“Dueling pianists” Lester Soo and Marilyn Glazer entertain at the last Empowerment Series session of the season. (photo from JSA)
Co-sponsored by Jewish Seniors Alliance and the Kehila Society of Richmond, the fifth session of this season’s JSA Snider Foundation Empowerment Series took place at Congregation Beth Tikvah. It more than lived up to the series’ theme this year: “Renewing and Reinventing Ourselves.”
As usual, the program was preceded by a lunch provided by Stacey Kettleman. Beth Tikvah’s Rabbi Adam Rubin did the Hamotzi and Toby Rubin, co-executive director of the Kehila Society, welcomed everyone. Among the 120 or so attendees were members of the Kehila Society and of JSA, as well as a group from L’Chaim Adult Day Care.
The entertainment portion of the program took place in the sanctuary, where Ken Levitt, president of JSA, spoke briefly and Rubin introduced the “dueling pianists”: Marilyn Glazer and Lester Soo, both of whom are accomplished musicians and piano instructors. The two have known each other for 35 years and have been playing duets for much of that time – one piano, four hands. At the Empowerment Series performance, they began with four Hungarian rhapsodies and continued with Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. They then played a number of Gershwin tunes and ended with Cole Porter.
Rubin thanked the pianists for their wonderful performance, which was the last event of the 2018/19 Empowerment Series. The series will begin again in the fall, with a new lineup of events presented by JSA with other seniors groups in the community.
Shanie Levinis an executive board member of Jewish Seniors Alliance and on the editorial board of Senior Line magazine.
Left to right are Toby Rubin, Marie Doduck and Lynne Fader. (photo by Lianne Cohen)
On May 5, the Kehila Society of Richmond celebrated its 20th anniversary. The society honoured Marie and Sid (z”l) Doduck for the support and guidance they have given to the society since its inception, and celebrated members of its first board of directors. The special annual general meeting, which took place at the Richmond Country Club, also saw the initiation of Kehila’s current board and the event featured speaker Dr. Sherri Wise, who shared her story of surviving a terrorist attack in Israel. More than 90 people attended the AGM.
“The difference that Kehila has made for our Jewish community in Richmond … for the quality of living for those residing here – we continue to be an integral part of the Richmond community at large and are partners within it, making a difference every day,” said Lynne Fader, co-executive director with Toby Rubin.
“Kehila’s weekly seniors program on Mondays is an essential service for most of our attendees,” said Rubin. “We are meeting so many of their needs: from free ESL programming to food sustainability and socialization and education. We are very proud of our program and its vitality.”
The 2019/2020 Kehila Society of Richmond board of directors is Sherri Barkoff (co-president and treasurer), Mark Babins (co-president), Keziah Selles (secretary), Ruth Singer (seniors’ representative), Shauna Osten (community outreach), Shelley Morris (human resources), Courtney Cohen (community outreach) and Harley Godfrey (finance committee), with directors Rabbi Levi Varnai (the Bayit representative), Lu Winters (Richmond Jewish Day School), Jeff Rothberg (Beth Tikvah) and Sanford Cohen (Chabad Richmond).
“I am proud of the collaboration that we do with all the organizations in Richmond to help those in need, seniors, families and youth,” said Barkoff.
Kehila’s partnerships include the Multifaith Richmond Food Aid Delivery Program, a faith-based group of organizations working to feed the homeless, isolated, low-income and frail in the general population. Kehila assists with deliveries, cooking and, when viable, food vouchers and items of warm clothing. Kehila has facilitated a partnership with the Richmond SPCA and Tysol Pets to assist with these community members’ animal companions.
Kehila also participates in Light of Shabbat, with Chabad of Richmond. This biweekly, by-donation program has volunteers of all ages doing the cooking, packaging and delivering of kosher Shabbat meals to 30-plus individuals.
