On March 2, Lianna Philipp and Michael Solomon were recognized with the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver’s 2020 Young Leadership Awards, for their commitment and dedication to the Jewish community and the value of tikkun olam.
Philipp chaired Jewish Federation’s Axis steering committee from 2018 to 2020. Her outstanding leadership and devotion to the community have contributed to Axis’s many successes, and the implementation of programs that support Jewish Federation’s strategic priority of engaging the next generation. Philipp continues her leadership with Jewish Federation as a member of the board of directors, the Axis steering committee and the Ben-Gurion Society donor group. She also serves on the boards of Temple Sholom Synagogue and the Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia.
Solomon has been a driving force in the community as a dedicated volunteer with Jewish Family Services (JFS). In that capacity, he has made a tremendous contribution to several of JFS’s most vital initiatives, especially during COVID, such as their food security program. Solomon serves as an ambassador for the Jewish community, bringing his positivity and organizational talents to staff and his fellow volunteers.
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The Jewish National Fund, Pacific Region, has hired Michael Sachs to serve as its executive director, effective April 5. The volunteers on the recruitment and selection committee were Bonnie Belzberg, Harvey Dales and Jonathon Leipsic.
Sachs brings a great deal of experience as a community lay leader, most recently serving as the president of the Bayit and volunteering with the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Tikva Housing Society, Kehila Society of Richmond, and others. He was recognized with the Jewish Federation’s Young Leadership Award in 2017, as well as the Jewish Independent’s 18 under 36 Award. Moreover, he brings a wealth of experience from the business sector, as he served as the vice-president of sales and operations for ERL Diamonds.
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Janelle Zwarych is Jewish Family Services’ new director of food security. Zwarych has a background in psychology and mental health. Most recently, she was the director of resource development and communications at the KidSafe Project. There, she was instrumental in creating a COVID emergency-response food program for Vancouver’s most vulnerable children and youth, while also raising operational and emergency funds.
The Stroke and Brain Injury Assistance Organization (BINA), based in New York, awarded Dr. Cirelle Rosenblatt their Brain Injury Leadership Award on Jan. 24.
Created in 2003, BINA provides guidance and support to thousands of stroke and brain injury survivors and their families. Dr. Rosenblatt has been involved with BINA since its early days.
Dr. Rosenblatt has worked as a neuropsychologist for more than 25 five years in a wide range of rehabilitation medicine settings. She is a sought-after expert in neuropsychological evaluation and therapy.
Dr. Rosenblatt trained and worked at leading facilities in the United States prior to moving to Vancouver with her family in 2003.
She founded and is currently the clinical director of Advance Concussion Clinic (ACC). Located in Vancouver and Surrey, ACC is British Columbia’s only dedicated concussion clinic. She also serves as a consultant to national and Olympic snow athletes and teams, and other professional and competitive athletes.
Mazal tov to Dr. Cirelle Rosenblatt!
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Alison Klein was selected to participate in the CBC Hot Docs Podcast Career Accelerator, which took place during the CBC Hot Docs Podcast Festival (Jan. 27-29). She was one of 70 emerging Canadian audio creators chosen for their innovative Canadian podcasts. Alison’s show, The Self Advocate, was created to provide a forum to talk to people with cognitive disabilities who advocate for themselves. It can be heard on Co-op Radio 100.5 FM or coopradio.org, and is available on Spotify and other podcast providers.
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The board of directors of the Louis Brier Foundation recently announced the appointment of Ayelet Cohen Weil as the new executive director of the foundation. With more than 12 years of experience working in Jewish community organizations, both in British Columbia and in Israel, Cohen Weil brings an impressive background in nonprofit management, fundraising, strategic planning, community relations and development.
Prior to joining the foundation on Feb. 1, Cohen Weil held the position of associate director of community engagement at the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, as well as manager of women’s philanthropy and manager of major gifts for Jewish Federation’s annual campaign. Her previous experience includes working in academia at the Interdisciplinary Centre Herzliya, as well as serving as managing director of Hillel BC. She holds a master’s degree in public policy, conflict resolution and mediation, with international mediation certification and distinction from Tel Aviv University.
The Louis Brier Foundation has a broad perspective and commitment in fulfilling its mission statement, and raising funds to maintain and foster the well-being, care and happiness of the seniors of the Snider Campus, site of the Louis Brier Home and Hospital and the Weinberg Residence.
“This year, one like no other, and after more than 12 years of working in Jewish communal life and being exposed to the many facets of the fabric of our community, I have been pondering upon the vitality in embracing, more than ever, the value of caring warmly and worthily for our seniors, the ones who built our community for us in the first place,” said Cohen Weil. “They are the living examples of our aspirations: the builders, the thinkers, the visionaries, the creators.
“I started working with the young generation in my years in Hillel and then at Federation across the community…. I truly wish to impress upon the younger generation how important this is for immediate family members and for the kavod we owe to our elderly. I would love to raise even more the profile of the centrality of this foundation in our community across all generations. This, for me, is thinking of the fabric of our Jewish community … in its full cycle and in its entirety. This is what excites me the most – to hopefully be able to contribute and create a large impact where it’s mostly needed after what we have experienced in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic…. To now be part, as well, of ensuring that the physical, mental and spiritual needs of our Jewish seniors are met so that they have a life of dignity, fulfilment and happiness, which they so much deserve…. Anything that would bring an extra smile, a feeling of comfort and warmth to Jewish seniors in our community is never too much, and I am incredibly excited and humbled for this opportunity.”
