotech, business development and startup development. Students will intern each Israeli workweek, Sunday through Thursday, and attend an evening series of speakers from across Israeli society.
A core component is the one-on-one pairing between each Excel fellow and an Israeli, enabling the foreigners to acclimate quickly to the local culture and see the country through a more authentic lens than as typical tourists. Many peer-to-peer relationships grow into long-term friendships. Some have invested in each other’s business ventures.
Birthright Israel Excel fellows enjoy free time to explore Israel with their peers, and three weekend trips as a group bring them throughout the country: the north, typically including the Golan Heights, a winery tour and a rafting trip down the Jordan River; Jerusalem, including the Western Wall and the Machane Yehuda outdoor market; and the south, for a desert trek, a mud bath in the Dead Sea and a sunrise hike on Masada.
After their return home, the Excel fellows enter a network that provides resources for professional and personal development, Israel engagement and encouraging them as philanthropists.
Birthright Israel Excel fellows have gone on to positions at companies such as J.P. Morgan Chase, Bain & Company and Google. Others have developed strategic partnerships with Israeli companies and started their own companies, often hiring other fellows.
Left to right: Ezra Shanken (Jewish Federation), Tanja Demajo (Jewish Family Services), B.C. Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin, Simone Kallner (JFS board member) and Nico Slobinsky (CIJA). (photo from Jewish Federation)
Earlier this month, B.C. Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin, honorary patron of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, spent a full day getting to know the Metro Vancouver Jewish community.
Austin visited the Kitchen at Jewish Family Services, Schara Tzedeck Synagogue, the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver, the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, and Hillel House at the University of British Columbia.
It was an opportunity to talk together about the strategic work that Jewish Federation and its partners are doing. The Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia, Shelley Rivkin and Daniella Givon gave presentations about the community.
The visit to Hillel was an opportunity to see not just their good work, but how Jewish students are dealing with antisemitism on campus. They are singled out in ways other students and groups simply are not, including students connected with countries that are wrestling with difficult issues within their borders, or are led by dictators, or have dismal human rights records.
The dichotomy is shocking, and it is part of why Jewish Federation continues to push for local and provincial governments to follow the federal government in adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism.
– Taken from Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver chief executive officer Ezra S. Shanken’s weekly email update (May 6)
On May 6, Governor General of Canada Mary Simon invested 10 Officers (OC) and 13 Members (CM) into the Order of Canada during a ceremony at Rideau Hall. Vancouver Jewish community member Gordon Diamond, OC, OBC, was among the honourees:
“Gordon Diamond has upheld the family’s exceptional legacy in philanthropy and business. Chair and owner of West Coast Reduction Ltd. and Austeville Properties Ltd., he has built them into two of Western Canada’s largest family-owned businesses. As one of our country’s leading philanthropists, he and his eponymous foundation focus on health care and social services. He is noted for his landmark donation to a major Vancouver outpatient health centre, and his support for Jerusalem’s Shalva National Centre for disabled persons and the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance.”
– From the website of the Governor General of Canada
Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives presented the 2022 Volunteers Are Stars Awards virtually on April 27, during National Volunteer Week. Tammi Belfer was one of the four winners.
The 18 individuals and groups who were nominated all made a meaningful difference in the Richmond community. Collectively, they’ve contributed thousands of hours to dozens of causes, enhancing the lives of residents. Their volunteer work has impacted children and youth, seniors and families, and those experiencing poverty and homelessness. In short, every one of them is a star, and their light makes our community shine so much brighter.
Belfer was honoured as a Star of Richmond for excellence in nonprofit leadership. Li Qing Wang of Richmond Women’s Resource Centre was Shooting Star Award Winner (outstanding youth volunteer); South Arm United Church Outreach Committee was the Constellation Award Winner (outstanding volunteer group); and Dawn Thomson, Special Olympics B.C.-Richmond and Salvation Army Rotary Hospice House was the Nova Star Award Winner (outstanding individual volunteer).
Belfer has been volunteering for nearly five decades, often in leadership roles.
From 1974 to 2000, she served as a board member with the Organization Through Rehabilitation and Training (ORT). Rooted in Jewish values, the organization enhances the economic prospects of individuals and communities by providing them with employment and entrepreneurial skills.
Through much of the 1980s, Belfer was a board member with the Richmond Aquanaut Swim Club, which later merged with the Richmond Racers to become the Richmond Rapids Swim Club. During her time there, she served as treasurer, supported membership development and regularly volunteered at swim meets.
