Summer Internship Opportunity

Donor Stewardship Program Assistant

The Louis Brier Jewish Aged Foundation seeks a part time intern (35 hours per week) to assist in the development of a program that will help maintain and build relationships with our donor base.  
Candidates must be between 15 to 30 years of age and registered as a full-time student in the previous academic year and returning to school full-time in September.
Responsibilities include: 

  • Learning skills related to fundraising 
  • Assisting in related office functions 
  • Updating the cataloguing of art pieces 
  • Projects to help the Director of Development and Assistant Director of Development

The ideal candidate will possess:  

  • an understanding and interest in community development 
  • strong writing and communication skills 
  • knowledge of MS Word, MS Excel 
  • ability to balance multiple tasks

To apply, please e-mail or fax your cover letter and resumé to the attention of Dvori Balshine by June 6th, 2014.
1055 West 41st Avenue
Vancouver, BC V6M 1W9
604 261-5550 * Fax: 604 261-5565

Reflections on my recent trip to Israel

I came of age in the United Sates during the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement. The leaders I admire from that era are people like Martin Luther King and Harvey Milk. My involvement in the anti-war movement and support for the civil rights struggle contributed to forming my core values. 

In many ways my conversion to Judaism is an imponderable. I cannot articulate very coherent reasons for taking that step in my fifties, but I can identify certain things that attracted me to Jewish culture. In every liberal cause I was ever involved in, Jews were disproportionally represented. True, they were secular, not religious, Jews, but I believe their consistently siding with the oppressed against the powerful has something to do with the foundation story of the Jewish people. The Exodus from Egypt is a story of triumph over oppression. Maybe as a minority almost everywhere, Jews have a vested interest in liberal policies. The Holocaust, a tragedy of unspeakable evil, sometimes threatens to replace the Exodus as our foundation story, but it too is ultimately a story of triumph over oppression, and the modern state of Israel stands as a monument to that triumph.

But the modern state of Israel is just that—a modern political state. As a Jew, of course, I can identify with Israel as a Jewish state, but unless I check my core values at the airport, once in Israel, I confront realities that run counter to those core values.  What do I do with Israel’s nearly fifty-year-old occupation of the West Bank? What should my attitude be toward relentlessly expanding settlements in the West Bank and the resulting expropriation of Palestinian land? What responsibility do I have as a Jew for the fanatical Jewish settlers who attack mosques and churches and uproot Palestinian olive trees?

I was fortunate to travel to Israel with my friend Francis Landy, a religious studies professor and a Jew with deep Zionist roots and many friends and family in Israel. Within days of landing in Israel, Francis and I were in a car with activists from Ta’ayush headed for the south Hebron hills in the West Bank. The Israeli human rights organization Ta’ayush monitors the settlements in the West Bank by sending activists to stand with Palestinian shepherds and farmers in their confrontations with the settlers and the IDF. We spent the day with an extended Palestinian family whose land had been expropriated by settlers.


The disputed ownership is in the courts, and the family shows up once a week to assert their claim to the land. About twenty IDF soldiers and border police were there to make sure no one ventured on to the plot. The settlers didn’t show up, but they had in previous weeks with violent consequences.


In the two weeks we were in Israel, I met friends of Francis who are involved in such organizations as Ta’ayush, Rabbis for Human Rights, and Yesh Gvul, which urges soldiers not to serve in the occupied territories. Many of them are religious. They have been in Israel long enough to have experienced both intifadas and the terror of suicide bombings. Yet they have not become bitter or hateful (as I fear I might have in such circumstances) but have remained faithful to their core values. I greatly admire their moral courage.

Israel is an incredible achievement—a modern, vibrant culture and an economy that is among the most innovative in the world. No Jew could possibly go there without feeling proud. Among the sources of pride for me are the fellow Jews who stand with the oppressed against the powerful as Jews have always done.

– Alan Rutkowski

The Software Engineer

A software engineer was sailing on cruise liner on his way to a new contract overseas. A hurricane came unexpectedly and the ship went down and was lost. This man found himself swept up on the shore of an island with no other people, no supplies, nothing. Only bananas and coconuts.

Used to luxury hotels, this guy had no idea what to do, so for the next four months he ate bananas, drank coconut juice and longed for his old life and fixed his gaze on the sea, hoping to spot a rescue ship.
One day, as he was lying on the beach, he spotted movement out of. The corner of his eye. It was a rowboat, and in it was the most gorgeous woman he had ever seen. She rowed up to him. In disbelief, he asked her:

“Where did you come from? How did you get here?”
“I rowed from the other side of the island,” she said,“I landed here when my ship sank.”

“Amazing,” he said. “I didn’t know anyone else had survived. How many are there? You were lucky to have a rowboat wash up with you.”

“It’s only me,” she said, “and the rowboat didn’t wash up; nothing did.”

He was confused. “Then how did you get the rowboat?”

