Standup comedian Cory Lupovic will perform at Congregation Beth Israel’s gala next month. (photo by Joan Ullyett)
Congregation Beth Israel’s Be the Light Gala Presented by Gerry & Ruby Gales & Family takes place June 4.
The fundraising event features the Candlelight Experience – the synagogue will be lit by hundreds of candles and a string quartet will perform songs by ABBA and Queen. The night’s emcee will be Dr. Erik Swartz, comedian Cory Lupovici will perform and Howard Blank will serve as auctioneer.
The “Be the Light” theme was inspired by the concept of people either being a light to Beth Israel and the Jewish community or how the synagogue has been a light to those in need.
“It gives us light and hope,” said Gerry Gales about why the family donated to the synagogue. “The work the Beth Israel does for the community is essential and must be supported,” he said.
Formerly known as Friends of Beth Israel, the newly redesigned and revamped event will include a mix-and-mingle cocktail reception for major donors followed by the concert (compliments of Beth Israel), dinner and entertainment. It is being planned under the leadership of Beth Israel’s new director of development, Jacci Sandler.
Swartz, the emcee, is head of pediatrics for Richmond Hospital, Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care, and is a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at the University of British Columbia. Born and raised here, Swartz graduated from Vancouver Talmud Torah and attended medical school at UBC. After years studying and practising elsewhere in Canada and abroad, he and his family returned to the city in 2008, and have been members of BI ever since.
Lupovici is a Chinese-Jewish comedian based in Vancouver – he spent his childhood summers at Camp Hatikvah and is a King David High School alumnus. Lupovici describes himself as an observational comic, in that he observes his parents and makes fun of them to strangers. His jokes mainly stem from his unique background and are a mix of personal anecdotes and silly everyday observations. With a Montreal Jewish father and a Hong Kong Chinese mother, the well of humour and rare perspectives is deep.
Rounding out the event’s main performers is Blank, chief executive officer of Point Blank Entertainment Ltd. Over the past 25 years, Blank has helped raise more than one billion dollars for organizations across North America, and his auctioneering is something to behold. He has received many accolades and awards and is recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, the British Columbia Community Achievement Medal and the Order of Canada Sovereign’s Medal for volunteerism. In 2021, he was featured in Business in Vancouver’s BIV 500 as one of the top executives in the province.
Funds raised from the gala will help ensure that the synagogue continues providing programming and services to the community. Attendance at BI for morning and evening minyan, as well as for various programs, is back to pre-pandemic numbers – this isn’t the case at most Conservative synagogues in North America. Most recently, BI had more than 800 people in attendance for its Purim programs and well over 350 people for its Passover seders.
This fall, Susan Inhaber, left, will take over the presidency of Na’amat Canada from Dr. Sandi Seigel. (photos from Na’amat Canada)
Na’amat Canada’s 20th Triennial Convention takes place Oct. 13-15 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Calgary. The event will include a thank you to outgoing president Dr. Sandi Seigel of Hamilton, Ont., and it will welcome new president Susan Inhaber from Calgary, Alta. Inhaber will be the first national president from Western Canada since 1975.
Inhaber became a member of Na’amat Canada Calgary in 2000. “In short order,” she said, “I was president of a new chapter and, a few years later, I became the president of an amalgamated chapter. I served in that role for many years, immersing myself in all of the projects and programs that our group was involved with, including being the bingo chair, casino chair and grocery store gift card chair. My involvement in all activities continues to this day. As city president, I was a member of the national board, later becoming a member at large and, lastly, the vice-president of Na’amat Canada.”
Inhaber has been to Israel several times with Na’amat. “Everyone who goes always comes back with a renewed sense of energy for the organization,” she said. “We can see the impact that we are making in the lives of others and that is what drives my passion for Na’amat. My next trip will be as the leader of our newest leadership cohort.”
Delegates from across Canada and guests from Israel and the United States will attend the fall convention, and special guests will include Hagit Pe’er, president of Na’amat Israel, and Shirli Shavit, director of the overseas division of Na’amat Israel. There will be speakers on the topics of antisemitism, human rights, breaking the glass ceiling, and more.
“It has been a privilege serving as Na’amat Canada national president since 2020,” said Seigel. “I am most proud that we have supported our organization throughout the pandemic and not only have we survived but thrived. We have built on our relationships with our chaverot internationally and in Israel and have had four successful fundraisers with Na’amat USA.”
Contributing to the success has been the quality of programming, both on Zoom and, more recently, back in-person, she said. “Despite many challenges, we have been able to transmit significant funds to support our work in Israel and continued to maintain important local projects such as our school supplies for kids program.”
Stepping down as president doesn’t mean leaving the organization. “I feel that I have lifelong friends at Na’amat, and it is wonderful to be united in the work that we do on behalf of Na’amat,” said Seigel. “As we near our convention in Calgary, I am excited for the future of our organization as we approach our 100th anniversary in 2025.”
