The leading federal political parties have pledged their support to the redevelopment of the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver. Kailin Che, the Conservative Candidate for Vancouver Granville, issued a release Sept. 1, saying that a Conservative government would commit to the redevelopment of the facility. The Conservative campaign did not commit to a dollar amount.
The federal Liberals also made a commitment. Taleeb Noormohamad, the Liberal candidate in Vancouver Granville, announced the next day that a reelected Liberal government would contribute $25 million to the project – the same contribution that the province has committed to and the amount JCC officials requested.
The entire project is budgeted at $427 million, including $155 for a new community centre, childcare spaces and seniors care and $272 million to construct 500 to 600 units of mixed-use rental housing. The new centre is estimated for completion in late 2024 and the housing component is anticipated in 2027-28.
Emily Pritchard has been appointed as director of the upcoming capital campaign for the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver redevelopment project. She brings close to a decade of experience to the role and has led successful capital fundraising campaigns throughout her career.
“We are delighted to welcome Emily on board,” said Alvin Wasserman, president of the JCC. “Her appointment is an indication of the growing strength and immense potential of this enormous undertaking.”
The redevelopment will be the single biggest project in the history of the local Jewish community and will bring diverse groups of people from across the region together around a central community hub.
“I am thrilled to be working on this project. Not only is this one of the most ambitious capital campaigns in the city, it is an excellent example of how a capital project can pull a community together,” said Pritchard. In previous roles, Pritchard has led successful campaigns for Christ Church Cathedral and Covenant House Vancouver.
Over the past few years, the JCC, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and King David High School have engaged in a strategic process with stakeholders regarding the proposed redevelopment of the JCC site. As part of that process, the organizations agreed to collaborate on fundraising.
“The creation of the capital campaign director role is part of our commitment to building an experienced team of professionals,” explained Alex Cristall, Jewish Federation’s board chair. “The proposed redevelopment of the JCC site is a complex, long-term project that will take commitments from across the community, government and beyond to realize. Ensuring we have Emily in place at this early stage will enable us to be fully prepared when the time comes to launch the capital campaign.”
KDHS co-president Neville Israel said Pritchard is “a critical part of our cross-organizational team.”
“As the redevelopment starts to gather steam,” added school co-president Jackie Cristall Morris, “I am confident that she will help bring to life the exciting opportunities ahead of us.”
The current 60-year-old JCC facility serves 40,000 people a year, comprising more than 300,000 visits annually. In April 2021, the B.C. government announced $25 million to support the first phase of the redevelopment. This followed Vancouver City Council’s unanimous approval of the rezoning and redevelopment plan for the site. Previously, the provincial government and private donors provided support for the planning stages of the project, which is expected to be completed in two phases.
The first phase will result in a renewed 200,000-square-foot multigenerational community centre on what is currently the JCC parking lot. It will include expanded childcare, seniors’ services, arts and cultural spaces, and amenities for all Vancouver residents. More than 15 not-for-profit organizations are expected to call the centre home, and plans include expanded space for the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, a new theatre, and more.
Once that is completed, the redevelopment’s second phase will begin on what is currently the site of the existing JCC building. Central to this is a mixed-use rental housing project, with units expected to be offered at or below market value and be open to everyone. In this phase, with support from private donors and supporters of the school, KDHS will move to a new facility that will give the school ample space to provide academic, athletic and extra-curricular programming.
One of the reasons the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver is being redeveloped is that its amenities, like the gymnasium and swimming pool, are aging. (photo from miss604.com)
The government of British Columbia has announced $25 million to support the redevelopment of the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver.
At a virtual event April 28, three cabinet ministers and Alvin Wasserman, president of the board of the JCC, publicly shared the major contribution to the $155 million project.
The first phase of the redevelopment, which is what the grant supports, will contribute to the construction of the new, 200,000-square-foot community centre. This will be built on the current JCC parking lot. The new facility will allow the JCC to expand childcare, seniors services, arts and cultural spaces and amenities for all. The centre, when opened, will also be home to about 15 not-for-profit organizations, with expanded space for the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, a new theatre, and other facilities. That component is anticipated to be completed in late 2024.
A second phase of the project, which is the largest capital project in the history of British Columbia’s Jewish community, will see the existing JCC replaced with mixed-use rental housing, including units at or below market value. In this phase, King David High School, which is currently located to the east of the JCC, across Willow Street, is expected to move to new, larger premises in the second phase to accommodate growing student enrolment. This phase, expected to be completed in 2027 or 2028, will cost about $272 million.
