Syrian Refugee Family Sponsorship Update

February 19, 2016

We are awaiting
more information about the small family with whom we have been matched. The
last of our paperwork has been signed and submitted. The next step is for the
family to undergo security and medical screening. When that is complete, we
hope to hear more about their potential arrival date in Victoria.

If anything is
amiss with the family’s paperwork or a serious medical condition is discovered,
they could be delayed, or their application denied. If that happens, we will
work with the ICA, who will help to match us with another (likely larger)
family to sponsor.

In the meantime,
fundraising will continue into March to help us reach our goal.

Last Sunday –
Valentine’s Day – the Victoria Society for Humanistic Judaism held a wonderful
event to help raise funds for our Syrian Refugee Family Sponsorship Project. In
addition to watching a delightful film, A Tickle in the Heart at the JCC,
those attending had an opportunity to participate in a chocolate-themed raffle.
The event raised over $1500 – a very impressive outcome. Thanks to Sharon
, Mona Acker (a member of our sponsorship group), and others from the
Society who worked hard in support of this project.

Please join us
for a lively fundraiser this Sunday, February 21st, 2:00 pm at the
synagogue. Four members of our congregation – all published poets – will read
original poetry. They will be joined by The Klez, who will play music
reflecting the essence of the poetry. Admission is by donation. Light
refreshments will be served.

Editor’s note: Photo is from an online source and not of the family in question

Oliver Swain musical benefit for Syrian refugees

Sunday, March 20, 3:00–4:30pm, at Congregation Emanu-El. 


At the instigation of local dialogue group If Not Now—When?, acclaimed folk musician Oliver Swain will perform on Sunday, March 20 in a
special benefit for Syrian refugee resettlement in Victoria. 

Everyone welcome to this righteous musical charity event! 

(Can’t come? Donations gratefully accepted!)

Syrian Refugee Family Sponsorship Update

Jean Dragushan reports: 

Congregation Emanu-El is pleased to report that its sponsorship
of a Syrian refugee family is progressing nicely: we have been matched with a small family, consisting of a father (37), mother
(30) and young boy (3). They are in Turkey at the moment. Preliminary information
is that the father has done work in electronics repair, and speaks a little

The father’s sister lives in Victoria, having come here in 2013. Her
presence will help them adjust to life in Victoria. If all goes well, they
could arrive here in the next 3-6 months.

There is much to do before we can be assured this sponsorship will
materialize. The Intercultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA) will work
with us and the family member to get the application package ready for
submission to the Canadian Centralized Processing Office for refugee
applications in Winnipeg. And the family will go through an extensive
application approval process. If anything is amiss with their paperwork or a
serious medical condition is discovered, they could be delayed, or their
application could be denied. If that happens, we will work with the ICA, who
will help to match us with another (likely larger) family to sponsor.

We will conclude our fundraising in the next few weeks with events that
will benefit both the synagogue and our Sponsorship Project.

Sing Along “Fiddler on the Roof”

Sunday March 6, 2016 at 2:30 pm


Congregation Emanu-El’s own theatre company, Bema Productions, will present a Sing-Along Fiddler on the
 as a fundraiser for Congregation Emanu-El and for its Syrian Refugee
Family Sponsorship project. Instead of using the movie, Bema will have 18 very talented
actors doing a staged reading, a live orchestra of wonderful musicians and a
great chorus to help you belt out the much loved songs. This promises to be a
very special, fun-filled Sunday afternoon in aid of a family that will be “far
from the home they love”. Our own singularly talented Zelda Dean will direct
the performance, which will be held in the Sanctuary.  

Tickets ($22 adults/$15 students) can now be
purchased on-line from Ticket Rocket.  Join us for a pesto and wine tasting
following the show.  Tickets are $10 at
the door.

“Song of Poets”

Sunday, February 21, 2016, 2pm


A lively and thought provoking fundraiser for Congregation Emanu-El and for its Syrian Refugee Family Sponsorship Project on Sunday, February 21 at 2:00 pm (Doors open at 1:30 pm.) Admission is by donation. Light refreshments will be served.

The program will feature original poetry by Judith Castle, Dvora Levin, Isa Milman and Barbara Pelman who are published poets, and music by The Klez, reflecting the essence of the poetry. 

For more information, see our website, tel.  250-382-0615 or by email

Family Faith Fair


Sunday, February 7th,1:30–4:30 pm

A fundraiser for Syrian Refugees
The Victoria Multifaith Society is hosting a Family Faith Fair, in honour of World Interfaith Harmony Week

The Fair will take place at the Cadboro Bay United Church, 2625 Arbutus Road, Sunday, February 7th,1:30–4:30 pm, on the theme of the Spiritual Education of Children. Included will be a fundraising effort for the Syrian refugee program.

The event will feature exhibits by a wide variety of world faiths, multicultural dance performances, a keynote speaker, a World Café, prize draws for the scavenger hunt and fundraiser, and storytelling on universal virtues through stories from different faith traditions.
It will fall on the weekend of B.C. Family Day, and will be a great way for all ages to celebrate. There is no charge. Donations to the refugee program by cash or cheque will provide automatic entry in the Prize Draw.  For further information, please email victoriamultifaith at

2015 Donation Deadline

Do a mitzvah, give tzdakah and lower your
income taxes with a charitable tax receipt by contributing to the Synagogue before December 31st.

