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Maxim Berent

Israel Pavilion at World Expo 2010 Shanghai


By Rhonda Spivak

Twenty year old student Maxim Berent, an architecture student at the University of Manitoba will be travelling to China this week to see the Israeli pavilion at Expo 2010 in Shang Hai.

Berent is the chairperson of the Cultural Committee for the Israeli Pavilion at Folklorama in Winnipeg, which is one of the largest and longest-running multicultural events of its kind in the world. Folklorama, which takes place annually for two weeks in August, features over 40 cultural pavilions and the Jewish community has traditionally hosted the Shalom Square Pavilion at the Asper Campus, featuring entertainment, displays, and the food of Israel.

“The big reason why I am going to China for two and a half weeks is because Expo 2010 [which runs from May to October 31] is the largest in the event’s history since Expo began in 1852. But the most important thing is that for the first time ever Israel will be putting on an Israel pavilion at Expo, designed to showcase its accomplishments in science, technology, medicine, architecture and so on.”

Berent added, “ Israel has just invested $6 million dollars to build its temporary pavilion [and the overall cost of its participation in Expo 2010 is $40 million]. The pavilion will be able to host up to 3.5 million people. I will return to Winnipeg full of ideas on how to make our Israel Pavilion in the city better than ever. Our Israel pavilion, which is already the largest Pavilion of Folklorama, will be phenomenal.”

Berent, whose trip to Expo is being supported by private donors in the Jewish community, was born in the Ukraine, raised in Israel, and moved to Canada five years ago. He has just been elected the new President for JSA/Hillel on U of M. He also has o been actively involved in putting on the expanded very successful community wide Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration last month.

When asked by the Winnipeg Jewish Review how he learned of this event, Berent responded, “Since I am involved in planning the Israel Pavilion for Folklorama,  I am always trying to educate myself about opportunities to learn how to show case Israel. I think it is important that people hear not only about the conflict but about all of the amazing developments that are taking place in Israel that can improve people’s lives.  I came across the  plans for the Expo and saw that Israel was participating for the first time and thought that I could benefit from this experience.”

Berent also says that the ideas he is exposed to at Expo 2010 may also help him plan for Israel Days on Campus, a program JSA/Hillel puts on every year.

“All of this is about letting people know that there is much more to Israel beyond the  conflict.  There is a lot about Israel’s advancements that people do not know about,” he said.

The theme of Expo 2010 is “Innovation for Better Life” and Berent says that as a student of architecture he is also interested in seeing the design of the Israel Pavilion by leading Tel-Aviv architecht Haim Dotan, whose mother was born in Shang-Hai.

The design of  Israel’s pavilion  looks like two clasped hands. The 2,000-square meter pavilion could also represent the dialogue between humanity and nature, the earth and the sky, as well as the past and the future.

“When I am in China I will also spend shabbas with the Chabad in Shang Hai. I will be staying very near where the Expo grounds are, so that I will be able to get the most out of the event,” Berent said.

Berent, who says he enjoys photography, will be looking forward to soaking up all of the innovative ideas he sees in China.  “I hopefully will be able to transport some great ideas back to Winnipeg which will benefit the Jewish community in all sorts of ways.”

Israel’s presence at the EXPO  will likely lead to improved business relations between the it and China. Recently, Zhejiang Sanhua signed an agreement to invest $10.5 million in solar thermal systems developer HelioFocus, marking the first direct investment by a Chinese company in an Israeli firm.

Versions of this article will also be published in the Canadian Jewish News and the Vancouver Jewish Independent.

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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.