A capacity crowd of nearly 600 was on hand, October 27, at the EY Centre as Barbara Farber was honoured by JNF Ottawa at the 2016 Negev Dinner.
Hundreds of friends, family, corporate supporters and community members filled the EY Centre to capacity, October 27, as community leader Barbara Farber was honoured at the 2016 Jewish National Fund (JNF) of Ottawa Negev Dinner.
Farber has been a Jewish community leader, both locally and nationally, for many years. Among many other positions, she was the first woman to serve as president of Agudath Israel Congregation and went on to serve as president of the Jewish Community Council of Ottawa/Vaad Ha’Ir (now the Jewish Federation of Ottawa), vice-chair of the Canada-Israel Committee, and chair of Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA.
Farber has also served in many positions in the broader community. She is the current chair of the Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation and was the founding chair of the Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation and the Algonquin College Foundation.
Funds raised by this year’s Negev Dinner will support the Barbara and Len Farber Family Science and Sports Centre, which will be built in the Misgav region of the Galilee in northern Israel. The centre will provide both Jewish and Arab Bedouin students and adults with science labs and sports facilities.
Farber described her vision for the centre – which was purposefully designed to build bridges between two cultures in Israel – in her Negev Dinner address.
“It will be a new facility between two existing schools,” she said. “It is our hope and dream that the bonds that are formed between Bedouin Arab and Jewish youth, while studying various sciences together, such as physics, aeronautics and robotics, and then playing sports together in the first class sports facilities on the athletic floor, will serve to promote friendships, trust and respect for one another.
“Can you imagine how these kids would feel competing with one another against other schools, nationally or internationally, together – and winning together? Those feelings, it is hoped will not only carry over to adulthood, but will be transmitted to family members at home, where generations can be influenced for good and betterment of all.”
Farber quoted former U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt, who said, “Today we are faced with the preeminent fact that, if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships … the ability of all peoples, of all kinds to live together in the same world, at peace.”
Roosevelt’s words, she said, were even truer today than when he spoke them more than 70 years ago.
Among those paying tribute to Farber at the Negev Dinner were 2006 Negev Dinner honouree Steven Victor, Negev Dinner Chair Stephen Victor, Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka, who served as MC, and David W. Scott, the honorary Negev Dinner chair.
The keynote speaker was former foreign minister John Baird, the 2012 Negev Dinner honouree.
Baird affectionately referred to Farber as his “Jewish mother” and spoke of the close ties Canada enjoys with the State of Israel. He also paid tribute to Israel’s resilience and democracy despite its geographic location in a hostile region beset with conflict.