Jewish bone marrow registry brings Jerusalem market to Toronto

Mahaneh Yehuda vendors fly to Canada to replicate landmark and promote cause.

 (photo credit: TAMARA ZIEVE)
(photo credit: TAMARA ZIEVE)
The Canadian branch of the global Jewish bone marrow registry, Ezer Mizion, is bringing a piece of Jerusalem to Toronto to raise awareness of its cause.
On Sunday, a replica of Israel’s landmark Mahaneh Yehuda market, or shuk – including Israeli vendors brought over especially for the event – will pop up in the Canadian city.
“Join us as Ezer Mizion’s market takes you back to the cobblestone streets of Jerusalem.
Vendors from Israel and Toronto will supply you with specialty market foods, spices and aromas reminiscent of a day in the Jerusalem market,” the organization announced.
“Vendors in our space will replicate the exact look and feel of the market, taking you away to Israel for the day. Personalities come to life as vendors yell to the crowds, inviting you to taste their olives, dried fruit, bourekas, candy and spices.”
The idea behind the event is to attract and educate members of the public about Ezer Mizion’s work.
“In Israel, Ezer Mizion is enormous and everybody knows it. But because we are the world’s largest Jewish bone marrow registry, and we don’t only save lives in Israel but also in Canada and across the world, our goal was to create awareness in Canada specifically so that people understand why it is important,” Ezer Mizion Canada’s director Dena Bensalmon told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
“So we thought, let’s do something crazy.” The organization then came up with the idea of replicating Mahaneh Yehuda as a site which many people feel a connection to.
Bensalmon said tickets were “flying off the hook” and they would have to close sales by the end of the day so the venue at Artscape Wychwood Barns would not exceed maximum capacity.
What had begun as a Jewish- targeted event has, according to Bensalmon, become a multicultural one, attracting the interest of Christian and Muslims.
“We figured the Jewish community would support a Jewish bone marrow registry,” she explained, but observed that many others were drawn to the event as a cultural food experience, and welcomed the wider interest the event had attracted.
“When a person needs a bone marrow match you are essentially looking for person in world that has the exact same DNA that they do... The chances that a person with Jewish DNA will find a perfect match with a Chinese, Spanish or German person are little but are much higher among Jewish people,” Bensalmon said, explaining the idea behind mono-cultural registries.
She added, however, that non-Jews are also welcome to join the registry and indeed, it has happened that Jews and non-Jews have found matches with each other.