She also served eight years on the board of Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives, back when the organization was known as Volunteer Richmond Information Services. Here, too, she volunteered as treasurer. She remains involved with the organization’s Richmond Christmas Fund program, volunteering each holiday season to assist families in need.
Since 2015, Belfer has served as board president of the Richmond Women’s Resource Centre, where she’s had a transformational impact. She’s played a key role in developing the organization’s board, recruiting a diverse group of new members – including many young people – who are passionate about helping women build connections and thrive in their community. She also volunteers as project manager for the organization’s annual International Women’s Day event, which is both a community gathering and a major fundraiser, complete with an auction and raffle. Recently, she helped lead the Resource Centre in drafting a five-year strategic plan and, in 2019, was a key voice in the organization’s rebranding effort, which resulted in a new logo created in consultation with the community.
During COVID, Belfer worked with the organization’s executive director to bring all of its programs and services online, so they would remain accessible throughout the pandemic.
Speaking of programs, it’s another area where Belfer has had a substantial impact. She helped create many of the Resource Centre’s most popular initiatives, from Hot Ink, a creative writing program for teenage girls, to Work Ready, which supports women in developing employment and job-search skills.
Belfer is also a current board member of the Jewish Seniors Alliance and of Beth Tikvah Synagogue, where she actively participates on committees and generously shares her knowledge and experience, so both organizations can better serve their constituents.
Through her decades of service, Belfer has left an indelible mark on the Richmond community, and improved thousands of lives. She’s still giving her time, and still making a difference, even as she mentors young volunteers on their way to becoming community leaders. She’s one of the giants on whose shoulders they’ll stand.
Belfer shares some of the reasons she volunteers in a video on the awards website, rcrg.org/vas.
In announcing the results of the 2021 Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver annual campaign, campaign chair Lana Marks Pulver expressed deep gratitude for the generosity of donors. Acknowledging the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, she said, “Yet, we have also seen some impressive achievements. Organizations have innovated faster and better. Volunteers have dedicated countless hours, pitching in wherever they are needed. And donors have given more generously than ever before.
“Together, we have generated $11.16 million for our community!”
The annual campaign raised $9.52 million, while $1.64 million was raised for additional support, which includes additional support for special projects, community recovery, emergency relief and donors’ multi-year commitments to Federation’s international partners.
In addition, the community raised more than $388,000 for B.C. flood relief during the campaign period. And the community has come together to generate more than $850,000 so far for Ukraine relief.
“We can all take pride in this remarkable achievement, which reflects our collective commitment to our Jewish values of tzedakah and tikkun olam (repairing the world), and our responsibility to one another,” said Marks Pulver.
“From the start of the pandemic, Jewish Federation took the lead in getting our community through to a brighter future. A successful annual campaign is a big part of our ability to do that and, as chair of the campaign, I am deeply grateful for your support.”
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The Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University is pleased to announce a major gift of more than $5 million dollars from the estate of a Vancouver resident, to establish the Institute for Medical Research, Israel-Canada (IMRIC) Hub for Addiction Research at Hebrew University.
The mission of the IMRIC Hub for Addiction Research is to bring about wiser policies, better care and new treatment avenues for those struggling with addiction. This new program will focus on medical research relating to addiction, providing insights into the physical and chemical aspects of addiction, its prevention and treatment.
A silent addiction epidemic affects nearly 11% of adults (more than 615,000) in Israel. In any given year, one in five Canadians experiences a mental illness or addiction problem. Addiction can include both substance addiction (alcohol, drugs and other substances) and compulsive sexual behaviour, problematic use of pornography and problematic use of the internet. Moreover, addiction and mental health issues go hand in hand and must be addressed in tandem. Each year, addiction costs the Israeli economy approximately seven billion NIS and causes untold peripheral damage to families and communities.
“As a result of this generous gift, we at IMRIC are able to engage our best researchers in several specific research projects with diverse perspectives on addiction,” said Prof. Rami Aqeilan, chair of IMRIC. “Additionally, the hub will promote national and international interaction and foster collaboration with Canadian researchers.”
Rabbi Dan Moskovitz, left, Dr. Patricia Daly and Dr. Eric Grafstein (photo from Temple Sholom Twitter)
On Feb. 26, Temple Sholom awarded community members Dr. Patricia Daly and Dr. Eric Grafstein with the Pikuah Nefesh Award (to save a life) for their leadership and dedication to our community throughout the pandemic. Mazel tov to both of them! You can watch the presentation on the synagogue’s YouTube channel, along with the evening’s concert featuring Israeli cellist Amit Peled performing “Journeys with my Jewishness.”
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The pilot of the new Richmond Jewish Day School (RJDS) and Kehila Society of Richmond food program to enhance students’ access to healthy and nutritious food is now in progress. With start-up funds provided by Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and TD Bank, once a week, JFS Vancouver delivers hot meals to RJDS at no cost to the students or their families. In addition, the funds were used to purchase a community fridge and pantry cupboard that will be kept stocked by JFS, Kehila and the Richmond Food Bank. Students and their families can access healthy snacks, dry goods, fresh produce and meals, during school hours.
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Denise and Wayne Thompson and Gerri and David Klein are thrilled to announce the engagement of their children, Nikki and Aden. A fall wedding is planned.
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The Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University recently announced a transformative gift to establish the Pamela and Paul Austin Research Centre on Aging at the Centre for Computational Medicine at the faculty of medicine of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The Pamela and Paul Austin Research Centre on Aging will implement an approach to combating disease by integrating computational data analysis into medical research and practice, and by preparing the next generation of computation-science-trained doctors and researchers. It will bring together leading researchers to leverage the power of data-driven analyses, applying computational methods to study and help combat a variety of age-related diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s; pain; psychiatric disorders; genetic disorders; congenital impairment; immune and inflammatory diseases; cardiovascular aging, and the effects of aging on cancer, osteoarthritis, pulmonary disease and metabolic disease.
The Centre for Computational Medicine and its research programs are specifically designed to enable data information flow and collaborative interdisciplinary research efforts with the most advanced equipment and a disease modeling unit, all in proximity to a major medical centre.
Globally, the number of people over the age of 60 is soon expected to outnumber children under the age of 5. As life expectancy rises, so does the prevalence of age-associated diseases, posing a central challenge to healthcare systems worldwide. The gift from the Austins will go beyond the centre, establishing scholarship opportunities for students and an annual lecture.
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A new edition of the Jerusalem Talmud is now available in Sefaria’s free library of Jewish texts – available on sefaria.org and the Sefaria iOS and Android apps.
The Jerusalem Talmud, also known as the Talmud Yerushalmi or Palestinian Talmud, is the sister text to the better-known Babylonian Talmud. It was compiled in Israel between the third and fifth centuries from oral traditions. Like the Babylonian Talmud, the Jerusalem Talmud is a textual record of rabbinic debate about law, philosophy, and biblical interpretation, structured as a commentary on the Mishnah. However, a language barrier (it is written in a different dialect of Aramaic), reduced elaboration, and complex structure can make it difficult to study.
The new Jerusalem Talmud on Sefaria includes:
Complete English translation,
Fully vocalized text to assist learners in reading the distinctive Aramaic dialect,
Extensive interlinking to the Bible, Babylonian Talmud and other works, providing connections that help with understanding the work and placing it in context,
Topic tagging, so searches on Sefaria will surface references from the Jerusalem Talmud,
Six of the standard Hebrew commentaries included in the Vilna edition of the Talmud available and linked on Sefaria, including Korban HaEdah, Penei Moshe, Mareh HaPanim and others,
Standardized organization of the different published formats of the Jerusalem Talmud so readers can more easily find their place in the text.
The only fully extant manuscript of the Jerusalem Talmud was set down by Rabbi Jehiel ben Jekuthiel Anav in 1289, which formed the base for the first printing in Venice by Daniel Bomberg in 1524. Sefaria has manuscript images from both of these editions visible in the resource panel, to see the original format of the texts alongside the modern, digital version.
The English translation of the Yerushalmi was completed in 2015 by Heinrich Guggenheimer, a mathematician who also published works on Judaism. He spent the last 20 years of his life working on translating the Jerusalem Talmud. With his blessing, Sefaria approached his publisher, de Gruyter GmbH, who agreed to partner on this open access version of Guggenheimer’s historic work. Guggenheimer passed away on March 4, 2021, at the age of 97.
The Committee on Teaching and Learning of the American Academy of Religion has honoured Rabbi Dr. Laura Duhan Kaplan with the 2022 Katie Geneva Cannon Excellence in Teaching Award, which recognizes the importance of teaching and celebrates outstanding teaching in the field.
