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Second official Military Family Appreciation Day to take place on September 18

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(Left to Right) Shane Urowitz; Sgt. Michael Rude CD, (Ret’d), Spark the Dog; COO of Together We Stand, Stephanie Shapiro; L.Col. Jennifer Parker; Together We Stand Co-Founder Lillian Ekstein; Sonia Lemyre (CAF Spouse); and Together We Stand Co-Founder Rick Ekstein | Photo: Together We Stand Foundation

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On the eve of September 18th, Jewish families the world over will welcome Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, as a time for introspection and repentance. For the second year, this day will also recognize Military Family Appreciation Day (MFAD).

“We hope people in our community will join us in thanking Canada’s patriotic military families, especially as MFAD falls on the eve of Rosh Hashanah,” said Rick Ekstein, co-founder, Together We Stand Foundation, a charity that honours and supports the Canadian military.

Ekstein explained, “Family is everything. As the child of a Holocaust survivor, I know that others like me can appreciate how important it is to show our gratitude to the backbone of the CAF—Canada’s military families.”

MFAD is the creation of the Together We Stand Foundation and was established through unanimous consent motion, moved in the House of Commons on June 19, 2019. The motion designated the third Friday of each September as Military Family Appreciation Day. This year, MFAD is asking people of all ages to ‘Hold Down The Fort’ by building a pillow or blanket fort between September 1st – 18th. Take a photo or shoot a video, post your footage on social media using #HomeFortChallenge and challenge others to build their own forts.

“A young military spouse came up with this fun and creative way to show our country’s military families that we see them, and appreciate them,” said Stephanie Shapiro, COO, Together We Stand Foundation. “While their serving member is off somewhere serving Canada, military families have their own home base; they have to build their own fort to provide the serving member a safe and supportive home to return to.”

On MFAD, people from coast to coast will show their respect and appreciation for the 80,000+ families of the Canadian Armed Forces. This resilient population endures multiple deployments and postings, year after year. Spouses and children are required to relocate to new cities, switch schools and jobs, resulting in inevitable stress and uncertainty when planning a future.  

To help celebrate, entertainment, sports and political figures such as Col. Chris Hadfield and former Prime Ministers Stephen Harper and Paul Martin, are asking Canadians to participate in the #HomeFortChallenge.

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The military provides a safe home for Canada’s Jewish community.

TheJ.ca spoke with Jewish Lieutenant-Colonel James Stocker, Commanding Officer, Queen’s York Rangers. The Queen’s York Rangers is a reserve armored reconnaissance regiment with squadrons in Toronto and Aurora. Stocker knows first-hand the long stretches his fiancé must wait and worry for his safe return.

“My fiancé was with me when I was in Iraq and Kuwait. I was gone for about nine months,” said Stocker. “Families are the stability and the rock—we couldn’t do much without that stability at home. Having a sense of appreciation directed towards the family is important, and benefits their mental health and well being.” 

Following deployments, soldiers often suffer psychological and behavioural repercussions such as changed sleep patterns, PTSD, substance abuse or depression.

Lieutenant-Colonel James Stocker, Commanding Officer, The Queen's York Rangers, after returning from Operation Impact in the Middle East | Photo: Stocker's fiancé Ms. Ashley Blackburn

Rabbi Mordechai Rothman represents the Chaplain for the Canadian Armed Forces. He is responsible for tending to the spiritual and moral well-being of service members and their families.

“People are often surprised to know that there are people within the Jewish community serving in the Canadian Armed Forces,” said Rabbi Rothman. “I am extremely proud of the fact I am able to give back our Jewish values to the military community and to the organization.”

Growing up Stocker was fascinated by military history. Now, the 38-year old oversees some 250 soldiers in his unit.

“In 1999, I was a Grade 12 student and applied as a part-time reservist with the Queens York Rangers on weekends,” said Stocker. “At University I was accepted as an officer and mid-way through university I decided I wanted to pursue more full-time service.”

When COVID hit, the military created a COVID Rapid Response Unit called TGB1 and Stocker was its commander.

“Because of the nature of COVID, we weren’t sure what was coming when we got the call,” said Stocker. “The deployment was 105 days—we were away from home for 3 ½ months on very short notice.”

Stocker’s greatest reward of being a leader in the military is his sense of purpose.

“It helps me get out of bed –even on the worst days,” said Stocker.

 Visit twsfoundation.ca to learn how to contribute.

Canadian journalist Susan Minuk is both humbled and heartened by everyday stories with the power to touch or inspire her readers’ lives. Susan’s work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and Canadian Jewish News.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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