Clockwise from top left: committee members Tanja Demajo, Michelle Dodek, Michelle Gerber, Stan Shaw, Renee Katz and Simone Kallner. (photo sextet from JFS)
Jewish Family Services has formed a food security committee. This team will be responsible for leading the transition plan of the JFS’s Jewish Food Bank to its new and dedicated facility near Main and East 3rd Avenue in Vancouver. The committee, which reports to the board of directors, will be focused on supporting the Food Security program development project as a steering committee for the move into the new facility; and assisting as content advisors on an ongoing basis in the areas of food programs planning, security, building management, partnerships and community engagement, and communication.
Committee members have served on the Jewish Food Security Task Force and sit on several committees in the community. The committee co-chairs – Simone Kallner and Stan Shaw – also serve on the JFS board.
This year, a Food Security Project website will be launched to keep people apprised of the committee’s work. It will also contain upcoming town hall meetings, with the most current community stakeholder engagement and input opportunities.
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Created in 1967, the Order of Canada is one of our country’s highest civilian honours. Its companions, officers and members take to heart the motto of the order, “desiderantes meliorem patriam” (“they desire a better country”). Appointments are made by the governor general on the recommendation of the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada and, on Dec. 30, it was announced that Dr. Robert Krell was among the 61 new appointees.
Krell was appointed Member of the Order of Canada for “his contributions to our understanding of mass ethnopolitical violence, and for his advocacy on behalf of Holocaust survivors.”
A professor emeritus of the University of British Columbia, department of psychiatry, Krell’s research and interests are the psychiatric treatment of aging survivors of massive trauma; and antisemitism, racism and prejudice education.
Krell was born in Holland and survived the Holocaust in hiding. The Krell family moved to Vancouver, where he obtained an MD from UBC and eventually became professor of psychiatry. In his psychiatric practice, Krell was director of child and family psychiatry and also treated Holocaust survivors and their families, as well as Dutch survivors of Japanese concentration camps.
Krell established a Holocaust education program for high school students in 1976 and an audiovisual documentation program recording survivor testimony in 1978 and assisted with the formation of child survivor groups starting in 1982. He served on the International Advisory Council of the Hidden Child Gathering in New York in 1991, and he is founding president and board member of the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, which opened in 1994 and which teaches 20,000 students annually. He has authored and co-edited 10 books, 20 book chapters and more than 50 journal articles. He continues to write and speak on Holocaust-related topics.
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With thanks to HaShem, Schara Tzedeck Synagogue members Alexander Hart and Kathryn Selby are honoured and delighted to announce the engagement in Jerusalem of their son Shmuel Hart to Reut Rappoport, daughter of Rabbi Jason and Meira Rappoport of Alon Shvut, Gush Etzion, Israel.
Jerusalem-born, Montreal-based composer and vocalist Ayelet Rose Gottlieb released the album 13 Lunar Meditations: Summoning the Witches on Jan. 12, the first new moon of the new year.
A collaborative project, this double-vinyl release includes poetry by more than 20 women and girls from around the globe, a choir of improvising vocalists conducted by DB Boyko, and features vocalist Jay Clayton. Through a multicultural approach, 13 Lunar Meditations is an acoustic exploration focusing on the moon, our relationship with it and its effects on us.
“The moon speaks to the universal and to the intimate female presence,” Gottlieb shared on her inspiration, from her personal journey as an artist and mother. “In this difficult time we live in, having a connection with each other, with the world around us and with the universe may be the most radical act of resilience.”
In 2015, Boyko commissioned Gottlieb to compose a new song-cycle for her VOICE OVER mind Festival in Vancouver. Gottlieb composed the first draft of this song-cycle for her own quintet and Boyko’s improvisers’ choir. Later that year, the piece was presented again at John Zorn’s the Stone, in New York City, where Clayton joined in for the first time.
Gottlieb’s song-cycle traces the phases of the moon, from birth to full glory and all the way back to emptiness. The compositions range in musical expression from wild and experimental, to melodic, rhythmic and light. All are laced with improvisation and rooted in jazz with Turkish and Armenian undertones. Primarily sung in English, also interwoven are Hebrew, German, French, Turkish, Arabic, Spanish and Japanese.
Gottlieb invited more than 20 women and girls to write texts on their personal relationship to the moon, which inspired her compositions. Ages 4 to 70, these contributors represent a global community from diverse backgrounds and nationalities – from Australia to Morocco, a poet, a gynecologist, a lawyer, an energy healer, a sex worker, a grandmother, and others.
Supported by Canada Council for the Arts and a Kickstarter campaign that concluded at 109%, the album was recorded in Montreal. On it, Gottlieb, Clayton and Boyko are joined by Coeur Luna, Turkish violinist Eylem Basaldi, guitarist Aram Bajakian, contrabassist Stéphane Diamantakiou and drummer Ivan Bamford.
The album and accompanying lunar calendar and box set of 13 postcards (with art by Sarit Evrani, designed by Dan Levi) are available for purchase at ayeletrose.com and ayelet.bandcamp.com.
