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16000 students on their feet dancing and shouting at WE DAY
photo by Rhonda Spivak

photo by Rhonda Spivak

Dov Corne with members of the band Down with Webster in the press room at the MTS Centre
photo by rhonda Spivak

David the guitarist form Hedley who gave Dov his guitar pick
photo by Rhonda Spivak


by Dov Corne, with Editorial Comment by Rhonda Spivak, November 25, 2011

[Editor’s note: Dov Corne, a grade 7 student at the Gray Academy of Jewish Education was the youngest reporter (hands down) at We Day on Nov 23. That is a result of his own initiative. His mother, the Editor had never heard of such a thing as We Day,  but Dov came home and said he had not been chosen by his school to go (there were only a few students selected by each school) and he had to get there. He asked “Mom can I go as press”—can “you get me a ticket that way ?” He took me to the We Day website,, and began teaching me what it was all about. I can’t thank him enough for having done that—it was one of the most inspiring events I have ever been to---no exaggeration.  I said he could go as press if he agreed to write and the look on his face when he heard we got press passes was something else. To witness my child being inspired at We Day was an experience I will always treasure. We Day is at its very core an expression of the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam.  I will add a few observations to what Dov has written at the end of his report]
By Dov Corne, age 12,
We Day was an event held at the MTS Centre put on by Free The Children for 16000 kids from all over Manitoba.
It was an event where speakers, singers, entertainers, politicians, and activists  shared stories to convince  you to help out  to make the  world better.  It is an event that takes place in only five places in Canada. The five were Vancouver, Waterloo, Toronto, Winnipeg and Montreal.
We Day is about realizing that anyone can make a change no matter how young and how small. We Day is to inspire the kids who one day will make  changes to reduce poverty,  build schools and give clean water to people  in the world who do not have it.  
Like we day on Facebook every like  equals a dollar.[Every time someone  likes  We Day on facebook a dollar will be donated by a sponsor  to Free The Children up to $1 million dollars]
One of the speakers was Spencer West. Spencer West is a man with no legs that said he would climb to the top of Mount Kilamanjaro using his hands only.  He talked about redefining the impossible. Many people would say it is impossible for a man with no legs to walk but it is possible.  If Spencer can climb Mount Everest, we can all do things we think are impossible.
Before Spencer Rick Hansen, who is in a wheel chair, spoke on the stage. As a child his dream was to be an athlete and participate in the Olympics. He talked about how when he became paralyzed from a spinal cord injury he never thought that he would be able to live his dream but he participated in the Paralympics in Holland.
Another speaker was Michel Chikwanine. He held up Posters with words to communicate with the crowd. He struggled through the Great War of Africa. He was forced into being a refugee at the age of 11.They abused him and forced him to shoot his best friend. We must make a change and stop kids from experiencing what he did.
At 12 years old Craig Keilburger founded Free the Children, an organization to raise money for less fortunate people. When he tried to get people to join him to make a change everyone said you are one person what can you do? He told us that even one person can make a change because if one joins him it makes two and the number will keep getting bigger. That was in 1996 and he has made a difference because just last year Free the Children raised millions of dollars to support children without education or clean water etc.
A story I remember was when Al Gore, who was Vice President of the United States of America,  spoke and he said that there was one game when basketball player Michael Jordan scored 67 points in one game. When the reporters interviewed the rookie player in the game he said he will remember this as the game where he and Michael Jordan scored 68 points combined.
We are the generation to make a change. 
The night before We Day I spoke to Bob Silver, Jewish community leader and co- owner of the Winnipeg Free Press and told him that the Winnipeg Jewish Review was going to report about WE DAY and that my son had made sure I got him a press pass so he could go. I was merely following his lead.
Silver  laughed at my son’s ingenuity (if you can’t get in through the front door, try the back door) and told me that it would be one of the most important events I would ever attend and once I saw the power of it, I would understand it.  Silver was speaking with excitement –with more than I have seen him ever before. And his analysis and observations were absolutely correct . Silver,Hartley Richardson and Mark Chipman correctly  understood that the best thing they could for their city’s future was to sponsor We DaY.
For three and a half solid hours, I was in a sea  awash with enthusiastic children with unbridled energy who were on their feet, clapping, dancing, cheering, electrified  by the idea of going out in the world to volunteer to make a positive change in their communities—both local and global.
The power of the WE, the collective working for the greater good, was contagious.  I think it was the equivalent of going to Tahrir Square, with all of the emotion and empowerment to effect social change to repair the world, but it had no violence , no excesses—all of the energy was harnessed towards positive purposes only. We Day is revolutionary  in the fullest sense of the world—it unleashes a social revolution for change, justice, equality.
When you see We Day up close, you can understand how it is that these children leave with the motivation to go out into their communities and volunteer and fundraise for causes to repair the world—The statistic I left with is that the effect of investing 3.5 hours with 16000 children at We Day will result in 1.7 million hours of volunteer work.
Is We Day something a Jewish community newspaper should report on? Yes. Not only because one of the leading three philanthropists who sponsored the event here is a leader of the Jewish community but because We Day is a manifestation of Jewish values at its very core.
There are few values that We Day rests on that accord fully with Jewish values, as I have always understood them, (when I learned them at Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate). In Judaism, Tachlis is important—merely identifying a problem is not enough—it is the action that speaks loudest. We Day imparts that message.  Our Jewish teaching “TO SAVE ONE LIFE IS TO SAVE THE WORLD” is a message of empowerment—that helping one person has a ripple effect that changes the world.  Every soul is worth fighting for.
The Keilburger brothers both spoke about the need to effect sustainable development and change. They said that the ultimate goal is to empower and enable people who need charity to never need it again. That is in essence a Jewish value—In Judaism, the highest level of charity is giving someone who is poor or unemployed, not a handout, but a job---a means of providing for themselves and never needing charity again.

