Posts tagged ‘mno bimaadiziwin’

Toronto’s Jewish Community supports the homeless


Kathleen Wynne attends the community sader organized by Ve’ahavta. Photo by Bernie Farber

Please help Aboriginal Homeless.  Find out how.


In my efforts to support the Aboriginal homeless, I was delighted to see the caring, kindness and Spirit of giving shown to me by our friends and allies in the local Jewish community to help our people.

We had an amazing time last night at the Starry Nights gala in Toronto. Deborah and I were so thankful to be invited by our friend Hanita Teifenbach who works for an inspiring organization called Ve’ahavta.

Ve’ahavta is a Canadian Jewish humanitarian and relief organization founded by the indomitable Avrum Rosenweig. Our friend Bernie Farber is the Chair and among the most outspoken supporters.  The organization and their initiatives are guided by Torah’s commandment of Ve’ahavta L’reacha Kamocha – to “love your neighbour as you love yourself”. Moreover, it is guided by two fundamental values tzedakah (justice) and tikun olam (repairing the world).

Tikun olam was a recurring theme throughout the evening and it is indeed a spiritual virtue, something that we Anishinaabe can really relate to. To dedicate a piece of your work, your volunteerism, and your generosity toward repairing the world – by supporting disadvantaged and marginalized people – while advocating for social justice is absolutely awe-inspiring.

During the evening, we had a chance to chat with Dr. Michael Dan. We chatted about his visionary health research initiative with the University of Toronto for a while and got onto the topic of First Nation’s own concept of good health. We talked about the Anishinaabe philosophy of Mno Bimaadiziwin, to live a good life. That teaching is not only about ourselves and good healthy living, but it is about our relationships and contributions to the world around us. Living a good life is about being a good person and supporting our family, our community, our Nation and all those around us. That’s also what Ve’ahavta is all about.

Two inspiring speakers spoke about their experience with the Ve’ahavta Street Academy, an eight-week course that provides support and skills development for individuals wanting to rise from the streets, and consider post-secondary education. A video acknowledged the work of the Ve’ahavta Mobile Jewish Response to the homeless, whose outreach vans provide food, supplies and necessities for those homeless living on the streets. Incidentally, the Ve’ahavta mobile response was started in partnership with Native Men’s Residence in 1996.

It is absolutely a pleasure to support and give to this incredible organization. Their work with the homeless, including the Aboriginal Homeless shows the kindness of their founder Avrum, their staff, volunteers and the generosity of the Toronto Jewish community.

Waving at Pigeons

I saw a little girl waving at a pigeon today.

The toddler, in a bright red bonnet, holding her mommy’s hand, couldn’t have been more than two. Her mom, and everyone else for that matter, were oblivious to the cute little gesture that I felt fortunate to observe.  The brownish, red-marbled bird didn’t pay much attention either.

But for little Bonnie Bonnet, it was just one of a hundred little gestures and actions that mean something to her.  I’m sure she goes about her life without a care in the world.  When she does have a need, hopefully her mom and family are there to care for her… to tie her hat on, get her sippy cup or change her Huggies Pull-Ups when she isn’t quite able to make it to the loo.

She has air to breathe, water to drink and food to eat.  She has a beautiful, bountiful Earth all around her – evident from her visit with the curious looking city bird.  She has a life to be thankful for.

We all have the same things that little Bonnie has.  We have Loved ones who care for us.  We have air to breathe, water to drink and food to eat.  We all share in this beautiful Mother that sustains us.  Most of all, we have our own life to be thankful for.

We all know that life isn’t that simple.  Some don’t have food to eat or a roof over their heads.  Others are unable to earn a living or can’t find work.  Many live with illness and disabilities.  We have challenges in our relationships, sometimes with our spouses or our kids.

But despite our challenges, we all have life.  Everyone has something to be thankful for, no matter how big or how small.  Above all, we all can choose to have a positive outlook, live life to it’s fullest and be good, productive people.  Everyone can follow this path of life that’s called Mno-Bimaadiziwin.

Sometimes, we need to clear our schedule, set aside our money problems and the other challenges of our day-to-day lives.  Those things will always be there to deal with.  But sometimes we just need to take some time out of our daily lives and wave at the pigeons.