Duhan Kaplan currently serves as the director of inter-religious studies and is a professor of Jewish studies at Vancouver School of Theology. The award committee was deeply impressed by her commitment to critical and trauma-informed pedagogy, meaningful interreligious dialogue and community engagement. They also noted her innovative classroom practices, including an intensive course that culminates in a public-facing conference on contemporary interfaith issues.
The American Academy of Religion, in Atlanta, Ga., is dedicated to the academic study of religion, with more than 5,000 members around the world. Its mission is to foster excellence in the academic study of religion and enhance the public understanding of religion.
Late last fall, storms flooded the entire cities of Princeton, Merritt and Abbotsford, and many other areas across the Fraser Valley. In response to the damage and displacement caused, the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver was among the organizations that set up mechanisms to aid those affected.
In November 2021, Federation opened the B.C. Flood Relief Fund with a $10,000 disbursement from its emergency relief fund. Since then, thanks to the support of hundreds of donors, including funds from Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island, more than $359,000 has been raised.
To date, $36,000 has been given to Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib (Surrey Sikh Temple) and the Guru Nanak Food Bank to offset the cost of shipping the goods to Merritt and renting a warehouse to establish a new food bank there, as well as to purchase blankets and air mattresses for people who were displaced by the flooding or lost their possessions or both.
Additionally, $50,000 has been used to purchase emergency kits for First Nations Emergency Services Society (FNESS) to distribute to 30 First Nations communities. As well, $25,000 has been directed to GiveClear to support ongoing efforts, which includes $12,000 to support displaced agricultural workers from Mexico whose belongings were lost in the floods.
On Feb. 14, Jewish Federation was one of the donors that participated in GiveClear Foundation Canada’s Celebration of Giving event at Arnold Community Church in Abbotsford. The online platform, a registered charity operated out of Abbotsford, created a quick and simple way for people and businesses to donate to local flood recovery and, so far, more than $600,000 has been raised through various campaigns facilitated by GiveClear.
Jewish Federation has formed key partnerships to maximize the impact of the B.C. Flood Relief Fund, and it takes networks both within Federation and beyond to nurture these relationships. Much of what has been accomplished in the last several months is the result of many years of ongoing efforts. Shelley Rivkin and Rabbi Philip Bregman from Federation’s office, and Nico Slobinsky and Etti Goldman at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, have done invaluable work in this area.
In July 2020, the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver established the Community Recovery Task Force, chaired by Risa Levine. Combined with the emergency funds released at the start of the initial lockdown almost two years ago, Federation has distributed nearly $1,320,000 to aid community recovery from the impact of COVID.
Here is a summary of Community Recovery Fund distributions to date:
Initial grants ($593,100) addressed the immediate consequences of the pandemic on the day-to-day operations of local organizations in the areas of technology, mental health, operational losses, COVID-associated expenses, critical social services, and capacity building.
Camp grants ($111,000) helped offset the significant expenses summer camps incurred in order to meet new public health guidelines.
Capacity grants ($25,500) assisted organizations in hiring an outside facilitator to help them develop a recovery plan.
Transformation grants ($385,000) are for developing innovative and collaborative programs and services that will lead to long-term change in the community.
Transition grants ($200,000) enabled agencies to maintain stability and restore their revenue streams.
Additional funds have been distributed recently for continuing COVID needs, such as N95 masks for schools and community organizations, and small gifts to frontline community staff in special recognition of their outstanding commitment over the last year.
The task force’s final recommendation is that, when it is determined that the pandemic is truly over, if there are funds remaining, these should be used so that the community can continue to be prepared to help agencies in future crises.
A subcommittee of the task force, comprised of Levine, Candace Kwinter, Hodie Kahn, Shawn Lewis and David Porte, with additional assistance from Diane Switzer, has been formed to respond to anticipated needs as a result of the continuation of the pandemic. They will consult with Shelley Rivkin, Federation’s vice-president, global and local engagement, on the further expenditure of COVID recovery funds when new needs arise.
Federation thanks the task force – Levine, Porte, Kwinter, Kahn, Lewis, Andrew Altow, Jill Diamond, Michelle Gerber, Justin L. Segal and Isaac Thau – for their commitment, as well as Rivkin and Marcie Flom, executive director of the Jewish Community Foundation, who provided professional support to the task force, and everyone who has contributed to the Community Recovery Fund or helped in others ways.
Temple Sholom treasurer Daniel Gumprich, left, president Melody Robens-Paradise and Rabbi Dan Moskovitz. (photo from JCF)
Temple Sholom has a new $1 million endowment fund that will provide the congregation with stable, long-term income for the synagogue in perpetuity.
“We chose to establish this fund at the Jewish Community Foundation because we know that they will manage it carefully and expertly. We are thrilled that Temple Sholom will be able to rely on income from the fund to meet its needs for generations to come,” said the family who seeded the fund.
It was important to the family that they be able to leverage their giving to inspire others. So, in addition to seeding the fund, they established a program to match contributions, which not only maximized their own impact but that of every donor who joined them in giving.
“The foundation supported our staff and leadership to confidently approach congregants about contributing to the fund,” said Cathy Lowenstein, director of congregational engagement at Temple Sholom. “We were able to give everyone the opportunity to participate, which created the momentum necessary to reach our goal.”
“The endowment will ensure our ability to serve every facet of our congregation through dynamic programming, strong leadership and robust outreach for generations to come,” said Temple Sholom’s Rabbi Dan Moskovitz. “It also means we can undertake a long-term approach to planning, because we have the financial strength to adapt to the changing needs of our congregation.”
Many local Jewish agencies, congregations and other organizations have endowment funds at the Jewish Community Foundation, including the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver, Jewish Family Services Vancouver, the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, and others. In addition, individual fund holders often choose to support an organization through their own donor-advised or -designated funds.
Diane Switzer, chair of the foundation’s board of governors, said, “We are very proud to manage endowment funds on behalf of so many crucial organizations across our community, and we take our responsibility to manage these investments prudently extremely seriously. This is how we carry out the important work of building and enriching our community.”
People can make a contribution to the Temple Sholom Endowment Fund via jewishcommunityfoundation.com. They can also establish a fund for an organization or an area of need about which they care by contacting JCF executive director Marcie Flom at 604-257-5100.
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Alex Leslie’s Vancouver for Beginners was one of the works shortlisted for the 2020/2021 City of Vancouver Book Award. The honour recognizes authors of excellence of any genre who contribute to the appreciation and understanding of Vancouver’s diversity, history, unique character, or the achievements of its residents.
In the poetry collection, “[n]ostalgia of place is dissected through the mapping of a city where Leslie leads readers past surrealist development proposals, post-apocalyptic postcards, childhood landmarks long gone and a developer who paces at the city’s edge, shoring it up with aquariums.”
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Prairie Sonata by Sandy Shefrin Rabin was named one of the best books of 2021 by Kirkus Reviews. The novel tells the story of Mira Adler, a teenage girl growing up on the Prairies after the Second World War, and what she learns about life and love from her Yiddish and violin teacher, Chaver B, a recent immigrant from Prague. Kirkus called it “a compelling work with a wistful longing for days of childhood innocence. A poignant and eloquent reflection on tradition, family, friendship, and tragedy.”
Winner of the Independent Press Award, and named a 2021 New York City Big Book Award Distinguished Favourite in the young adult fiction category, Prairie Sonata has been introduced into high school curricula.
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The Canada Council for the Arts’ 2021 Governor General’s Literary Awards winners include, in the drama category, Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes by Hannah Moscovitch.
“Hannah Moscovitch’s play is an articulate, poetic, beautifully written play with characters who are complex and complicated,” noted the peer assessment committee. “A superb piece of writing that shines as a play, as a living piece of theatre and, no doubt, literature that will endure.”
In the drama, “[t]he archetypal student-teacher romance is cleverly turned on its head for the post-#metoo era…. Jon, a star professor and author, is racked with self-loathing after his third marriage crumbles around him when he finds himself admiring a student – a girl in a red coat. The girl, 19-year-old Annie, is a big fan of his work and also happens to live down the street. From their doorways to his office to hotel rooms, their mutual admiration and sexual tension escalates under Jon’s control to a surprising conclusion that will leave you wanting to go back and question your perceptions of power as soon as you finish.”
A German translation of the Talmud, and the first translation of the book ever completed by a single person, is now available on Sefaria, a free nonprofit online library of Jewish texts. The translation by scholar Lazarus Goldschmidt was the first German translation of the Talmud and was released in 1935. While it is used in German Jewish studies departments and universities, it had not been widely accessible to the general public until now.