For her upcoming three-year term, Inhaber said she is looking forward to continuing the relationship building that Seigel and, before her, Doris Wexler-Charow brought to the organization. “My main goal is to further grow our membership and donor base,” said Inhaber. “I hope to increase awareness of what Na’amat Canada does in Israel and Canada, especially among Western Canadians.”
Lucy Samuel, left, and Tori Segal, co-chairs of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver’s Ben Gurion Society. (photos from BGS)
“Both of us were BGS members before becoming co-chairs. We are so grateful for the leadership opportunities that BGS has given us,” said Tori Segal (née Simons), who co-chairs the Ben Gurion Society with Lucy Samuel (née Adirim). “We recognize that the Jewish community of Greater Vancouver made us the leaders we are today, and so we jumped at the chance to give back.
“We were shaped by this community,” Segal continued. “Through BGS, we have connected with like-minded young adults, donated to Jewish Federation in support of our community, and been afforded special opportunities for us all to learn from leaders spanning multiple fields in our community.”
The Ben Gurion Society is Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver’s national donor recognition program for young professionals ages 25-45, who support the community through the Federation’s annual campaign with a gift of $1,000 or more.
BGS offers its members a range of possibilities, from private speaking events and social cocktail hours with donors and community leaders, to professional development and leadership opportunities. Recently, for example, BGS members listened to presentations from David Shore, the executive producer of The Good Doctor and House, and Lillian Boraks-Nemetz, the author of Mouth of Truth and Out of the Dark, among several other titles. Later in the spring, they will hear from Anat Yahalom, an advocate in Israel for those with disabilities, and other local Jewish leaders.
Additionally, BGS offers members a chance to gain a better understanding of community needs from the Jewish Federation’s many partner agencies, which are based both locally and in Israel.
“New members are typically found by word of mouth or through our campaign volunteer canvassers,” Samuel explained. “We invite community members in the BGS age range (25-45) to events we hold for both BGS and non-BGS members, so that they can experience our programming and learn about our philanthropic mission, the types of events we hold and how they can join if they are interested.”
Samuel, who was born and raised in Vancouver, learned the importance of engaging with her Jewish values at a young age – at Vancouver Talmud Torah, King David High School and Camp Hatikvah. She enrolled at McGill University and studied cognitive science. Throughout her time in Montreal, she was involved in both Hillel and Chabad. She was also a long-term chair of Save a Child’s Heart McGill.
After graduating in 2016, Samuel became a realtor and started working with her father at the family business. Upon returning to her hometown, she joined Axis, where she met her husband.
Axis is a network of Jews in their 20s and 30s whose stated aim is to build a vibrant young Jewish community in Metro Vancouver.
“In addition to my time on the Axis board, I recently helped start a new chapter of Canadian Hadassah-WIZO, the BVLGARI chapter,” Samuel said. “I am looking forward to continuing to grow and expand the wealth of opportunities available to young adults in the Vancouver Jewish community.”
Segal, too, is a native Vancouverite and has enjoyed being brought up immersed in the local Jewish community. She also attended VTT and KDHS, where, she said, she “learned about community values and history.”
An alumna of McGill University as well, she, like Samuel, continued her involvement there in the Jewish community through the school’s Chabad and Hillel organizations. She graduated from McGill with a degree in dietetics, and works as a registered dietitian at Vancouver General Hospital in cardiology and cardiac surgery. Alongside that work, Segal is a clinical instructor at the University of British Columbia, supervising and teaching dietetics students in their hospital placements. Further, she is currently completing a postgraduate program in healthcare safety, quality, informatics and leadership through Harvard University.
“I joined the Ben Gurion Society upon its restart at the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and have recently taken on co-chairing the society with Lucy. I married Dylan Segal in August 2022 and am looking forward to building a Jewish home and supporting others in doing the same. I am excited to join the Federation board and support initiatives that help create the Greater Vancouver Jewish community,” Segal told the Independent.
Over their two-year term, both Samuel and Segal said they will continue to seek out new members to help support the community, and engage existing members through a broad range of events.
For more information, visit jewishvancouver.com/bgs.
Sam Margolishas written for the Globe and Mail, the National Post, UPI and MSNBC.
Left to right: Lauri Glotman, Leslie and Gordon Diamond, and Jill Diamond.
The Diamond family has donated $7.2 million to the BC Cancer Foundation to expand BC Cancer’s Hereditary Cancer Program – expanding identification and screening for the BRCA gene mutation. This gene mutation increases the risk of breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. Individuals of Ashkenazi Jewish decent are 10 times more likely (1 in 40) to carry the gene mutation. Screening for the gene enables early detection and intervention, and even prevention in some cases.
“We’re really proud to partner with BC Cancer because it fulfils one of our most important Jewish values, tikkun olam, which is the obligation to repair the world and make it a better place,” said Jill Diamond.
