COVID-19 isn’t the only global pandemic to worry about; the worldwide increase in domestic violence has been coined a “shadow pandemic” by the United Nations. Globally, an estimated one in three women lives with violence and fear. But the number of domestic violence complaints in Israel, for example, has increased by 800% since the beginning of COVID. True to its mission, Canadian Hadassah-WIZO (CHW) is leading the way to empower women by stepping up emergency support and services at this critical time.
CHW strongly believes that every human being deserves the right to achieve their full potential, while living in safety and security. CHW appointed its first chief executive officer, Lisa Colt-Kotler, who is spearheading a transition and new direction for the 100-year-old organization, with a history of support for women and children in Israel and Canada. This summer, CHW is launching a quadruple matching 24-hour crowdfunding campaign and proceeds will help empower victims of domestic violence.
CHW’s summer campaign, S.O.S. – Starting Over Safely, has three priorities for projects in Israel: CHW Youth Villages, which provide a safe haven for at-risk adolescents and supports mental health through a variety of outlets; Essential Kits for Families, which provides the basic necessities needed to help each family start over safely after they leave an emergency shelter; and the Safety Net Program, which will empower women and their children by providing housing, financial help, social and personal support, employment support, and a network of other women in similar circumstances. Safety Net has nearly a 100% success rate of breaking the cycle of violence and preventing victims from re-entering a domestic abuse relationship.
Aug. 24-25, funds donated will be matched three more times by a loyal community of donors recognized as “Matching Heroes.” During the 24-hour campaign, which kicks off at noon in each centre across Canada, each gift donated on the website chwsos.ca will be quadrupled.
And, on Aug. 24, at 5 p.m. PST, CHW is hosting a free, star-studded, 90-minute virtual telethon experience during which viewers will learn more about how to help empower victims of domestic violence. To watch, just click on the link from the campaign website.
For more details, contact Irena Karshenbaum, CHW development officer for Western Canada, at [email protected] or 403-253-4612.
For this year’s Negev campaign, JNF Pacific Region has partnered with ALUT, the Israeli Society for Autistic Children, to renovate Aviv House, one of the first lifetime living facilities established by ALUT. ALUT has built and operates 18 “Homes for Life” in Israel, residences for individuals with autism who require supported living, that allow the residents to become integrated into the community to the greatest degree possible and provide for lifetime care in a family-type setting.
Aviv House (Beit Aviv) was established in 1992 in Jerusalem and the 14 residents have been living there since its inception. Their ages currently range from 35 to 49, and they all require assistance in almost all aspects of everyday life.
The physical house, now well over half-a-century old, is showing its age and has reached the point of risk. For example, the walls are crumbling and the sewage lines are regularly clogged; the building is not wheelchair accessible.
For more information and to watch a video from the campaign’s honorary co-chairs, Penny Sprackman and David Goldman, visit facebook.com/jnfvancouver. You can also contact the JNF office at 604-257-5155 or [email protected].
Israeli actor Shira Haas was the featured guest at the Canadian Associates of Ben Gurion University of the Negev’s virtual gala July 7. (photo byShula Klinger)
On July 7, the Canadian Associates of Ben Gurion University of the Negev held their second virtual fundraising gala. More than 1,200 participants logged on to the An “Unorthodox” National Virtual Gala event, which raised $850,000 for brain research at BGU’s Zlotowski Centre for Neuroscience.
The Zlotowski Centre is a group of researchers dedicated to finding cures and management tools for neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, ALS and epilepsy.
Months in the making, the virtual gala was the work of a countrywide team of BGU staffers and numerous volunteers. Every participating household in Metro Vancouver received sweet and savoury kosher treats from Café 41. The accompanying gift box also brought olive oil from the Negev, a copy of Deborah Feldman’s memoir, Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots (Simon & Schuster, 2012), appetizer dishes and a commemorative cutting board.
Danny Chamovitz, BGU’s president, spoke about the work of BGU’s academics in general, in disciplines ranging from public health to brain research. Canadian Senator Linda Frum conducted the feature interview – with multiple-award-winning actor Shira Haas.
Describing herself as “very, very shy” as a young person, Haas said she had considered psychology or graphic design as professions, until a casting director approached her on Facebook. Sixteen years old at the time, she said, with respect to that first project, “I understood that this is what I want to do, it was like the door to Narnia.”
Haas does not take her success or popularity for granted. “It was always a dream to work internationally, in different languages, for different audiences, but I never imagined it,” she said. “It was always about the work. I am very, very lucky to be in this position.” She added, “My parents deserve to be talked about! They are the most supportive and amazing parents.”
Known for taking on demanding roles, Haas approaches acting in a scholarly fashion. She studied musculoskeletal diseases to play a terminally ill woman in the film Asia, and researched Russian, Yiddish and Charedi culture for the series Shtisel and Unorthodox. She said she finds beauty in hard work, explaining that Asia was “challenging in the most beautiful way. It was a lot of physical and emotional work, and very personal for me.”
When playing a part, Haas said she is motivated by two things. First, she must be passionate about the role because “that’s what brings everything alive.” About Shtisel, she said, “I fell in love with it immediately.”
Her second principle is to portray “subjects that matter to me.”
Haas’s idealism was evident in the way she spoke about Asia. “It’s not really about death,” she said. “It’s about relationships, about appreciating the time we have and what we do with it. The highest form of art is to bring light to the darkness.”
About Unorthodox, she said, “It didn’t occur to me that it is about the Orthodox world. It was just a story about people who want to be loved, their doubts, desires and failures.”
And Shtisel, she noted, had a huge impact on people all over the world. The show helped change people’s view of Orthodox communities, she said: “It’s universal.”
Of her forthcoming portrayal of Golda Meir in her early years, Haas described a woman with “a very interesting life. She was very passionate, with many dreams and desires.”
Since David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir were friends, she laughed, “this event was meant to be!”
Haas spoke of her personal connection to BGU. Her sister studied at the university and a close friend is there now. Haas wanted to participate in the gala for several reasons, including, she said, “I am Jewish, I am an Israeli. I want to keep on doing events like this! I am even more proud to do it for Ben-Gurion.”
As for the brain research being conducted at BGU, which the gala funds will support, there has already been groundbreaking progress. Claude Broski’s group has identified a protein that can slow down the degeneration brought on by Parkinson’s. The social robots developed by Shelley Levy-Tzedek and her team will have an impact on stroke patient recovery – the robots offer motivation, feedback and performance-tracking during the rehabilitation phase. Epilepsy researchers are developing wearable hardware and software that could alert patients to an oncoming seizure, an hour before it happens. And Deborah Toiber’s Alzheimer’s team is exploring questions about brain aging, such as, Why does the disease affect so many of us, when only 5% of cases are genetic?
David Berson, executive director of CABGU, British Columbia and Alberta, said, “It has been very gratifying to see how the Metro Vancouver community has embraced BGU students and faculty in recent years. Many new supporters have stepped forward during the last year to engage with us. We are especially grateful to our community partners, who helped us promote this Unorthodox event.”
Among the many contributors to the gala were board members Jay Eidelman and Si Brown. Rachelle Delaney helped Berson with the goodie boxes at the crack of dawn on July 7, while volunteer drivers delivered the boxes. Adrian Cantwell and I were co-chairs for the Metro Vancouver team.
Shula Klingeris an author and journalist living in North Vancouver. She was Metro Vancouver co-chair of the CABGU gala with Adrian Cantwell.
The annual general meeting of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver took place on June 21. Welcomed were five new directors: Gil Kimel, Dean Lederman, Lana Pulver (chair of the annual campaign), Michelle Pollock (chair of the Israel and global engagement committee), David Porte and Daniel Steiner. They join Bruce Cohen, Alex Cristall, Catherine Epstein (vice-chair), Jessica Forman (chair of the HR committee), Sue Hector, Hodie Kahn, Shay Keil, Rick Kohn, Candace Kwinter, Shawna Merkur, Kyra Morris, Lianna Philipp, Lisa Pullan, Stan Shaw and Diane Switzer.
Kwinter is the new board chair and, as such, her central challenge mirrors that of the community: how to navigate recovery and reopening in a time of great uncertainty.
“Over the past year, I have held a dual role as vice-chair of the board and chair of the Israel and global engagement committee, which has immersed me in our work,” said Kwinter in her remarks in the June 25 Federation Shabbat message. “And, through my position on our Community Recovery Task Force, I’ve gotten to know the organizations in our community and see how our community planning, convening, facilitating and fundraising functions create a valuable synergy. The health and strength of our local community is paramount, and it will continue to be a focus throughout my term.