Rabbi Dr. Yosef Wosk speaks at a Vancouver Public Library event in 2017. (photo by Cynthia Ramsay)
The Order of Canada is one of our country’s highest civilian honours. Its companions, officers and members take to heart the motto of the order: “Desiderantes meliorem patriam” (“They desire a better country”).
Created in 1967, the Order of Canada recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. Appointments are made by the governor general on the recommendation of the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada. This year, among the 114 new appointees, are Vancouver Jewish community members Dr. Carol Herbert and Rabbi Dr. Yosef Wosk. Each recipient will be invited to accept their insignia at a ceremony to be held at a later date.
Herbert was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada for her contributions to the fields of clinical and academic medicine, as a family physician, medical educator, researcher and administrator. She and three colleagues were appointed.
“The appointment of Drs. B. Lynn Beattie, Joseph Connors, Carol Herbert and Roger Wong to the Order of Canada is a demonstration of their incredible commitment to the health and well-being of all Canadians,” said Dr. Dermot Kelleher, dean of the University of British Columbia’s faculty of medicine and vice-president, health, at UBC, said in a press release. “We are very proud of each of their contributions, and deeply moved by their passion for improving the lives of patients and families here in B.C., and across the nation.”
Herbert, an adjunct professor in the School of Population and Public Health, “is internationally known for her leadership in primary care research, and for her work in clinical health promotion, patient-physician decision-making, and participatory action research with Indigenous communities, focused on diabetes and on environmental effects on human health,” notes the UBC release. “She was formerly head of the department of family practice, founding head of the division of behavioural medicine and a founder of the UBC Institute of Health Promotion Research.”
This only touches on Herbert’s extensive experience. She also was dean of medicine and dentistry at Western University in London, Ont., from 1999 to 2010, was a practising family physician from 1970 to 2013, and has been involved in medical education since 1971.
Yosef Wosk, PhD, was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada for his far-reaching contributions to his community as a scholar, educator and writer, and for his generous philanthropy. BC Booklook (bcbooklook.com/2020/11/27/41941) cites the governor general: “Yosef Wosk is a Renaissance man of the 21st century. A rabbi, scholar, businessman and art collector, he is a revered educator and community activist who inspired many to become engaged in global issues and local challenges. Former director of interdisciplinary programs in continuing studies at Simon Fraser University, he founded the Philosophers’ Café and the Canadian Academy of Independent Scholars. A poet, explorer and dedicated philanthropist involved with museums, the arts, social services, publishing, nature and heritage conservation, he has endowed hundreds of libraries worldwide.”
Wosk has established more than 400 libraries, including 20 libraries in remote Himalayan villages and 37 in Jewish communities throughout the world. (See jewishindependent.ca/many-milestones-for-wosk-in-2019.) He has supported a range of local building preservation, public garden and other civic enhancement projects. He has helped fund the production of more than 250 books and videos, and has written numerous works, most recently Memories of Jewish Poland: The 1932 Photographs of Nachum Tim Gidal and the forthcoming GIDAL: The Letters of Tim Gidal and Yosef Wosk (Douglas & McIntyre, 2021). He supports several literature, writing, poetry, art and design initiatives, and is founding benefactor of the Dance Centre.
In addition to other honours, Wosk has received the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals and a Mayor’s Arts Award, as well as the Order of British Columbia.
As part of its belief in and commitment to supporting emerging architecture practitioners, the Arthur Erickson Foundation and the Yosef Wosk Family Foundation recently announced a $110,000 donation to Indspire – Canada’s national, award-winning Indigenous registered charity – in support of Indigenous youth in Canada. The donation will fund an awards program focused on increasing Indigenous student success by growing the number of Indigenous architects and landscape architects in Canada.
Central to Arthur Erickson’s work as an architect and theorist was his belief in and commitment to education and research. Having served on the faculties of architecture at the University of Oregon and the University of British Columbia, Erickson understood the need of each generation to contribute to the training of the next. One of the ways the foundation honours Erickson’s belief is by working with donors to develop prizes and scholarships intended to reward and assist students studying architecture and landscape architecture.
“The Arthur Erickson Foundation and Yosef Wosk Family Foundation, along with Indspire, are pleased to announce the establishment of an awards program supporting Indigenous education in architecture and landscape architecture,” said Michael Prokopow, vice-president (East) Arthur Erickson Foundation. “The organizations recognize the profound importance of the shared work of decolonization and reconciliation in Canada for the transformation of society. These awards recognize the deep power of Indigenous thinking and wisdom around the making of habitation and space for well-being across generations and the vitally important stewardship of the natural world.”
Mike DeGagné, president and chief executive officer of Indspire, stated, “This new investment is a significant step in supporting First Nations, Inuit and Métis architecture and landscape architecture students to achieve their potential through education and training. They can in turn enrich their communities and create positive change in Canada. We are grateful for the support of the Arthur Erickson Foundation and the Yosef Wosk Family Foundation for investing in Indigenous achievement and education.”
