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Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

May 12, 2017 | 16 Iyar 5777 | Shabbat Candlelighting at 8:27 p.m.

This message has 815 words and will take about 4 minutes to read.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already the middle of May (especially with all this rain) and even harder to believe that many families will see their children graduate high school in a few short weeks. The prospect of sending your child off to university has always been fraught with emotion, but these days parents are thinking about so many things other than “just” academics, cost, and how to cope with an empty nest. It’s only natural to want to know what to expect in terms of Jewish life on campus, where to find kosher food, and what the atmosphere is like with regard to Israel.

Finding your way into Jewish community life on campus (and off) is important. Whether your soon-to-be graduate is considering a campus with 350 Jewish students or 3,500 our partners Hillel and CIJA have the information you need in their new guide to campus life called Going Somewhere? Click the link to download your free copy.   

In many cases, the level of interest a young adult has in getting involved in Jewish life away from home is rooted in their earlier experiences at camps or in a Jewish educational program like day school or complementary school or Jewish camp. As more and more of our population moves farther away from the core of Jewish services, families have found it increasingly challenging to access the programs their children need. For those seeking a Jewish day camp experience, that’s about to change.

JCC Camp Shalom Outreach is happening this summer in Coquitlam August 21st to September 1st. Registration is open for children ages 5-13 years and they are expecting it to sell out. There is also an opportunity for teens to volunteer or work at the camp. If you’re in Burnaby, New West, the Tri-Cities or beyond, this is a great opportunity. Contact Ben Horev, camp director, for more information. Over the past years we have funded a bus to bring Jewish campers from the regional communities to the JCC in Vancouver to attend camp, and this is an extension of that program. We are thrilled to see it grow!

Our Connect Me In program has also been busy developing and delivering programs for the members of our community who live outside of Vancouver. We have received a grant through the Canada Summer Jobs Program to hire a third or fourth year university student who has experience working with children and youth, knowledge of planning and implementing age appropriate activities infused with Jewish content. The student would work with Orly Naim, our manager of community development to deliver programs and activities for Jewish children and youth living in the Maple Ridge, Langley and Abbotsford areas. If you know of someone who would be a great fit, please invite them to contact Shelley Rivkin, our vice-president of planning, allocations and community affairs. Orly is in the midst of working with families in these communities to determine what kinds of programs would be right for their kids this summer. It’s a great example of how we’re building community collaboratively right where they live.

Whether it’s at camp, on campus, in a classroom or through an informal learning opportunity, Jewish educational experiences are a way in which we transmit our values and help our children and our community grow. There has been a lot of discussion lately around why Jewish education is important and how this has (or has not) shifted over the years, including the position of Dr. David Bryfman, who says, “…Jewish educational experiences enable people to thrive as human beings in the world today – as human beings, in their various communities, and in the world at large.” There are a number of points of view (as you might expect) and if you’re interested in exploring the topic more, you can read the interesting series of articles in the e.journal, Gleanings, published by The Jewish Theological Seminary as well as on

For a growing number of people in our community, sending their children to Jewish camp or day school or another Jewish program may have less to do with the evolving purpose of these programs and more to do with the high cost of living. We have a lot of community members who are spending so much on the basics like rent and groceries that there just isn’t enough left over to allow them to participate fully in Jewish life. This is leading to some very difficult tradeoffs about how – or whether - they engage in our community. I’ve written about this many times before, but you’re going to hear more and more about it, because this is what is truly at the heart of our ability to maintain our community.

Shabbat shalom.

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver