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Photo by Rhonda Spivak

Photo by Rhonda Spivak

Photo by Rhonda Spivak


by Rhonda Spivak, . May 5, 2011

The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg and Shaarey Zedek Synagogue hosted a very impressive Japan benefit concert attended by a very diverse multi-faith crowd of over 800 people on March 29, 2011.

In keeping with the Jewish principle of tikkun olam (repairing the world), the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg  opened an emergency Japan Relief Fund to provide aid and support to the victims of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011.

The benefit, with Jim Ingebrigsten as the Master of Ceremonies, featured many exciting performances from a wide variety of local talent that kept the crowd engaged throughout. Both  Chazan Anibal Mass of Shaarey Zedek, who co-ordinated the evening and Kayla Gordon, who directed it deserve a big yasher koach for getting the event off the ground and executed in a flawless manner. The sheer number of acts and level of talent on display was suburb.

Ben Cohen, President for the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that he was very pleased with the attendance and  couldn’t have expected a more successful event.

“It’s good to see so many people of different cultures coming together for a good cause. Even though Japan is a more developed country compared to other countries facing natural disasters such as Haiti, but they still need our help.”

Madeline Kowall, of the Jewish Federation said that $12,000 was raised on the day of the benefit concert and in total over $18,000 had been raised over three weeks ago. One hundred percent of the  money is being channeled through  the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) - the world’s leading non-sectarian Jewish humanitarian assistance organization.

The Fabuki Daiko Japanese Drum Group, kicked off the evening with a terrific performance—(the drums quite possibly could have been heard in Japan! The group’s high-powered style of drumming is part martial arts, part meditation and all rhythm.)

Rabbi Green delivered a beautiful prayer asking the “God of Mankind" to aid the survivors of the Tsunami and prayed “for the radioactivity to subside.”

A surprise of the evening for this reporter was learning that Ken Ziafman , a member of our Jewish community is in fact the Consul of Japan in Manitoba.

During the evening, Cantor Mass accompanied by the Shaarey Zedek Choir, Cantor Tracy Kasner-Greaves, Debbie Maslovsky, Richard Yaffe, and the Junior Chazzanim group—all gave steller performances.

The cast of the Winnipeg Studio Theatre’s Junior Company in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" gave a great performance, a real treat for someone like me who had not seen the theatre show originally. (Elliot Lazar gave a few knock out dancing kicks that were first rate.)
Andrea Macaset’s “The Girl in  Apartment 14G-3” was a definite crowd favourite as was Aaron Hutton’s Italian “O Sole Mio” which left the audience breathless-- (Hutton was this year’s Rose Bowl Winner.)

Brenna Sutherland and Shayna Paulachelli sang a delicate song “The Prayer”, also very fitting for the evening.

Stephanie Sy, “the receptionist” and Jeremy Walonsky, "the temp” performed a very comical number where two office employees who are attracted to each other sing about how they would like “to fax each other” all night.

The acappella  group “Those Guys” sang upbeat arrangements with lively vocal percussion and entrancing harmonies  rounded out the evening by performing near the beginning and at the very end of the evening.


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.