Simon Fraser University Gerontology Research Centre (GRC) founder Dr. Gloria Gutman and her team – Avantika Vashisht, Taranjot Kaur, Mojgan Karbakhsh, Ryan Churchill and Amir Moztarzadeh – received the Best Paper Award at the International Conference on Gerontechnology, held Nov. 25-27. SFUGero tweeted the news Dec. 1, noting that the paper was a “[f]easibility study of a digital screen-based calming device for managing BPSD [behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia] during bathing in a long-term care setting.”
A brief biography for Gutman, PhD, appears on the conference website. She is president of the North American chapter of the International Society for Gerontechnology, vice-president of the International Longevity Centre-Canada, past-president of the Canadian Association on Gerontology and the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics. She is co-editor (with Andrew Sixsmith) of Technologies for Active Aging (Springer, 2013) and has published widely on seniors housing, long-term care, health promotion, prevention of elder abuse, and seniors and disasters. She is on the advisory of MindfulGarden Digital Health and is the principal investigator on the first feasibility clinical studies for MindfulGarden, which is a digital treatment of hyperactive dementia in long-term care setting. She established the GRC and department of gerontology at SFU and is recipient of many awards and honours, including the Order of Canada.
The third edition of the Western Canada Jewish Book Awards, presented by the Cherie Smith JCC Jewish Book Festival in Vancouver, took place Dec. 6. Daniella Givon, chair of the awards committee, opened the evening on Zoom and the five honours were awarded by five different presenters.
Winning the Nancy Richler Memorial Prize for Fiction was Rhea Tregebov for Rue des Rosiers, in which a young Canadian woman’s search for her own identity brings her to Paris in 1982, and face-to-face with the terror of an age-old enemy. Tregebov (Vancouver) is the author of fiction, poetry and children’s picture books. She is associate professor emerita in the University of British Columbia creative writing program.
The Pinsky Givon Family Prize for nonfiction went to Naomi K. Lewis for Tiny Lights for Travellers. When her marriage suddenly ends, and a diary documenting her beloved Opa’s escape from Nazi-occupied Netherlands in the summer of 1942 is discovered, Lewis decides to retrace his journey to freedom. Lewis (Calgary) is the author of the novel Cricket in a Fist and the short story collection I Know Who You Remind Me Of.
Ellen Schwartz was awarded the Diamond Foundation Prize for children’s and youth literature for The Princess Dolls, a story about friendship between a Jewish girl and a Japanese girl, set against the backdrop of 1942 Vancouver. Schwartz (Burnaby) is the author of 17 children’s books, including Abby’s Birds and Mr. Belinsky’s Bagels.
The Lohn Foundation Prize for poetry was given to Alex Leslie for Vancouver for Beginners. In this collection, the nostalgia of place is dissected through the mapping of a city, where readers are led past surrealist development proposals, post-apocalyptic postcards and childhood landmarks long gone. Leslie (Vancouver) is the author of two short story collections and the winner of the 2015 Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers.
The Kahn Family Foundation Prize for writing about the Holocaust was given to Olga Campbell for A Whisper Across Time, a personal and moving story of her family’s experience of the Holocaust through prose, art and poetry, creating a multi-dimensional snapshot of losses and intergenerational trauma. Campbell is a visual artist whose media include photography, sculpture, mixed media painting and digital photo collage.
The jury for the 2020 Western Canada Jewish Book Awards comprised Shula Banchik, arts and culture manager of the Calgary JCC; Judy Kornfeld, former librarian at Langara College; Els Kushner, author and librarian; Norman Ravvin, writer, critic and Concordia University professor; and Laurie Ricou, professor emeritus of English at UBC.
After short acceptance speeches and readings from the authors, Dana Camil Hewitt, director of the JCC Jewish Book Festival, concluded the evening thanking the sponsors, the judges, the awards committee and the extended virtual audience, and inviting everyone to purchase and enjoy the books.
Diabetes Canada named Gerri Klein as Diabetes Nurse Educator of the Year, 2020, citing Klein’s dedication and passion for her work. For three years, rain or shine, she led a noontime Walk the Walk program for patients living with diabetes; she often makes home visits to vulnerable seniors afflicted by the condition and has accompanied patients to smoking cessation clinics, psychologist and psychiatrist visits, as well as support meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon visits.
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The board of directors of the Kehila Society of Richmond has announced the appointment of its new political liaison, Zach Segal, effective this month.
Segal grew up in Richmond, attending Richmond Jewish Day School and Steveston High School. He then studied political science at the University of British Columbia and the University of London.
Following university, Segal worked in Ottawa for four years as a political advisor under the last Conservative government. Today, he can be found working at Vancouver-based Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.
As a strong advocate for community involvement among Jewish youth, Segal has spoken to schools and Jewish youth organizations about political activism and community involvement. He and his family have a long history in the Lower Mainland and within British Columbia’s Jewish community, dating back to his great-grandparents. He is an active member of the Jewish community and a longtime member and volunteer with CIJA, CJPAC and a variety of other outreach Jewish community organizations.
The board looks forward to Segal assisting in the continued growth of Kehila’s Richmond Jewish community and the community at large. He is a passionate and strong advocate who is ready to roll up his sleeves to make a real difference.
For more information, contact the Kehila office at 604-241-9270.
Annette Whitehead has spent her life helping others.
