Besides going to the Heritage Festival to schmooze, Shane Asbell rejoices in his time volunteering at the Israel Pavilion, educating festival goers on the wonders of Israel. Having experienced Israel firsthand multiple times, Shane feels strongly about ensuring that individuals are aware of the unique beauty, innovation, and advances of the country. “I like to go to the tent and schmooze with people, and tell them how great Israel is,” says Shane.
Shane has been involved with the Jewish Federation of Edmonton since the late 1990s. As a member of the Young Adults Division of the Federation, he began volunteering at the Heritage Festival along with many other members of the committee. Now, as he continues to volunteer, his wife, Rebecca, volunteers alongside him and his kids are part of the Israel Pavilion as performers. The opportunity to reconnect and catch up with other members of the Jewish community while advocating for Israel is what makes the Heritage Festival so special—and Ed Yedgarova and Susan Muradov’s food is always a plus.
But the true importance of the Israel pavilion, emphasizes Shane, is the outreach that is made possible by the volunteers at the pavilion who engage with festival goers about supporting the state of Israel. Shane explains volunteering at the pavilion is another way of expressing one’s Jewish pride in a public setting.
He expands the significance of the pavilion by mentioning that tens of thousands of people come over to check out the festival, Jews and gentiles alike. It's always wonderful to receive supportive comments about Jewish people in Israel.
At the end of it all, the Heritage Festival is about unity. “It’s nice to just be together under the banner of the Israel pavilion,” says Shane. If you have never been to Israel, volunteering at the pavilion offers a glimpse of the beautiful country, an opportunity for community engagement, and socializing. You can show your support for a country that is a very important part of the Jewish faith and culture.