The Len Babins Nutritional Subsidy Program is a donor-sponsored initiative focused on RJDS but not exclusively. It provides hot lunches twice a week for children in need at the school; children are screened discreetly through the school counselor. Approximately 254 meals per term per student are provided, with a total of 17 children from 12 families accessing the service. But the number of children served is higher than this because, additionally, Kehila funds a healthy lunch for these same children who, on days of no hot lunch program, do not have lunches.
Chabad of Richmond and Kehila also partner in the Richmond Community Seder, an annual, by-donation event that has been held for numerous years. Generally, about 70 people attend the seder and many take food home for a second seder or out of need. This year, for the first time, a full seder meal and supplies were delivered to those who were unable to attend.
Lastly, Kehila spearheads Rose’s Angels, an annual outreach program that provides warm clothing, hygiene products, children’s books and more to local community agencies whose clients are in need of assistance. This year, more than 1,100 individuals benefitted from the program, which is run through donations of many kinds.
Cory Bretz has made a video of Kehila Society’s work and Lianne Cohen photographed the 20th anniversary event – the video and photos can be found on Kehila’s Facebook page (facebook.com/113139405408718).
Some of the 70 volunteers who helped out at Rose’s Angels Feb. 17. Event founder Courtney Cohen is holding the bags and Kehila Society executive director Lynne Fader is standing in the front, with the long sweater. (photo by Lianne Cohen Photography)
For most people, getting out of the house and being somewhere by 9 a.m. might be no big deal. For me, especially on a weekend morning, it’s a challenge. But, at least once a year, it’s a challenge I enjoy.
As the owner and editor of the Jewish Independent, I’ve known of Rose’s Angels since it launched six years ago, but only first participated last year in the packing of the more than 1,000 care packages for Metro Vancouverites in need. Courtney Cohen, who created the annual event in honour of her grandmothers, Rose Lewin and Babs Cohen, with longtime friend Lynne Fader, was among the 18 Jewish community members under the age of 36 who were honoured by the Jewish Independent with a JI Chai Award in December 2017 for doing good. Having made the personal connection, I headed out to Richmond Jewish Day School a couple of months after the JI Chai Celebration to help out. It was such a fun experience that I went again this year.
The atmosphere at RJDS is like “Old Home Week.” This time around, I drove there with a friend – she brought the muffins and I made the coffee. As before, I ran into several people that I don’t see often. A well-organized venture, Rose’s Angels, which is run under the auspices of the Kehila Society of Richmond, provides coffee and pastry for those who can wait till they get to the school for their fix. Lists taped onto the wall tell volunteers at which station they’ll be working.
I must have done an OK job last year because I was once again assigned to putting together glove and sock bundles, wrapped in ribbon, colour-coded to indicate whether the bundle was for men, women or children. So absorbed was I in the work and conversation that I can’t say what others were doing, but there was much bustling about and, by noon, a big truck and several cars were stuffed with boxes to be delivered.
This year, said Cohen, 70 volunteers put together 1,200 packages, filled with necessities from toiletries to books to food to warm clothing, thanks to donations of items and money. The packages were distributed by a couple dozen organizations, including Turning Point Recovery Society, Heart of Richmond AIDS Society, Light of Shabbat program, Jewish Food Bank, Richmond Food Bank, United Way, Tikva Housing, Richmond Centre for Disability, Touchstone Family Services, St. Alban’s Drop-In Centre, Richmond Mental Health Society and Richmond Food Aid.
Scheduled to happen around Valentine’s Day, this year’s Rose’s Angels took place Feb. 17.
“Watching firsthand our community come together to give back on a long weekend, with family and friends is quite amazing,” Cohen told me when I asked her what was the most fun aspect of the day for her. “Seeing people of all ages working together to help package the care packages in such an organized manner is really something to behold.”
Fader, who is co-executive director of the Kehila Society, also enjoys the communal feel, as well as the diversity of the group that gathers to help. “It is always a fun, well-spirited, well-oiled machine that puts months of hard work gathering all the items together to produce a beautiful bundle of items,” she said.
In looking to the future, Fader would like to see the annual event become “bigger, better,” serving “more recipients in our community,” referring to Richmond as a whole, not only its Jewish community. “Although Rose’s Angels is an annual project,” she added, “the Kehila Society is daily working with our community agencies and partners to assist on a daily basis.”
“I see the success of Rose’s Angels growing from year to year with the involvement of the community partners and individuals,” said Cohen. “Personally, I already see the success and fulfilment that Rose’s Angels has given our community at large. Receiving thank you phone calls, emails and messages from the recipient agencies reminds me of the impact that Rose’s Angels is making to so many individuals.”
Caviar and Lace entertain at the last session of the 2017/18 Jewish Seniors Alliance Snider Foundation Empowerment Series. (photo by Alan Katowitz for JSA)
On June 25, Jewish Seniors Alliance and the Kehila Society of Richmond co-sponsored the fifth in the JSA’s Empowerment Series program. This year’s theme was “Laughter and Music: Feeding the Soul” and the subtitle for this final event in the season was “Music for our Hearts and Songs We Love.”
Toby Rubin, coordinator of Kehila, introduced the afternoon and welcomed everyone. About 100 enthusiastic attendees dug into the summertime lunch of burgers and hot dogs prepared by Stacey Kettleman.
After lunch, everyone proceeded to the sanctuary to be entertained by Caviar and Lace, comprised of Michelle Carlisle and Saul Berson. The duo performed an eclectic mix of classic, jazz and folk songs. Carlisle plays piano and Berson plays a variety of instruments, from saxophone to clarinet. They both played and sang, encouraging the audience to join in. The mix of oldies, and especially songs from the 1950s, was indeed music to the ears of the listeners, who were familiar with most of the melodies.
A new JSA Snider Foundation Empowerment Series will start in the fall.
Shanie Levin, MSW, worked for many years in the field of child welfare. During that time, she was active in the union. As well, she participated in amateur dramatics. She has served on the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and is presently on the executive of JSA and a member of the editorial committee.
Rose’s Angels provides hygiene care packages, nonperishable food items and warmth bundles to 1,000 Richmond individuals in need. (photo by Lianne Cohen Photography)
The month of February is special because it’s both Heart Month and the birthday month of Rose Lewin, after whom Rose’s Angels is named.
“The Kehila Society’s Rose’s Angels program is celebrating its fifth year this coming February,” said organizer and co-founder Courtney Cohen. “As the need for care packages has increased every year since our inception, and after receiving feedback and input from service agency’s and their recipients, we’ve been able to extend our outreach efforts this year. This program continues to honour Rose Lewin and Babs Cohen in the truest form of tzedakah and love for our Richmond community.”
Rose’s Angels provides hygiene care packages, nonperishable food items and warmth bundles to 1,000 Richmond individuals in programs such as Richmond Family Place, Salvation Army, Jewish Food Bank, Richmond Food Bank, Kehila Meals on Wheels and other similar Richmond outreach initiatives.
For the care packages, Rose’s Angels are looking for the following items: packaged dried fruit or nuts (raisins, trail mix, etc.); canned foods, such as soup and tuna; boxed foods, like macaroni and cheese, rice and pasta; individually packaged baked goods (granola bars, energy bars, cookies, oatmeal, pudding, Jell-O, etc.) that are still sealed; peanut butter; juice boxes, hot chocolate and tea; individually wrapped chocolates; toiletry items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, floss, soap, mini shampoo/conditioner and tissues; feminine hygiene products; beauty care products (hair accessories, lotion, makeup); gloves or mittens, both children- and adult-size; toques; and thermal socks.
If you would like to come out on Feb. 11 to assist in packaging the bundles or would like to donate items and/or funds or help with package deliveries, call the Kehila Society office at 604-241-9270 or email [email protected].
For the first time in the 100-year-plus history of the organization, the Hebrew Free Loan Association of Vancouver (HFLA) has hired an executive director. In July, HFLA brought Lynne Fader on board to fill the new role.
Active between 1915 and the middle of the Great Depression and then reinvented in 1979, the purpose of the volunteer-run organization is, as the name suggests, to provide interest-free loans to members of the Jewish community. As the community has grown and spread out, the current board of directors decided it was time to extend HLFA’s reach and hire a part-time executive director.
Fader is a familiar face for many in the Jewish community, especially those in Richmond, as she was a founder of the Richmond Kehila Society. Since 2000, Fader has been co-executive director of Kehila and she will continue her work there, as it and HFLA have complementary missions. She also has served as a volunteer on various boards, including those of Richmond Jewish Day School and Richmond Multicultural Society.
Fader recently sold the company she owned and ran for 14 years, ER Plus Risk Management Inc., an enterprise that involved her in efforts to advance access for women in the trades and in the safety industry. She has worked with different levels of government both professionally and as a volunteer, and is looking forward to using her networking skills and drive to significantly raise the profile of HFLA.
Not only will Fader be meeting in the coming months with community leaders, but she will be planning and implementing educational opportunities for people who could most benefit from an HFLA loan. “I recognize that the HFLA is a hidden community treasure,” she told the Independent. “I look forward to meeting with fellow agency professionals in the effort to allow front-line professionals to have a face and a contact to connect with for their clients and members.”
The grassroots nature of HFLA – it has been run by volunteers for nearly 40 years – is a great fit for Fader. She understands the association’s mission and method: help people before they fall into poverty and as they emerge from financial difficulties. With a deep knowledge of the Lower Mainland’s various social safety networks from her work with Kehila, Fader is in the unique position of being able to refer applicants who don’t fit the HFLA framework for a loan to the appropriate assistance.
The HFLA board will continue to perform the work of interviewing and granting financial assistance. The association currently has $417,000 in loans out in the community. The loans are primarily to people in the Lower Mainland but reach as far away as Tofino, Victoria and Salt Spring Island. One of the reasons HFLA was looking to hire an executive director is the increasing number of Jews migrating to more affordable locations in the province, such as Squamish, the Sunshine Coast and further into the Fraser Valley.
In addition to Fader, HFLA also has recently hired a new office administrator, Judy Walker.
“I’m confident that Judy’s unique blend of technical and interpersonal skills will ensure those inquiring about loans are met with a professional experience,” said Leana Gaerber, vice-president of HFLA’s board of directors.
For more information on applying for a loan or becoming involved as a donor or guarantor, call 604-428-2832 or visit hfla.ca.
Michelle Dodekis a freelance writer living in Vancouver.
Rose’s Angels co-founders Courtney Cohen, left, and Lynne Fader, surrounded by some of the 60 volunteers who came out Feb. 12 to make 1,000 care packages for those less fortunate. (photos by Lianne Cohen Photography)
On Feb. 12, this year’s Rose’s Angels event drew 60 volunteers to Richmond Jewish Day School to create a total of 1,000 care packages. Each package was delivered to service organizations within Richmond, such as the Jewish Food Bank, Chimo Community Services, Richmond Family Place and Turning Point Recovery, among others.
Rose’s Angels was created four years ago by Richmond residents Courtney Cohen and Lynne Fader, with the idea to make care packages for those less fortunate, in memory of Cohen’s late grandmother, Rose Lewin. Lewin’s generosity and constant willingness to help those in need is the inspiration for this project.
With the event growing over the last two years, Rose’s Angels partnered this year with the Kehila Society of Richmond, a not-for-profit society that offers seniors programming and outreach.
Cohen has made it her goal this year to connect with new programs and service providers that may be interested in receiving these special packages for their clients. Each care package contains a new pair of gloves, a toque, socks, non-perishable foods and hygiene-care items, with other items selected with consideration of the organization it is going to.
Rose’s Angels gratefully accepts donations year round through the Kehila Society, 604-241-9270 or [email protected].
