Beth Israel Gala supported chesed and youth programs

Emcee Mike Sobel with co-chair Jodi Zabludwski and honourees Gordon & Darlene Bushewski and Stephen Zepp & Karen Leibovici

by Mike and Jodi Zabludowski

(Edmonton) – The Beth Israel Synagogue celebrated its 110th Anniversary with a Gala Event on Sunday, September 11th. The Edmonton event was proud to honour two outstanding couples:  Darlene and Gordon Bushewsky and Karen Leibovici and Stephen Zepp.

Turning the Family Shul into a beautiful comedy club made the evening special, thanks to Melany Allen and her decorating team.  The foyer was turned into a comfy lounge which looked amazing.  The color scheme of red, black, and white added a lot of splash to the lighting and décor.

Susan and Eddie Yedgarova went out of their way to ensure the food was excellent.  Food stations were fun and gave everyone the opportunity to mingle.  There were lots of different places to sit which made the evening great for people of all ages.  The dessert, after the Program, was special and included flambé stations and a beautiful 110th Anniversary cake.

President Stan Kitay and his friends ensured there were lots of different choices of scotch at the ‘Scotch Bar,’ in addition to the champagne and wine served during the dinner hour.

The audience enjoyed the “Comedy Show.”  Having Andrew Grose, a local Edmontonian, and Wendy Liebman, from LA, was a winning combination and the humour was suitable for all ages.  “We wanted everyone to laugh and have a good time,” said Michael Zabludowski, “and we hope that everyone walked away with an uplifted attitude.  110 years is a long time for a Synagogue in a community, and the Jewish community, no matter which affiliation, should be proud to have this institution in Edmonton.”

Thanks to Mike Sobel, the Masters of Ceremonies, the evening went by smoothly.  Both honouree couples were introduced by their sons:  Isaac Bushewsky and Adam Zepp.  Having the young people involved added a lot to the event.

The two honouree couples regaled the audience with humour, telling family stores and personal insights, allowing us to get to know them a little better.   Karen put the history of the Edmonton Jewish community in perspective when she mentioned that 110 years ago, there were only 16 Jewish people in Edmonton.  They came together under the leadership of Rabbi Hyman Goldstick z”l.  She reminded us that the Synagogue is one year younger than the City of Edmonton.  The City of Edmonton has come a long, long, way and so has the Synagogue.

Shoshy (Shoshana) Bernstein gave her perspective of being part of the Beth Israel youth programming over the years.  According to Shoshy: “In places like Edmonton, Jewish teens and children are living in an environment which presents a challenge to leading an authentic Jewish lifestyle.  Everyday at school I see Jewish teens struggling with staying true to their faith and finding it to be an uphill battle, but I feel that by being involved with Beth Israel youth programs, I have had the opposite experience.  I feel strongly connected to my belief and I wish to continue to grow spirituality.”  She mentioned all the different programs that she has participated in over the years, and she felt that due her involvement she has grown as a person.

A portion of the proceeds from the Gala are going towards the Beth Israel Chesed Committee, so that that the less fortunate in the Edmonton Jewish and general community can get the help they need.  However, the majority of the much-needed funds are going towards the youth programs, now being lead by Esther Segal, wife of the wonderful speaker and community member, Rabbi Moishe Segal.

Mrs. Segal has big plans for the upcoming year, introducing new events such as the weekly J.A.M program for grades K-8, plus excellent programming for kids and teens.  The financial support from the Gala will allow her programs to come to full fruition engaging more of the community and creating more memorable experiences for our youth.

Both Rabbi Daniel Friedman and Rabbanit Batya Friedman believe strongly that a Synagogue should have great youth programs in order to be vibrant and inclusive.  The youth are our future, and the continuity of the Synagogue and the community depends on the younger generation being involved to ensure there is long-term vitality and growth.  Having the youth engaged in programs that are educational and fun is critical to the Synagogue’s future at 110 years, 120 years and beyond.

Thanks to all those who attended this Gala, made donations, bought advertising and made generous contributions for the tribute pages.  Your financial and community support will be remembered and appreciated for a long time to come.  Wishing the community a happy Rosh Hashanah and a wonderful Jewish New Year.

Click here for a related article and photo gallery of the event.

Mike and Jodi Zabludowski were co-chairs of the Beth Israel 110 th Anniversary Gala.

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