‘Saluti a Jerusalem’
September 19, 2012 | Suri Epstein - Correspondent
JERUSALEM - As a crowd of people in mid-town Toronto enjoyed risotto, crispelle and fine Israeli wines, the revitalization of a community centre in Jerusalem got a lot closer to becoming a reality.
‘Saluti a Jerusalem,’ at the Columbus Centre at Dufferin and Lawrence, brought together Toronto’s Italian and Jewish communities for an evening of food, art, fashion and music.
The Jerusalem Foundation of Canada has teamed up with Villa Charities to raise funds for a transformative project in Jerusalem’s Morasha neighbourhood called Canada House.
“We’re bringing a little piece of Canada to Jerusalem,” said David Golden, a Toronto attorney.
Golden is secretary of the Jerusalem Foundation of Canada, an independent foundation started by legendary former mayor Teddy Kollek 44 years ago. The foundation raises funds to support projects for culture, co-existence and quality of life in Jerusalem.
“Canada House is going to provide educational, social and recreational activities to everyone from children to seniors,” Golden said.
Located northwest of Jerusalem’s Old City, the neighbourhood’s community centre draws Jerusalemites from all sectors of the city’s population.
“It’s an interesting place because it's at the crossroads, of Hareidi, (ultra-Orthodox) secular, and Arab neighbourhoods and everyone uses the centre.”
Planning is also under way for an Italian-themed garden surrounding Canada House, called Giardino Canadese.
Guests enjoyed opera star Lauren Segal’s spell-binding rendition of a Bizet aria as well as a fashion show featuring the designs of Max Mara. The models moved to the beat of Biblically dressed drummers and Shofar blowers.
DJ Schneeweiss, the new Israeli Consul General spoke to the guests about his three connections to things Italian.
“Italian is my favourite language after Hebrew,” he said. “My next door neighbour is an Italian fellow and my kids only eat pasta!”
“Our cultures are very similar,” said Anne Simone executive director of Villa Charities Foundation. “Our family values, commitment to our traditions. It’s a natural alliance.”
Celebrity Chef David Rocco, host of Dolce Vita on the Food Network, recalled how he bonded with his Jewish friend Morry, growing up in a decidedly ‘non-ethnic’ Scarborough neighbourhood.
“We walked together so we wouldn’t get our heads kicked in,” he said with a laugh. “I had a paper route and he did the accounting. Our two communities have deep mutual respect; my mom always said we’re cut from the same cloth.”
A photo exhibition called Where Two Worlds Meet: a photographic journey of Italy and Israel by Neil Dankoff and Beverly Abramson will be on display at the Columbus Centre’s Joseph D. Carrier Art Gallery until Oct. 1.
“It is immeasurable what Canada House will do for youth at risk,” said Mark Sofer, president of the Jerusalem Foundation. “It will be a major boon for the city, one of our most beautiful projects.”