“Israel also holds a very special place in my heart, and I am actively involved with our partner, the Jewish Agency for Israel’s board of governors, where I serve on three committees: antisemitism; unity of the Jewish people; and aliyah. In 2018, I was privileged to be part of a group of community leaders who traveled to Far East Russia to see the impact of our overseas work. As travel restrictions begin to ease, I hope we will have the opportunity to visit our partnership region in the Upper Galilee Panhandle and resume our Israel experience programs for young adults.
“At the same time,” she continued, “I remain connected to the work we do across the continent as part of JFNA [Jewish Federations of North America]. I have attended several General Assemblies over the years, and now is the perfect time for you to experience this epic gathering of Jewish leaders, because you can participate without the time and expense of traveling.
“Looking ahead, I know we have challenges to face, but this is also an exciting time in many ways. COVID has accelerated change and has prompted us all to look at new ways of strengthening our community. Rather than looking ahead to the ‘new normal,’ we need to work together to create the ‘next normal.’ That will be our collective journey over the next two years, and I am looking forward to the future we can build together.”
At the AGM, four community leaders were honoured. Jonathon Leipsic, who chaired the Federation annual campaign from 2018 through 2020, received the Harry Woogman Award, for his consistent and conscientious leadership and his long-standing and diligent campaign involvement. Yael Segal and Becky Glotmanreceived the Lou Zimmerman Award for their integral role in the revitalization of the Ben Gurion Society, a recognition society for young donors who give $1,000 or more to the Federation annual campaign. And Enav Zusman received the Young Leadership Award.
The 2020/21 annual report can be found at jewishvancouver.com/news-and-publications/annual-reports. In 2020, Federation raised $12.2 million from 2,600 donors: $8.8 million in the 2020 annual campaign; $2 million for community recovery; and $1.4 million in special project funding.
COVID-19 was a crisis that affected – and continues to affect – every aspect of the community. Because of donors’ generosity, Federation this year was able to direct more funding to its partners than ever before.
(British Columbia’s record-breaking heatwave has had devastating effects across the province. The tragic fire in Lytton was not the first that we’ve seen and likely will not be the last. With growing concerns for another wildfire season, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver has set up an emergency B.C. Wildfire Relief Fund to assist those affected by wildfires in our province. To donate, visit jewishvancouver.com/bcfire.)
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On May 20, Junior Achievement British Columbia (JABC) inducted new members into its Business Laureates of British Columbia Hall of Fame, including Gordon Diamond. There was also the posthumous induction of 10 Pioneer Laureates, including Morris Wosk, z”l. Diamond and Wosk were featured in the June 25 Jewish Independent article “JA’s newest laureates.” The article accidentally overlooked another posthumous honouree, however: Dr. Walter Charles Koerner, z”l. Here is what the JABC highlighted of Koerner’s life.
Koerner was born in 1898 in what is now the Czech Republic. He developed his expertise in the forestry industry there, through his family’s lumber business.
Koerner and his brothers immigrated to Canada in 1939 and founded the Alaska Pine and Cellulose Co., of which he was president. In 1957, the company became Rayonier Canada Ltd. and Koerner became president and later chairman of the board until his retirement in 1973.
Shortly after his arrival in Canada, Koerner made the University of British Columbia (UBC) a focal point of his philanthropy. He believed that a strong university was critical to building an engaged and successful society. He served as a member of the board of governors of UBC, as well as the chair. Not only that, he was the founding chair of UBC Hospital.
Koerner was also committed to preserving Indigenous art forms and supporting the re-emergence of Pacific Northwest Indigenous art. His multiple initiatives included supporting Indigenous carvers, repatriating Indigenous works from abroad and negotiating with then-prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau for financial support for the construction of the Museum of Anthropology, to which he donated his extensive collection. In recognition of his efforts in supporting Indigenous culture, the Haida Nation celebrated Koerner as an honorary chief of their nation.
Koerner was a notable philanthropist, who donated millions of dollars to educational institutions and other public organizations and endeavours. Among his many honours, he was a Companion of the Order of Canada, and held an honorary doctor of laws from UBC.
Koerner passed away in 1995.
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Vancouver’s Lilian Broca is among the artists whose works comprise the From Canada exhibition at La Maison de la Mosaïque Contemporaine in Paray-Le-Monial, France.