The redevelopment initiative includes the transfer of the property from the JCC into a community trust, with rent and other revenues being reinvested into the Jewish community in perpetuity.
Melanie Mark, B.C. minister of tourism, art, culture and sport, made the funding official in an enthusiastic announcement.
“The Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver is an integral part of our social and cultural fabric, it’s a vibrant, intergenerational community centre,” she said. “But it was built more than 60 years ago and the facility is in desperate need of replacement. Its amenities, like the swimming pool and gymnasium, are aging. Meanwhile, the community of Oakridge has exploded around it.”
Mark added: “We hope this grant will assist the centre to secure other sources of funding for this project. The redevelopment of the centre is a massive undertaking, leaving a legacy for generations to come, which is why I’m encouraging other levels of government to join us in funding this important project. Specifically, I hope the federal government will step up and match our funding commitment. I hope they see the value in meeting the needs of this growing, diverse community.”
The new JCC’s capacity for increased childcare and the residential components of the second phase dovetail, Mark said, with the government’s commitments to affordable housing and childcare.
David Eby, the province’s minister responsible for housing, emceed the event. The JCC’s aim of 500 units of affordable housing is an example of how the province is “going to get to our very ambitious target of 114,000 units of affordable housing across the province,” Eby said.
Also on hand was George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy, who recalled his teenage years hanging out at the centre. He echoed Mark’s call for the federal government to join the province in supporting the project.
“The Jewish Community Centre is a centre not just for Oakridge and the Cambie Corridor but for all of Metro Vancouver, and has been for years,” said Heyman. “Visitors come from all around the region and from a wide variety of ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds.”
On behalf of the JCC, Wasserman thanked the provincial officials, all three of whom represent Vancouver ridings in the legislature.
“The centre is in desperate need of replacement,” said Wasserman. “Community needs have hugely outgrown it and, fortunately, we are blessed with options. The centre is in the heart of Vancouver, on land worth more than $325 million. Our community pioneers knew this land would be important for our future needs and that future is arriving…. Thanks to the funding from the province of B.C., we are able to move forward with the plan that will bring benefits to many for many generations to come.”
“Sometimes Being Human … Can Be Hard” by August Bramhoff.
The Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver’s inclusion services’ third annual art exhibit at the Zack Gallery is on display this month. And people can meet the artists at a March 23 virtual reception.
“For the last two years, the JCC has celebrated Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month through an art exhibit that interrogated and explored themes of community longing and belonging,” Leamore Cohen, inclusion services coordinator, told the Independent. “We asked artists of mixed ability: 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?”
This past year, the world has changed almost beyond recognition. “In Vancouver, we are nearing a year since the COVID pandemic shut down our city and transformed all aspects of our social world,” acknowledged Cohen. “However, while we were isolated, we also saw our creativity flourish.”
In the two previous exhibits, artists responded enthusiastically to inclusion services’ challenge, unfolding a fascinating slice of society through their art, and both shows were successful, well-attended cultural events. Unfortunately, the pandemic has moved most of our interactions online, and so it is with this new show, though it is also available to view in-person by appointment.
The participating artists are of differing abilities and artistic levels, so the artforms vary. There are paintings and multimedia collages, figurative and abstract imagery, landscapes and still life. Some pictures are disturbing in their naked emotional pain. Others are quietly sad, or funny, or absurd. One thing is universal: the artists’ willingness to express their feelings, both in their art and in words, as each piece is accompanied by its creator’s short writeup.
It is impossible to mention all 57 pieces on display, but here are a select few to represent this multifaceted show.
August Bramhoff’s painting “Sometimes Being Human … Can Be Hard” depicts a woman sitting, alone. She is sewing or knitting. The painting’s muted colours permit no joy. There is obviously no one there with her, even beyond the edges of the painting. The woman’s isolation and loneliness are palpable despite the spare simplicity of the image.
The artist wrote about his painting: “My main practice is analogue photography, with a focus on street photography…. This is the first painting I’ve created in over 10 years. The inspiration for this work is from a feature film. It captures the sense of longing and displacement we all seem to be juggling during the COVID shutdown.”
In contrast, Tracy-Lynn Chernaske’s “Whispers” is a dreamy landscape. The moon shines over the night forest and a trail of shiny fog weaves its way between earth and sky. Maybe it is just the weather. Or maybe the fog illustrates our mutual desire to connect with one another. Maybe it is a whisper of our souls.
The artist explained: “Community is … a place and a way to tell stories and journeys so they can be witnessed, heard and held. They are a way of bonding together … and the need to push away and seek out new and more fitting spaces.” According to Chernaske, we all nourish “the invisible threads of relationships that cross borders, land, sea and time.”
In Evelyn Finchman’s “Roots” – an abstract composition in the earthy colours of brown and beige – interconnected spirals, lines and shapes allow the viewer’s imagination to stir. Is it food? Is it a surreal terrain? A carpenter’s schematics?
“Belonging to a community is much more than interacting with our societies and being accepted by our peers,” mused Finchman. “This year, I realized how important it is to coexist within the nature that surrounds us…. There is no human life if we don’t respect all living beings on our planet and understand that we are part of the whole environment.”
Another artist who touched on the theme of nature and its connection with humanity is Peggy Logan. Her painting “Flowers Adrift” shows single blooms, all different – a tulip, an orchid, a daffodil, a daisy – but all similarly pale and faded, bobbing on the blue background. The image seems dejected and symbolic.
“The piece of work I have created,” said Logan, “is about that sense of disconnection that exists now with friends and family with restrictions on travel, social distancing, and isolating inside. This image is about the lack of roots the flowers have as they float over the water via the internet.”
Symbolism is also the main approach of Theresa Moleski in her painting “Life In and Beyond our Bubble.” The painting is dark, almost black and white. A tree is imprisoned inside a sharply delineated bubble, striving to get free. But there is something vaguely optimistic outside the bubble, too. And the artist expressed herself in no uncertain terms in her writeup: “COVID or not, I will continue my journey as an artist!”
While most of the images in this show are serious in tone, a few offer a humorous slant on our very human follies. Danielle Haslip’s painting “First Date Red Flags” is a tongue-in-cheek exploration of dating. Its style – childlike and undeniably funny – includes a figure with lots of teeth. You see it and you know: something is gonna bite.
“Reflecting on my own personal growth, as I wait for conditions to be safer for meeting people, I thought I’d be cheeky and depict an exaggerated vision of dating, in which we can either fall prey to manipulative people, who mean us harm, or attempt to force a connection with someone who is not a good fit for us,” wrote Haslip.
Another smile-inspiring work is Paul Leighton’s “Not Over the Moon Yet.” On the painting, a sad cow is floating on a cloud. Or is it an island? The style is two-dimensional, but the meaning is much deeper. Is the poor cow attempting to fly away from stupid humans? The artist thinks so: “My approach to the theme of longing and belonging is to use oblique humour to ponder unfathomable human global problems through the lens of the preposterous…. An individual, no matter how earnest, can’t solve all the interrelated problems of the Anthropocene or rescue a cow fleeing into the clouds,” said Leighton. “However, social pressure and citizens’ assembly can help.”
And then there are paintings like Gail Rudin’s “Home is Where the Heart Is.” Folk art in style, it is heart-warming in its essence. It reminds all of us of the importance of home.
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).
Members of the Hockey Academy of Israel. (photo from Kyle Berger)
The Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver, along with the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, played host earlier this month to 27 young hockey players from Israel’s Northern District who were in town for an eight-day visit.
The stops for the athletes, ages 10 to 14, on their March 5-13 Vancouver trip included a fundraising exhibition game against the JCC league (which had some former NHL players in attendance), the JCC Purim party March 9, which had a hockey workshop for kids in the gym, and a Canucks game on March 10, where Vancouver took on the New York Islanders. The Israeli junior players also had a practice skating session with Barb Aidelbaum, one of Canada’s top power-skating coaches, and ate meals at the Israeli-owned Chickpea and the Palestinian-run Aleph restaurants.
The co-ed group, comprised of youth from a variety of backgrounds – Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Druze – is part of the Hockey Academy of Israel (HIA). Situated in Metula, Israel’s northernmost town – along the border with Lebanon – the HIA (formerly the Canada-Israel Hockey School) was started in 2010 thanks to the drive and ambition of a local Israeli apple farmer and hockey aficionado, Levav Weinberg, and the initial financial support of Canadian media mogul Sidney Greenberg. Presently funded by donors from around the world, the HIA sees as its goal to make hockey fun and affordable for kids who otherwise would not get the opportunity to play.