JCC Showtime performers in action, left to right: Nassa Selwyn, Jocelyne Hallé, Marshall Berger, Dawn Hurwitz, Daniella Givon, Debbie Cossover and Arnold Selwyn. (photo by Binny Goldman)
Sunshine and song greeted the 120 people who gathered to enjoy a BBQ lunch and watch the sensational JCC Showtime perform on June 27 at Congregation Beth Tikvah.
Toby Rubin, executive director of the Kehila Society of Richmond, welcomed everyone and explained the event’s agenda. She then highlighted two of the society’s outstanding volunteers, Stacey Kettleman, who at one time had been co-president with Rubin, and Sylvia Yasin, a 90-year-old dynamo who had directed the set up of the whole room.
Marilyn Berger, president of the Jewish Seniors Alliance, which partnered with Kehila to present the afternoon’s program, noted that it was the fourth and final session in this year’s Empowerment series. The lunch’s theme, “A smile on your face – a song in your heart,” was brought to fruition through the dedicated efforts of Gyda Chud and Shanie Levin. The food – salads, beef and vegetarian burgers, fruit and chocolate cake – was catered by Kettleman and her staff.
JCC Showtime’s Debbie Cossover explained that the troupe consisted of volunteer performers who have been together 13 years, with their next show making a total of 200 performances so far. The group was created by Beryl Israel, who immigrated from South Africa in 2002; he had been involved with a similar group there and was inspired to establish one here.
The afternoon’s program began with Marshall Berger singing “Showtime,” accompanied by the group’s pianist, Muriel Morris, and aided by sound technician Gary Zumer. The crowd was transported down memory lane with nostalgia-laced songs such as “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” complete with suitcase; Cossover’s foot-stomping rendition of “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun”; heart-tugging duets by Arnold and Nassa Selwyn, which included “Together,” “Do You Love Me?” from Fiddler on the Roof and the particularly crowd-pleasing “I Remember It Well.”
The “Hello, Dolly!” number charmed the audience, as well, as it actually included a visit from “Dolly,” a life-size doll that danced in the arms of Berger and Selwyn, both men vying for her attention. Another fun number was a chorus of cowgirls sequence, which required precisely timed twists and turns. And “Tzena Tzena” and “Hava Nagilah” set everyone’s hands to clapping, as the audience joined in with Berger and Selwyn on the last stop on a world tour of songs.
Clever costumes, with outfit changes accomplished in mere minutes, and intricate choreography achieved the illusion of instant scene changes and delighted the audience, which showed its appreciation by loud, sustained applause.
Rubin remarked in thanking the performers that she doesn’t mind growing old now that she has seen what seniors can accomplish. She noted that audience members were from the Weinberg Residence, Louis Brier Home and Hospital, L’Chaim Adult Day Centre, Jewish Seniors Alliance and, of course, Kehila Society.
Attendees left wanting more – some smiling, some singing – all buoyed by the afternoon’s session. I’m still humming.
Binny Goldmanis a member of the Jewish Seniors Alliance of Greater Vancouver board.
Rose’s Angels: Courtney Cohen, centre, is holding two bags, and Lynne Fader is to Cohen’s left. The two women created the group in honor of Rose Lewin, Cohen’s grandmother. (photo by Lianne Cohen)
Each Rose’s Angels contributor, supporter and volunteer has a story about why they give back to the community. With Rose’s Angels, it is not only to ensure that Rose Lewin’s legacy of love and generosity lives on, but also to support the many not-for-profit organizations in Richmond that desperately are in need of assistance.
Rose’s Angels was created by Richmond residents Lynne Fader and Courtney Cohen. Lewin, Cohen’s grandmother, was a well-respected and much-loved Holocaust survivor who believed in doing good for everyone she could.
