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Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

April 21, 2017 | 25 Nissan 5777 | Shabbat Candlelighting at 7:56 p.m.

This message has 753 words and will take about 4 minutes to read.

First things first, there is good news and there is good news.

The first good news is that our Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration on May 1st is nearly sold out! The second good news is that every seat in The Chan Centre is a great seat, and as of the moment we pressed send on this message there were still tickets available on the Dress Level and Upper Level. (But for how much longer, who knows?) Click here and join us to celebrate Israel’s independence. Jane Bordeaux, the band that will be performing just released a new song this week, which you can listen to here. They are the hottest band in Israel right now, and it was a huge coup that we got them for this event.

The night before the great joy of Yom Ha’atzmaut we will mark Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Remembrance Day, which this year will include special commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War.  I am always awed by the deeply personal nature of this memorial service and just how many families in our community have been affected. I hope you will join us for that, too.

While these events are a just over a week away, with the way time seems to fly we will be deep into summer before we know it.

Behind the scenes, our staff have been working on a fresh new selection of speakers to kick off our next Annual Campaign at FEDtalks. Whether you’re reading this at your desk or on your phone, I’ll bet you have access to your calendar. It will take just a few clicks or swipes and taps to block off the evening of Wednesday, September 13th to hear from four inspirational and thought-provoking speakers at The Chan Centre. FEDtalks is known for the high quality presenters we’ve brought in the past, including former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, media mogul Randi Zuckerberg, and Rabbi David Wolpe – and you won’t want to miss this year’s extraordinary line up. And while you’ve got your calendar open, block off the evening of June 20th for our Annual General Meeting, too.

Community gatherings are a great way to connect, but so are the informal opportunities we are building on individual, family and small group levels. PJ Library is a great example and they’ve started to branch out in an exciting way. If you’ve been reading this message for a while you probably know that PJ Library is the Grinspoon Foundation program that we support locally, and which sends free Jewish children’s books right to families’ homes every month. Recently, they’ve started offering parents the annual opportunity to select a Jewish adult’s book for themselves. PJ Library books were already a great way to spark conversations and connections to Jewish traditions, culture and practices with children, and engaging parents on their level adds another important layer.

When parents are supported, very often other pieces can start to fall into place. One of our community’s strengths is its diversity and we have a large number of people who are relatively new to Vancouver and to Canada. It isn’t always easy to forge a new life in a new country, and we are proud to support services for our community’s many newcomers. At last week’s meeting of the Israeli Breakfast Club close to 40 women, some of whom are new and others who have been here for longer, bonded over coffee and board games as they talked about how they could support each other. Two women presented a new initiative that four group members came up with to support other Israeli women after having a baby, including bringing food, babysitting the older children, and helping with whatever else may be needed. Kol hakavod to Miri Tal, Ayelet Cohen and the Jewish Community Centre for this important initiative.

Meeting people where they are (in every sense) is increasingly important and effective. We’re now into our third year of supporting the ShinShin program through our partner, The Jewish Agency for Israel. We will be welcoming Diana and Maya to our community this August, and as you can see from their charming video, they are “super excited” to be coming here. They will spend a year volunteering with various community organizations and helping our local youth connect with Israel in new ways.

One of the broad goals of our work and the work of our partners is to build easy inroads that make community life more accessible. Much of that work is shifting as organizations like ours adapt to meet people where they are, both geographically and in terms of their interests. What I’ve shared with you today is just a selection of the opportunities that exist. The real question is how and when will you choose to take part? There is no better time than now.

Shabbat shalom.

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver