Shelly Bordensky is the JCC Inclusion Services support worker for PRISM. (photo from JCCGV)
A new program at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver aims to equip 13-to-17-year-olds with leadership skills, personal insights and paid work experience. Funded by a grant from the Diamond Foundation, the Pre-employment Program for At-Risk Youth within an Inclusive Supportive Modality (PRISM) is seeking referrals of young people who could benefit from this supportive introduction to the world of work. The workshops begin March 23 and meet weekly on Thursdays, 3:30-7 p.m. The referral deadline is March 9.
“Our definition for youth who may benefit from this program is intentionally broad,” said JCC Inclusion Services support worker Shelly Bordensky. “The goal of the program is to limit risk factors for youth, such as social exclusion – youth who may live in lone-parent homes; are recent immigrants or refugees; are living with mental health challenges or diverse abilities; are historically underserved; or are otherwise marginalized – by building skills, networks of support, and exposure to possible future career paths in Jewish communal work.”
“When you care about a teenager, whether as a parent or other trusted adult, you are keenly aware that raising a child includes preparing them for life out in the real world,” added JCC social worker Lisa Cohen Quay. “The amazing part of the PRISM program is that it isn’t just about a first job. Sessions include learning about what jobs exist in Jewish agencies, meeting with a vocational counselor, writing a resumé, taking care of your mental well-being, and so much more – not the least of which is the opportunity to try working in an area of interest at the JCC.”
Quay further explained that this paid work opportunity also gives teens an adult employer to serve as a vital future reference. “It will be wonderful if this program excites teens to come be part of the work force with those of us serving in Jewish agencies, or in another community centre,” she said. “The relationships and insights they develop in PRISM can set them on that course.”
PRISM is an offering of JCC Inclusion Services, under the direction of Leamore Cohen. For more information and accessibility supports, Cohen can be contacted at [email protected] or 604-638-7288.
– Courtesy Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver
Community Longing and Belonging is a community art show in celebration of Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month. It opened at the Zack Gallery on Feb. 14.
Curated by Leamore Cohen, inclusion services coordinator at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver, the fourth annual exhibit once again considers the questions, How do we make meaning of the concept of community, the real and the imagined spaces we inhabit? What does community longing look like and what are the possibilities for belonging in an ever-changing world?
Many of the pieces on display were made by artists from JCC Art Hive, a free and low-barrier program for artists with diverse needs. The collection comprises the work of diverse artists, with different levels of experience, perspective, faith and social location.
One of those featured is award-winning artist and writer Sandra Yuen, who is a member of Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture. Her piece, “Exploded,” is based on the prose of Derrick Bauman, an artist and writer, and influenced by pop art, Roy Lichtenstein, and graphic design. In her artist’s statement, Yuen writes, “As a person with schizophrenia, I wanted to express the fractured mind, the cut edges, the shattering of my life experience because of mental illness. However, this rendition is more a poetic image versus the cruel reality of living in madness, paranoia, hysteria and anger. The colours are sweet, the black lines clean and sharp, creating a mythological or romanticized view of insanity. I try to whitewash my life, sanitize the pain out of it, deny the diagnosis, but the illness remains, the weakness, the flaws, the humanity.”
Mike Levin’s “Waiting for the Train” is about being shrouded in darkness, yet feeling the abundance of sunshine not far away. It is a metaphor for the continued longing for COVID to end so that we can get back to normal living.
Levin’s paintings are often abstractions of nature or city life that conform to structure of composition. They are amalgamations conjured from his imagination, photos he has taken and memories of his experience of exploring.
Growing up in Calgary, Levin has practised art from a young age, and also plays clarinet and saxophone. He attended the University of Calgary’s fine arts and urban studies programs and, after moving to Vancouver, completed his bachelor’s degree in fine arts at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in 2020.
For the past 20 years, Levin has lived with schizo-affective disorder, which he controls through medication and being active in the arts and mental health communities. He has taught drawing and painting at Vancouver General Hospital, the Art Studios, Gallery Gachet and privately within the community; he also works part-time in carpentry. His art has been sold in Canada and the United States to more than 70 private collectors.
Mark Li is a Vancouver-based visual artist whose narrative-focused work creates a whimsical world filled with colour and imagination, as his untitled work in this exhibit shows. Every painting is a tale of friendship and acts of kindness: a bear might be best friends with a cat; a T-Rex smiles with shy humour and sweetness at the viewer; a lady bug and a cat might go dancing in the sunlight; a simple walk in the park with a friend and his dog is a delightful adventure – anything could happen and they could meet anyone.
Rickie Sugars’ “Like Minded” is an example of his unique style of painting in abstract cubism expressionism, using bold colours and black outlines.
