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.