Annette Whitehead – who turns 80 on Nov. 17 – continues to devote herself to helping others. Born in Winnipeg, but raised since infancy in Vancouver, her volunteer career started with her being a candy striper in her teens.
Over the years, Annette has served in myriad capacities for various organizations. Her only absence from local community work was during her three-and-a-half years of living in Sweden, immediately after her marriage and the birth of her first child, a son, Sidney.
Upon her return to Vancouver, Annette gave birth to her second child, a daughter, Sally. Together, Annette and her husband Jacob (z’l) raised their children and, thanks to Annette being a “stay-at-home mom,” she also raised half the neighbourhood’s children, who made the Whitehead home their meeting place. To this day, many of her children’s friends, now with children of their own, keep in touch with her via Facebook and Skype, still addressing her as “Mrs. Whitehead,” as they did when they were kids.
Throughout her years as the anchor of her family’s home life, Annette took on babysitting, both as a source of income and on a volunteer basis for families in crisis. Once both her children went off to university and on to successful careers in finance and law, Annette started accepting home-stays, overseas students who were visiting Canada to master English. She hosted home-stays from 1993 until 2014. Many of the students have kept in touch with her and consider her their “Canadian mom.”
Sadly, Annette became a widow 13 years ago, but she has retained a busy life. These days, she enjoys spending a great deal of time with her two granddaughters, Raya and Lilah. As well, she holds positions on the boards of several organizations and participates in volunteer activities on an almost daily basis.
Annette is a trustee on the board of Jewish Women International, B.C. chapter (JWI-BC), and is co-chair of JWI-BC’s Noah’s Ark Project, which provides rear-facing infant car seats to 17 hospitals, organizations and institutions in the province, for working poor and refugee families, as well as several Ministry of Children and Families offices. In her co-chair position, Annette serves as a JWI-BC chapter liaison with social workers at several hospitals with respect to the delivery of the car seats and other baby items, as needed.
Every year since its inception by JWI-BC in the 1980s until the program was terminated last year, Annette was one of the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day volunteers at BC Children’s Hospital, delivering refreshments, snacks and homemade baking to doctors, nurses and other hospital staff, as well as to the parents of young patients. Annette still sends out e-announcements to JWI-BC’s membership – congratulatory messages on births, engagements, weddings and achievements, as well as speedy recovery wishes and, sadly, condolences.
Annette currently sits on the Kitsilano Community Centre’s board, as well as on the seniors board and the seniors committee. As the goods and welfare secretary, she has volunteered for a number of years to send out get-well cards via standard mail to senior members.
At Kerrisdale Community Centre, Annette sits on the senior board and also volunteers as a photographer for special events. Her pictures have been published as part of the centre’s advertising – on the cover and inside the community-wide seasonal program schedules published twice a year. In addition, she volunteers in setting up for special luncheons.
Annette is a past board and committee member for both the program and youth committees at Marpole Community Centre. For many years, she volunteered at the centre’s yearly Marpole Festival Days, working with children and their families, as well as taking photographs for in-house publication.
In the past, Annette has served as volunteer treasurer, both for JWI-BC chapter and for David Livingston Elementary School’s parents committee. For a number of years, she volunteered as a library assistant – at McBride Elementary and Vancouver Technical schools – and also helped slower readers at several Vancouver schools with their reading skills.
Maintaining her interest in health-related activities, Annette volunteers yearly for the Vancouver Sun Run and the HBC Children’s Hospital fundraising run, and has worked in registration, childcare and catering positions for both charities. For several years, she volunteered for the Heart & Stroke Foundation of B.C. & Yukon, leading patients recovering from strokes on neighbourhood walks, with the purpose of improving their ability to walk and talk.
Wishing Annette the happiest of birthdays and thanking her for all she has done for the Jewish and general communities. May she live until 120.
Newcomer to Vancouver and longtime National Council of Jewish Women of Canada member Rachel Ornoy, left, cheers the Purse Project volunteer gang on.
Members of National Council of Jewish Women of Canada, Vancouver section, under the guidance of Cate and Jane Stoller, stuffed purses with cosmetics, toiletries, comfort candles, chocolates, gift cards, pyjamas and other useful items on the morning of Sept. 27 for partner agency Atira Women’s Resource Society, a not-for-profit organization committed to the work of ending violence against women.
Thank you to everyone who dropped off purses, helped fill the bags and collect their contents – more than 100 purses were delivered to Atira. Also thank you to Jane Stoller for putting together the hostess table with coffee and Timbits. It was a lovely pre-Kol Nidre morning mitzvah and it was great to have a socially distant visit with our NCJWC Vancouver friends.
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This year’s Project Isaiah campaign required Jewish Family Services (JFS) to change the way it looked at the traditional food drive. From Sept. 8 to Sept. 29, JFS ran its very first virtual community food drive, ending with a COVID-19-safe drive-thru drop off.
Despite the needs being greater than ever – more than double compared to last year – this year’s Project Isaiah campaign has been the most successful food drive in the past 10 years. Thanks to donors, the Jewish Food Bank will be able to feed 700 clients (up from 450 last year) over the next four to six months; recipients include 175 children and 118 elders within our community.