The Diamond family personally knows the impact of the BRCA gene mutation. “Our grandmother unfortunately died of breast cancer. Had she known she had a BRCA gene mutation, and been screened properly, the cancer could have been caught earlier and we would have enjoyed many more years with her,” Diamond explained.
The family’s gift – one of the largest ever to the BC Cancer Foundation – will fuel three clinical projects to:
• Expand outreach to people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, who are at greater risk.
• Establish a first-in-Canada initiative to directly contact high-risk relatives of mutation carriers to pursue genetic testing.
• Implement immediate genetic testing for breast cancer patients age 60 and under upon biopsy, eliminating the need for a doctor’s referral for screening and removing the burden on patients.
It will also fund three breast imaging fellowships at BC Cancer Vancouver, increasing the centre’s capacity and expertise for specialized breast radiologists.
“The Diamond Foundation’s generous donation is a giant step on the path towards transforming hereditary cancer care across B.C. Not only will this support three critical initiatives now, but it will also provide the groundwork for future programs and greatly increase our impact by reaching more families at higher risk of cancer,” said Drs. Kasmintan Schrader and Sophie Sun, co-directors of BC Cancer’s Hereditary Cancer Program.
“This is for our daughters, for everyone’s daughters,” said Jill Diamond and Lauri Glotman. “It will allow women to continue to be the backbone of their family, their community and society, and – armed with knowledge about their increased cancer risk and the preventative measures they can take – protect and care for future generations.”
The Diamond family has a long history of supporting BC Cancer, including donating the land that the BC Cancer Research Centre stands on in Vancouver.
The Diamond Foundation’s generosity will make BC Cancer a leader in hereditary cancer care, providing the groundwork for future programs, saving lives for generations of families.
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Rabbi Yechiel and Chanie Baitelman, co-directors of Chabad Richmond, were recently honoured as recipients of the Richmond Centre Outstanding Constituent Award by Wilson Miao, member of Parliament for Richmond Centre.
Serving their community for more than 25 years, the Baitelmans are known for their compassion, inclusiveness and commitment to bettering the lives of Jews and non-Jews alike. Their mission has been to connect the values and ethics of the Torah and Judaism with the Jewish community and beyond. Together, they created the weekly Light of Shabbat Meal program that feeds both Jewish and non-Jewish households, with 150 meals delivered weekly by volunteers.
This award celebrates the contributions the Baitelmans have made to Chabad Richmond and other organizations in Richmond Centre, including their ongoing outreach, educational and social service programs. The Baitelmans’ hallmark is respect and love for every person, regardless of religious beliefs, social status or education. Generous with their time as well as their talents, they live their life’s mission by serving others.
Both of the Baitelmans sit on a variety of community boards, and the rabbi has served as a chaplain for the Correctional Services Canada prison system and is the chaplain to the local RCMP detachment in Richmond.
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Bea Goldberg was born on April 25, 1923. Yes, that means Bea is 100 years old!! And what she has accomplished in those 100 years!
Bea, born Bernice Gropper, was known as “Bessie” during her school years. She was smart as a whip and graduated University of Saskatchewan by age 20.
She moved out to Vancouver, where she met Myer Goldberg, and the two were married in 1945. The day after returning from her honeymoon, Bea joined Hadassah-WIZO and chaired just about every event the organization had, including the Hadassah Bazaar, and held leadership positions both locally and nationally. She even rewrote (or reorganized) Hadassah-WIZO’s constitution!
Bea was also involved with the Jewish Federation, the Jewish Community Centre (from when it was on Oak and 11th), the Louis Brier Home and Vancouver Talmud Torah, and supported Hillel BC, the Hebrew University, Jewish Family Services and many others.
Family and community are very important to Bea and she still is a woman who lives by her values and principles.
At the therapeutic horse farm in Meir Shfeya Youth Village are, left to right, Yuval Perry, Moran Nir, Rachel David and Orly Sivan. Perry is a horse groomer at the farm, and David and Sivan are two of its four founders. Nir is manager of campaign and operations for JNF Pacific. (photo from JNF Pacific)
Noa Tishby, the Hollywood-transplanted Israeli actor and activist who was just stripped of her special envoy position for weighing in on the political crisis there, is headed to Vancouver.
Tishby, author of the 2021 book Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth, had been Israel’s special envoy for combating antisemitism and the delegitimization of Israel. Appointed a year ago by then-prime minister Yair Lapid, Tishby was summarily ejected from the role this month after she criticized the proposed judicial reforms of Binyamin Netanyahu’s government. She will be the keynote speaker at the 2023 Negev event of the Jewish National Fund, Pacific Region, June 29.
“We are sad to hear the news that Noa is now the former special envoy against antisemitism and the delegitimization [of Israel] as she has been an important voice for Israel and Jewish communities around the world in the face of antisemitism/anti-Israel sentiment,” Michael Sachs, executive director of JNF Pacific, told the Independent. “Her years of service, both officially and non-officially, have only benefited world Jewry and we are ecstatic to welcome her with open arms on June 29th.”