“Oh, simple,” replied the woman. “I made the rowboat out of materials that I found on the island. The oars were whittled from Gum tree branches. I wove the bottom from palm branches and the sides and stern came from a Eucalyptus tree.”

“B-B-But that’s impossible,” stuttered the man. “You had no tools or hardware. How did you manage?”

“Oh, that was no problem,” replied the woman. “On the other side of the island there is a very unusual stratum of alluvial rock exposed. I found that if I fired it to a certain temperature in my kiln, it melted into forgeable ductile iron. I used that for tools, and used the tools to make the hardware.

But enough of that,” she said. “Where do you live?” Sheepishly, he confessed that he had been sleeping on the beach the whole time.

“Well, let’s row over to my place, then,” she said.

After a few minutes of rowing she docked the boat at a small wharf. As the man looked to the shore he nearly fell out of the boat. Before him was a stone walk leading to an exquisite bungalow painted in blue and white.

While the woman tied up the rowboat with an expertly woven hemp rope, the man could only stare ahead, dumbstruck. As they walked into the house, she said casually, “It’s not much, but I call it home. Sit down, please; would you like a drink?”

“No, no thank you,” he said, still dazed. “I can’t take any more coconut juice.”

“It’s not coconut juice,” the woman replied. “I have a still. How about a Pina Colada?” Trying to hide his amazement, the man accepted, and they sat down on her couch to talk.

After they had exchanged their stories, the woman announced, “I’m going to slip into something comfortable. Would you like to take a shower and shave? There is a razor upstairs in the cabinet in the bathroom.”

No longer questioning anything, the man went into the bathroom. There in the cabinet was a razor made from a bone handle. Two shells honed to a hollow ground edge were fastened onto it’s end inside a swivel mechanism.
“This woman is amazing,” he mused. “What next?”

When he returned, she greeted him wearing nothing but vines – strategically positioned – and smelling faintly of gardenias. She beckoned for him to sit down next to her.

“Tell me,” she began, suggestively, slithering closer to him, “we’ve been out here for a very long time. You’ve been lonely. There’s something I’m sure you really feel like doing right now, something you’ve been longing for all these months. You know…” She stared into his eyes.

He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“You mean–?” he replied,“I can check my email from here????”

Jewish History Comes to Life every Thursday this Summer!

Congregation Emanu-el—Canada’s oldest surviving synagogue—opens its doors for public tours again this summer.  Most Synagogue Tours will be led by Canada’s first ordained maggidah (female Jewish Storyteller and Educator), Shoshana Litman.

Enjoy an easy 90-minute Walking Tour in the footsteps of the Jewish pioneers who were so instrumental in shaping the history of Victoria. Walking tours will be led by accomplished musician and tour guide, Gary Cohen.

When: Every Thursday June 12–August 28, 2014
Synagogue Tour begins at 1 pm; Walking Tour begins at 2 pm


Synagogue Tours:                  

  • Adults: $10.00
  • Children under 12: free

Walking Tours:

  • Adults: $15.00 (cash only)
  • Seniors/Students: $13.00 (cash only)

$2 discount for anyone taking both tours

Synagogue Tours explore our synagogue’s unique history, architecture and restoration as well as Jewish customs, history, sacred texts and stories.

Walking Tours begin outside the synagogue on Pandora and Blanshard, slowly winding through downtown and ending at Government and Yates, rain or shine.  

To book a Synagogue Tour at another time or for more information contact Shoshana:


To book a Walking Tour at a different time contact Discover the Past:


Karate Dog

There once was a young couple who lived in a crime-ridden town. After three neighbours’ houses had been robbed, the couple decided to get a guard dog.
So one day the wife went to the pet store and said, “I need a good guard dog.”
And the salesman replied, “Sorry, ma’am—we’re all sold out. All we have left is this little Scottie dog. But he knows karate.”
The wife didn’t believe him, so he said to the dog, “Karate that chair.”
The dog went up to the chair and broke it into pieces.
Then he said to the dog, “Karate that table.”
The dog went up to the table and broke it in half.
So the wife bought the dog and took it home to her husband who was expecting a big guard dog. When she told her husband that it knew karate, he said, ”Karate my ass!”


Yup—there, too

The first manned mission from Earth lands on Mars, and the astronauts are getting ready to go out when they look out the window and see something really weird. 

Radioing Earth, they yell: 
“Houston, we’ve got a problem." 
"This is Houston. Please tell us you’re OK. Tom Hanks is too old to do the sequel.”
“No, no, it’s nothing like that. There’s a bunch of fully-bearded green Martians walking around outside, wearing long black clothes, sidecurls and hats." 
"That’s a relief. Well, go out there and make contact — find more about them”, came the reply. 
So they did, and as they approached the group. one of the astronauts asked: 
“Do you all dress like that?" 
"No, not at all,” reply the Martians. "Only the Orthodox ones…“