Ve’ahavta Annual Gala celebrates the ‘Power of Story’

In a world where stories of intolerance, hate and fear are dominating our daily news feeds, we need, now more than ever, to be inspired by people who are making a real difference. Starry Nights 2017, Ve’ahavta’s biggest fundraising event, celebrates humanitarian achievements and recognizes the generous support of approximately 2,000 individuals, foundations and businesses. The annual gala will be hosted by restaurateur and TV personality Zane Caplansky.

What:   Ve’ahavta’s Annual Starry Night Gala,

When:  Sunday November 12

Where: Bram & Bluma Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge St

Time:    7:15 PM – 10 PM

  1. Keynote speech by Megan Phelps-Roper – Phelps-Roper grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church: a group infamous for its intolerance. Encounters on Twitter showed her that another life was possible—and in 2012, she escaped her home, family, and faith. Now, with a popular TED Talk, a major New Yorkerprofile, and an upcoming memoir, she is a unique example of how empathy can overcome hate, and how tolerance can bridge ideology. A film about her life has also just been put in the works, with screenplay by Nick Hornby and Reese Witherspoon as one of the producers.
  2. Special presentation by Canada Post – The President and CEO of Canada Post Deepak Chopra will unveil the new Hanukkah stamp, which recognizes the Jewish faith’s eight-day celebration, also known as the Festival of Lights.
  3. Remarks from a graduate of Ve’ahavta’s programs Formerly a recluse, Gerry Banks never left his apartment for seven or eight years other than to walk his dog. Now, at age 70, having graduated from Ve’ahavta’s programs, he is an active volunteer, an advocate for seniors and a member of the advisory group which informs the City of Toronto’s poverty reduction initiatives.
  4. Ve’ahavta’s Award Ceremony will celebrate those who have made an impactful difference:

o   The Humanitarian Award: PEACH (Palliative Education and Care for the Homeless).  PEACH delivers palliative care to homeless and precariously housed individuals across the city.

o   Emerging Leader Award: Mark Soberano, Founder and Executive Director of Building Up, a non-profit social enterprise. Building Up trains and employs Torontonians with barriers to employment to install energy and water efficient retrofits in Toronto’s low-income housing buildings.

o   Lifetime Achievement Award – Karen Goldenberg, C.M.: A recipient of the Order of Canada, Karen has been an outstanding leader in the health and social service field, devoting her life to supporting people to live with dignity in the community.

Ve’ahavta (Hebrew for “and you shall love”) is a Jewish charitable social service agency dedicated to promoting positive change in the lives of people of all faiths who are marginalized by poverty. The organization delivers poverty alleviation programs that break down barriers, restore human dignity, foster capacity-building, and empower marginalized individuals to break the cycle of poverty.


— Karen Nussbaum