I would suggest that anyone who is working for a non-profit organization in the Jewish community, any educator or Rabbi make a point of going on,, getting to a We Day event, and starting to consider,  adopt and implement the ideas that are put forward. If your organization, synagogue, group etc  lacks volunteers , start  engaging young people the way We Day does—and you will be far ahead of the game.

If you want young people to come through your doors you have to give them performers, social activists and entertainers  they want to hear, and mix it together in with role models for Tikkun Olam, and get them up on their feet. Once you conduct your programming in a way that is geared to empowering the next generation, you will know how to thrive.

After seeing We Day, for example, I began to think of the Rady J.C.C.’s Tarbut festival of Jewish culture that I had just attended a week ago. It had lots of great events, but none were specifically geared to teens  and/or children. Tarbut done We Day style would bring in Jewish entertainers, movies, activists, authors, role models with Tikkun Olam messages geared towards 12—20 year olds, rather than geared towards a much older audience . In the same way my son wanted me to get him to We Day, he would be clamouring for me to get  him to the equivalent of We Tarbut Day. [That's not to say that the Rady JCC doesn't have grerat programs for kids because it does, but  We Day is a model that could inspire new and different  initiatives to get  young peopple further engaged in the Jewish community).

At  the We Day event at the  MTS Centre one of our Jewish community’s own talented  musicians Ariel Posen was playing guitar on stage with singer Sierra Noble. If our Jewish community had an equivalent of  We Day,  Ariel Posen could be leading a session of guitar playing and jamming, that my son who is learning  guitar would want to attend and Posen could be teaching Hebrew/Jewish songs. The parents and grandparents would attend because they’d want to share in the experience of seeing their child enjoy the events, and /or perform in them.  Kids in the  Jewish community who have taken on charitable projects could speak to  other kids about them. And a Jewish Community type We Day could end with a Tikkun Olam activity that the kids could engage in—and one volunteer hour would turn into another and into another etc.

It any event, if you want to explore  more about the ideas about the type of programming We Day could inspire within our Jewish community, don’t ask me—ask Dov or Bob Silver.
p.s. I very much enjoyed Al Gore.  He wasn’t a dull speaker at all, as has sometimes been said of him.  And I got a kick out of him mentioning that Winnipeg will have the largest Human Rights Museum in the world. I have no doubt that Gail Asper and Moe Levy who were seated nearby listening to him also got a kick out of him saying that. I will upload a couple photos of  Gore when I get a chance.
p.s.s  Since Dov was in the press room he got to hear the interviews that television and radio journalists had with the members of the band Hedley and Down with Webster (These names may mean nothing to us adults but kids go wild over them). Dov was able to get autographs from the members of Down with Webster and  David the guitarist form Hedley. And David even passed on the We Day magic !. After giving Dov his autograph, the guitarist was being rushed out of the room by his handlers. But he turned around, came back, smiled and leaned over to give Dov a Hedley guitar pick from his pocket. That gesture will no doubt generate countless volunteer hours from my son.
p.s.s. message to parents—if your child would like to attend an event in the city and write about it for the Winnipeg Jewish Review, contact [email protected]
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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