Since its inception a decade ago, the HIA has witnessed a growing passion for the game in Israel and now boasts more than 400 young players in its academy, all of whom play at the Canada Centre in Metula, home to the only full-sized hockey rink in Israel. This is the second time a group from the HIA has visited Vancouver, a trip that was organized by the JCC and financially supported by the Jewish Federation. Members of the HIA also have visited other NHL towns, such as Ottawa, Pittsburgh and Winnipeg.
The existence of a camp in an area that has frequently made headlines for regional animosities has shown that much good can arise from sport. Many lasting friendships between players of different ethnicities have been formed at the academy.
“There are few things in the world that bring people together the way sports can,” said Kyle Berger, sports coordinator at the JCC and local delegation head for the Maccabi Games. “Sports bonds teammates together, it bonds countries together and, in some rare cases, sports can even bring peace and unity when such things seems almost impossible. This is the magic of the Hockey Academy of Israel, which brings both Jewish and Arab youth and their families together in the name of hockey.”
The HIA says it has found that, as passion for hockey grows in a region surrounded by political conflict, so too grow the bonds and respect these teammates from different cultural and political backgrounds have for one another.
Berger, along with other members of the Metro Vancouver Jewish community, has visited the hockey academy on several occasions, starting in 2012. He told the Independent that he “was blown away” by what he saw when he first arrived. “I had no idea as to the extent of the passion and the intensity the hockey academy has created for the game in Israel, and how much it has done to unite people of different cultures,” he said.
Hockey in Metula, which was featured in the 2013 TSN documentary Neutral Zone, has had a short, yet storied, history. Before the HIA was created, Canadian coaching legend Roger Neilson taught a camp in Metula in the late 1990s and played an integral role in establishing a fervour for the game in Israel.
The HIA is presently coached by Torontonian Mike Mazeika, who believes “the main goal of the academy is to integrate Jewish and Arab kids together, playing hockey, so that they can understand each other and make a difference for the future. Is that going to get us peace in the Middle East? No, probably not. But, if you don’t start small and take small steps, you’ll never be able to take a big step.”
The JCC and Jewish Federation were helped in various ways to support the HIA’s visit, including by host families, sponsors or venue/activity donors. For more information, contact Berger at [email protected] or 604-638-7286.
Sam Margolishas written for the Globe and Mail, the National Post, UPI and MSNBC.
The deadline to apply for Gotta Sing! Gotta Dance! at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver July 7-30 and Aug. 4-27 is April 1. With participants ages 9 to 19 from various parts of Canada and elsewhere in the world, director and creator of the program Perry Ehrlich will be joined this year by faculty including musical directors Wendy Bross Stuart and Diane Speirs; director Chris McGregor; choreographers Jason Franco, Keri Minty and Meghan Anderssen; acting coach Amanda Testini; and Mariana Munoz, set construction and costume co-ordination. The final production of each session will be Wild Wild West Side Story, featuring an original script and a repertoire from Broadway and movie musicals. Also being offered is the finishing school, for serious musical theatre students attending Gotta Sing! Gotta Dance!, and a boot camp dance program. Scholarships are available.
“We are Family” by Cat L’Hirondelle is now on exhibit at the Zack Gallery, as part of he group show Community Longing and Belonging, which runs to March 29.
The new group show at the Zack Gallery, Community Longing and Belonging, is the second annual exhibit in celebration of Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month. Organized by Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver’s inclusion services and its coordinator, Leamore Cohen, the show is a silent auction. Half of the proceeds will go to the artists, and the other half will be divided between inclusion services and the gallery.
The show consists of 50 paintings by different artists. The size and shape of all the paintings are the same – small rectangles – but the contents and media used are vastly different, indicative of the artists’ various styles and training levels. Some are highly professional. Some are figurative; others abstract. But all reflect their creators’ need to belong, to be part of a community. Each painting tells a story.
One of the prevalent themes of the show is flight. Wings appear on several paintings, emphasizing the yearning for the freedom flight entails, but also for the brotherhood of other fliers. The white ornamental wings on Mikaela Zitron’s multimedia piece are bigger than the background board. They take the artist into the sky, into a joyful aerial dance, while Jamie Drie’s feathers, drifting in a sad emptiness, invoke the feeling of disconnection.
The murder of crows in Cat L’Hirondelle’s painting relates yet a different story. “I am a feminist,” said L’Hirondelle. “I was thinking about the importance of being part of a community of like-minded women. My group of longtime women friends is my family, my tribe and, like the crows, I know that they will always be there for me. Since I became disabled, I have felt more and more disassociated with the able-bodied-centric society in general. Just look at the history of people with disabilities in different societies – genocide, forced sterilizations, segregation, isolation, etc. I would love to feel that people with disabilities belong in the world. My piece is trying to impart that sense of longing to be included in general community and how crow communities seem to include everyone: the old, the disabled, the young. I have lived in the crow flight path for many years and have been watching crows’ behaviour; sometimes, I wished people were more like crows.”
