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Saturday, August 23, 2014

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Kosher kitchen opens at Vaughan women’s shelter

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TORONTO — Staff at ETA Vaughan (Empowerment Through Achievement) women’s shelter, is determined to address the needs of members of every ethnic group.

City of Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua looks on as Rabbi Asher Vale hangs a mezuzah at ETA Vaughan’s outreach centre.

With that in mind, the shelter, which can currently house six families, is constructing a kosher kitchen.

As well, mezuzot were recently affixed on the shelter’s doors by Rabbi Asher Vale, interim rabbi of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto Synagogue.

In order to respect the privacy of families, only the rabbi and staff members were allowed at the shelter, but prior to going there, he affixed mezuzot on the doors of ETA Vaughan’s outreach centre in Kleinburg.

The shelter, which provides emergency housing for families escaping from abusive situations, also provides life-skills and job-search training, necessary legal or court support, counselling for women and their children, as well as help in finding future permanent housing.

The outreach centre provides counselling and access to resource tools such as reference material on legal issues, government agencies and programs, and housing. Programs and workshops are available on parenting skills, assertiveness training, anger management, as is the opportunity to network.

Arlene Margolese, chair of the board of ETA Vaughan, said that the City of Vaughan is a “rainbow of nationalities, and we want to be open and available to women of all cultures. We want this to be a place where everyone can feel comfortable. Families should be able to heal in whatever way possible. The women have enough to contend with already. This makes it easier.”

Rabbi Vale said he’s gratified at ETA Vaughan’s sensitivities, and added that in Israel, most women’s shelters are not kosher.

Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua, who was at the outreach centre, said it’s “heartwarming to see people with a vision fill in a void created by various levels of government.We will try to address important needs in our community.”

Antonietta Raviele, in-house counsel and executive administrator, said that at the end of the day, “it doesn’t matter what our background is. We’re there to provide support.”

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