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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

True hero Rabbi Yisroel Bernath deserves your vote

I am doing something I rarely if ever do and submitting something for your consideration that I edited and augmented, but that did not originally come from me. This is my contribution to Rabbi Bernath’s campaign, which is rapidly winding down, and I hope it attracts your deserving attention!

If you are a student, you may have noticed Rabbi Bernath and his team of students roaming the halls of Concordia's West End campus or taking over the pages of Facebook. They are trying to get your votes to put Rabbi Bernath into the top 20 of the Jewish Community Heroes Competition. Voting ends on October 8, 2010, and the Rabbi’s chances are viable, remarkable considering that someone from Montreal, one of the smallest North American metropolises involved, is still in the running.

The exuberant Rabbi Yisroel Bernath, 28, runs a spiritual centre in the heart of the Monkland Village. Hundreds of students and young adults flock to his centre for guidance, education, spirituality and simply to have a good ol' time. "It's an incredible place," Christina Stanbridge said, as she passed around some goodies at a recent cocktail. "The energy, the people, a sincere love to be here... I truly enjoy volunteering here. It's more than home." Thirteen now-married or engaged young couples have met through the centre and there is an activity going on almost every day of the week.

Back in January, Rabbi Bernath started a campaign to encourage students and community members to log onto their Facebook pages and vote for the Michigan-based Friendship Circle's place in the Chase Community Challenge. Friendship Circle, which has a Montreal branch, is an organization servicing special needs children. The group was responsible for over 3000 of the approximately 50,000 votes received. "We really wanted to help them win," Jonathon Waysman, 25, said. "But there is a huge difference between getting someone to log onto Facebook and winning this competition. This contest works by IP address. The university has only one IP address, so we needed to convince everyone to vote at home. It has been a really difficult challenge!"

The winner of the Jewish Community Heroes competition gets a grant for their organization, according to the Jewish Federation of North America's website. “It's much more than that, though" explained Stanbridge, "It’s the recognition that a young rabbi from a smaller community can compete against the big cities and take home the gold. I am very optimistic. I really think we can do it!"

The group is asking you to log onto http://www.jewishcommunityheroes.org/nominees/profile/yisroel-bernath/ and vote for Rabbi Bernath. It's a vote for our community. Who knows? With faith as a motivator, anything is possible.

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