The second recurring motif in the show is loneliness, the sense of separation. Daniel Malenica’s image is distinctive among such pictures. The woman in the painting stands behind closed garden gates. She gazes at us from the painting, and the naked longing in her eyes is painful to behold. She desperately wants to open that gate and step through, to join us, but she lacks the courage. What if the people inside reject her? So, she just lingers outside, desolate and alone, waiting for an invitation.
Another outstanding piece on the same theme is Estelle Liebenberg’s black and white painting “Solitude Standing.” She told the Independent, “I work primarily as a potter and a metalsmith, but I accepted the challenge to paint something for the exhibition because I’ve had wonderful times working as a substitute art instructor at the JCC. I chose the monochromatic colour palette because, at the moment, I am quite fascinated by shadows, specifically how they change the shape of objects but still remain recognizable.”
Her focus for the piece was the idea of a community in general. “I’ve spent my life dealing with different communities and, I guess, for me, the lines have softened over time,” she said. “We spend so much time in our lives working on belonging, or longing to belong somewhere, to someone or something. It’s an integral part of the beauty, the joy, the frustration and the heartbreak of life. For me, this was longing and belonging as an immigrant, as an introvert, as a mother of grown children, as a single person living in a city.”
She explained the title of her painting: “It is a hat tip to a song by Suzanne Vega. For me, her words truly encapsulate the feeling of longing to belong somewhere: ‘Solitude stands in the doorway / And I’m struck once again by her black silhouette / By her long cool stare and her silence / I suddenly remember each time we’ve met.’”
Different artists explore different aspects of community and belonging, and not all the communities are small or local. For Marcie Levitt-Cooper, the community in her painting is the universe, the earth and stars encompassed by love. Esther Tennenhouse, on the other hand, contemplates the darker side of belonging.
“My piece is a photocopy from a pre-World War Two Jewish encyclopedia, Allgemeine Ensiklopedya,” Tennenhouse explained. “It was labeled in Yiddish and issued in New York in 1940, the year Germany occupied France. On first seeing this old map, I found it very poignant. The map had to fit the 16-by-16 canvas given to all participants. The format left space, and I filled it with the music of two nigguns and lyrics of six Yiddish songs.”
That colourful map with Hebrew lettering, published just before the Nazis unleashed the full horrors of the Holocaust on European Jews, made for a tragic, frightening image, despite its bright and cheery appearance.
While the exhibit includes other figurative paintings, the majority of the pictures are abstract, either simple swirls of paint or complex geometric patterns, like Daniel Wajsman’s piece – two irregular overlapping rectangles.
“I wanted to emphasize that we should bring everyone in, not leave anyone out,” he said.
Community Longing and Belonging runs to March 29.
Olga Livshinis a Vancouver freelance writer. She can be reached at [email protected].
A couple of years ago, the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver’s Camp Shalom made a new commitment to families: “When they need us, we will be there!”
Camp staff decided on this motto when they noticed that their current families needed an increased amount of care. As a result, in addition to the existing summer and mid-year school-break camps, Camp Shalom started offering care for children from Vancouver Talmud Torah, Vancouver School Board, Vancouver Hebrew Academy and Richmond Jewish Day School on professional development days. Camp Shalom offers programs for children ages 3 to 15 for an average of 40 weeks out of the year, and is accessible to children who might have mental or physical disabilities.
“We want camp to be an inclusive environment for everyone. We want all campers to feel like they can participate in any of the activities,” said Marina Cindrich, Camp Shalom assistant director.
Supporting families and treating all campers as individuals has always been important to the Camp Shalom team. They recognize that they are a steppingstone into the Jewish camping world for many children in the city.
Director Ben Horev has committed the camp to providing a personalized experience for each family – whether it’s their first time at camp or their 10th, they will receive personal attention. This includes family meetings, scholarships and any other support a family might need for their child to attend camp. In the past, Camp Shalom has partnered with families from the Tri-Cities to bring them camp. This past summer, they introduced Kaitana Shalom, an ulpan-like day camp with Hebrew-speaking counselors and all activities in Hebrew, to help Israeli families integrate into Canada.
