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Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

June 10, 2016 | 4 Sivan 5776 | Shabbat Candlelighting at 8:59 p.m.

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Community is an extension of family, and so what better way to begin this week’s message with news of two new additions to our family and our community. I am delighted and extremely proud to announce that on Wednesday morning Rachel and I welcomed our twin boys to the world! Mom and babies are both doing well, and we hope to be home soon. One of our boys is in the NICU and it warmed my heart that the machine that was helping our son develop his breathing was donated by members of our community, Gordon and Leslie Diamond. The boys’ first Shabbat, and our first as a family of four, will be a very special one indeed. You can follow our antics on Facebook using ‪#‎littlechickentwins.

It was not lost on us that just as we were bringing new life into the world, four lives were taken in a terror attack in Tel Aviv. So often in our experience as Jews we find the bitter and the sweet come into our lives on each other’s heels. May the memories of those who lost their lives be for blessings, and may Israel enjoy lasting peace one day soon.

We have some happier Israel-related news, which is that Jewish Federation and the Jewish Community Centre are partnering with the organizing committee of the 2016 Surrey Women’s World Softball Championship to support the participation of the Israeli team in the Championships this summer. This is the first time since the Montreal Olympics that a national team from Israel is coming to North America to participate in a team sport, and we have the honour of hosting the team in our community. The Women’s World Softball Championship will be held from July 15-24, and will include a Celebration of Nations which will showcase the music, food and culture of each participating country - Israel will be featured on July 18.

Arnold and Anita Silber and Garry Zlotnik, and their respective companies, Value Group of Companies and ZLC Financial, are reaching out to community members to raise funds to support the team and to support community engagement initiatives throughout the tournament. I hope you will attend the tournament and celebrate these Israeli athletes as they compete in Canada under the Israeli flag.

Since last summer three extraordinary young women – ShinShinim: Lian, Tomer and Ofir - have brought a little bit of Israel to our community in their own way, and they will be presenting on their experience at our Annual General Meeting on June 20th. In August we will welcome three new ShinShinim to our community, and we are actively seeking 12 host families with children to host one ShinShin each for a three month period. This is a bit different from having an exchange student, in that the host family’s role is primarily to facilitate the ShinShin’s ability to contribute to our community, rather than to expose the girls to Canadian life. One host family described the experience as having “deepened our family’s connection to Israel.” If you’d like to apply, email us at

Also speaking at our AGM will be Shimon Fogel, CEO of our advocacy partner, The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, who will deliver the keynote address. Come out to hear an update on our advocacy work, and, of course, to honour our incredible volunteers.

Speaking of advocacy, we are participating in a national survey of the Jewish community in concert with our partner organizations across Canada. Click here to complete the short survey, and share your ideas and opinions to shape our advocacy priorities in the years ahead.

One final note: June is graduation time, and I want to extend a big mazel tov and kol hakavod to all the young people in our community who are embarking on new chapters in their lives.

Shabbat shalom,

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver