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September 3, 2004     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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September 3, 2004

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PAGE 26 HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS Lifeforce Int rative Medicine Specializing in Chronic Pain Ange/a Lambert Doctor of Oriental Medicine Acupuncture Physician Massage Therapist MA24337 Cell: 407-579-8563 Clinic: 407-678-0047 Tile Acupuncture Ch'nic of ~4h'nter Parf~ 200 N Denm'ng Dr Suite #7, Winter Parf~ FL 32789 Residental Repaint Specialist 407.923.2928 Free Estimates J Exteriors / Interiors ~ Pressure Cleaning .icensed Insured 0 All Work Guaranteed ~ References Available L'Shana Tova Tikatevu Bernard A. Kahn, D.D.S. GENERAL DENTISTRY 926 N. Maitland Avenue Maitland, FL 32751 (407) DIRECTLY ACROSS FROM THE JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER By Bill Gladstone TORONTO (JTA)--Avrum Rosensweig co-hosts a pop- ular Canadian radio show about food, produces five Canadian television shows with a friend--appearing in three of them--and writes a popular weekly column for the Canadian Jewish News. But recently the 44-year- old son of an Orthodox rabbi has been thinking about Zimbabwe. That's because represen- tatives of Ve'ahavta, a Cana- dian Jewish humanitarian and relief organization that Rosensweig founded, are now being credited with pioneer- ing a method of treatment that drastically reduces HIV transmission from infected mothers to newborn babies in sub-Saharan Africa. The organization's med- ics in Zimbabwe field clinics have devised a system for administering the anti-HIV drug AZT that costs about $4 per mother, yet is twice as effective as the previous method that cost $110. "It's a groundbreak- ing Ve'ahavta result," said Rosensweig, adding that the treatment had attracted the attention of the World Health Organization and other bodies. The innovation, which has been written up in numerous medical journals, is just the latest in an impressive string of accomplishments by the Toronto-based nonprofit organization, whose name derives from the Torah and means, "And you shall love." Since its founding in 1996, Ve'ahavta has sent medical and relief missions to Guy- ana, Honduras, El Salvador and Turkey. In August, the group was preparing a mis- sion to Sudan and Chad. "Basically, our mandate is to encourage all Jews to play a role in tikkun olam," Rosensweig said. "Tikkun olam liter- ally means 'repairing the world,' but to me it means using one's own personal resources, know-how and strength to go out and make the world shine in the most beautiful way," he said. "It's all about making the world as strong, as beautiful, and, some would say, as godly as possible."Ve'ahavtaannually sends a medical team to rural Guyana. Made up of doctors, nurses, lab technicians and Native Canadian and Israeli youth, the 20-person team dispenses hundreds of thou- sands of dollars in donated pharmaceuticals as well as canes, walkers and other much-needed supplies to impoverished villagers. Vitamins are collected beforehand through a Flintstones vitamin drive at the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto. Just 20 vitamin pills can save a child's eyesight, Rosensweig said. "We do blood testing in the middle of the rain for- est," he said. "We've saved lives on the spot." During a 1998 earthquake relief mission in Honduras, volunteers helped the tiny Jewish com- munity rebuild the damaged synagogue in the capital, Te- gucigalpa. Ve'ahavta also has aided Jewish communities in Cuba and Argentina. In the summer of 2001, volunteers drove a convoy of five old school buses loaded with humanitarian supplies from Toronto to earthquake- ravaged El Salvador and left the buses there to help the rebuilding effort. During a relief mission to Turkey in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake, Ve'ahavta's medical squad worked with an Israeli team that had set up a field hospital. Since that first encounter with Israelis, which Rosensweig called "extremely exciting," Ve'ahavta has developed a special relationship with Israel. Several months ago, the organization sponsored The Schwartz Family P rrms p o JnoNs 1010 Virginia Drive, Orlando (407) 894-5963 Tiferet Israel, an exhibition of artwork by street kids from Toronto and Israel. It also has plans to bring troubled youth from Israel for occupational training and to aid street youth in Toronto. A central goal, Rosens- weig said, is to strengthen the bonds between Jews in Israel and the Diaspora. On the domestic front, the organization has also devel- oped special ties with Native Canadians. Several years ago, after vandals defaced some JeWish tombstones with swastikas, Rosensweig received a memorable phone call from a member of the lo- cal native community. "He said, 'Avrum, I'm a trained mason. I know what happened to your community and I want to tell you, we're very grateful for what you've done for us and we want to come in and repair your stones.'" Soon afterwards, a large photograph of several Native Canadians repairing Jewish tombstones appeared in a Toronto newspaper. Ve'ahavta also devotes much energy to the growing problem of homelessness in Toronto. Two or three nights a week, its volunteers drive around the city, stopping at underpasses, parks, al- leyways and other spots to deliver food and clothing. Its annual dinner for the homeless attracts 1,000 and its yearly creative writing contest for the homeless, which offers cash prizes, has spurred some winners to enroll in college writing programs. "Our theory is that if you can introduce a person to their soul, that might be a solution to getting them off the street," Rosensweig said. Operating on an annual budget of about $750,000, Ve'ahavta conducts these and other programs out of donated office space in the basement of a strip mall. The group has about 10 paid staff, a pool of about 1,000 volunteers and a growing list of programming partners, both at home and abroad. Ve'ahavta's budget has grown by about 20 percent annually, Rosensweig said. "We're very excited about sending out a Jewish peace corps, so to speak, into the world," he said. "Ve'ahavta actually sends out Jews of all backgrounds into the field to do tikkun olam. I think that's pretty innova- tive." Rosensweig, a former fund-raiser for the local Jewish federation, said he recognized long ago that the Jewish world had become an "ivory tower community" whose preferred solving problemswaS~ checks. "One of the started the community to sleeves," he said. was the Ba'al said, 'If friend, to get your hands rousing communitY~ Rosensweig said motivated to by the oft-repeated "never again" recognition of the creative skills of community to build ourselves the ashes. 'Tmsoim we as Jews are from nothing. I've always the State of most magnificent of that." especially the Reform and ist movements siastically organization. "There's a very belief within the community that to help Jews," response is ing Jews. Our first go strength Part of what we do isi down stereot' friends clo~ of all denominations proach the or help with a problem' that is swept under "We get calls from Jewish kidsare livin Rosensweig said. Althou full plate, for "Marty and Food Guys," a weekly radio show t friend Marty Galin CFRB, one of the popular stations. The television shows in three of them on some as "Marty and food products. Rosensweig, a yeshiva student Shabbat services folks home once a conducts High services for an u~ group called the Jewish Circle Ve'ahavta's for the homeless. Amajor turningl life came when "l ized that I wanted corn my blood. I was It's a very, very .ww.RTSFIofldL,om 407-948-8270 Also Great for