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Carolyn Digby and Aaron Klein were wed in a romantic ceremony, surrounded by family and friends, Nov. 9, 2019, at VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver. The couple resides in Toronto, where both are pursuing studies, Carolyn in a clinical psychology counseling master’s program, and Aaron in aerospace engineering, doctorate program.
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The Peretz Centre has appointed Liana Glass to lead the centre’s pnei mitzvah program. The Peretz pnei mitzvah – pnei (faces) rather than b’nei (“sons of”), to reflect a gender-neutral descriptor – is a two-year program in which students meet once every second week for two hours, culminating in a group ceremony. The next intake period is this fall.
Glass, who has earned a master’s of community and regional planning at the University of British Columbia, has considerable experience in teaching and facilitating groups from diverse backgrounds, most recently as a research intern with Vancouver’s Social Purpose Real Estate Collaborative.
Glass’s path to secular Judaism was not a straight one. After studying Yiddish at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute’s summer program in 2017, she found that “Yiddish opened up a secular avenue for me to explore my Judaism and connect with it on a different level. It allowed me to reexamine Judaism in the larger context of my life and as part of my cultural identity. The prospect of helping pnei mitzvah students find that sense of connection through the various subjects we’ll explore in class is extremely exciting.”
“In our search, we indicated that we were looking for a candidate who is dynamic, enthusiastic and firmly committed to secular Jewish ideals and learning. Liana brings all that and so much more. We’re looking forward to working with her and seeing where she’ll be taking the program next,” said David Skulski, Peretz Centre general manager.
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Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver elected its 2020-2021 volunteer board of directors at its annual general meeting Sept. 30. New directors, elected for a two-year term, are Hodie Kahn, Shay Keil, Kyra Morris, Lisa Pullan and Stan Shaw. Each of them brings a background of community leadership and past contributions to Jewish Federation.
Kahn is currently chair of Jewish Federation’s Jewish Day School Council, whose work addresses the ongoing enrolment and financial stability needs facing the day schools; she is also a member of the Community Recovery Task Force. Keil is chair of major gifts for the Federation annual campaign and a member of the Jewish Day School Council; he is a past co-chair of men’s philanthropy. Morris is the new chair of the Axis steering committee, which oversees Federation’s programs for young adults. Pullan has lent her fundraising and leadership expertise to Federation for many years, including chairing women’s philanthropy and serving on the board in that capacity. And Shaw has held several leadership roles with Federation; he co-chaired the Food Security Task Force and is now bringing his cybersecurity expertise to the new cybersecurity and information protection subcommittee.
Returning directors elected for a two-year term are David Albert, Bruce Cohen (secretary), Alex Cristall (chair), Jessica Forman, Rick Kohn (treasurer) and Lianna Philipp. They join the following directors who are in the middle of a two-year term, and will be continuing their service on the board: Jim Crooks, Catherine Epstein, Marnie Goldberg, Candace Kwinter (vice-chair), Melanie Samuels and Pam Wolfman.
Joining or continuing to serve on the board are Sue Hector (women’s philanthropy co-chair), Karen James (immediate past chair), Jonathon Leipsic (campaign chair), Shawna Merkur (women’s philanthropy co-chair) and Diane Switzer (Jewish Community Foundation chair).
At its Oct. 14 annual general meeting, the Vancouver Holocaust Centre Society confirmed the society’s board of directors: Rita Akselrod, Marcus Brandt, Jeremy Costin, Michelle Guez, Belinda Gutman, Helen Heacock-Rivers, Philip Levinson, Michael Lipton, Shoshana Krell Lewis, Jack Micner, Talya Nemetz-Sinchein, Ken Sanders, Joshua Sorin, Al Szajman, Robbie Waisman and Corinne Zimmerman. For more information, visit vhec.org/who-we-are/#board.
Patrick McDonald will hand the artistic reins of Green Thumb Theatre to Rachel Aberle in January. (photo from Green Thumb Theatre)
After a distinguished 32-year tenure, Patrick McDonald recently announced that he will be stepping aside as artistic director of Green Thumb Theatre at the end of 2020. After several seasons working closely with McDonald, Green Thumb’s associate artistic director and award-winning theatre artist, Rachel Aberle, will assume the role, effective Jan. 1, 2021.
McDonald has led Green Thumb Theatre since 1988. The theatre organization, which was founded in 1975, tours to schools and other venues across the country and internationally. McDonald’s dedication to placing youth engagement and artistic integrity on an even plane has underpinned the organization’s mission of providing socially engaged professional live performance to young people, regardless of geographic or economic status.
“I am proud of how, as a company, we have stayed to course over the last three decades continuing to create new, engaging and challenging work about the issues young audiences are dealing with,” said McDonald. “ I am especially proud of the number of scripts we have brought forward that are now a part of the growing canon of theatre for young audience scripts produced worldwide.”
As performing arts organizations across the globe face uncertainty and calls for innovative programming, McDonald is confident he is leaving the theatre in good hands, stating: “Rachel Aberle, in collaboration with general manager Breanne Harmon and our current staff, will, without doubt, continue this legacy and meet the current challenges head-on. They are ready, and they will do well.”
