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 Many members of the community contacted me in the last day following the shooting of the Chabad rabbi of Derbent in the Republic of Dagestan.  

After being rushed to Israel on a special medical airplane, Rabbi Ovadia Isakov remains in very serious yet now stable condition after toughing out emergency surgery on his internal organs.  The Dagestan government has confirmed that the brutal attack was carried out by a major Islamic Terrorist cell in the Chechnya-Caucasus area.    

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Until yesterday I didn't know Rabbi Ovadia.  I assume not too many people knew him.  How many of us have visited the town of Derbent before?  Who, outside the tiny Jewish population of that town, was aware of the work of the Isakov family?  Who is aware of the impact that he has in this remote place, as the only Rabbi in the Republic of Dagestan?

Not knowing Ovadia is perhaps the best way to know him - Rabbi Ovadia didn't leave the comfort of a large community for fame or for recognition.  He came to Derbent because he is needed there.  He went there because there are Jews there who are seeking to have Jewish life in this city by the border of Chechnya on the Caspian Sea .

Rabbi Ovadia would be happy to continue doing his work in Dagestan for the rest of his life, without getting headlines.  Now that we got to know his selfless dedication - we will return to him with our love and care; we will pray for his quick and complete recovery, so he can be there for his family and return to anonymously serve his brothers and sisters, with dedication and love.

 Please take a moment to say chapter 41 of Tehillim for the speedy recovery of Ovadia Ben Zehava Chaya.

1For the conductor, a song of David.   א. לַמְנַצֵּחַ מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד:
2Praiseworthy is he who looks after the poor; on a day of calamity the Lord will rescue him.   ב. אַשְׁרֵי מַשְׂכִּיל אֶל דָּל בְּיוֹם רָעָה יְמַלְּטֵהוּ יְהֹוָה:
3The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive, and he will be praised in the land, and You will not deliver him into the desire of his enemies.   ג. יְהֹוָה | יִשְׁמְרֵהוּ וִיחַיֵּהוּ וְאֻשַּׁר בָּאָרֶץ וְאַל תִּתְּנֵהוּ בְּנֶפֶשׁ אֹיְבָיו:
4The Lord will support him on his sickbed; when You have transformed his entire restfulness in his illness.   ד. יְהוָה יִסְעָדֶנּוּ עַל עֶרֶשׂ דְּוָי כָּל מִשְׁכָּבוֹ הָפַכְתָּ בְחָלְיוֹ:
5I said, "O Lord, be gracious to me; heal my soul because I have sinned against You."   ה. אֲנִי אָמַרְתִּי יְהֹוָה חָנֵּנִי רְפָאָה נַפְשִׁי כִּי חָטָאתִי לָךְ:
6My enemies speak evil of me; "When will he die and his name be lost?"   ו. אוֹיְבַי יֹאמְרוּ רַע לִי מָתַי יָמוּת וְאָבַד שְׁמוֹ:
7And if he comes to see [me], he speaks falsely; his heart gathers iniquity for him; when he goes outside, he talks.   ז. וְאִם בָּא לִרְאוֹת | שָׁוְא יְדַבֵּר לִבּוֹ יִקְבָּץ אָוֶן לוֹ יֵצֵא לַחוּץ יְדַבֵּר:
8All my enemies whisper together about me; concerning me, they think evil.   ח. יַחַד עָלַי יִתְלַחֲשׁוּ כָּל שֹׂנְאָי עָלַי | יַחְשְׁבוּ רָעָה לִי:
9"An evil thing shall be poured into him, and once he lies down, he will no longer rise."   ט. דְּבַר בְּלִיַּעַל יָצוּק בּוֹ וַאֲשֶׁר שָׁכַב לֹא יוֹסִיף לָקוּם:
10Even my ally, in whom I trusted, who eats my bread, developed an ambush for me.   י. גַּם אִישׁ שְׁלוֹמִי | אֲשֶׁר בָּטַחְתִּי בוֹ אוֹכֵל לַחְמִי הִגְדִּיל עָלַי עָקֵב:
11But You, O Lord, be gracious to me and raise me up, so that I may repay them.   יא. וְאַתָּה יְהֹוָה חָנֵּנִי וַהֲקִימֵנִי וַאֲשַׁלְּמָה לָהֶם:
12With this I shall know that You desired me, when my enemy does not shout joyfully over me.   יב. בְּזֹאת יָדַעְתִּי כִּי חָפַצְתָּ בִּי כִּי לֹא יָרִיעַ אֹיְבִי עָלָי:
13As for me, because of my innocence You shall support me, and stand me up before You forever.   יג. וַאֲנִי בְּתֻמִּי תָּמַכְתָּ בִּי וַתַּצִּיבֵנִי לְפָנֶיךָ לְעוֹלָם:
14Blessed is the Lord, the God of Israel from all times past and to all times to come. Amen and amen.   יד. בָּרוּךְ יְהֹוָה | אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵהָעוֹלָם וְעַד הָעוֹלָם אָמֵן | וְאָמֵן:

