By Daniel Horowitz--More than 700 members of Toronto’s Jewish community recently helped United Jewish Appeal celebrate its Campaign 2010 closing with an evening that featured something for everyone.
The February 16th event, held at Events on the Park, featured a keynote address by Dan Senor, co-author of Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle.
The event also featured mentalist Haim Goldenberg, and The Midway State, a Toronto band known for their unique blend of rock, piano and soulful lyrics.
The 2010 Campaign, chaired by Debbie Kimel and Ken Tanenbaum, which, despite the economy, attracted an impressive 2,100 new donors to the UJA fold, is projected to reach $64 million when the final count is completed.
“Debbie and I are keenly aware that although this is the end of the line for us as chairs, there is still much to be done,” said Tanenbaum. “But, from everything we’ve learned about our incredible Jewish community over the last year, we can say with confidence that Jewish Toronto will continue to come together for those in need here in our city, in Israel and around the world.”
“Your UJA campaign dollars change so many lives,” Kimel told the audience. “Everything we accomplished this year could never have happened without all of you. Your support, compassion, generosity and plain hard work, literally moved mountains, making Campaign 2010 such a success in particularly challenging times.”
Addressing the various attempts made by Israel’s detractors to delegitimize the Jewish state, Senor told the audience that Israel’s own success was the best blow to her enemies.
“The campaign to delegitimize Israel and whether or not Israel has a right to have a place among the nations is quite real,” he said. “There is no greater blow to this campaign than to remind the world that it has a lot to learn from Israel. One of the lessons the world needs to learn is how Israel built this innovation entrepreneurship hothouse; this incubator that is transforming the world. The West needs innovation and Israel’s got it.”
One of the most moving moments of the evening was a brief address made by Ketty Jean Batiste, a Haitian woman who now calls Toronto home. Batiste was grateful to Toronto’s Jewish community, which has raised approximately $850,000 through UJA’s Hope for Haiti Relief Fund.
“We finally reached members of our family four days after the earthquake struck my beloved country of Haiti,” she said. “They described the scene as people sleeping on the streets and in cars; of human cries coming out from beneath piles of rubble; and little children walking aimlessly, with no parents in sight, possibly already orphaned, as the only world they knew crumbled around them. I feel blessed to be part of a community made up of caring, compassionate and generous Jewish people, all of whom have gone out of their way to help my people, total strangers to all of you.”