Click here for web version
Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

June 16, 2017 | 22 Sivan 5777 | Shabbat Candlelighting at 9:02 p.m.

This message has 847 words and will take about 4 minutes to read.

We are thrilled to announce the names of the Federation and community volunteers who will be honoured at our Annual General Meeting this Tuesday, June 20th.

Young Leadership Award – Bryan Hack and Mike Sachs
Bryan is currently the vice chair of Young Adults on our Board, and has been instrumental in the success of Axis as well as in growing the Young Adult Philanthropy division of our campaign. Mike Sachs took on the presidency of the Bayit less than two years ago, and has revitalized the organization initiating programs and activities for community members of all ages.

Elaine Charkow Award – Lisa Pullan
Lisa Pullan is this year’s recipient of the Elaine Charkow Award, which recognizes Lisa’s outstanding involvement with the Federation Annual Campaign. As chair of Women’s Philanthropy for two years, Lisa helped drive back to back record campaign results to address growing community needs.

Bob Coleman Award – Risa Levine
On the occasion of our 30th anniversary, we are very proud to announce the establishment of the Bob Coleman award, named for the first president of our Federation. The award honours someone who has been instrumental in making sure Federation makes the greatest impact possible with your donations. We are so very pleased to share that the inaugural recipient is Risa Levine, who has served on our Allocations Planning Committee, was chair of the Jewish Community Foundation, and co-chair of our Jewish Education Task Force.

There is much more to say about each of these leaders who will be honoured on Tuesday. I hope you will join us at the AGM.

On a completely different note, I want to share with you the information Statistics Canada released about hate crimes this week. While the number of hate crimes targeting Jews has decreased, we continue to be the most targeted religious minority in Canada.

While this information brings security to the fore for many people, it is an area where we have always strived to be steps ahead. Community security was identified as a key area of opportunity in our 2020 Strategic Priorities, and it was the central theme of last year’s Annual Campaign. The $300,000 raised for security during the campaign is already at work addressing critical security needs faced by some high traffic local Jewish organizations, including security guards and specialized security assessments.

Our Community Security Advisory Committee, chaired by past Federation president, Bernard Pinsky, is helping move our community to a culture of security consciousness. They have worked with our staff to roll out new security grants to community agencies and institutions, which will help them qualify for matching Federal funds, and they have addressed the security needs of several community events. The fact that we were out in front of this well in advance of the two bomb threats the JCC received in March is significant, and our approach was commended by Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer.

Strengthening our relationships with other faith-based and ethno-cultural communities has never been more important. It was great to see our partners, CIJA and the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre (VHEC), collaborate for the World Sikh Organization Annual Community Dinner last week. Child survivor and VHECs outreach speaker, Robbie Waisman, shared his story of survival and his perspective on the importance of human rights. His message of hope and resiliency resonated with a room packed with 700 guests.

Speaking of packed rooms, it was wonderful to see that Gary Averbach and his children, Shannon Gorski and Michael Averbach, were honoured last week by the Jewish National Fund. We are extremely fortunate to count the Averbachs among the leaders of our Federation, too. Gary has been a member of the Jewish Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees, Shannon is the current chair of the Foundation’s Grant Distribution Committee, and Mike has served on our Board and is a team captain for the Annual Campaign. We are fortunate to count them among our most committed donors. I wasn’t able to be there that evening, because I was at the Jewish Federation of Canada-UIA meetings.

While we’re on the subject of tzedakah through the generations, I was so proud to loop back with students at Vancouver Talmud Torah who are in the Mitzvah Valuing Philanthropy (MVP) program. Students learn about tzedakah and fundraise for organizations that relate to mitzvoth that are meaningful to them. One student even chose Federation. Kol hakvod to these budding philanthropists who raised over 20,000. It was inspiring to see both parents and students gather to celebrate this important program. 

On a final note: on Tuesday we celebrated our Lions of Judah, women who made a gift of $5,000 or more to the Annual Campaign. Keynote speaker, Rabbi Elana Zaiman, spoke about how although it is easy to stay connected with our digital devices, real connections are built through the quality of our personal interactions. This is one of the building blocks of community. If this strikes a chord with you, as it did with me, and you are looking for ways to get more involved, I hope you will think of Federation. We are in the midst of planning for the 2017 Annual Campaign, and volunteers play an incredibly important role. There is also an opportunity to make a real connection at our AGM on Tuesday, and I hope we’ll see you there.  

Shabbat shalom.

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver