Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kids’ feelings come first

Dear Ella,

My little girl, Emma, is off at overnight camp for the first time. It’s going to be a long summer without her, but she wanted to go so badly I didn’t have the heart to say no. She is only eight, and I thought she should wait at least another year before she attempted sleepover camp.

Visitors’ day is very important to me. The problem is, her dad and I are divorced and we don’t get along. Most of our communication about our daughter is through e-mail or lawyers. We do everything possible to avoid speaking to or seeing each other. He is going to want to see Emma too, and the thought of sharing her with him and his new girlfriend at camp is not something I fancy.

Emma is used to our doing things separately. We celebrate birthdays, holidays and any other special occasion separately, and she has accepted this as normal.

He let me take her to the bus when she left, because he had to work anyway, but we have not even discussed visitors’ day. I’m sure he could care less if I’m there and he will just go, with no regard to my feelings or my daughter’s. This should be a fun time for her, and I don’t want anything to spoil her memory of her first year at overnight camp. Should I take the high road and just let him go?

Lonely Mom

Dear Lonely Mom,

Overnight camp is a milestone in your daughter’s life. It’s a bittersweet time for you, but you put your feelings aside knowing Emma is going to have a wonderful time. At overnight camp she will build independence and social skills, and make new, lifelong friends. It’s a new experience for her, too, so it’s extremely important that her first experience without her parents is a positive one.

If there is the slightest chance that you and your ex will argue, or even give off negative energy, around Emma, then you can’t go to visitors’ day together. Kids pick up on fake smiles and tension in the air. This is her time and you must both put your needs aside.

Staying away on visitors’ day is not the answer. Emma will miss you and want to see her mom as much as her dad. I agree that visiting together may be uncomfortable for all. You are not the only divorced family at camp, and many camps have adjusted and added a second day. If Emma’s camp is not one of those, then speak to the camp director, and he/she will accommodate your situation.

The next hurdle is who gets the “real” visitors’ day and who gets the extra day that has been allocated for Emma. Visitors’ day is not always easy on kids, and some camps with a shorter duration have eliminated this tradition. Two days could cause emotional feelings twice. You might consider splitting up the day so that one of you is with her in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

You and your ex have some choices to make. Whatever you decide, remember you must do what’s best for Emma. Your priority must be to make sure your daughter is happy in this new life experience.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rabbi Korobkin and the plan for BAYT

Now that the "BAYT's" - Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto – selection committee has chosen its next head rabbi, he is currying favour with the synagogue's congregants.
At a recent young family meet and greet, the beginning of a road map was laid out on how to reinvigorate BAYT's membership. Many Toronto Jews in recent years have pulled away from the community, creating a gap in attendance to programs and even services on a regular basis. Rabbi Korobkin stressed greatly that we (the Jewish people) have a deep need to stand together and be a part of a community. It's a lesson very much present in the bible and our teachings. The parsha for this week, Matot, highlights the effect tearing the tribe asunder can have on the future of the Jewish people.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

CIJA further supports CIIRDF

The Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA) as many of you may or may not know, is the arm of UIA Federations Canada, comprised of all the public affairs agencies of the Canadian Jewish community. Under the umbrella of CIJA those who became a part of the unified organization earlier this month, namely the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) the Canada Israel Committee (CIC) and the Quebec Israel Committee (QIC), were represented on July 10 at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

The purpose of the event at the museum: a renewed bilateral agreement was signed to fund and support the Canada Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation (CIIRDF) for another five years. The foundation was first established in 1994 for research and development and the commercialization of new technology to be pursued by private companies from both countries. With more than 70 projects supported since the foundation was created a yield of approximately $1 billion in revenue has been achieved.

The success of the CIIRDF is attributed to having a similar design to the Israel-U.S. Bi-national Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) initiative. CIIRDF contributes up to 50 per cent of the joint R&D costs for Canadian and Israeli companies' joint activities.

Many Israeli and Canadian leaders were on hand at the museum for the high profile event. Among them, former Israeli Ambassador to Canada Haim Divon; chairman of the Israel-Canada Parliamentary Friendship Group in Knesset MK Yohanan Plesner, and The CJN's columnist and Professor of the Harman Center at McGill University Gil Troy. Additionally representing the Jewish community of Canada were MP for Mount Royal Irwin Cotler and CIJA CEO Shimon Fogel.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's a beautiful thing when the community gives back

After writing a story, specifically covering charitable events, it's always a bit humbling when someone tells the reporter that as a result of their article many people contributed to a charity that will help others.

Usually, in the course of reporting, one doesn't think about the long-term impact of a specific story. It's all about getting the facts, presenting them to the reader in as unbiased a way as possible, and then moving on to the next assignment.

But occasionally, a reporter pauses in his or her tracks when confronted with how their story added some tikkun olam to society.

Last week, I had the honour of being invited to attend the Canadian Friends of Meir Medical Center's annual awards gala in Toronto. After writing an advance story on how this Israeli hospital is in need of funds to complete a children's wing, the organizers of the event contacted me to thank me for the story and tell me that it had led directly to an influx of donations from Canadian donors and philanthropists.

This was terrific news.

But there was another element to this story in The CJN.

The gala organizers also were honouring the Florence family of Toronto with a humanitarian award. Why? Because Dana and Jared Florence have been blessed with miraculous triplets, all of whom have Cerebral Palsy.

Since just after their birth, the Florence children, diagnosed with the impairment to their motor functions, have undergone various surgeries, therapies and protocols to help them progress physically as much as possible. And despite being told not to expect too much by doctors, the Florences have never given up on their children. Quite the opposite. They decided to wage war on CP in the form of their foundation "ThreeToBe".

Having had the pleasure of interviewing Dana and Jared and listening to their story, and having been told by the Canadian Friends of Meir Medical Center executive that my story had brought much-needed funding to their cause as well, I was reminded that one can and does make a difference through their work.

Here's a small video from ThreeToBe's website that tells you all you need to know.

-Andy Levy-Ajzenkopf

Monday, July 4, 2011

JUMP marks year 3

It takes little effort for the rush of everyday life in Toronto to surround and consume the time and attention of its culturally diverse-yet-assimilated population. Aside from the more observant folks within the Jewish community, for young professionals the need to connect intellectually, spiritually or in a cultural vein varies a great deal.

JUMP (Jewish Urban Meeting Place) which is among the handful of organizations that strive to strengthen the neshama of today's Jewish youth,  is celebrating another year of tremendous growth. And the three-year-old center wants you to join in the festivities.  

Have you been on one of the amazing trips to New York City in the winter? Israel in the summer? Attended one of their social events shabbat dinners, volunteer opportunities or classes? Do you plan to check one out in the near future? Get your feet wet with an all-out greet and meet anniversary party this Thursday starting at 8 p.m. at This is London.

Get up close to Canadian Idol winner Brian Melo as he performs live. Or shake it with the samba squad, chow down on some delicious food and walk away not just with swag, but maybe a phone number or two of those cute guys and gals you've been eyeing all night?

For more information on tickets to the event or to get involved click here.