Now in its third year, Rose’s Angels, which is supported and endorsed by the Richmond Kehila Society, just wrapped up its Feb. 14 Care Package Campaign. With the help of 40-plus volunteers, more than 400 toiletry and non-perishable-food care packages, along with 750 warmth bundles (toques, scarves, gloves and socks), were packaged and distributed to a variety of nonprofit organizations in Richmond servicing individuals living in poverty or well below low-income standards. Recipients included the St. Alban Drop-In Centre, Touchstone Family Services, Chimo Outreach, Richmond Multicultural Community Services, Richmond Food Bank, Jewish Food Bank, Turning Point Recovery, Richmond Family Place, Pathways Clubhouse and Light of Shabbat Program.
“It was very fitting to coordinate this event on Valentine’s Day,” said Cohen, “as this is a day when people go on dates and it’s supposed to be ‘extra-special,’ where people buy each other cards, heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, roses, teddy bears and other stuff that basically tells them they love them…. We wanted to share our love within the Richmond community.”
Anyone wishing to make a donation to Rose’s Angels should contact the Richmond Kehila Society at 604-241-9270.
JCC Showtime’s cowgirl dance was an audience favorite. (photo by Binny Goldman)
The duet sung by Maurice Moses and Debbie Cossever, “Teach the World to Sing,” set the tone for the entire afternoon performance by JCC Showtime at the last of this year’s JSA Snider Foundation Empowerment Series, which had as its theme, “A Smile on Your Face, a Song in Your Heart.”
Toby Rubin, executive director of Kehila Society of Richmond, welcomed the crowd of 100 who gathered June 29 at Congregation Beth Tikvah for the Jewish Seniors Alliance of Greater Vancouver and Kehila event.
Rabbi Howard Siegel, who led the Hamotzi, joked with those assembled that the reason there was no clock on the wall was because it would not suffice to record the length of his sermon (which he said he was about to deliver), as his would require a calendar.
After the BBQ lunch catered by Stacey Kettleman – and just before a huge cake honoring all the volunteers was served – Rubin called up a number of those volunteers from her various committees and presented them with certificates.
Rubin said that, in the audience, there were people from the Louis Brier Home and Hospital, L’Chaim Adult Day Centre, JSA, Angels There for You, CARP and seniors from Beth Tikvah, as well as people who had heard about the event through publicity.
The program began with “Happy Opening“ and showcased the talents of the JCC Showtime performers, accompanied on piano by Muriel Morris and with Gary Zumar as sound technician.
Each number presented new and charming scenarios, which included quick and clever costume changes. Some crowd favorites were the duets “Together” and “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” by Arnold and Nassa Selwyn; the guest appearance of “Dolly,” Marshall Berger dressed as a woman; Cossever belting out “Can’t Get a Man with a Gun”; Moses engaging the crowd with “Beautiful Morning”; and the striking cowgirl dance, as well as “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” Two of the last songs, “Tzena Tzena” and “Hava Nagila,” led by Moses and Arnold Selwyn, took the crowd to Israel as they sang along.
Complex choreography and the blink-of-an-eye costume changes were all conceived and created by the founder of JCC Showtime, Beryl Israel, who immigrated in 2002 from South Africa, where she had been involved with a similar program.
Rounding out the Showtime lineup were Sara Bernstein, Rona Black, Lisa Conn, Andria Engel, Tamar Glaser and Susan Goldstein.
Just as the performers were about to leave the stage, Berger was handed the microphone and asked to sing “Happy Birthday” to his wife, Marilyn Berger, president of JSA, who was celebrating her birthday that afternoon. He was joined by all the performers in the singing of a touching rendition of the song.
Marilyn Berger thanked the performers for a wonderfully joyful afternoon that traveled down memory lane and she also gave a short talk about JSA, highlighting its advocacy and its peer support program. She then handed out gifts for each of the cast, helped by Kenneth Levitt, one of JSA’s vice-presidents.
Stan Shear, with Karon Shear, JSA coordinator, by his side, made a video of the performance, which will be posted at jsalliance.org.
It was an afternoon that definitely put smiles on faces and songs in hearts.
Binny Goldmanis a member of the Jewish Seniors Alliance of Greater Vancouver board.