Jewish connections surface wherever you may turn

Jewish todays, and Jewish tomorrows. Strengthening our community while building relationships with the greater Edmonton community. Ensuring that we remain connected with our sisters and brothers in Israel and support their lives in our homeland. This is all in a day’s work at the Jewish Federation of Edmonton, with great thanks to all of you who continue to support, engage, and champion these efforts.   

I facilitated a session with the Grade 6 class at the Talmud Torah Shabbaton last weekend and felt privileged to do so. By tossing a ball of yarn around a circle, we formed a web of connection that was strengthened with each touchpoint. We identified the many ways that the kids interact with the Jewish community and their sources of Jewish pride. With 19 children, there was much to discuss. We discovered that the agencies they have interacted with, and the programs and events experienced were not their first choice when we did a mock allocations exercise of tzedakah to the community. In fact, the students placed more than half the ‘funds’ into Holocaust education and antisemitism awareness.   

It's so fitting that these youth made this choice. After meeting them, we returned to the in-person Dianne and Irving Kipnes Holocaust Education Symposium at the Edmonton Public Library. This program is made possible through a partnership with the Azrieli Foundation and Yoni Berrous, the lead educator from Yad Vashem. We also welcomed Marie Doduck, longtime friend of Alex Buckman z”l, the survivor who accompanied our March of the Living delegation. High school teens received a copy of Marie’s memoirs and heard her story, while also singing to her on her 88th birthday. Yoni also offered teachers a workshop at the Federation office to learn how best to teach about the Holocaust. One remarkable moment for me was when we introduced Marie to the master of ceremonies, Sydney Podgruney, on the first day. Sydney remarked right away that Marie was the survivor who accompanied her delegation when she was on the March 10 years ago.    

In case you missed it, our deepening partnerships with the Edmonton Public Library don’t stop there! The Edmonton Jewish Film Festival is featuring four in-person movies at the Milner branch. The best part is you can still watch the Oilers as these films are happening between playoff games. Monday is Upheaval: The Journey of Menachem Begin, with a Reel Q & A via Zoom to follow, featuring executive producer Rob Schwartz. Closing night on Thursday is Farewell Mister Haffman, a riveting story that takes place in France in World War II. There is a dessert reception to follow. You can view the full schedule for virtual and in-person films on our festival website. Generous sponsors and donors made this event possible.    

Did you know that proceeds from the film festival go to strengthen our Partnerships2Gether region, through a specially chosen project connecting youth in neighboring Arab villages to those in Metullah? By supporting the film festival, you are not only supporting high calibre Jewish cultural events right here in the centre of Edmonton; you are also supporting youth connections in the northern periphery of Israel.    

We are all watching events in Israel with great concern. Almost 1,000 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel since Wednesday. This follows Israel’s targeting of high-ranking Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist leaders and weapons manufacturing facilities. This group is a recognized terror entity in Canada. With a malfunction of the iron dome on Thursday, one rocket hit an apartment in Rehovot, just outside of Tel Aviv. One of 1,000 rockets. As stated in a letter from the leadership of Jewish Federations of Canada - United Israel Appeal: “Now and always, we stand with Israelis and Jews worldwide. We mourn the loss of innocent life, pray for the wounded, and support the right of Israelis to protect their children from terrorism.”   

The stress experienced by children and families in the south reverberates throughout this small country. Mashabim, a mental health community centre that our Canadian Coast to Coast Federations support, has developed a video for children and young adults to allow them to find their own sources of resilience when things get tough as well as extending a variety of programs and resources to all.    

When you have relationships here and abroad, the emotional ties never waver. Connections keep surfacing wherever I look, whether it be through the films we show, the events we hold, or as we witness what unfolds in Israel. Our Federation is here for it all and here for you, as you show the same through your support for what we do. 

For those who have direct connections to family and friends in Israel, I join you in wishing them a quiet Shabbat and safety in the days ahead.  

Shabbat Shalom,