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Artwork designed by Maxim Berent

all photos by Rhonda Prepes

Dganit Daddo



by Rhonda J. Prepes, P. Eng, May 15, 2011

[ Editor's note: I wasn't able to attend the Yom Ha'atzmaut celebrations in 2010, so 2011's festivities at the Asper Campus wowed me. The celebration was vastly improved from what I remember occurred in 2009, where crowds were dwindling and the  programming was not nearly as varied. Kudos to the Rady JCC and Jewish Federation of Winnipeg for leading a  really terrific celebration--it was packed, lively, energetic, attracted all segments of the community - in short  a 10/10. The idea of getting many organizations to pitch in to help share the costs, be involved, and  promote  the event is a winning combination. What follows is Rhonda Prepes's review of the event. ]

As a deeply Zionist community, Israel is a connector for Winnipeg Jews – Canadians, Israelis, Russian, Argentineans, and South Africans. The centrality of Israel to our identity attracted an estimated crowd of  close to 2000  people to this year’s Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israel at 63 celebration. The focus was on bringing the community together by offering authentic Israeli food and music, and something for every age group to do.

The gym was bustling with a variety of craft activities for children including: making tiles, Israeli flags, Israeli sand, magnets, book marks, and candle holders. There were also wall climbing, music, fishing, and relay races. The best sellers were the glitter tattoos, face painting and getting your name airbrushed on a hat.

Schmoozer’s operated as an Israeli café featuring Israeli food like falafel, potato borekas, baba ganoush, tabouli, baklava and more. It was reminiscent of the Israel Pavilion at Folklorama, but with a shorter line. Dubi Shlenger, Machon Madrichim Director and chef was seen appropriately preparing the food in the café while Bob Freedman, Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg was cleaning tables.[Editor's note:I really liked the centrepieces with oranges and Israeli flags on the table A very nice touch].  

Maxim Berent, a student of architecture was in charge of the decorations.  His creative ideas created a wonderful atmosphere in the building. He designed and produced the center pieces that were used on the tables at the Israeli Café.  One of his best creations is the “ISRAEL” three dimensional sign that he designed and built in huge white letters that sat beside the stage in the gym.

Children and families enjoyed swimming in the Rady JCC pool which acted as Tel Aviv beach and everyone could find something at the Shuk (market) which sold jewelry, paintings, artwork, kippahs, purses, tallits, and Hebrew DVD’s. Colourful Middle Eastern dresses were on display.

Kinsey Posen was emcee for the entertainment portion of the evening which featured singers from Brock Corydon School, the Gray Academy, and the Yona choir. The highlight of the evening was Israeli singer Dganit Daddo accompanied by Youval Kaydor and Jeff Gordon. The Israeli entertainers were fantastic. They sang recognizable Israeli songs and their energetic performance had many in the crowd --adults and children- singing along and dancing horah's. 

Following the entertainment, the crowd was treated to a 10 minute fireworks show that was enjoyed by all. There is no better way to cap off a celebration than with fireworks.
Jeff Leiberman, Chair of the Yom Ha’aztmaut Celebration told the Winnipeg Jewish Review, “The planning part for this year’s event was not difficult as we had laid the foundation for a successful event last year and we built on it this year. We assembled a fantastic volunteer committee that represented many of the Jewish organizations in Winnipeg. The programming departments of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg and the Rady JCC played key roles in organizing the various activities.” 

“The Yom Ha’aztmaut celebration is expensive to put on and many of the individuals, companies and organizations also supported the event with much needed sponsorships,” he added, noting that they had even more sponsorships than last year.

“It really was fantastic to see so many Winnipeggers celebrating Yom Ha’aztmaut.  People of all ages were there.  Walking around the Asper Campus you could hear English, Hebrew, Spanish and Russian spoken.  Everyone seemed to have so much fun,” he concluded.

The Rady JCC’s Program Director Tamar Barr was the coordinator of the Yom Ha'atzmaut celebrations on behalf of the Rady JCC. Barr did a fantastic job of making sure that every detail of the event was taken care of. Her role was to work with a volunteer and staff committee in developing and implementing the event.  There was a community-wide effort with representatives and support from many individuals, organizations, synagogues and schools. There were over 200 volunteers who did everything from decorate the building to cook and prepare the food, clean tables, set up chairs and much more.

“We were more prepared going in this year than last year. There was a lot to do, but there was a great team getting everything done,” she said.

With the objective to “Connect more Jews with more of Jewish Life”, the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg is striving to provide an opportunity for every Jew in Winnipeg to strengthen their Jewish identity. The goal is to increase the participation rate of the Jewish community in Jewish life. The means to achieving this goal is to create innovative, creative, programs through the collaboration of existing organizations and institutions.

The JFW is well on its way to doing that with this successful event.

This event was sponsored by The  Rady Jewish Community Centre Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, , The Asper Foundation, The Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, The State of Israel Bonds, The Jewish National Fund, B’nai Brith Canada,  Congregation Etz Chayim, Congregation Shaarey Zedek, Asper Jewish Community Campus, Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre, Canadian Technion Society, Machon Madrichim, Board of Jewish Education,  National Council of Jewish Women, Hillel Winnipeg, BBYO, Aleph Bet Child Life Enrichment program, Temple Shalom, Schmoozer’s Café, The Gray Academy, Camp Massad, Jewish Child and Family Services, Herzlia Synagogue, J-Peg,  Brock Corydon School, Margaret Park School, B’nai Brith Camp, Jewish Heritage Centre,  Kaufman Childcare Centre, GSCLC,  in addition to corporate and private sponsors.

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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.