Board Chair and CEO’s Message

This was a year of transition for Jewish Federation. Our long serving CEO, Mark Gurvis, left for a position in New York with the Jewish Federations of North America. Richard Fruchter joined us from Seattle to become our Interim CEO. And we engaged in a successful search for our new CEO, Ezra Shanken. Even amidst a few other senior staff changes, we were able to not only keep things steady but significantly move our organization and the community forward.

In spite of several years of large capital campaigns in our Jewish community, the Federation Annual Campaign continued to grow modestly to over $ 7.71 million, a testament to the strength and commitment of our volunteers and donors. In addition, our overall growth in financial resource development was dramatic. Gifts to support special projects and programs increased by 19.2% over the previous year amounting to over $600,000. Emergency funds and flow-through donations topped $1.5 million, a 21.4% increase over last year. The Jewish Community Foundation's endowment fund also enjoyed substantial growth and the assets now sit at approximately $42 million, up from $34.5 million last year, a 21.3% increase from the 2012-13 fiscal year. We also raised an additional $58,000 in donations to help with the devastating effects of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Thanks to you, these combined efforts generated a total of approximately $16 million in financial resources for our community—a very impressive figure which is well beyond the $7.71 million raised in the Annual Campaign. Your increased gifts, whether annual gifts, legacy gifts in your wills, or special projects, help us fund programs and services that address our community’s current and emerging needs.

Last June saw the launch of Axis, Jewish Federation’s new initiative for young adults in their 20s and 30s. One of their first creative ideas was Leadership Lab, a 6 month leadership and community development program to empower 24 participants to make a difference in our community today and learn the skills to be our leaders of tomorrow. As a result of Axis, over 400 young adults participated in social action projects, social events and attended conferences like Tribefest in New Orleans for a very successful first year.

A key planning initiative of the Planning Council, JHub Richmond opened its doors this past March, bringing Jewish social services to Richmond. The identified need was to primarily help frail and socially isolated seniors but will be expanded to include space for services for children, youth and families.

One of the significant findings of the Youth at Risk report, released by the Planning Council, was the need for a teen peer mentor program. “Chill Chat” was developed by JFSA and JCC, and was launched in January 2014 with ten teens matched with ten mentors.

The Jewish Education Task Force met throughout this past year to envision the future of Jewish education in the Lower Mainland and over the next few months will engage our stakeholders to explore how best to implement the strategic directions contained in the report.

Our Federation organizes and supports many diverse ongoing educational and cultural exchanges between our partnership region in Israel and the Vancouver Jewish Community. Israeli dancers and educators from Northern Israel joined their counterparts here in Vancouver to learn from each other. Our largest class in history - 41 students and 5 staff from King David High School —experienced the joy of traveling in Israel together. This year 110 young adults and 5 madrichim are participating in Taglit Birthright trips to Israel from December to August.

Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) continues to be on the frontlines of defending Israel. This past year they worked on strategies to combat the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement; Trans Link bus ads; unfair and inaccurate criticism of Israel, and Israel Apartheid Week on college campuses.

Surrey Mayor Diane Watts and a delegation of business and educational leaders accompanied CIJA professional and volunteer leaders on a very successful trade mission to Israel . The mission resulted in the creation of several agreements and partnerships between Israel and Surrey. Mayor Watts was so taken with her experiences that she asked to bring greetings to our community at our Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration in the Chan Centre. The Israel Independence Day event enjoyed by more than 1,200 community members also featured Ethiopian-Israeli singer Hagit Yaso the winner of Israeli Idol.

We must continue to be vigilant in order to support, protect and cherish our fellow Jews in Vancouver, in troubled communities in the Ukraine, France and across the globe and in the state of Israel.

We are very grateful to all of the volunteers and staff of the Federation and our partner agencies who bring to life these programs and services to build a brighter future for our Jewish community.


Diane Switzer
Board Chair
Richard Fruchter
Senior Consultant in the Office
of the CEO