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Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

March 3, 2017 | 5 Adar 5777 | Shabbat Candlelighting at 5:41 p.m.

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We have a great number of updates and insights to share with you as the week draws to an end, and many of them connect directly back to the work we outlined in our 2020 Strategic Priorities. I’m going to try to cast the widest possible net without making this week’s message overly long.

First, I had the pleasure of attending Wrestling Jerusalem and the David Broza concert - just two of the many top notch performances on offer at this year’s Chutzpah! Festival. Chutzpah! brings a variety of world-class performers to Vancouver that also provide great opportunities to get out there and “do Jewish.” Always an important part of the fabric of our community, arts and cultural programs are also highly effective Jewish outreach tools, which we noted in our 2020 Strategic Priorities. We are so proud to support the Chutzpah! Festival’s work.

Speaking of outreach, we’ve been very active in the regional communities across the Lower Mainland recently. Last Friday David Albert and his family hosted Sukh Dhaliwal, MP for Surrey-Newton, for Shabbat dinner at their home in White Rock as part of a series of casual get togethers we have undertaken with The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC). These Shabbat dinners help public officials better understand who we are, what the practice of Judaism looks like, and what is important to our community. White Rock has one of the fastest growing Jewish communities in the Lower Mainland, and engaging with those who represent us is part and parcel of being a facet of the broader community.

Over in Coquitlam, another city with a rapidly growing Jewish community, I am thrilled to report that 70 people attended a Shabbat dinner at Burquest where they heard from one of our teen emissaries from Israel, Yael Miller, who is volunteering in our community this year with three of her peers as part of the ShinShinim program. We’re very proud to support outreach programming at Burquest and through our Connect Me In program, which hosted a Tu B’Shevat family event for more than two dozen community members in Maple Ridge. More than half of our community is comprised of young families, youth and children, and it is so important that we provide frequent, meaningful, accessible opportunities for them where they live.

Many Jews living across the Lower Mainland are feeling pressured by the dual challenges of affordability and accessibility. One of the ways we are responding is that our Federation Planning Council in collaboration with the Rabbinical Association of Vancouver, Jewish Family Service Agency, Tikva Housing and Hebrew Free Loan Association, is hosting an affordability summit on March 29th at 6:00 p.m. at Temple Sholom. The summit will focus on ways we can positively impact our community in areas such as food security, affordable housing, Jewish day school education and community participation. We don’t usually write about events before they happen, but this one is focused on an issue of such significance to our community and our 2020 Strategic Priorities that I am making a rare exception.

We were also involved in two events of note that you might not be aware of. The first was our support of the Community Forum on Immigration and Racial Discrimination hosted by our friends at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. The forum featured a keynote by His Excellency Artur Wilczynski, Canada’s Ambassador to Norway, and panels discussions on racial discrimination and the value of immigrants to the province. Many thanks to Dr. Robert Krell who spoke at the forum, and to Karen James who represented our Federation.

The second was an address I delivered at a reception for Israeli members of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO). We are very fortunate to have the support of Mark James, Lana and Doug Pulver, Craig Diamond, and Michael Fugman, who have led YPO missions that combined have brought nearly 100 Jewish and non-Jewish CEOs to Israel. We deeply appreciate the opportunity to build greater understanding and support among this group of influencers when it comes to important topics like anti-Semitism and Israel.

Speaking of Israel, get ready for tickets to go on sale next week for Yom Ha’atzmaut on May 1st. The Jane Bordeaux band is the hottest ticket in Israel right now, selling out all over the country and topping the radio charts. In just a few days, when tickets go on sale, they’ll be the hottest ticket here, too. Keeping this community celebration accessible for everyone has always been a priority for us. (See, here are those issues of affordability and accessibility again. They’re literally everywhere.) The committee has worked hard to keep ticket prices low, and they provide hundreds of free tickets to community members in need who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend. This is possible due in large part to individual and corporate sponsorships, which start at $500. It’s a great way to make an impact while showing your love for Israel. For more information, contact our office at 604.257.5100.

Shabbat shalom.

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver