By MYRON LOVE
On Sunday, November 15, Jewish National Fund (JNF) chapters across Canada “hosted” “A Night of 100 Dinners” during which participants received in their homes a mix of nosherei and watched a virtual performance featuring YidLife Crisis and a host of other celebrities. David Greaves, the JNF’s executive director for Manitoba and Saskatchewan, reports that the Winnipeg response exceeded expectations.
“We had just over 100 homes and donors that participated and the feedback has been nothing but positive,” Greaves reports.
Nola Lazar, JNF President, also had much praise for Shaarey Zedek Chef Joel Lafond and his catering department, which prepared the party sandwiches and pastries for participants. “The sandwiches and pastry were delicious as always,” she says.
JNF volunteers delivered the goods, so to speak.
The amount of food and wine that each participating received was calibrated with the category of donation to the JNF for the event. Top donors – the L’chaim level or $1,800 category – received sandwiches (the nosh or forshpice), plus dessert and two bottles of wine. For the Negev ($75) and Young Adult ($54) categories, you received a delivery of sweet treats.
The 40 minute virtual performance that was part of the program across Canada included such celebrities as Martin Short; Gal Gadot (of Wonder Women Fame); the star of “Fauda”, Lior Raz; Colin Mochrie; and Howie Mandel.
Greaves notes that the last five minutes of the program were set aside for locally relevant programming. For Winnipeg participants, there was a little shticking from “YidLife Crisis” about Winnipeg. Schmoozers and the Viscount Gort received notable mentions.
The program also featured a live performance by Danny Greaves (David’s brother), who is the lead singer of the Winnipeg-based band, “The Watchmen”. Danny Greaves played an unplugged version on piano of ‘Any day now’ a hit song about Winnipeg that the band recorded many years ago.
The program closed with a “Hello Winnipeg” from David Broza and a five-minute version of ‘Yihiye Tov’ (It’ll be alright) an appropriate song for the times we are living in.
David Greaves reports that the Winnipeg portion of “Night of 100 Dinners” raised about $25,000, which will go toward JNF Winnipeg’s project in Israel – JNF Canada House of Excellence - an after-school educational enrichment centre aimed at helping high school students in Sderot and surrounding communities in the south to enhance their academic performance.
The multipurpose hall will be used for workshops, lectures, performances, film and social gatherings. The ‘house’ will also be a safe place as the 3000 plus square foot building will also be a reinforced shelter.
As a national JNF project, JNF Winnipeg is very proud that the lead gift of $1 million has come from the son of Berdie & Irvin Cohen z’l in their honour.
Greaves, however, suggests that “Night of 100 Dinners” was more about community engagement than fundraising.
“This has been a tough year,” he observes. “We had to cancel our gala and our annual High Holiday campaign. With this program, we were trying to reach out to the community in a unique and interesting way. We are trying to stay relevant.”
As for the Negev Gala, Greaves reports that the JNF staff and board are planning to reschedule last year’s gala honouring community leader Dr. Ted Lyons for the spring. “We care not sure what it will look like yet,” he says. “It may be a mixture of virtual and live parts. We have David Broza rebooked as our feature performer and he is excited about being part of the Gala – we hope in person. We want to make sure that we are able to put together a really special evening for Ted Lyons.”