We offer you two
gratifying options:

  1. Sponsoring a Refugee Family: As private sponsors, we must be able to provide for the needs of a refugee family during their first year in Canada.  To date, nearly $35,000 toward our $50,000 fundraising goal has been raised.
  2. General Shul Fund – Membership dues only provide for about 60% of our
    annual Synagogue budget.  Your generous donations allow us to pay salaries,
    educate our children, heat and illuminate our building, and sustain the vibrant
    educational and cultural activities which enable us to thrive. 

Please consider
making a financial contribution to our sponsorship of a refugee family, or for
sustaining our Synagogue.  Tax receipts will be issued in February 2016 for
donations received before the end of December, 2015.  And if you have
already made donations, please accept our thanks again. 

At this time,
there are two ways to donate:

  • By cheque:  Payable to Congregation
    .  Please note on memo line:  Family Refugee Sponsorship or
    General Shul Fund. To qualify for 2015 donation receipt, your donation gift
    must be postmarked on or before December 31, 2015.  Mailing address: 1461 Blanshard Street, Victoria, BC  V8W 2J3.
  • By credit card:  The office will be closed until January 5th,
    2016.  To donate by credit card before
    the end of 2015, please call Jean Dragushan at 250-592-9474.

After January 5th, please call the synagogue office with
credit card information during normal office hours (9:30 am -2:30 pm, Tuesday
to Thursday) at 250-382-0615.

All donations in
the name of a friend or family member, will receive a beautiful card letting
them know of your generous gift.

Todah Rabah,

Aharon Ittah, President, Congregation Emanu-El
Samuel Godfrey, Chair, Fiscal Programming and Fundraising
Rabbi Harry Brechner

Syrian Refugee Family Sponsorship Project


A small committee, drawn from people within and outside of
Emanu-El, is working on this project. As part of our fundraising efforts, the
members emailed our contacts and friends to ask if they would help Congregation
Emanu-El reach its fundraising target. 

One of our committee members received
this response. It touched all of us:


is very wonderful news and I would love to be a part of this. I will call to
make a donation. I have my son with me in the office today and he asked if he could
donate his allowance money. He gets very upset thinking about people not having
a house/home to live in. This sad story reminds us how blessed we are to live
where we do. Thank you for the opportunity to share this gesture of kindness
with my son.”

people have responded to our request for financial support, and we are most
grateful. We will continue fundraising efforts into 2016.

Please consider
what you can do to support our response to the refugee crisis.  At present, our primary focus is on fund
raising to meet the $50,000 target.  Once
we know the make-up of the family—i.e., the number and ages of children, skills of parent(s) etc.—we will begin to solicit specific kinds
of assistance.

We have set up
a separate fund for this project.  Tax
receipts will be issued in early 2016 for donations received before the end of

Jean Dragushan

You can also listen to Jean’s interview about this project on CBC’s On the Island, and read the Times Colonist article about it published on December 16th

“Echo of Jerusalem” Concert with Serguei Popov

Donations go, in part, to Congregation Emanu-El’s Refugee Sponsorship Project

Tuesday, December 29, 7:00pm, at the synagogue


Serguei Popov, a highly gifted violinist, and his
ballerina wife Helena, will be holding a powerful concert at Congregation Emanu-El. It promises to be a warm and entertaining way
to relax on a cold December evening.  

Serguei was born in the former
Soviet Republic of Georgia, and now lives with his wife, Helena, in Finland. He graduated with a Master’s degree from the Music Academy of Kishinev
in Moldova. As a professional violinist, he has performed internationally with
both the Moldova State Philharmonic and the Moldova National Orchestra. He has also played in all
the famous concert halls of Europe. In December
2003, Serguei was awarded a bronze medal in Finland for his contribution to the
art. He is a member of the composers’ union Teosto and the union of
recording musicians Gramex in Finland.

is presently the concertmaster for the orchestra that performs for the
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ). Since last August, he has
been the head Aliyah representative of the ICEJ in Eastern Europe and Turkey. Serguei is filled with a deep love and respect for Israel and the Jewish
people. When not on concert tours, he often visits former Soviet republics in
Eastern Europe and Asia to encourage Jewish people to move to Israel. Being in regular contact with
Israeli authorities and Israeli embassies and working with the JAFI, the Jewish
Agency for Israel, he has helped thousands of Jews to return to Israel in the
past decade. 

The evening will include a variety of pieces drawn from classical and folk
music from Russia, Israel and many different countries, including works such as
Long Way Home, As the Violin Weeps, Sisu et Yerushalaim, Jewish
and Schindler’s List.

will be no admission charge for the concert. Donations that evening are for the
purpose of helping Serguei to continue his Aliyah projects in Europe and
Turkey, and he has kindly offered to contribute towards supporting Congregation
Emanu-El’s Refugee Sponsorship Project.  Light
refreshments will be served.

can find out more about Serguei and order his CDs on his website,


Festival of Light Hanukkah Concert & Sing-along

Wed. December 9, 2015, 7pm, at Congregation Emanu-El 1461 Blanshard St.

With the Victoria Jewish Community Choir & The Klez 6-piece klezmer band

Fundraising towards sponsorship of a Syrian refugee family

  • All welcome 
  • by donation
  • Menorah lighting, stories & songs 
  • light refreshments
  • For more info, email or tel. (250) 385-3378

The Jewish Community Choir appreciates the support of the Jewish Federation of Victoria & Vancouver Island