Aberle, who made her professional performance debut with the company, has penned two critically acclaimed plays for the organization. Her play Still/Falling, which explores themes of adolescent mental health, premièred in 2015 and has been performed more than 180 times across North America and received a Jessie Richardson Theatre Award for significant artistic achievement. The Code, which explores themes of consent and cyberbullying, premièred in 2018 and was recognized with a Jessie Award for outstanding production, the Sydney J. Risk Prize for outstanding original script by an emerging writer, and was included on Tapeworthy blog’s Best of Stage 2018 – selected out of almost 200 shows worldwide. Aberle has held the position of associate artistic director with Green Thumb since 2017.
“I am humbled and honoured to be asked to serve as Green Thumb’s next artistic director,” remarked Aberle, who is a member of the Jewish community. “I have grown up at Green Thumb, under the mentorship and guidance of Patrick McDonald. During these difficult times, I take this role on with a deep appreciation of the complex challenges the company faces. I believe that now, more than ever, young people deserve opportunities to explore the struggles they face on a daily basis. This is the work that Green Thumb has always done, and work that I am excited to continue to do.”
During his tenure, McDonald has commissioned more than 50 new plays from emerging and established playwrights, and has directed more than 75 productions. He has been recognized for his work, including the 2009 Jessie for career achievement and, in 2013, the Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award. In addition to the school touring program, McDonald established mainstage production partnerships with more than 20 arts organizations nationwide and internationally.
“We are humbled to have worked with Patrick and marvel at his creativity and tenacity in moving youth theatre forward,” said Cheryle Beaumont, chair of the board. “With a long and committed history with Green Thumb and a wealth of experience to bring to her new role, we are most pleased to welcome Rachel Aberle to the position of artistic director this coming January.”
Harmon, said, “Patrick’s long history at Green Thumb has seen him mentor hundreds of emerging artists, administrators and playwrights, offering endless opportunities and truly elevating theatre for young people across the country. He will be leaving Green Thumb with a strong legacy.”
Looking to the future, Harmon, who is also a member of the Jewish community, added, “Rachel is passionate, knowledgeable and a true champion of ensuring young voices are represented truthfully. I look forward to our new partnership.”
Alison Klein has been accepted to the master of arts, interdisciplinary studies, in the faculty of humanities and social sciences at the University of Athabasca. The focus of her learning is disability and how services are offered to persons with disability in Canada. She plans to use her studies to inform her work on The Self Advocate, her podcast featuring people with cognitive disabilities who advocate for themselves.
Following a North American call for submissions and an exhaustive selection process, Jewish Family Services (JFS) in Vancouver has been chosen by the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies for participation in Year Two of the NJHSA Jewish Poverty Challenge, an offering of the network’s Centre for Innovation and Research. The goal of the program is to help NJHSA member agencies better analyze the marketplace, launch and manage solutions, and implement sustainable measures for success to address the many dynamics associated with responding to Jewish poverty.
NJHSA has partnered with Start Co., a venture development consultancy firm based in Memphis, Tenn., with an expertise in launching startup, entrepreneurial initiatives and engaging municipalities, corporations and nonprofits in poverty reduction responses. The team at Start Co. will provide expert consultation assistance as JFS rethinks and redesigns products and services, adjusting assumptions and organization models. Throughout, special attention will be paid to the impact of COVID-19 on service delivery methods.
“We are so honoured to have been selected to participate in this challenge,” said Tanja Demajo, JFS chief executive officer, in a press release. “The demand for our services has increased during COVID-19 and we have had to pivot quickly. Although we have adapted, we are experiencing growing pains. This opportunity through the NJHSA and with Start Co. is timely in helping us address our pain points in an innovative way so we can be more efficient and can operate at a pace our clients are demanding during this crisis.”
Reuben Rotman, president and chief executive officer of the network, added, “The COVID-19 pandemic has even further heightened the critical need for innovative solutions to the challenges of Jewish poverty. With newly vulnerable clients reaching out for assistance in unprecedented frequency, the agencies are challenged to identify new ways of working and new efforts to achieve sustainable solutions for those in need.”
For more than 80 years, JFS has delivered a continuum of social services to individuals and families of all ages and in all stages of life in the Greater Vancouver area; its pillars of support include food security, counseling and mental health, care management, financial aid and home support.
The Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies is an international membership association of more than 140 nonprofit human service agencies in the United States, Canada and Israel. Its members provide a full range of human services for the Jewish community and beyond, including healthcare, career, employment and mental health services, as well as programs for youth, families and seniors, Holocaust survivors, immigrants and refugees, persons with disabilities and caregivers.
Dr. Mel Krajden is among those who will be appointed to the Order of British Columbia this year. The announcement of the 13 new appointments was made on BC Day, but the investiture ceremony will be postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions and held for recipients and invited guests at Government House in Victoria in 2021.
Krajden is medical director of the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) Public Health Laboratory and has made significant contributions to fields of research, including hepatitis, HIV, HPV and, most recently, COVID-19.
With the emergence of COVID-19, British Columbia and Canada needed urgent access to rapid, validated tests for the virus. Under his leadership at BCCDC, and relying heavily on his expertise, Krajden and his team were able to rapidly develop an assay for the province to commence testing in January 2020, weeks before other jurisdictions. Access to this test was an essential element in the management and control of the outbreak and the safety of British Columbians.