Every year, La Maison de la Mosaïque Contemporaine organizes and hosts an international mosaic exhibition. The 2021 edition, the 24th, is uniquely devoted to a single country, Canada, through the works of 12 artists whose origins reflect the vast expanse of the territory. This is the first time in Europe that a mosaic exhibition has been dedicated to a North American country, and it is supported by the Canadian embassy in Paris, as well as several other organizations, government agencies and communities.
Joining Broca are artists Maria Abagis, also from British Columbia; Margo Anton, Chris Sumka and Erin Pankratz, all from Alberta; Sophie Drouin, Valerie McGarry, Heather Vollans and Julie Sperling, from Ontario; Suzanne Spahi and Ginette Lussier of Quebec; and Terry Nicholls of Newfoundland.
The exhibit was arranged by Sophie Drouin and Chantal Demonchaux. It opened this month and runs to Sept. 19. For more information, visit maisondelamosaique.org.
Syd Belzberg talks with Vancouver Talmud Torah kids at Stable Harvest Farm. (photo by Shira Sachs)
“The children loved to take their harvest home to share with their families. Many children helped to prepare the family meals, including washing, chopping and plating their meals. There was so much to learn – how healthy food can taste so yummy, how I can help my family make dinner, how the food can make my body feel good.”
“This is from some cute kid, and I see his picture in front of me,” Syd Belzberg told the Jewish Independent in a recent phone interview. “That’s heart-warming. That’s where it’s all at. That’s beautiful.”
The note came after Vancouver Talmud Torah Grade 1 students visited Belzberg’s Stable Harvest Farm in Langley last month.
Belzberg got the idea for the farm about a half dozen years ago. He read a newspaper article about Vancouver Sun reporters who had started a breakfast program for schoolchildren in the 1980s. “I got in touch with them and got involved a bit, supporting some of the schools with money,” said Belzberg.
But he wanted to have more of an impact and, after he retired a couple of years ago, he decided to reinvent his Langley acreage, which had been home to his many horses several decades ago, but had laid empty for some 17 years. He based his concept on that of Coastal Roots Farm, “a nonprofit Jewish community farm and education centre” located near the home he has in California. “They do a lot of wonderful things,” said Belzberg, “and I thought this would be a heck of a thing to try and copy in a way.”
He hired Kristjan Johannson to manage the farm and the first crop was planted in January 2020. Despite flooding on the property, they gave away about 90,000 pounds of organic vegetables to a half-dozen food banks, as well as to community meals programs.
“This year, we decided to try and double it,” said Belzberg. And they more than doubled it, giving away an estimated 250,000 pounds of food, while continuing to work on the property.
Belzberg established the Stable Harvest Farm Society, he said, “to make this a legacy for my family.” Of his five kids, only one lives in Vancouver, and that daughter, Tammi Kerzner, “has been a massive help to me to build this,” he said.
“There are many facets to what I want to do,” said Belzberg, “but I wanted to get the food thing right because I didn’t know what we’d have to go through to be successful.”
Belzberg’s approach with this project has been similar to that which he has taken with his other endeavours.
“When I started in the car business [Budget Rent a Car] in ’62, I had trucks and other things in mind, but I wanted to rent cars and learn about that first,” he said. “It’s the same thing here. I wanted to prove we can get the vegetables right before I started to do anything else.”
Educational programming is a main component of the farm. “David Bogoch had a lot to do with teaming up with TT. He is such a supporter of it,” said Belzberg about collaborating with the school. “And my children went there. I have a great-granddaughter now who goes there. So it was a natural [fit]. The part that really put us over the top was Emily [Greenberg], because she’s fantastic. She’s so on top of it, and she’s got Jessica [Claudio] there, who goes to another level.”
“Mr. Belzberg has been a very generous supporter of VTT,” said Greenberg, who met Belzberg for the first time when he first saw the school’s rooftop soccer pitch that he funded. That was in her second week as head of school, she said.
“And we’ve had close relationships with David Bogoch, who is quite close to Mr. Belzberg, and he kept talking to me about this farm that Mr. Belzberg was creating … that Mr. Belzberg had a dream to make this farm a centre for Jewish education and Jewish values and the Jewish community and that he would love to see children using this farm, in addition to how it supports the needy in Vancouver.”
Belzberg eventually invited Greenberg for a visit and they spoke about his vision and she “went away and thought about how we could make that happen from our end and, ultimately, bring kids out there.”
The first thing that happened, said Greenberg, was that Johannson came to the school and helped the kids plant seedlings. “Then we had, basically, a little nursery there at the school and watched them grow and supported them.” The plan was for the kids to plant the adolescent seedlings in April at the farm but COVID restrictions had increased, “so we weren’t able to bring the kids to Langley because it was cross-boundary.” But the planting was filmed and a multi-series educational video was made.
“Thankfully, the regulations changed again and we were able to go in the third week of June and send all of our Grade 1 kids out there,” said Greenberg. “They were able to help reap the harvest and they each brought home a bag of veggies from Mr. Belzberg’s farm and made the most amazing salads and soups and all sorts of things and we’ve got some great pictures of what they made that night. We had parents who were ecstatic, watching their kids eat raw vegetables – including scallions.”
The kids had grown the scallions, as well as lettuce and radishes, and their bags were supplemented with some other vegetables from the farm, such as tomatoes and carrots.
On their visit, the kids also got to see the part of the property that will become a bird sanctuary – “there’s a hundred and some odd different types of birds and owls that feed there and it became a natural habitat,” said Belzberg.
Another aspect of Stable Harvest is bees. Belzberg works with beekeeper Carolyn Essaunce, who owns the Honest to Goodness Farm Co. Essaunce also made a trip to VTT and spoke to each senior kindergarten class.
“She brought a whole honeycomb with live bees,” said Greenberg. “She helped them understand how, when you take a honeycomb and you put it in a machine and spin it, how you get the honey out…. They understood what it was to produce honey and then they all went home with some of Mr. Belzberg’s honey…. That is definitely something we hope to repeat yearly.”
Experiential learning is the future of education, said Greenberg. “For us, we want to prioritize learning through nature and to exposure to nature, but also, of course, finding ways to make sure that Jewish values are part of that…. So this has been a tremendous opportunity for us. It’s only the beginning – we look forward to bringing many more of our grades out to Stable Harvest Farm next year. There’s obviously a science aspect but we also want our kids to be shomrei adamai, guardians of the earth, and understand the power of nature. There’s an empowerment that happens when they’re part of growing a plant and the excitement that happens. And the understanding of the life cycle and how that eventually nourishes us and nourishes those in need – it’s a tremendous marriage of all of the values we have as educators, but also as a Jewish day school.”
VTT has invested a lot of time in iSTEAM over the last two years, she said, “integrating the innovations that have been coming out of Israel and using that as the platform from which to explore science, technology, engineering, art and math. A great example that you have at Mr. Belzberg’s farm is drip irrigation, which is an Israeli innovation…. We love the fact that our kids can be proud of a technology that’s come out of Israel and understand how innovation can revolutionize an entire industry and, ultimately, help people live a better, healthier life.”
Greenberg’s goal is to get all of the VTT students out to the farm at least once over a two-year span. “We have a lot of ideas,” she said, “and Mr. Belzberg, thankfully, is very flexible. He just says, ‘Tell me what works for you and we’ll make it happen.’ He always says that: ‘We’ll make it happen.’”
And there is lots that Belzberg plans to make happen. Next year, for example, he hopes to build a large kitchen on the farm for cooking classes, education and other activities. Already, the farm has had its first stand, on June 19, and joined its first farmer’s market, in White Rock, on June 20.
“It’s a helluva way to give back and it fills a vast need and I can afford to do it,” said Belzberg when asked why the farm is important to him. “It’ll hopefully continue forever,” he said.
“When I sat there with the TT kids, and they’re coming up to me and shaking my hand, and when I see the letters that are coming back, the salads, the fact that these kids are into food, I give TT all the credit in the world,” said Belzberg. “It was one of the 10 happiest moments of my life when I sat there a week or so back and watched the kids being in the ground, getting their hands dirty. What could be better than that? And the smiles on their faces.”
Moderator Greg D’Avignon, left, and newly inducted laureate Gordon Diamond share a laugh at the Business Laureates of British Columbia Hall of Fame celebration May 20. (screenshot)
On May 20, Gordon Diamond – chair of West Coast Reduction Ltd. and Austeville Properties Ltd. – was among those inducted into the Business Laureates of British Columbia Hall of Fame. The ceremony, which was to have been held last year, took place virtually.
The Hall of Fame was created in 2005 by Junior Achievement British Columbia (JABC) to honour local “business leaders whose efforts have shaped our province and country.” It is housed in Vancouver Convention Centre West.
The evening’s other Hall of Fame inductees were Chief Clarence Joseph Louie, chief executive officer of Osoyoos Indian Band Development Corp., and Arran and Ratana Stephens, co-founders and co-CEOs of Nature’s Path Foods Inc.
Also part of the festivities, in a belated celebration of the hall’s 15th anniversary, was the posthumous induction of 10 Pioneer Laureates. Morris Wosk, z”l, who was president of Liberty Investments Ltd. and M.J. Investment Co., as well as co-founder of Wosk’s Ltd., was so honoured for both his business and philanthropic endeavours. Wosk, who passed away in 2002, “played a significant role in the growth and development of Vancouver” and was a “revered mentor to the next generation of businesspeople.”
The gala included speeches by supporters and representatives of JABC and presentations by some young achievers. There were brief video biographies for each laureate being inducted, and the Hall of Famers spoke with moderator Greg D’Avignon, president and CEO of the Business Council of British Columbia. In that conversation, Diamond pointed to the importance in leadership of building “relationships, trust,” and of being “honourable with the people who work with you, not for you.”
One of the most satisfying aspects of his business at this point, he said, is the people who are running it. “We have family members, we have a team…. I’ll be listening to various meetings and I’m in the background but, if I wasn’t there, what the family and the team has built is that my company will continue without me.”
He said of this legacy, which includes the Diamond Foundation, in addition to the businesses, “You can’t buy that feeling that I have when I look at my plants, when I look at the buildings, and that we’re capable of doing things like this,” he said, referring to supporting JABC and “giving back” to community in general.
The JABC write-up highlights the foundation, which Diamond “set up with his late father, Jack Diamond, in 1984 as a vehicle for his philanthropic aspirations. Since inception, the Diamond Foundation, funded solely by Gordon and his companies, has made donations to hospitals, schools, the arts and other public and charitable causes.”
Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Leonard Brody spoke with King David head of school Russ Klein about soccer, history, business, education and the pandemic at the Golden Threads Gala on May 13. (PR photo)
Entrepreneur Leonard Brody was the featured speaker at King David High School’s Golden Threads Gala on May 13, which attracted 600-plus viewers. The event raised more than $350,000 for the school from community donors in both live (via video stream) and silent auctions.
Hailed in the financial media for his innovative approach to thinking about management, Brody, who helped found the news site NowPublic, is an award-winning entrepreneur, venture capitalist and two-time Emmy Award nominee. He has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in start-up capital, taken a company to a $6 billion market capitalization at its initial public offering, and been involved in several other companies. Brody is also the co-author of two bestselling books, Innovation Nation: Canadian Leadership from Jurassic Park to Java and Everything I Needed to Know About Business … I Learned from a Canadian.
Before introducing Brody, King David head of school Russ Klein read through the speaker’s extensive curriculum vitae, calling it “one of the most impressive bios I have ever read.” The first question of the wide-ranging interview, though, had to do with Brody’s forays into owning professional sports teams.
“It sounds more glamorous than it is,” said Brody, who has been involved with European soccer clubs for almost 20 years and co-owner of the Coventry City Football Club for 10. “Coventry has arguably been one of the most challenging turnarounds in English football and we got promoted last season into the Championship League, and it looks like we will stay there next season. This is a big accomplishment for us. It’s been fun.”
Upon hearing of this success, Klein suggested Brody consider assisting the Vancouver Canucks, but then turned to more serious matters, asking about what Brody calls “pushing the reset button.”
Brody discussed historical cycles, beginning at the start of the Industrial Revolution, in about 1760. During several periods since then, something has triggered a reset, whether it be disease or war. Each of these cycles, said Brody, including our present circumstance, creates a “forced reality” and the question becomes “what is the behaviour that is going to stick?” It is a question “everyone on the planet is thinking about.”
The conversation then veered to the concept of “successful failure” in terms of what companies promise to the market and what they deliver. In Brody’s view, many sectors are “grossly over-promising” and “half-delivering” on their products. If a company can only attain half of its promise, it is, in Brody’s view, ahead of the market as a whole. Using the example of Tesla, he cited the company’s history of “overshooting a mark, creating a vision and taking customers with it” towards a higher-end goal.
On Klein’s question of whether post-secondary education is still necessary, Brody responded, “If you want to create a generation of profit-centric, money-hungry idiots, then, yes, you can avoid university.” However, he added, if you want to create a society of good citizens with critical thinking skills and the ability to be independent adults, then university education is still essential.
