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Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

July 21, 2017 | 27 Tammuz 5777 | Shabbat Candlelighting at 8:48 p.m.

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Earlier this week, we opened the BC Fire Relief Fund and we will be working with members of the Kamloops Jewish community to ensure we are deploying the funds effectively to help those impacted by this challenging situation. Approximately 45,000 people have been displaced due to the fires burning across the province. While some evacuees have been allowed to return home, many are living in shelters like school gyms and hockey arenas as they wait to find out if their homes are still standing. We know that many of you look to our Federation as your preferred way to help in situations like this, and we value the trust you place in us. Giving tzedakah before welcoming Shabbat is one tradition Rachel, the boys and I honour every week, and I hope you will join us in helping our fellow British Columbians. Donate here.

Also of note in provincial news is the swearing in of the new Premier and Cabinet, which I was honoured to attend on Tuesday alongside our Board chair, Karen James; Nico Slobinsky of our advocacy partner, The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA); and Kara Mintzberg of The Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC). Part of the work that CIJA and CJPAC do on behalf of our community involves building positive relationships with representatives of all political parties – not just the party or parties that happen to form Government or The Official Opposition at any given time. The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of democracy, and something of which all British Columbians can be very proud. It was an honour to witness it take place at Government House.

On a national level, I would like to share with you an exciting project that CIJA has launched in honour of Canada 150, a year-long initiative called Pledge 150. Shimon Fogel, CEO of CIJA explained it like this in a column he wrote for the Globe and Mail:

“The challenge is straightforward: we ask every church, temple, mosque and synagogue to commit to undertaking 150 positive deeds that make Canada better tomorrow than it is today. 150 volunteer hours visiting the elderly. 150 new donations to community food banks. 150 new Canadian Blood Services donations. 150 hands extended to Indigenous communities. The list of concrete opportunities is as limitless as the need for them.”

Visit to take part. You can share your Pledge pics or ideas, which CIJA will promote on the website and social media. 

At the local level, I am very proud to let you know of some great events coming up in the regional communities. We don’t usually promote events in this message, but we make exceptions for our big events that are of broad interest and for events that we support in the regional communities. After all, we need to use every possible avenue to reach the thousands of Jews who live outside of Vancouver – and that includes help from you! We all know how powerful word of mouth is, so please play a little Jewish geography and share this with your friends and family who live outside of Vancouver. We’re programming from Squamish to Chilliwack these days, and we’re not slowing down for summer.

Our Connect Me In initiative has planned a Sunday Funday in Maple Ridge on August 13th and we are partnering to present the JCC Community Celebration Day on August 20th in Langley. These two cities have some of the fastest growing Jewish populations on the Lower Mainland, so you can expect to see more and more programming that reaches beyond Vancouver’s borders. If you want to be the first to hear about these events as they are announced, it’s easy. Just sign up here.

Also happening throughout the summer, Dafna Silberstein, who holds a dual role with our Israel and Overseas Affairs department and Masa Israel Journey, will lead activities at Jewish summer camps, including games, Israel trivia, and even a Shark Tank/Dragon’s Den themed start-up competition to promote Masa. While they’re having fun, they’ll also learn about the opportunities that are there for them down the road, like Masa’s gap year, internships, volunteer opportunities, and study abroad programs.

We support a wide variety of Israel experiences, of which Masa Israel Journey is but one. Click here to see them all, and start planning your next Israel adventure today.

Shabbat shalom.

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver