Shabbat Candlelighting 3:59 p.m.                                             Friday, December 2, 2011/6 Kislev 5772

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BUYcott Produces Strong Support for Israeli Shop
The latest efforts to delegitimize Israel focused this week on a day of protests outside Lavan, a Canadian company selling soap and body products manufactured in Israel. Protestors picketed outside the store on Granville Street in downtown Vancouver. Inside, as a result of our community’s BUYcott response, a steady stream of customers produced the strongest Sunday sales the shop has seen since it opened. The shop also received strong support from the Downtown Business Improvement Association.

Jewish Federation Joins Regional Funders’ Table on Seniors' Services
This week, Jewish Federation was invited to participate in a meeting hosted by United Way for a diverse group of funding organizations ranging from the Law Foundation to Variety - The Children's Charity. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by funding organizations in the changing economic climate. Many of the organizations at the table are grappling with the same issues as our allocation committee, as they try to ensure that long term programs are supported in addition to funding new programs designed to address the needs of a growing and changing community.

National Federation System Addressing Critical Funding and Priority Issues
The Jewish Federations and smaller communities across Canada are joined together in a national association: the Jewish Federations of Canada - United Israel Appeal (JFC - UIA). That national body represents and manages our collective philanthropic activities in Israel, ensures CRA compliance on overseas contributions and allocations, manages virtually all youth and young adult travel to Israel through Canada Israel Experience, and conducts national planning and leadership development activities. Over the past three years, as the recession has impacted the general climate for fundraising, JFC - UIA has come under increasing pressure to reduce its budget, and has done so to the tune of 22% in that time.

JFC - UIA is an inherently Canadian institution, which means it reflects the regional imbalances and tensions that all national Canadian bodies do – wealth and power are concentrated primarily in Toronto and Montreal. Smaller communities have less representation and less ability to influence the national agenda and decision making. In a community system such as ours, the series of budget reductions have meant that the national organization is becoming less able to provide support and service to the smaller communities that rely on it most, while the strongest and most independent communities place increasing pressure to keep shrinking the national body.

As the third largest community in Canada, we are increasingly being looked to by the national system to help represent the interests of the smaller communities, and to persuade our larger partners to demonstrate greater commitment to the national collective. It is a role that our volunteer leadership has taken on with increasing energy and impact over the past few weeks as JFC - UIA heads towards its semi-annual board meeting at which critical budget and priority issues will be addressed. The process is inherently challenging, as we weigh in with about 6% of the national Jewish population, and about 6% of the national Jewish Federation-coordinated fundraising. Toronto and Montreal combined represent over 80% of our system, so you can well imagine the dynamics that flow from that. However, our call for recommitment to a national collective is gaining momentum and being heard.

Parashat Toledot
This week’s parasha relates the story of Esau and Jacob, one of sibling rivalry from even before birth and on into adulthood. The story reflects our ancestral forbears with all their human imperfections. For a thoughtful reflection on this week’s parasha I invite you to click here to link to a commentary by Karen James, Jewish Federation’s vice-chair, financial resource development, and a member of the Jewish Federations of North America national women’s philanthropy board. It is a bit longer than my usual Torah commentary but worth the read.

Shabbat Shalom!

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