A seasoned professional artist, Sugars had his first gallery showing, and sold his first painting, at the age of 17. Since then, he has displayed and sold his art in several galleries and art shows throughout British Columbia.
Sugars is a classical animation graduate from Vancouver Film School. He started creating animated characters well before graduation, resulting in a partnership in an animation company that went on for many years. Continuing his artistic path, he began tattooing in 2004 and has his own tattoo shop. He also designs sculptures created from broken toys.
A few years ago, during an attempt to assist a woman who was being attacked, Sugars received a traumatic brain injury. He had to re-learn everything, including how to talk – however, it did not stop his artistic endeavours. Today, you will find Sugars painting on canvass (or any surface, really), crafting stickers, postcards, wall murals, sand and wood sculptures, and interior/exterior commissioned graffiti.
“My artwork is influenced by media, fads, plus social, political and cultural issues,” he writes in his artist statement. He wants viewers “to look past the obvious, to treasure and celebrate the unique, the unconventional, the familiar: and to be nonjudgmental. Respect others and support them for who they are. Find the beauty in broken toys, an old door, a broken guitar – take time to look more carefully at things around you and you’ll discover beauty in unusual places.”
Another of the artists contributing to the Community Longing and Belonging exhibit is Adrianne Fitch.
Born in Kew Gardens, Queens, N.Y., Fitch studied English and writing at Pennsylvania State University and has traveled all over the world, including living and studying in Israel. She has lived in Vancouver since 2008 and pursues a number of other art forms. She is also a writer and desktop publisher.
“Having lived with a hearing disability and also struggled with depression all my life,” she writes, “I definitely know what it means to feel isolated. As hearing loss is invisible, people frequently make assumptions about me (e.g. they think I’m stupid, stoned or purposely ignoring them). As I did not begin learning ASL until adulthood, I occupy that grey area between the hearing and deaf worlds. I miss a great deal of communication, both spoken and signed, and have often felt as though I don’t belong anywhere.
“That’s why this art show’s theme, Community Longing and Belonging, is so significant and meaningful to me. Indeed, I have always longed for community and belonging. The Jewish community, with its wonderful heritage and incredible diversity, is very precious to me. In creating these three ceramic menorahs, I have tried to express this diversity, as well as my love for the Jewish people.”
Chanukah treats will be plentiful at the JCC Chanukah Market. (photo from JCCGV)
Come celebrate the Festival of Lights on Nov. 28 at the first-ever Chanukah Market. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day, the parking lot at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver will be transformed into a marketplace for all to enjoy.
Under large heated tents, visitors will be able to shop at arts and crafts vendors, peruse affordable art, seek out that perfect gift, enjoy live, all-ages entertainment and participate in family activities – or just soak up the ambiance and enjoy a nosh from one of the food vendors on site. The day’s festivities will culminate in the lighting of the first candle on the chanukiyah at sundown.
Performances will include the music of Tzimmes, singer/guitarist Anders Nerman, children’s entertainer Monika Schwartzman, the Vancouver Jewish Folk Choir, singer-songwriter Auto Jansz, the klezmer sounds of the Klezbians plus other bands and singers, dancers and surprises. Kids and their families will find lots of things to do, from playing on bouncy inflatables to joining in some hands-on art-making specially designed and delivered by the JCC early childhood department.
More than 20 vendors will be on tap to offer jewelry and other creative, useful and decorative items and chachkas. In addition, an 11-member arts and crafts group is presenting an exhibition and sale, offering items such as giclée prints, ceramics, woodwork, glass design, photographs and textiles.
Food trucks and vendors will offer Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines – and Chanukah treats, including latkes and sufganiyot.
The market is presented with the assistance of Canadian Heritage and admission is free with a donation to the Jewish Food Bank. For the full vendor list and more information, visit jccgv.com/chanukah-at-the-j.
– Courtesy Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver
The outdoor fair features live entertainment. (photo by Galit Lewinski)
The Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver invites the entire community to its annual JCC Festival Ha’Rikud. The theme this year is “Seasons of Israel,” with a variety of programs to inspire, inform and entertain visitors. The highlight of the month-long celebration, which runs May 9-26, will be the outdoor community fair.
Beginning at noon on Sunday, May 12, the JCC parking lot will be transformed into an Israeli street fair with food trucks offering shwarma, falafel, vegan Middle Eastern choices and other popular treats; a marketplace (shuk); live music performances; family activities; dancing and more. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.
For Israeli dance lovers, there will be two shows in the Rothstein Theatre, at 1 and 3 p.m., featuring Orr Vancouver dancers and visiting performers from Mexico and Miami. For foodies, there will be a presentation at 5 p.m. by Gil Hovav, a leading Israeli culinary journalist, author, TV personality and speaker.
Other festival events include a group art exhibition in the Zack Gallery, which opens May 9; Israeli recreational dance workshops May 10-12, hosted by the Vancouver Israeli Folk Dance Society; an evening of poetry inspired by the artwork in the gallery, on May 16; and an Israeli song sing-along on May 26. Visit israelifestival.com for the complete schedule.
On Sept. 5, Vancouver City Council will hold a public hearing to help determine the next steps of the planned redevelopment of the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver (JCC).
Serving more than 40,000 community members each year, the JCC has been bursting at the seams for years and needs a significant upgrade. “Our community centre, which is Jewish at heart and, therefore, open to and used by everyone, is aging,” said JCC executive director Eldad Goldfarb. “We’re a not-for-profit that’s been serving the Oakridge area and beyond for 60 years and we are determined to continue this tradition.”
The new facility, planned to be built over two phases, will feature expanded aquatic, gymnasium, fitness and studio space, new cultural arts facilities, a theatre, the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, office space for more than 15 other nonprofit community organizations, expanded licensed early childhood education facilities and significantly enhanced outdoor spaces.
“We just don’t have enough room for all of our activities, so I would love to see the JCC expand and continue to be inclusive for everyone,” said JCC Seniors committee member Cori Friedman.
The City of Vancouver anticipates the population of the Cambie Corridor will double by 2041.
“With all the growth and changes occurring to the community around our centre, it is important for the JCC to grow and change as well – to be prepared for the future and all that it is bringing to our surroundings,” said JCC board president Salomon Casseres.
When the project is complete, the JCC site will also include 299 family-oriented rental homes. “We are going to put the land into a community land trust, so we can create long-term affordable housing and community amenities,” Goldfarb explained.
The proposal has undergone an extensive rezoning process, including a number of different designs, three community open houses and outreach to partner organizations within the Jewish community. For more information on the project, contact Susan Tonn ([email protected]). For details on how to share your thoughts directly with city council, visit rezoning.vancouver.ca/applications/950w41stave/feedback.htm.
In the JCCGV’s program for 2-year-olds, there are only a few spots left for September 2017. (photo from Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver)
Hidden at the end of the hall on the garden level of the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver there is a preschool program for 2-year-olds with just a few spots left for September 2017.
Shalom Aleph and Shabbat Shalom are small classes especially designed to be a child’s first introduction to school, a chance to learn through play with other children in an environment rich with materials to spark creativity and critical thinking skills.
Children are welcomed by early childhood educators and invited to choose what learning centres they want to spend time in. There is a place to glue things together, paint and play with play dough. There are blocks for constructing, a toy house for imaginative play, books to look at and enjoy, as well as sand and water for sensory exploration. Songs, stories and conversation fill the room, as children begin to learn how to be together in a group, how to take turns and how to negotiate and share, with kindness and compassion.
This preschool program and all the licensed early childhood programs at the JCCGV’s Simkin Family Child Development Centre are inspired by research from the preschools in Reggio Emilia, Italy, and guided by the B.C. Early Learning Framework from the Ministry of Education. The Child Development Centre is a Sheva cornerstone community and a designated lab school community – Sheva is the Jewish early learning framework of the Jewish Community Centre Association of North America, which celebrates children as competent, capable and curious.
Director Susan Hoppenfeld would be delighted to take interested parents on a tour and share more details about the preschool program. She can be reached at 604-257-5162.
Eliane Nevares (photo from Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver)
The Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver welcomes Eliane Nevares as the new youth outreach coordinator. Serving Jewish teens throughout the Lower Mainland, Nevares hopes to bring her diverse skill set to the forefront. Born and raised in Vancouver, Nevares has an undergraduate degree from the University of British Columbia in sociology and geography, and the goal to return to school in September 2015 for social work. Additionally, Nevares brings volunteer and work experience from various organizations, including the Vancouver Crisis Centre, Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre and Family Centred Practices Group, to help strengthen the work she will do at the JCCGV.
Nevares aims to connect with as many teens as possible through various programs, including more vulnerable teens. For example, Chill Chat develops partnerships between Jewish mentors and mentees, the Sunday Funday initiative helps combat hunger and advocates for change and leadership, and Banot Girls Club provides a space for preteen girls to meet and engage in meaningful activities. Other services include but are not limited to consultations and assessments, information and referrals, advocacy and support, and educational workshops and speakers.
With a goal to promote the social and emotional development of youth through individual support and community partnerships, Nevares said she is excited about her new position. She encourages those interested to connect with her at [email protected] or 604-257-5111, ext. 308.