Brody himself holds a bachelor of arts (honours) from Queen’s University and a law degree from Osgoode Hall at York University; he is a graduate of the Private Equity Program at the Harvard Business School.
The last discussion point was the pandemic, which Brody deemed “one of the most well-managed human traumas ever.” While not discounting the tragedy inflicted on those who have fallen victim to the disease, Brody stated that we should emerge from this stage with “an unprecedented economic growth pattern.”
Currently, Brody is writing a new book in partnership with Forbes magazine, entitled The Great Re:Write, based on the successful documentary series he and Forbes produced – which has had an audience of more than seven million in the past year.
The Golden Thread Gala: Connecting Generations celebrated the community that nurtures King David High School, inspires the next generation of leaders, and was rooted in the appreciation of Jewish values and traditions. The inaugural gala highlighted a story of success told through generations, with education as the “golden thread weaving our past to our Jewish future.”
Live auction items included a “be head of the school day” for one lucky student, a set of Forevermark Black Label earrings, dinner with Russ and Deborah Klein, and a Nuevo Vallarta vacation package. Meanwhile, dozens of items, from paintings to cosmetics, weekend getaways to vintage B.C. wines, were available in the silent auction.
Emceeing the event was comedian Ivan Decker, a frequent guest on TV talk shows around North America, on Netflix and on CBC’s The Debaters. Media executive Howard Blank, past president and chair of Variety British Columbia and vice-president of the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame, was the auctioneer.
Sam Margolishas written for the Globe and Mail, the National Post, UPI and MSNBC.
Shira Haas is the featured guest at the July 7 event organized by Canadian Associates of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. (photo from CABGU)
Israeli actress Shira Haas, star of the popular Netflix series Shtisel and Unorthodox, has been busy in recent months. Not only is she preparing to take on the role of a young Golda Meir in the upcoming series Lioness, executive produced by Barbra Streisand, but she is also the featured guest at the Canadian national virtual gala in support of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) on July 7.
An “Unorthodox” National Virtual Gala for Brain Research, organized by Canadian Associates of Ben-Gurion University (CABGU), BGU’s Canadian fundraising arm, will raise money for the Canada Fund to Advance Brain Research.
“We are thrilled to share this exciting announcement with our community,” said Mitchell Oelbaum, national president of CABGU.
“According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 50 million active cases of dementia worldwide, with an estimated 10 million new cases being added each year. Ten million people battle Parkinson’s each year globally. And, according to the World Stroke
Organization, 13 million people suffer from stroke annually. We wanted to do our part to help improve the chances of finding a cure for these debilitating diseases.”
The numbers are large, and there are no signs of a slowdown. That is why the fund was established by CABGU, with the goal of supporting groundbreaking and cutting-edge research for neurodegenerative diseases at the university’s Zlotowski Centre for Neuroscience.
“We are getting closer to determining the causes of age-related neurodegenerative diseases,” explained Dr. Debra Toiber of the department of life sciences in the faculty of natural sciences at BGU. “It’s an exciting time to be a scientist and uncovering the mechanisms of aging.”
Toiber is one of 67 researchers at the Zlotowski Centre. Her lab recently discovered that the SIRT6 protein is critical for the prevention of neurodegeneration, which can lead to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Colleague Dr. Shelly Levy-Tzedek’s lab studies the impact of age and disease on the control of body movement and how best to employ robotics to facilitate a fast and efficient rehabilitation process. Meanwhile, Dr. Claude Brodski, also with the Zlotowski Centre for Neuroscience, is currently conducting a study, albeit in its early stages, that may offer a disease-modified drug target to address the impact of Parkinson’s. While these findings are encouraging, more research needs to be conducted.
“CABGU launched the Canada Fund to Advance Brain Research at BGU in April,” said CABGU chief executive officer Mark Mendelson. “Our team has been hard at work ever since, and there is a strong appetite for this subject matter here in Canada. The sad reality is that we all know someone, whether it is a relative, a friend or a neighbour, who is struggling with one of these devastating brain diseases.”
The national virtual gala is already more than 50% sold out. To learn how to become a sponsor or to purchase tickets, head to bengurion.ca.
Dr. Joe Schwarcz, director of the Office for Science and Society, McGill University, presented on The Chemistry of Wine and Its Many Benefits, at Canadian Friends of Sheba’s virtual event on May 2. (screenshot)
Canadian Friends of Sheba hosted Sheba Under the Stars on May 2, raising close to $100,000 for Israel’s Sheba Medical Centre. More than 100 guests attended the virtual evening featuring live entertainment, wine tasting and presentations on lifestyle choices from leading world experts.
Guests received a complimentary gift bag of wine and chocolates, and were treated to numerous performances from host Stacey Kay, Juno Award-winning singer/rapper and finalist on America’s Got Talent. The hour-long show also featured live wine tasting with Michael Avery, winemaker at Galil Mountain Winery, in Israel, as well as a presentation on The chemistry of Wine and Its Many Benefits, by Dr. Joe Schwarcz, director of the Office for Science and Society at McGill University.
Prof. Yitshak Kreiss, director general, Sheba Medical Centre, opened the event by highlighting Sheba’s global fight against the coronavirus through its recent support of missions to India, northern Italy, Cyprus and Uruguay, and called on the guests to be “inspired by Sheba’s vision to transform into the city of health.”
Presentations from “Sheba’s stars” included Redefining the Field of Lifestyle Medicine by Dr. Rani Polak, founding director of Sheba’s Centre of Lifestyle Medicine, and from Prof. Michal Schnaider Beeri, director of Sheba’s Joseph Sagol Neuroscience Centre, who shared tips on how wellness and lifestyle affects the brain.
Joe Segal accepting the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade’s Rix Award for engaged community citizenship in an April 7 online celebration. (screenshot)
The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade paid tribute to Joe Segal on April 7, honouring him with its Rix Award for engaged community citizenship, in recognition of his many philanthropic endeavours and decades of community service.
The postponed 2020 Governors’ Banquet & Rix Awards was reimagined for the virtual gathering, which was dubbed the Governors’ Gala and Rix Awards. The event also saw the board’s Rix Award for engaged corporate citizenship bestowed on CN, and its immediate past chair, Lori Mathison – who currently serves as president and chief executive officer of Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia – inducted into its council of governors, along with Kari Yuers, president and CEO of Kryton International Inc. Gala co-chairs were Lorne Segal and Brent Cameron.
Born in Vegreville, Alta., in 1925, Joe Segal’s early years included losing his father at aged 14, stretches of financial hardship and hard labour building the Alaska Highway. He fought in the infantry in the Second World War, where, along with his compatriots, the Calgary Highlanders, he participated directly in the liberation of the Netherlands.
Following the war, he arrived in Vancouver with $1,500 in his pocket and set to work on more entrepreneurial pursuits. While he started small in war surplus goods, his hard work and tenacity led him to found the Fields department stores and, ultimately, take over Zellers before launching Kingswood Capital Corp., a conglomerate with interests in real estate, manufacturing and financing.
Despite his success, Segal has remained firmly grounded in the community where he built his businesses and raised his family. It is a tribute to his character that his impact and life in the city are perhaps most marked by his generosity – both with his time, as a mentor, and philanthropic endeavours.
A recipient of both an Order of Canada and an Order of British Columbia, Segal’s more recent years have been defined mainly by his philanthropy.
He served on the board and as chancellor of Simon Fraser University for six years. And, in perhaps one of his most visible contributions in Vancouver, Segal donated the historic Bank of Montreal building at 750 Hastings St. to SFU, creating a home for the Segal Graduate School of Business.
In 2010, he and his wife Rosalie donated $12 million to the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundations to create the Joseph and Rosalie Segal and Family Centre, a 100-private-room acute care centre serving the mental health needs of people in crisis. The substantial gift, made prior to mental health concerns being mainstream, is just another demonstration of his strong connection to the needs of the community. There are countless other organizations who are recipients of the Segals’ work and philanthropy.
Together with his partner Rosalie, the Segals have passed along the philanthropic genes to their children Sandra, Tracey, Gary and Lorne. The Segal family has supported mental health charities for more than 20 years. Their awareness was sparked after they were invited to attend the Coast Mental Health’s Courage to Come Back Awards, which honours individuals who have overcome major life challenges. The event has been chaired by their son, Lorne, for the past 15 years.
In a complex world, Joe Segal’s life offers a clear example for leaders today and the leaders of tomorrow. Simply put, a life well-lived will be most marked by the ways in which we give back to our community and contribute collectively towards a brighter future.
The Rix Awards are an initiative of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, presented in honour of the late Dr. Don Rix, who served as chair of the organization in 2008-09. Award recipients are chosen each year by a special selection committee of the board of directors, based on a number of criteria.