Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie speaks to those assembled at RJDS’s Celebration of Light event. (photo by Adele Lewin Photography)
Richmond Jewish Day School is on No. 5 Road, which has been named the “Highway to Heaven” because it is home to more than 30 places of worship, education and cultural practice. The temples, churches and religious schools all celebrate light during the winter season and RJDS’s Celebration of Light event celebrated the diversity within the school and throughout Richmond.
On the last night of Chanukah, Dec. 5, RJDS hosted a night of coexistence, unity and light. After parking at the India Cultural Centre, folks aged 5 to 70 lined up at the entrance as the school gym filled with excitement. The night moved through hopeful speeches given by Ezra Shanken, chief executive officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver; Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman of Chabad Richmond; Rabbi Susan Tendler from Beth Tikvah Congregation; Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie; and Richmond City Councilor Bill McNulty. The words “bridges,” “freedom,” “unity,” “light” and “together” echoed. Also in attendance were city councilors Andy Hobbs and Alexa Loo, showing their support.
The RJDS Choir sang classic Chanukah songs, including a piece that called upon the audience to “celebrate our light,” and the school’s Israeli dancers showcased two Israeli dances.
The voices of RJDS’s neighbours were also heard. The school sent the question out to the community asking what “light” means to them during this holiday season. Each response had a different point of view, however, at the core, every answer reflected on hope, optimism, knowledge, community, compassion, joy, openness, anticipation and the goodness in humanity. Respondents included Navshina Savory from the Richmond School District, Umran Bhatti from the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, Balwant Sanghera from Gurdwara Nanak Niwas (and chair of the Highway to Heaven Association), Edward James Wong from St. Monica Parish Roman Catholic Church, Baha’i community representatives, and Russ Klein and Rabbi Stephen Berger from King David High School. They all had thoughtful insights and their participation was appreciated, as was that of everyone who spoke at, attended and otherwise contributed to this event.
On their way out, guests could help themselves to coffee, water and Chanukah delights like latkes, sufganiyot and other fried goods. The night ended with hearts filled with the warmth that unity, a strong community and good food on a cold winter night can bring.
– Courtesy RJDS