 

The new popsicle story

This afternoon the campers of CGI will be having a tasty surprise; what is special about it is that it comes with a great story. 

As you may know it has been very busy around here.  In addition to Chani directing and running the camp, warm lunch has been prepared for the 40+ children and staff in our kitchen every day.  A few years ago Chani had another daily task - making homemade fruit popsicles for the children at camp.  The reason: one of the children couldn't have sugar and Chani wanted to make sure that everyone would enjoy a treat at the end of the day, so a few dozen of frozen strawberry-banana treats have been prepared every morning...

teapop.jpgBut today the kids will get healthy, sugar free, organic, kosher popsicles - made in Victoria, but not in our house... 

Not long ago, the mother of David - the child who couldn't have sugar -  in her effort to prepare for him a summer treat - came up with the idea of freezing tea into a popsicle. To make a long story short - today this homemade idea became TeaPops, which has been recognized - even before its official launch - as a top-rated product internationally. Chances are that in not too long - it will be found in many thousands of stores across North America and beyond.

I've been regularly in the Baker's home while this great idea has been developed and I've seen the vision and the enthusiasm.  We are so happy that this is already succeeding beyond any expectation.

When we will give the children at camp today the very tasty TeaPops, it will come with a message:  When you have a good idea - don't be afraid to think big.  A mother's idea in the kitchen of her home made it in a very short time to the international stage. 

Coming home in Victoria...

Even after almost ten years on the Island, meeting Jews from every walk of life, hearing so many stories and perspectives, the visit of an old man from Tel Aviv left an impression that I think will remain for a long time.   

Eli came to celebrate his 90th birthday with his children in Vancouver and Victoria.  When I heard about his visit, I invited he and his daughter Iris to join our family for Friday night dinner.  Eli is a very intelligent and curious man and we carried a deep conversation for the better part of the meal.  When Eli heard that Iris comes every Tuesday evening to a Talmud class - heasked to join her again for that.

On Tuesday Eli got right into the depth of the Talmudic discussion.  He remembered some of the topics studied from his childhood and, as it seemed he was enjoying the refreshment of those days, he expressed his appreciation for the logic and brilliance of the Talmud and its commentary.

When I offered Eli to lay Tefillin after the lesson, he agreed immediately.  It was then that I learned that last time he was in a synagogue - let alone put tefillin - was at his brother's Bar Mitzvah in a little shul in Tel Aviv some seventy five years ago!

I was watching Eli when he was reading the Shma prayer.  He was saying it with such confidence and connection; it was an amazing sight. A thought crossed my mind - a Jew may live in Tel Aviv all of his life but he still may come home on a visit to Victoria....

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Unleash the Power

 

When I read the news on Tuesday, I had to rub my eyes in shock. Here, in peaceful Victoria?!  A terrorist plot?!  At the Legislature Grounds?! 

My thought following the news this week: 

If, Heaven forbid, this evil plan would have been executed, Victoria would not have been the same city.  This would have affected the energy of the Island for a very long time.  Every resident in the city and in Canada is very thankful to the legal authorities for stopping the plot in its very early stages and thereby eliminating tremendous harm.

But what is the message?  What can we take out of this evil intention?

Living on an island makes us often seem isolated, while it is only an airplane or boat ride away – yet, we feel as if we’re living on a different continent.  This incident has shown us that we are still part of the reality of the world.  Two people inspired by ideology of destruction could have turned this city into a place of fear and trepidation.

Our sages teach us that "the measure of goodness is greater than the measure of calamity", meaning that the impact that one can have with goodness and kindness exceeds that of wickedness and evil.

Here is a message: collect acts of goodness, compassion, and kindness, put them in a pressure cooker so it has maximum effect and release it in the most public way so it will reach the masses. If we unleash the infinite power of our soul - Victoria won't be the same. The rest of our world too.

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