Sachs explained that this year’s Negev event is a break with decades of tradition, following the pandemic shutdown of community gatherings. The annual tradition had generally featured a gala dinner with an honouree.
The centrepoint of this year’s event, which will take place at Beth Israel, is a theatre-format presentation with no meal, and tickets at an accessible price, which, Sachs said, is intended to allow the largest number of community members to hear Tishby’s message. A reception for larger donors will generate the revenue to realize the project that this year’s Negev is sponsoring.
That initiative is a therapeutic horse farm in Meir Shfeya Youth Village, located south of Haifa near Zikhron Ya’akov. Moran Nir, manager of campaign and operations for JNF Pacific, was at the facility several weeks ago.
“It’s a beautiful farm,” she said. “I met with two of the [four] founding mothers and it’s just incredible to see how they dedicate their lives and they give their heart and soul to this farm.”
The horse farm has two riding areas, one uncovered and the other only partly covered. Completing the facility to protect riders from sometimes intense Israeli weather is part of the JNF initiative.
“We want projects that are going to be impactful to the people in Israel but that are also taking a grassroots project and helping get it to the next level,” said Sachs. There is also a crucial local connection to this project, he added.
“There is no shortage of people in our community that understand the importance of equestrian therapy for kids with special needs, but also adults with stress and anxiety and PTSD,” he said. In a relatively new twist on the organization’s commitment to Israel, 10% of this year’s Negev revenues will be held back for a local partnership with STaRS, Southlands Therapeutic Riding Society. Leaders from the Southlands group will mentor those at the Israeli facility, “creating a lifelong connection between these like-minded organizations,” said Sachs.
The Meir Shfeya farm currently has six horses and six horse groomers. Groomers are hired from among youth and young adults who benefited from the equestrian therapy as kids, said Sachs. Therapeutic riding has been demonstrated effective for a range of cognitive conditions, including autism, attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
About 90 kids per week come to the farm from all over the area and demand is growing. Allowing them to meet the demand is the reason for the support from JNF Pacific.
The fundraising goal for the June 29 event – which is co-chaired by Michael and Lisa Averbach – is $350,000, Sachs said, emphasizing the dual objective of generating funds to support the equestrian programs and of drawing the largest number of people possible to hear Tishby’s message.
“If you want to buy a ticket, buy four,” he said. “Buy four tickets, find three friends and bring them. We want more people hearing her. And, if you buy four tickets and can’t find three friends, let us know because we want to bring students. We want kids from the community to be able to hear her.”
Tishby will be in conversation with Danielle Ames Spivak, executive director of the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, a born-and-raised Vancouverite who is a friend of Tishby’s.
The event will also feature the bestowing of the Bernard M. Bloomfield Medal for Meritorious Service on Harvey Dales.
“Harvey’s been a member of our board, he’s on the national board, he is the past president,” said Sachs. “For us, the opportunity to honour Harvey for his dedication and everything he’s given to JNF and Israel, we are really excited about that.”
The JNF Educator Award will also be presented. It will be given to teachers from the four Vancouver-area Jewish day schools.
“We’re coming out of the worst pandemic in 100 years,” said Sachs. “Teachers were frontline … so each school is going to be choosing a teacher-representative to accept an award on behalf of the teaching body in their school.”
Reflecting on her visit to the Israeli horse farm and meeting some of the mothers who launched it, Nir is inspired to share what she witnessed.
“It’s always nice to see the impact of JNF in Israel,” she said, “to actually be there and see the impact. Every parent wants their kids to be healthy and happy. We will keep doing this job and build Israel together for the people of Israel.”
Residents of Prince George might be forgiven for thinking there is more than one person named Eli Klasner in their midst. Among his many concurrent pursuits, the Toronto native is directing the Community Arts Council of Prince George, leading a fundraising initiative for Ukrainian refugees and serving on the board of the Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia.
Living in Prince George is the fulfilment of a lifelong dream for Klasner. Since childhood, he had entertained the notion of living on the Canadian frontier or the Far North. When he was younger, he also made a commitment to himself that, by the time he celebrated his 40th birthday, he would do whatever it was that excited him.
As events unfolded, he was able to do just that after running businesses in Toronto and Vancouver. In 2017, while Klasner was working for a nonprofit, the possibility of moving to Prince George presented itself.
“I was just charmed by the roughness and climate adversity and, significantly, by the opportunities I saw both as a participant in arts and culture but also to identify that there are Jewish people here and in this area,” Klasner told the Independent.
The friendliness and accessibility of locals reaffirmed his desire to stay. “Soon after I was here, I visited City Hall and asked who is the mayor? ‘Well, that’s his office there. If you want to say hello, just go on in and introduce yourself.’ I like that. Coming from Toronto, you don’t just walk in and put your feet up on the mayor’s table. I thought that was very appealing,” Klasner recalled.
