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Chai Concert Honouring Ahava Halpern and Frank Lavitt Is A Major Success-Read Ahava Halpern's Complete Speech June 7, 2017

by Ahava Halpern, posted July 30, 2017

[Editor's note: The Sarah Sommer Chai Folk Ensemble's Ancient Roads concert on June 7 2017 was a resounding success. Not only was the concert enjoyable and well-received but the event which honoured Ahava Halpern and Frank Lavitt was a huge financial success with $300.000 being raised for Chai. This is the largest fundriaser that Chai has ever had in its history.


Sid Halpern, Ahava's father told the Winnipeg Jewish Review, "Ahava is a great example of a person who is so grateful to Chai for all Chai did in her life. It was her way of expressing her love for community, her love for Israel and her love for dance.The event is really  a great template for others who want to give back to the community. As a parent, it's the greatest blessing to have children whose passion for community is so outstanding."

[Below is the complete speech given by Ahava Halpern at the Chai Concert.]


Welcome Everyone! 

I want to thank each of you here and for all who made this evening a success for Chai. 

I want to also thank our Country of Canada who has made it possible for the Winnipeg community to live in peace and flourish. I also want to acknowledge my spiritual homeland the country of Israel.

Simply put, Chai is a voice. Chai is one of the voices of our Jewish community and a part of Winnipeg's artistic cultural community.  Chai is the voice of our Jewish culture of past, present and future.  

Chai's choreographies attempt to express all facets of Judaism  and connection with Israel. 

Chai gives opportunities for people inside and outside of our Jewish Community to experience being in a theatre ensemble. This could be through performance , costume , sound & lighting.

Chai started out with Sarah Sommer's vision and a small group of young women learning Israeli Folk Dance in the Sommer family Winnipeg home. The Chai Folk Ensemble added and continues to perform with live orchestra and vocalists. This is no small feat and with thanks to the contribution of Sarah Udow. 

Israeli Dance Class at the YMHA was my "sole passion" in my formative years.  I have to acknowledge my parents Sid & Esther Halpern for making this exposure possible. I also thank my Israeli dance mentors - teachers Leah Chisvin-Braemar and Dinah Earn-Goldenberg 

During that time, I  could feel the heartbeat of Chai in our community. I could also see the heart and soul of the people that volunteered for Chai in whatever aspect. It was an exciting , exciting time. 

Chai has matured over the years since my era. More training and commitment is involved. I can honestly say that the Chai of today, is the Chai that we aspired Chai to be.  It is like we have watched a child grow. 

There is always more work to do, more improvements, more direction and Chai is listening.  Chai continues to grow in Canada's heartland and reaches beyond our borders.

I encourage all people including parents, children and young adults to become involved with Chai. Why? It is with volunteer participation that we have the ability to continue to aspire, collaborate and shape Chai's future and voice in our community and beyond. We are representatives of a nation (both Canadian and Jewish), a culture and the land of Israel. 

I would like to thank the Ethiopian Society of Winnipeg  with their involvement and any future collaboration with Chai.  As well as the honorary co chairs of the evening: Carey & Bernie Simkin, Diane, Sandy & Robert Shindleman; Joe & Justin Bova, Gieselle MacDonald, Abe Anhang, Faith Kaplan & JP Parenty. 

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