By Susan Schiffman
(AJNews) – This year, Edmonton UJA kicks off the Campaign and the New Year with a star-studded, authentically Canadian virtual holiday party on September 13th. Like so many things this year, the UJA Kickoff has been re-imagined for the new pandemic normal. No concert at The Citadel. No Hors d’oeuvres. No schmoozing with friends over a glass of wine before the show. So, what will we do instead? We put our heads together with creative minds from throughout Canada’s Federation network and came up with a virtual happening worthy of our great Canadian Jewish Community. A joint project of the Jewish Federations of Canada, produced by award-winning former CTV News reporter Naomi Parness in collaboration with Shoy Pictures, this Canada-wide virtual show will feature dozens of community members and celebs from coast to coast. It will be both a look back on our Jewish Canada’s resiliency through months of crisis, and a forward-looking, upbeat celebration of the New Year to come.
The show will start with a description of the Canadian Jewish community’s extraordinary response to the COVID-19 emergency. Through a great selection of photos and videos contributed by the 11 Federation communities, a story of generosity, strength and hope will be told. Across the nation, donors contributed generously to Federation emergency campaigns and volunteers looked beyond their personal safety to deliver Passover Meals, groceries, protective gear, and basic necessities to the sick, the elderly, and the isolated. And in spite of the crisis, all of our communities found innovative ways to entertain and engage people through an array of outdoor performances and virtual events that will make you laugh, cry and be proud to support Federation. The show is a splendid chronicle of Jewish Canada’s resilience and spirit.
Moving on from the tough year behind us, the show turns to the year ahead, telling a Canadian Rosh Hashanah story through the eyes of many characters, ranging through children from Edmonton, (including Nava and Lexi Shafir and Jeremy Toubiana) Winnipeg and Hamilton to big stars from Montreal, Toronto and beyond. Just for Laughs Founder and notorious mischief-maker, Andy Nulman, will host the show, guaranteeing fun for all. Adorable kids will talk about what they hope for in the New Year – you will see some familiar little faces from Edmonton as well as old friends and relatives from across Canada. Meanwhile, Bubbies from around the nation will share Rosh Hashanah recipes. Don’t miss Edmonton’s own Paula Weil, who will finally reveal the secrets of her Apple Challah. Holocaust survivors from throughout the country will bring us wise words about enduring hardship and celebrating life. Anna Linetsky, from Edmonton, will give some uplifting advice for the New Year. We will also Have New Year’s greetings from our Campaign Chair Howie Sniderman, our CEO Debby Shoctor and cameo appearances from Matt and Tami Cairns and family, and organizations such as Jewish Family Services and the Aviv Dancers.
As for Canadian Jewish celebrities, jazz virtuoso Sophie Milman will sing a few spell-binding numbers and The Maccabeats will delight us with their own very special brand of Jewish Acapella. There will be other surprise performances as well as shout outs from Dr. Ruth, Henry Winkler, Natan Sharansky, and many more. And, it would not be Rosh Hashanah without the Shofar, so get ready to hear some of the best Tekiahs, Sevarims, and Teruahs from around Canada. Keep an eye out for the guy in the hat, he is our own Seth Glick.
And it is all free and happening in your living room on September 13th at 5:30 PM. No parking ap needed! Just pull up a chair and enjoy the show. You need to register to get the link, so go to the Federation website to do so. Shanah Tovah and Have a Blast!
Susan Schiffman is Director of Development, Jewish Federation of Edmonton.