His executive director position with the arts council quickly transformed into a full-time schedule as he came to realize that the city could use support with its arts facilities. Klasner’s role in Prince George’s artistic rejuvenation includes working on a new creative hub, a new performing arts centre and, in March, the gala opening of a retired heritage church that was turned into a concert hall.
“Taking the executive director job here helped solidify that I need to settle down and find a place to live permanently. At that point in my life, I thought a lovely arts council with a lovely little gallery and gift shop would be a lot of fun,” said Klasner, who during his youth studied music in various European capitals.
For two years of his stay in Prince George, Klasner lived in a cabin in the woods, along with two hound dogs and two cats. “I moved a little off the grid,” he said. “That, for me, was the boyhood dream of living in the woods, chopping wood, growing a garden in the summer and being close to wildlife and nature. It was an amazing experience.”
Then came 2020. Klasner contracted the coronavirus at the outset of the pandemic. “COVID is an interesting part of the journey of being up here in this odd, unusual place,” he said. “It was certainly a challenge, but, also, when you live through something like that, you really come to appreciate life when you have good health, and the bounty that comes with good health.”
From a Jewish cultural perspective, one of Klasner’s recent projects has been the performance of Different Trains, a piece written for string quartet, with pre-recorded tape, by American Jewish composer Steve Reich that revolves around the Second World War and the Shoah. After being approached last year by the Prince George Symphony Orchestra, Klasner was able to arrange to have the work performed to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day this past January.
“I found it to be a remarkable process of respect and inclusion and terrifically ambitious for a small-town symphony to want to take on such a challenging and groundbreaking piece of music,” Klasner said.
Afterwards, several members of the local Jewish community were invited on stage to say a few words. The crowd, according to Klasner, was very moved by the event. “People got to sit, ask questions and talk about Holocaust and persecution. I found it a unique thing to happen in a place like Prince George. Where else is something like this done in Canada that does not have a significant Jewish population?”
Prince George, like other parts of northern British Columbia, Klasner noted, used to have a thriving Jewish community, starting with the immigrants who arrived in the 1880s. Many of the first local businesses were started by Jews, and the first Jewish female elected to public office in Canada was in Prince George, when Hanna Director became chair of the city’s school district.
From the Second World War to the 1970s, the community dwindled. The Sefer Torah that was in Prince George was sent down to Vancouver and is in storage.
However, there has been a resurgence in Jewish life, Klasner said. “What we started to do is hold community events around holidays and festivals, wanting to expose the young generation to the culture and history of Jewish celebrations and milestones, holidays and festivals. We are quite open to people who might want to come but who are not Jewish to see a Hannukah celebration and what kind of foods we eat around Rosh Hashanah, etc. There has been a lot interest in the community.”
The Jewish Museum and Archives, Klasner said, helped him understand some of the history and heritage of the Jewish community in the area. This, in turn, helped Klasner get other members of the community involved to share stories about what life in Prince George was like at one time or another. For example, there were photos of a seder in Prince George just after the war, when so many Jews wanted to be involved that a community hall had to be used.
“When there was an opening on the board of the Jewish Museum and Archives, I thought it was an opportunity to help them have province-wide representation, rather than just the Lower Mainland, the Island and the Okanagan,” he said.
Jewish values were integral in Klasner’s recent efforts to assist Ukrainian refugees in his community. When a new endowment fund was created to help the newcomers, he reached out to the organizers to help propel their fundraising.
“I was overwhelmed at the possibilities of life when people open up their hearts to strangers in their land and by the idea of opening up one’s heart and mind and wallet to people in the community – and what a Jewish attribute as well. Our families were once accepted here as refugees,” he said. “Our life on earth depends on the fact that Canada accepted refugees.”
From June 9 to 11, Prince George will host another of Klasner’s ventures, the B.C. Gourmet Arts Festival. Now in its second year, the event features scores of local artisans and presents culinary delights of the region and country.
“I love life and the opportunity to be busy and creative and help people and get involved,” Klasner said. “Life is awesome.”
Sam Margolishas written for the Globe and Mail, the National Post, UPI and MSNBC.
With the help of a $10 million donation from the Al Roadburg Foundation, a four-storey apartment building has been purchased that will allow Tikva Housing Society to offer more affordable housing in Vancouver’s Jewish community.
Situated on West 41st Avenue in the Kerrisdale neighbourhood, the 20-unit building will be home to nearly 30 individuals. Tikva currently provides housing solutions to more than 300 people, in 128 rental units in Vancouver and Richmond. With this recent addition and 20 new units in Burnaby to be completed by summer 2023, Tikva will expand its portfolio to 168 units in seven housing developments. However, the need for affordable housing is enormous – there are 302 applicants on the Jewish Housing Registry waiting for affordable homes, including 65 people with disabilities.
“This addition will be a huge step forward to providing more people with safe, secure and affordable homes,” said Anat Gogo, executive director at Tikva Housing Society. “The building was acquired through an extraordinary and unparalleled donation of $10 million by the Al Roadburg Foundation. It is the single largest donation received by Tikva and is critical to address housing insecurity.”
