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Beth Goldberg

photo Beth Goldberg with March of the Living students

Beth Goldberg's Remarks at the Kickoff Event of the CGA Campaign on September 5, 2012 [With Dr. Jonathon Fine]

by BETH GOLDBERG, posted September 23, 2012


Thank you so much Gail [Asper]. I am delighted to join Gail in welcoming you as we kick off what we all hope will be a very successful campaign. I am going to take this opportunity not to repeat what Gail has already mentioned, but to share an experience that might help illustrate just one of the many amazing things that the dollars we raise help accomplish in our community.

In addition to my involvement with Federation, I am very fortunate to chair the Winnipeg parent committee of the March of the Living. The March of the Living is an international program aimed at bringing Jewish youth from around the globe together, not only with each other, but also with survivors of the Holocaust, whose numbers are rapidly dwindling, and with Israeli youth. The program, in which Winnipeg participates every other year, includes a three month educational component, followed by a week in Poland touring concentration and extermination camps and other sites of great importance to the Jewish community. This is followed by a week in Israel, celebrating all that the Jewish state has to offer. Yom Haatzmaut is celebrated in Israel, with all 10, 0000 people affiliated with the March, at a party like none other.

Those fortunate enough to participate in this program return home with a very strong sense of community, pride of history, and solidarity with Jewry from around the world and throughout history. Nothing one can learn in a textbook can possibly compare to the experience of joining one of the surviving Boys from the Buchenwald Concentration camp as he visited his home town outside Warsaw for the first time since he left during the war. Not only was our contingent of 120 strong Jewish souls honored to have this opportunity this past April, but we also had the privilege of joining Robbie Waisman in saying kaddish for those who perished on the very site where the community's synagogue once stood. It is something few of us will ever forget.

Needless to say, the cost of this program is significant, and many in our community would not be able to participate without the assistance of federation dollars. By way of information, Winnipeg's contingent this year was made up of 46 grade 10, 11 and 12 students from numerous schools and backgrounds, which is the largest Canadian contingent outside of Montreal and Toronto. Not only is each participant offered a subvention off the top, but those with additional needs are invited to apply for further subsidies. While is difficult to assign a dollar value to the benefits gained by the kids we take, as their sense of Jewish identity and commitment is strengthened immeasurably, I am certain that you can appreciate that the significant cost in dollars to the community as well.

I have had the privilege of accompanying two Marches, in the company of some amazing youth from our city. While I would say without hesitation that all Marchers are unique , this past trip we were able to take two students from our community who, for a variety of reasons, are in Foster care, but who are not in Jewish Foster homes. While their foster parents are undoubtedly fine individuals, these kids were generally quite disconnected from the Jewish community. Despite the best efforts of JCFS, we were not successful in securing funding from the province or from child maintenance dollars to enable them to participate. When we turned to the Federation, basically pleading for help, the answer was unequivocally that they would do whatever was necessary to ensure that these two amazing kids would be able to participate. I cannot begin to explain how gratifying it was for me to watch them interact with their Jewish peers from all over the city, to soak in the entire experience, and to make the Jewish connections that they will treasure for the rest of their lives. The March, for them, was an unparalleled opportunity to solidify their Jewish identities, and to reaffirm their Judaism in the most meaningful way possible. When one of them told me that the only thing they wished to purchase on the trip was a magen david, so that they could wear it proudly for all to see, I knew that the money was indeed well spent.

While I could go on for hours about the March of the Living, I will instead wrap up, and leave you with something that I was inspired to think about following the March. There are currently 26 Jewish kids in our community in foster care, ranging in age from 1 and a half years old to 19 years old. We unfortunately only have 7 Jewish foster homes, and so currently, only eleven of these kids are living in situations where they can celebrate their Jewish identity. JCFS does its best to send them to The Gray Academy, to Jewish summer camps and to provide Jewish experiences for them in all aspects of their lives, including incredible programs like the March. It is crucial that in considering our gifts to the Combined Jewish Appeal, we keep that information close to our hearts .

Thank you.


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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