Krajden created the world-leading B.C. Hepatitis Testers Cohort, which integrates de-identified data on 2.4 million individuals tested for, or diagnosed with, hepatitis B, C, HIV and TB infections, linked to their corresponding healthcare administrative data since 1990, to create longitudinal medical histories. This cohort has produced influential pieces of evidence that shaped clinical and public health guidelines and policy in Canada and globally. He was instrumental in the development and continued progress of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research-funded Canadian Network on Hepatitis C, a multidisciplinary group committed to developing a national strategy for hepatitis C elimination.
Krajden was one of the key personnel in the STOP HIV initiative in British Columbia. This public health endeavour saw the implementation of acute HIV testing, allowing diagnosis during the most infectious period of the disease, resulting in timely interventions and communication to partners to reduce transmission. This undertaking helped lead to the lowest HIV incidence on a provincial scale in decades.
Krajden also played a pivotal role in global public policy changes in human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine dosing regimen and the associated reduction of financial access barriers to care. Similarly, his work with respect to assessing the utility of HPV testing versus traditional Pap smears is expected to contribute to guidelines that will benefit women worldwide.
In his educational capacity, Krajden has the reputation of being a wonderful teacher and valued mentor, training researchers, health professionals and students at all levels. He is known for his willingness to provide input and advice despite numerous other commitments, contributing to the success of others. His dedication further extends into the clinical realm, where he always has patient interests at heart and never hesitates to devote his own time to make a difference in client outcomes.
In appointing Krajden to the Order of British Columbia, it is recognized that, over many decades, he has demonstrated exceptional innovation, leadership and sustained contributions to the province, country and the world. He is a highly respected visionary, scientist and educator who has inspired countless researchers and health professionals with his clinical excellence, dedication and generosity of spirit.
Tamara Micner, Rembrandt Koppelaar, Karen and Jack Micner and Dr. Talie Lewis are extremely proud to announce the ordination of Mimi Micner to the rabbinate. The virtual ceremony took place June 7 from Hebrew College in Boston. Mimi and Talie live in Watertown, a half-hour drive from Mimi’s new position, rab- bi at Temple Beth Torah in Holliston, Mass.
Mimi is the granddaughter of Kela (z’l) and Lito (z’l) Guincher, who are kvelling on the Richter scale above. She is also the granddaughter of Chaim (z’l) and Susie Micner, who are surely enormously proud as well.
Ezra Shanken, executive director of Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, and Rabbi Chalom Loeub, chaplain of Chabad Jewish Student Centre, Vancouver, help with the delivery of seder meals. (photo from Lubavitch BC)
Lubavitch BC had its largest communal seder ever, with more than 1,000 participants. Families in Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, Langley, Coquitlam, Burnaby, the North Shore and other areas of the province, enjoyed a complete seder with all the trimmings. And now is the time to say thank you to everyone who made this happen.
Firstly, Rabbi Yitzchak and Henia Wineberg, Rabbi Schneur and Shainy Wineberg, Rabbi Dovid and Chaya Rosenfeld thank Chabad of Richmond and the Community Kollel for partnering with Lubavitch BC to ensure that this project reached the largest number of people; Maple Grill, FortyOne Catering, Miriam Sklar and Lizzy Vaknin for their help with the organization and logistics; Sklar and Meir Jerbi for their help with packing and distribution; David and Diana Benjamin, Ezra Shanken, Glenn Berlow and numerous others for their help with the deliveries; and Rabbi Falik and Rebbetzin Simie Schtroks for coordinating the Langley and Surrey pickups and deliveries.
This project was not easy to accomplish in a short time. Extra amounts of matzah, wine, Haggadot, seder plates and Kiddush cups had to be sourced; ingredients and merchandise had to be purchased; and 1,000 meals had to be cooked and packed under the strict protocols of health and safety during COVID-19. Dozens of heartfelt notes of appreciation were received from members of the community, who shared how the project allowed them to have a wonderful Pesach under these difficult circumstances.
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A program of the JCC Jewish Book Festival, the Western Canada Jewish Book Awards celebrate excellence in writing on Jewish themes and the achievements of authors from Western Canada. The shortlist for the 2020 honours was recently released. The winners were to be announced at a ceremony April 23, but that celebration has been postponed till later in the fall. The nominees are as follows.
The Nancy Richler Memorial Prize for Fiction: Daniel Goodwin (The Art of Being Lewis), Alex Leslie (We All Need to Eat) and Rhea Tregebov (Rue des Rosiers).
The Pinsky Givon Family Prize for Non-Fiction: Allan Levine (Seeking the Fabled City), Naomi K. Lewis (Tiny Lights for Travellers) and Heidi J.S. Tworek (News from Germany).
The Diamond Foundation Prize for Children/Youth: Jackie Mills (Little Synagogue on the Prairie), Ellen Schwartz (The Princess Dolls) and Harriet Zaidman (City on Strike).
The Lohn Foundation Prize for Poetry: Alex Leslie (Vancouver for Beginners), Dave Margoshes (Calendar of Reckoning) and Tom Wayman (Helpless Angels).
The Kahn Family Foundation Prize for writing on the Holocaust: Olga Campbell (A Whisper Across Time), Susan Garfield (Too Many Goodbyes) and Martha Salcudean (In Search of Light).