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Emunah Canada to honour outgoing president

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Aryella Weisz

Emunah Canada, which supports social welfare programs run by its namesake in Israel, will honour its outgoing national president, Aryella Weisz, at its annual Emunah Toronto Family In Israel dinner at the Shaarei Shomayim synagogue on May 7.

Alina Mayer, co-chair of the dinner with Esti Cohen, said organizers are expecting up to 400 people. The event will feature two young singers from an Emunah children’s village in Israel, who have performed with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.

Funds raised at the dinner will support two projects in Israel: a multi-purpose daycare centre and a children’s home. Funds for the daycare centre will be used for renovations and outdoor areas for infants, and money for the children’s home will pay for a counsellor for alumni of the home who have completed their IDF or Sherut Le’umi service.

Emunah, which has affiliates in more than a dozen countries, provides care for about 8,000 children, through daycare centres and nurseries in Israel. It also runs vocational and high schools, and supports children’s homes and youth villages, according to Emunah Canada’s website.

The multi-purpose daycare centres – which offer additional services, including activities aimed at strengthening parenting skills – serve children from “challenging environments,” said Mayer, a member of the same Emunah chapter as Weisz, who became Emunah Toronto’s youngest president at age 29.

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“Aryella is great,” Mayer said. “She lives and breathes Emunah.”

Despite considerable other demands on Weisz’s time, Emunah is her “baby,” Mayer added. “She’s a doer. She gets things done. She’s hands-on.”

In addition to serving as chair of UJA Federation’s 2018 Women’s Philanthropy Campaign, Weisz serves, or has served, as a board member of Camp Moshava, Netivot HaTorah Day School, Bnei Akiva Schools and Jewish Family & Child.

A native of Amsterdam who met her Canadian husband in Israel as a high school seminary student, Weisz became involved with Emunah 26 years ago. Her term as president ends in June, when Rochelle Rein of Montreal will take over.

Weisz finds time for Emunah, she said, because “when you feel passionate about a cause, you can’t just leave something and say, ‘I’m not going to do it.’ I guess it’s how I was brought up.… I just think it’s very important.”

Both her parents were active in Jewish community organizations in Amsterdam when Weisz was growing up. “Tzedakah was always a given,” she said.

Having visited Emunah facilities in Israel many times, Weisz has been deeply touched to see alumni of the organization’s homes, some with traumatic backgrounds, who have become productive adult citizens. Some of them now work for Emunah.

“I think the work we do is so instrumental to Israeli society, because it takes care of people from the age of babies, to seniors,” Weisz said.

Many people aren’t aware of the scope of Emunah, she added. “It’s one of the largest social welfare organizations in Israel.”