Camp Shalom will be kicking off 2020 summer camp registration with a Family Day concert and camp event (in partnership with PJ Library), which will feature Music with Marnie, as well as activities for the whole family. The event will take place on Feb. 17, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
New this year, Camp Shalom is introducing a major change to their enrolment. They will be retiring the two-week sessions and replacing them with week-to-week registration instead. This will allow families to design a better fitting schedule for their needs.
For more information about Camp Shalom, contact Horev at 604-638-7282 or [email protected].
Michael Fraser teaches group electronic music and DJ classes at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver. (photo from Michael Fraser)
As a violinist, music producer and DJ, Michael Fraser’s musical talents traverse many realms. Yet, despite the proficiency and versatility he has to create his art, Fraser believes that “personal connection to music transcends skill.”
It is that personal musical connection that the 30-year-old, born-and-raised Vancouverite hopes to instil in the next generations – be they performers or devotees – in the group electronic music and DJ classes he is teaching at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver through spring 2020.
The early stages of Fraser’s musical trajectory began in grade school as a Suzuki violin player, though numerous other styles – from classical to hip-hop – seeped into his sphere of artistic influences through various musical mentors. Among them was Vancouver-based saxophonist and flautist Tom Keenlyside, who had a tremendous impact and helped Fraser “connect with music in an abstract, rather than a theoretical, way.”
Marrying and starting a family with his partner Camille, though, has brought about a shift in Fraser’s musical focus in recent years. The sense of wonder possessed by children, and the simple way it is often expressed, led him to view things from a different perspective and to feel a sense of responsibility to teach.
Fraser began playing music for his son before his son was even born. When Isaac turned three, Fraser observed him connecting to the process of making music himself.
“After Isaac was born, I started to see that my purpose as a musician is to help young artists develop their innate creativity and coach artists to deeper levels of emotional intelligence,” said Fraser. “When my son asks to hear my music, I want to help him cultivate a relationship to music and life that goes beyond what words can express.”
Fraser’s professional musical career began in 2007, while in his late teens. Since then, he has collaborated with numerous recording artists, including the Ault Sisters, a Toronto-based vocal jazz trio; performed at the Shambhala Music Festival and the Montreal Jazz Festival, among many other venues; and opened for internationally known acts, such as Michael Bublé, Caravan Palace and Arrested Development.
His success as a live performer led him to working with Ben Affleck on the original score for Ben Affleck on the Meaning of Life, an animated short film about the actor and director’s Eastern Congo Initiative, which premièred at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. Fraser also appeared as a violin player in a scene of The Revenant, an Academy Award nominee for best picture in 2016 and for which Leonardo DiCaprio won the prize for best actor.
Currently, Fraser is devoting his expertise to artist development (on both the career and creative sides), as well as working with Black Octopus Sound, a company that produces samples and musical production tools.
Fraser said he has always felt “a visceral connection to Jewish music that can only be explained as being deeply embedded in my DNA. It is the main access point for a depth of emotion that can only be expressed through tones and rhythms.”
On Oct. 29, he began facilitating his first DJ course at the JCCGV for youth aged 10-16, showing them the basics of how music is composed electronically, and the ins and outs of being a DJ. This session ran until Dec. 17.
He could feel how the group connected with the music, and foresaw many new up-and-coming DJs in the Vancouver Jewish community.
“When I am in the class with students, we are focused on how the beat feels. Are there styles of music that feel good? Knowing your tastes is going to differentiate yourself from other DJs,” Fraser explained. “I will sit with a class and play various drums and figure out which one speaks to a particular student. Having that distinction brings us closer to the music – which chords carry tension and which carry release in chord progression? What does that connection to music feel like? How is it one can play the same series of notes in different order and have a different outcome feeling?”
His students take what was done in class and make musical experiments when they get home. Fraser finds that, when they open up GarageBand or Caustic, two of the more popular DJing apps, they don’t feel as though they are doing homework.
Often, he noted, students have used DJing apps before. He also pointed out that, unlike kids from earlier times, kids today don’t differentiate between DJs and music creators. Those barriers are completely gone, he said.
The courses – $180 for JCCGV members and $225 for non-members – comprise 10 lessons, run Tuesday evenings and are open to kids 10-16. Students should bring a pen and paper, a mobile device (laptop, tablet, cellphone) and headphones. For more information, visit jccgv.com/performing-arts/school-of-music.
Sam Margolishas written for the Globe and Mail, the National Post, UPI and MSNBC.