In gratitude for the donation, Tikva has named the building the Al and Lola Roadburg Residences.
“Secure housing is essential for individuals and families to thrive,” said Robert Matas, chair of the Al Roadburg Foundation. “We’re deeply honoured to be part of a broad network of Tikva Housing Society supporters who contribute to making housing within the Jewish community more accessible for individuals and families throughout Greater Vancouver.”
“By acquiring an existing apartment building, we are preserving a property that still has many years of life, rather than demolishing and building new,” added Alice Sundberg, director of housing development at Tikva. “Also, we are protecting rental affordability for the future. Al and Lola Roadburg Residences will be a long-term community asset protected from the pressures of our escalating real estate market.”
Al Roadburg (1913-2002) and Lola Roadburg (1922-2011) had a lifelong commitment to Israel and to Jewish organizations in Vancouver. The Al Roadburg Foundation aims to ensure their estates are used to create a legacy that benefits the community where they lived and raised their family.
The Louis Brier Jewish Aged Foundation announces David Zacks, KC, as chair of the 2023/24 The Brier, Their Home campaign.
Born and raised in Vancouver, Zacks has been an active member of the Jewish community for more than five decades. He practised banking and finance law and was recognized globally for his professional achievements. He is a Life Bencher of the Law Society of British Columbia and was appointed King’s Counsel in 2002. In his retirement, Zacks is devoting time and energy to a variety of charitable causes, including the Louis Brier Jewish Aged Foundation. He is most proud of his two sons and their spouses and his five grandchildren.
The Louis Brier Home and Hospital is the home of 32 Holocaust survivors. The Brier understands the depth of the complexity of care to be delivered in providing clinical, spiritual and psychological attention to this sector of our community. Most residents come to Louis Brier older, frailer and with more complex health needs than ever before. Holocaust survivors are an especially fragile group because of their cumulative trauma. Aging, for them, can often be a time of severe crisis, and presents the risk of retraumatization.
The Brier is one of the most important and resource-demanding establishments in the Vancouver Jewish community. For more than 60 years, 24/7, 365 days a year, the home and hospital cares for the most susceptible and often extremely ill members of our community with both clinical and emotional support. They are carefully guided through their most vulnerable and difficult times by the staff, who know that caring for this generation means not only providing critical clinical care, but equally providing opportunities for enjoyment and engagement – the Brier strives to be a joyous place for elders to live.
The Brier campaign takes place every two years. It is the main source of funding, and the Brier Foundation’s main fundraising endeavour. The funds raised cover the basic annual needs of the home that are not funded by government. The needs of a Jewish home extend far beyond the basic human requirements provided – every Jewish component of the Louis Brier Home and Hospital is completely reliant on community donors. Examples include having a chaplain/chazzan, a fully kosher facility, a shul, Holocaust education for staff, and the celebration of all Jewish holidays. The Brier Foundation also supports extras that most other long-term care facilities cannot, such as full-time infection control, quality-and-risk practitioners, security, medical equipment, music, art, physio, rehabilitation, and occupational therapy.
It is thanks to the commitment and consistency of community donors that Louis Brier Jewish Aged Foundation provides the Brier with stability of funding that provides the best possible quality of life for residents, one of dignity and happiness. The board members and executive director of the Louis Brier Foundation, Ayelet Cohen, are acutely aware of the immense responsibility they hold, and thank everyone for sharing this responsibility with them over the years.
May 1 marks the start of this year’s campaign – The Brier, Their Home – which runs until June 16. The Brier Foundation, together with the leadership of Zacks, hopes to raise $1.8 million to keep up with the home and hospital’s needs. This amount will just allow the Jewish home to cover expenses through 2023/24. Over the last six years, the Brier Foundation’s funding responsibility has more than tripled in an evolving healthcare environment. It takes immense resources to manage such an operation. The needs are great and ever increasing.
The Brier Foundation works to fulfil these essential needs, but cannot do this without the community’s help. If it is not done as a community, there is the risk of losing the ability to provide a dignified and gratifying end-of-life process for Jewish seniors. It is our collective duty to care for our elders, those who built our community for us.
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Chabad Richmond depends on a devoted team of volunteers. From delivering Light of Shabbat meals to assisting with programs, assembling Pesach packages, and so much more, Chabad’s cohort contributes not only their time but their enthusiasm. Leading the charge, along with Chabad Richmond co-directors Rabbi Yechiel and Chanie Baitelman, is the new board of directors, comprised of lay leaders who bring a multitude of talents to the table and have an ambitious vision for the future of Chabad.
New president Ed Lewin takes over from past president Steve Whiteside, and welcomes Phil Levinson as first vice-president and Jeff Wachtel as second vice-president and secretary. New recruits Gayle Morris and Brent Davis join existing board members Sheldon Kuchinsky, Shelley Civkin, Shaun Samuel (treasurer), Louise Wright and Yael Segal.
Lewin was born and raised in Vancouver, the middle child of Holocaust survivors. An avid sportsman and community worker, he has served on many nonprofit boards in the Jewish community and is past president of the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. He is proud to have represented Canada in basketball three times at the Maccabi Games in Israel, winning two bronze medals. He recently sold his business law practice in Vancouver and is currently associate counsel with Arora Zbar LLP. He moved to Richmond in 1987, and has been married to Debbie for almost 42 years. The Lewins have two children, both married, and a 1-year-old grandson, all of whom call Richmond home.
The board of directors supports Rabbi Baitelman’s dream of an expanded Chabad Centre in Richmond, recognizing the potential for growth in a community whose Jewish population is close to 4,000.
“The vision of a larger Chabad centre with increased capacity and a variety of amenities for all ages is on the horizon. With board and community support, it will become a reality,” said Lewin.
Chabad Richmond recently launched a young professionals group for 19-32-year-olds, and is expanding several of its programs.
“Education, community outreach and gathering as a community to celebrate Jewish holidays and lifecycle events are only part of what we currently do,” said Rabbi Baitelman. “We want to expand our reach and nurture every Jew in every way we can. We have much work ahead of us, but we’re blessed to have a steadfast and conscientious board who works to help us grow. Each one of them brings their unique talents to assist us in realizing our mission.”
Creating an endowment fund with the Jewish Community Foundation is not solely an enterprise taken on by high-net-worth individuals and families. (screenshot)
Established in 1989, the Jewish Community Foundation now has more than 350 endowment funds and $85 million in assets under management. Marcie Flom, the executive director of the foundation, told the Independent that creating an endowment is not solely an enterprise taken on by high-net-worth individuals and families – anyone with a desire to put a fund in place can do so.
“The foundation tries to impress upon individuals and families in the community the importance of perpetuating their lifetime of community participation and giving, so that their children and grandchildren will have a community centre, camps and day schools to go to,” Flom said.
The foundation offers many different options and works with a broad range of community members – each with their own economic circumstances – to establish an endowment fund. Together, they ascertain what is important to the community member.
“I have a personal meeting to try and understand what their objectives are, what they are trying to accomplish. Are they thinking about doing this in their lifetime or after their lifetime? And I would ask such questions as, would they want to involve their children during or after their lifetime? Is teaching tzedakah one of their objectives?” Flom explained.
To illustrate, if a person wanted to support a synagogue and ensure that the shul will still be economically viable for their children, they could set up a designated fund for that purpose. This would be done by making a bequest through their estate, meaning there would be no cash outlay during their lifetime.
There also are donor-advised funds, with which the foundation can help people direct support to issues and needs that are of concern to them. The fundholder is entirely in charge but the foundation can help match the holders’ interests to organizations addressing those issues and needs.
“We have a strong knowledge and understandings of what the needs are through our association with the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, their planning council and the community-convening work that we do,” said Flom. “We can help donors make their philanthropic decisions and direct their support where it is really impactful and meaningful for them.”
Further, members can create unrestricted funds. Here, the foundation calls upon charitable organizations within the community to submit proposals for funding. This granting process provides timely support to a wide range of pressing, emerging and ongoing community interests and needs.
“When we were in COVID and were hit with unprecedented needs and change, those unrestricted funds were invaluable because we could respond in real time and put resources where they were most needed in the community,” Flom said.
Currently, with issues such as rapidly rising inflation, food insecurity and housing affordability affecting many in the community, unrestricted funds allow the foundation to be nimble.
“Unrestricted funds have the most flexibility for the foundation to work in partnership with the organizations that are delivering the services, such as Jewish Family Services and Tikva Housing,” Flom said.
The various funds can be created in numerous ways. For example, a person in their 50s on a modest income may have taken out a life insurance policy in their 30s. This person could decide that, upon their passing, the net proceeds of the policy should go to a legacy fund. There would be no cash outlay for them and they would receive an annual tax receipt for their premium payments.
Another choice is for a family to pledge $1,000 a year for 15 years to build up a fund. By making that donation, they would also be receiving a tax credit while the fund grows.
Or, individuals who consider themselves “asset rich but cash poor” could leave a bequest from their estate to add to the fund they started during their lifetime.
“We all care about our community and we all have a role to play in supporting and nurturing it, and the foundation provides a number of ways to do that. The foundation is in tune with the needs of the community and can help donors to really have an impact with their grants,” Flom said.
“We have so many people who are committed to maintaining and growing our community, to making sure it is really strong and healthy and that next generations are engaged in community. We are so fortunate to have a very generous community that helps sustain us,” she said.
According to the foundation’s website, more than $3.3 million in distributions were made in 2020/21, supporting a range of community organizations, programs and services. For more information, visit jewishcommunityfoundation.com, call 604-257-5100 or write [email protected].
Sam Margolishas written for the Globe and Mail, the National Post, UPI and MSNBC.
Dr. Paula Gordon and Gary Segal have been appointed to the Order of Canada.
On Dec. 29, Governor General of Canada Mary Simon announced new appointments to the Order of Canada. The list included two members of Vancouver’s Jewish community: Dr. Paula Gordon and Gary Segal.
“What a beautiful way to end the year, honouring Order of Canada appointees and learning about the depth and range of their accomplishments,” said Simon in a press release. “Celebrated trailblazers in their respective fields, they are inspiring, educating and mentoring future generations, creating a foundation of excellence in our country that is respected throughout the world. Their commitment to the betterment of Canada fills me with pride and hope for the future. Alianaigusuqatigiivassi. Congratulations.”
Gordon is a clinical professor in the department of radiology at the University of British Columbia. Her research interests include breast ultrasound for diagnosis and for supplemental screening for women with dense breasts. She has been the chair of numerous committees, including ones dealing with provincial health policies and screening programs. She has been a reviewer for academic publications, published extensively in peer-reviewed journals, and volunteered in numerous capacities. Gordon was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada for “advancing ultrasound imaging and technology in the early detection of breast cancer, as a prominent radiologist and researcher.”
Segal, executive/principal of Kingswood Capital Corp., is a philanthropist who also volunteers in several organizations. His current roles include chair of the board of directors of the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, several responsibilities with the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, founder and chair of the Bring Back Hope initiative for Ethiopia, governor and founding member of St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation, and a member of the board of directors of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver. Segal was appointed a member of the Order of Canada for “his enduring commitment to humanitarian work, philanthropy and service to the community.”
On Jan. 17, JWest announced a leading $36 million capital campaign matching challenge by the Ronald S. Roadburg Foundation and the Al Roadburg Foundation. This is the first time the two private charitable foundations have collaborated on a major initiative, and they hope to inspire the community through the Roadburg family’s legacy. This gift marks the single largest donation given to the JWest project.
The Ronald S. Roadburg Foundation was established in 2021 through the estate of the late Vancouver businessman Ronald Roadburg. Rooted in a strong sense of community and responsibility, the foundation engages in philanthropic initiatives in the Jewish and broader communities locally and around the world. Promoting transformational change, it looks to support populations disproportionately affected by circumstance or inequities, strengthen and secure the Jewish community and other at-risk communities, and address complex social challenges.
“Strengthening and securing communities is at the heart of the Ronald S. Roadburg Foundation, and we saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do just that,” said foundation chair Bernard Pinsky. “Ronald Roadburg was active in Vancouver real estate. With his vision to establish philanthropic goals for his estate, JWest is a perfect opportunity to leave a legacy in the city of Vancouver.”
Founded in 1997, the Al Roadburg Foundation seeks to support charitable organizations across Vancouver and in Israel responding to food and housing insecurity and health care issues. The foundation also looks to assist groups that help at-risk youth and those with disabilities and debilitating diseases.
“Al Roadburg was a quiet businessman who nevertheless had a presence in many parts of Greater Vancouver,” said its chair, Robert Matas. “The JWest project will create a robust athletic, social and cultural hub that is bound to strengthen both the Jewish community and the broader community across the region. With the Roadburg family’s support for community in mind, we’re pleased to be part of making it happen.”
Al Roadburg was born in Vancouver in 1913. At an early age, he began working as a scrap dealer. Over the years, he built his business, Richmond Steel Recycling, into a multi-million-dollar operation, with the largest automobile shredder in the province. In the 1950s, he began building a portfolio of rental apartments, multi-purpose warehouses, commercial spaces and office buildings. His company, Broadway Properties, bought and held the buildings, providing security for tenants and stability to neighbourhoods in Greater Vancouver. After he died, his son Ronald took over the real estate business.
The Roadburg family lived as active members of the Jewish community and were business leaders in Vancouver. They made decisions that ensured they remained charitable through their estates. With the recent announcement, they have established a legacy that will benefit the city and community where they lived and raised their family.
“We’re immensely grateful to the Roadburg family for issuing this challenge. When the challenge is met, it will represent a profound investment in the Jewish community and the community at large,” said Alex Cristall, JWest capital campaign chair. “To achieve this goal, we will first be meeting with major donors across our community to match this challenge. However, this is a community-wide project and, in due course, we will be inviting everyone to join us in creating a legacy for future generations.”
When complete, JWest will house all programs and services offered at the current Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver in larger, purpose-built spaces. It will also include expanded space for the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre and, in the second phase of construction, mixed-use rental housing and a new home for King David High School.
In September 2022, the Diamond Foundation donated $25 million, marking the first philanthropic donation to the project, a contribution that was matched by community donors. The $36 million matching challenge from the Roadburg family foundations brings the total amount raised to $88 million of the $161 million philanthropic goal.
In addition to community philanthropy, JWest gratefully acknowledges the $25 million received from the Government of British Columbia and the $25 million contributed by the Government of Canada.