A celebration of the release took place virtually on Oct. 24. One of the speakers was Penny Goldsmith, Goldschmidt’s eldest granddaughter. Goldsmith is a longtime anti-poverty community worker in Vancouver, and owns a small independent publishing company, Lazara Press, named after her grandfather, who died a few months before she was born. She spoke of her grandfather’s books, “beautiful typographical masterpieces.”
“Grandfather was a type and book designer,” she said. Among his books were literature and poetry, including a collection of poetry he wrote in his early 20s, in Hebrew, “a very unusual choice,” Goldsmith noted, “as Hebrew at that time was reserved for religious study only.”
Goldschmidt was a scholar of Near Eastern languages and, in addition to the Talmud, he translated other religious texts, including a Hebrew translation of the Ethiopic Book of Enoch and a German translation of the Koran. Born in Lithuania, he learned German at the age of 18. His translation of the Talmud took 39 years to complete and he continued to make revisions after publication. He was also a collector of rare books and his extensive collection is now part of the Royal Library in Copenhagen.
After the Goldschmidt Talmud translation became public domain in January 2021, a team of four led by Igor Itkin, a rabbinical student at Rabbinerseminar zu Berlin, integrated its 9,434 pages of text into Sefaria’s free online library. The team’s work included manually linking sections of the translation to corresponding Talmud texts in English and Hebrew/Aramaic already in the Sefaria library. The connections allow scholars, educators and others to navigate between the translations and connect them to the larger library of Jewish scholarship. The team’s work was supported by a grant from the Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe.
The Rivals and Other Stories by Jonah Rosenfeld, translated from the Yiddish by Vancouver’s Rachel Mines – who recently retired from Langara College’s English department – has been selected by the Yiddish Book Centre as one of its picks for the 2022 Great Jewish Books Club. The book is available through the Yiddish Book Centre’s store and other online booksellers, including its publisher, Syracuse University Press, which is offering The Rivals at a 50% discount until Dec 1, 2021 (press.syr.edu).
Rosenfeld was a prolific and popular writer from the early 1900s until his death in 1944. Although his writing received critical praise, very little was translated into English until the publication of The Rivals. His stories foreground social anxiety, cultural dislocation, family dysfunction and the search for meaningful relationships – themes just as relevant today as they were to their original audiences. (See jewishindependent.ca/stories-that-explore-the-mind.)
The Azrieli Foundation recently donated $15.6 million Cdn to the National Autism Research Centre of Israel, a collaboration between scientists from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and clinicians from Soroka University Medical Centre (SUMC), both in the city of Be’er Sheva, Israel. The centre, originally established by the Ministry of Science and Technology, is dedicated to translational research that aims to revolutionize diagnosis techniques and interventions for autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions. In honour of the donation, the centre has been renamed the Azrieli National Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopment Research.
A dedicated facility inside SUMC will be constructed that will double the space for working with children with autism spectrum disorder and performing research. It will house genetics/bioinformatics, biomarker-detection and neuroimaging labs. Existing data collection will be expanded to many autism clinics throughout Israel, where multiple types of clinical and behavioural data, biological samples (e.g., DNA and blood samples) and neuroimaging data will be collected. This data collection will enable the rapid expansion of the National Autism Database, which will triple in size within five years. New faculty members, post-docs and graduate students, as well as scientific, clinical, technical and administrative support staff will be recruited to manage the data collection and sharing effort.
The Weizmann Institute of Science and Weizmann Canada recently received a donation of $50 million US from the Azrieli Foundation, to enable catalytic brain research with the establishment of the Azrieli Institute for Brain and Neural Sciences. A longstanding supporter of the institute, this latest donation adds to past philanthropic investments of nearly $30 million US by the foundation towards Weizmann research facilities and fellowships.
Weizmann’s Azrieli Institute for Brain and Neural Sciences, which will be located at the Weizmann Institute campus in Rehovot, Israel, will promote the full spectrum of neuroscience research, from basic, curiosity-driven studies to translational work of high clinical relevance, with global impact. The donation will enable the construction of a new building that will serve as a hub for neuroscience activities, facilities and technologies.
The Azrieli Institute will focus on research in the development of neural networks; perception and action; mental and emotional health, positive neuroscience; learning, memory and cognition; the aging brain; neurodegeneration; injury and regeneration; theoretical and computational neuroscience; development of innovative neurotechnologies; and integrative brain disorders.