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Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

December 22, 2017 | 4 Tevet 5778 | Shabbat Candlelighting at 3:59 p.m.

This message has 696 words and will take about 3 minutes to read.

This week, just as we were thinking about what to write in this message, something incredible literally landed on our doorstep. We received the most touching note from a donor in an envelope with his gift. When we looked more closely we saw that the return address was from one of the regional communities outside of Vancouver. Here it is:

This is so much more than what it first appears to be. This one note represents four of the major aspects of our 2020 Strategic Priorities:

  • The increasingly high cost of living that is affecting many community members, and our commitment to keeping the cost of participating in community activities low and to funding subsidies for those who need them.

  • The difficulty many people have in accessing Jewish community programs and services outside of Vancouver, and how we are reaching out through our Connect Me In program and helping our partners to do the same. As someone who lives in a regional community, this donor likely experiences this firsthand.

  • Addressing the needs of our growing population of seniors, which is expected to double by 2030. In order to age in place and stay engaged in Jewish community life, seniors will need peer and professional services provided by our partners, which are made possible in large part by your gifts.

  • The imperative to raise the financial resources needed to grow our community through the campaign, the Foundation and special giving opportunities.

Feeling inspired like we are? You can make a difference, too, by making a gift here.

The campaign makes it possible for us to address the wide range of needs in our community. You may recall that in the 2016 campaign, there was special emphasis on raising additional funds for community security. It is an issue on which we’ve worked proactively for many years, and that we identified as an area of opportunity for investment in our 2020 Strategic Priorities.

On Wednesday we sent a community update with information about the recent anti-Semitic hate mail received by synagogues across the country (including two in our community) and an anti-Semitic incident at a community member’s home. You can read the email here, which provides instructions and resources in case another such incident should arise, and outlines the rationale for keeping such incidents out of the spotlight.

I would like to take this opportunity to provide you with highlights of our progress since the last campaign, so you can see how your gift is helping in this area.

The first is that in consultation with our Community Security Advisory Committee, we hired Daniel Heydenrych in the newly created role of Director of Community Security. Daniel is working with local Jewish organizations, law enforcement agencies, and other strategic partners to focus on three key priority areas:

  • Ensuring the ongoing safety of our community and its institutions;

  • Facilitating the delivery of training and educational workshops to ensure key community organizations and their leadership stay abreast of security best practices and trends; and

  • Cultivating a volunteer network to help enhance the security preparedness of local institutions, especially around major community events.

I realize that these recent incidents have left many people feeling upset, and rightly so. While I would never in any way minimize this, I would like to close on a different note. After all, this is the week when the days start becoming longer and there is naturally less darkness in our lives.

On Wednesday evening we co-presented the annual High School Debates with King David High School, with support from Shalhevet and Pacific Torah Institute. More than 60 Jewish students took on some of the most challenging and timely topics of the day, including truth in politics, who should make decisions about the medical needs of children, and whether those who indulge in dangerous lifestyles should pay more for health care. These are pretty weighty topics, and the fact that these students – our next generation of Jewish community leaders – embraced them and carried on the tradition of debate in which our history is steeped is cause to feel both pride and hope for what the future holds.

Shabbat shalom,

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver