Left to right, back row: Mark Suzuki, Ai Nakano, Marie Doduck, Eppy Rappaport, Ruth Erlichman, Elena Steele and a representative from the Nepalese community. Front row: Casey Suzuki, Dickson Tsang and Andy Sui. (photo by Belinda Co)
On the evening of May 14, members of the Jewish community joined with members of the Japanese, Russian and Chinese communities to raise funds for earthquake relief efforts in Nepal. Held at Omnitsky Kosher Delicatessen, the restaurant’s proprietor, Eppy Rappaport, donated a percentage of profits of that evening’s sales, and attendees made individual contributions throughout the evening.
The evening was organized by Ruth Erlichman and Dickson Tsang, two longtime Vancouver realtors who have know each other for more than 15 years. The two have “done quite a few deals together,” Erlichman said, “during which time Dickson got to know a little bit more about Jews, kosher food, keeping Shabbos, etc. He has been involved in many fundraisers in the past and wanted to do one together … bridging the two cultures and adding our Japanese and Russian friends to the pot.”
The theme of the evening was giving and practising compassion, as “stated in the Torah in parashat Shemini,” Erlichman added. “Making sure we have emunah [faith] that Hashem will help when we personally, G-d forbid, encounter hardship. When it comes to other people’s hardship, we take out our chequebook – we don’t tell them to have emunah; that comes later.”
About 30 people attended, including a representative from the Nepalese community who updated the group on the situation on the ground in Nepal. A strong aftershock had occurred just two days prior and the Canadian government had pledged to match dollar for dollar the money raised until May 25. The funds raised at Omnitsky are being donated through the Red Cross.
“Our Japanese friends showed us how to make paper origami cranes,” Erlichman shared. These were sold at a much larger fundraiser held at the River Rock Casino soon after the Omnitsky gathering.
Born and raised in Kobe, Japan, Erlichman said she is “very familiar with earthquakes. Many of us from the Jewish community here held a fundraiser for the Jan. 17, 1995, Kobe earthquake, at the Tama Sushi Lounge on West Broadway, co-owned by the late Mr. Leon Kahn. Funds were sent through the Joint [Distribution Committee] to the Ohel Shlomo Synagogue in Kobe, which incurred exterior damage.”