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Finding light in dark places: reflections on the March of the Living

“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.”  ~Anne Frank 

It has been over a week since I returned from a whirlwind trip through Poland and Israel, otherwise known as the March of the Living.  Almost immediately upon my return I sat down to write this blog post, but found it simply too difficult.  Anything I could possibly write, any stories I could recount, seemed to simply fail in comparison to the experience I had on the trip, my first time in Poland.  Now a week later, after sharing stories with family and friends, I realize there is one piece of the trip that stands out in my mind; not a specific anecdote or a site we visited, but an incredible life lesson I learned while traveling through Poland with 217 other Jews from Montreal.

March of the Living Montreal in Poland – photo courtesy of PBL Photography

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Vote for Enigma on Canada’s Got Talent!

What do Mel Weinstein, Julie Goldenberg, Tracey Shwartz and Ariela Levi all have in common? Aside from being talented dancers in theMontrealbased dance production Enigma, they are all Taglit Birthright Israel alumni!!!

In just over 48 hours, Enigma will take center stage onCanada’s Got Talent. The four girls along with their group members Florence Brais and Jade Hassoune first auditioned for the show inMontrealearlier in the year, but their story began in 2008. Enigma was born as a unique and inspirational dance outlet, whose mission was to bring awareness to and raise funds for Vision of Hope, a fund created to honor the late Ian Samberg who sadly lost his battle to cancer in 2007.

Since then the group has managed to raise over $140,000 for the cause through two sold out shows, and has caught the attention of local and national press. This time around, the group won’t be looking for dollars, but rather your vote. On April 22nd as of 8pm you have five ways to show your support for them: by phone, online, facebook, text and twitter.

For more information on voting please visitCanada’s Got Talent’s website here.

From everyone here at team BIEC we wish them the best of luck on Sunday, you can count on our votes!

Mel & Tracey at the Bedouin Tents, Israel 2011

Montreal’s Jewish community comes together to support Israel’s newest singing sensation

After Holland’s original reality talent show, “The Voice of Holland,” took off in America last year, many countries have followed suit, including Ukraine, Poland, Mexico, Germany, France, and the UK, each launching their own versions of “The Voice,” now one of the most popular television talent shows.  The latest country to create a new singing sensation is none other than Israel, who announced the winner of their edition of “The Voice” this past Saturday night. Not only were Israeli audiences waiting in suspense to find out the winner…so was Montreal’s Jewish community.

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Get your art on at Art & the City III – by guest blogger Joella Gencher

Last year, over 200 people gathered at Art & the City II, at Koko Bar & Restaurant

We wanted this year’s Art & the City Vernissage, set to take place on January 23, 2012 at Velvet Speakeasy, to be awesome.  Our team of volunteers and BIEC staff hmm’d and hahh’d over the perfect location, the right nibbles (cupcakes!) and how to nab fabulous young Jewish artists.  As the venue was to be a chic, mood-lit club, exactly which spotlights to rent to illuminate the artwork on display was of utmost importance.  We talked a lot about lighting, a concern that I actually find ironic.

Why?  Because I don’t really think that we “see” art…I think we experience it.  If you’ve ever been amid great art, concerns about beauty and aesthetic value slip away.  What comes to the foreground is a feeling, an atmosphere, a story or idea that has the power to transform, the ability to stir things up, or calm them down.

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A glimmer of light on a snowy Montreal day

Welcome to winter in Montreal!

This year’s winter was awfully slow to start and as someone who loves the seasons, I found myself grumbling under my breath about how global warming was ruining everything, including my desire to stay inside and drink red wine while watching the snow fall, and my snowboarding season…not to mention the polar bears.  My groans were met with eye rolls from my friends, and promises that as soon as January hit and I found myself mid winter, facing knee-deep snow and 30 degrees below temperatures, I would deeply regret ever saying I missed winter.  I was convinced they were wrong.

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