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Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

September 1, 2017 | 10 Elul Av 5777 | Shabbat Candlelighting at 7:36 p.m.

This message has 651 words and will take about 3 minutes to read.

I am very proud to share with you the decision made by our Board to designate $10,000 from our emergency fund to Hurricane Harvey Relief. Houston has been devastated, and the Jewish community has been hit very hard. Our Board designated an additional $10,000 to our BC Fire Relief Fund, which brings the total up to over $20,000. Not only are we proud of their decisions on behalf of our Federation, but of the passionate discussion they had about the need to make the biggest designations they could.

Of course, today is a great day to talk about the power of tzedakah, not just because we’re preparing for Shabbat, but because it is the first day of the 2017 Federation Annual Campaign.

Our campaign marketing material has a completely different look this year, and you may be wondering why. The reason is simple: our campaign looks different, because our community looks different.

Half of the Jewish families and individuals on the Lower Mainland live in underserved areas that are beyond the reach of most local Jewish organizations. It’s harder for them to access Jewish programs and services, the vast majority of which are concentrated in Vancouver.

The extraordinarily high cost of living, especially in Vancouver proper, means that many people who are closer to Jewish community life feel they cannot afford to fully participate in all that our community has to offer. They are simply too stretched with rent, groceries, transportation and childcare.

The central idea that informed the new look of our campaign is that Judaism, at its heart, is communal. We just aren’t meant to “do Jewish” on our own. For certain prayers we need a minyan. We are meant to live our lives as part of a community.

But community is made up of individuals, and we are all too aware that there is a cost to being Jewish. There’s a cost to educate our children, to join a synagogue, to access a service or join a Jewish program. As people make trade-offs in an attempt to make ends meet, a growing number of people are making really heartbreaking choices about whether they can fully participate in community life.

We can’t afford to lose them. Because if they can’t participate, then, quite frankly, that’s nothing short of an existential crisis for our community as a whole. To be completely honest, there is only so much time left for Federation and our partners to address these big picture issues in an effective way. And we need your help.

Our ability to remain a strong, vibrant community relies on individuals. It relies on individuals being connected. And it relies on individuals helping each other. That’s where you come in.

Momentum begets momentum, and by making your gift early you will inspire others to make their gifts early, and together you will help put this campaign on another record trajectory.

Recognizing that we need everyone to play a part, our campaign chair, Alex Cristall, has very generously funded an incentive for new donors and donors who haven’t made a gift in three or more years. If that’s you or someone you know, this is the year to give. When you do, an extra $100 will be donated to the campaign.

Your gift will extend the reach of Federation and our partner agencies. Right now, a zaida who lives in Maple Ridge travels several hours on public transit to get groceries from the Jewish Food Bank. Your gift will fund resources to serve people like him closer to home.

Last year marked the first year a Jewish senior in our community had to turn to a homeless shelter because there was nowhere else to go. Your gift supports seniors, families and individuals caught in the housing crisis.

Your gift keeps the cost of Jewish programs and services low and funds subsidies for people who need them. And it funds outreach programs, so the thousands of Jews living in regional communities can be a part of community life.

Your gift also supports social services in our partnership region in Israel, like Krembo Wings, a life-changing program for children with special needs.

To help our community, we need our community. Every single one of us. Rachel and I, along with our campaign leadership and many of our canvassers, have already made our campaign gifts in an effort to create the moment I wrote of earlier. Please help keep that going and make your gift today.

Shabbat Shalom.

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver