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Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

April 19, 2019 | 14 Nissan 5779 | Candlelighting at 7:52 p.m.

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Earlier this week we announced the results of the Annual Campaign. I am very pleased to let you know that thanks to our generous donors we raised over $8.9 million! Todah rabbah to everyone who contributed. We are deeply grateful for your support of community, and for your commitment to tzedakah and tikkun olam.

The $8.9 million breaks down like this:

  • $7.8 million to support programs and services delivered in our local community and in Israel;
  • $1.1 million in special project funding to support programs that meet high priority community needs aligned with our 2020 Strategic Priorities; and
  • $80,000 to support the work of specific agencies as a result of donors directing a portion of their increased gifts through the Plus Giving program.

Throughout the Annual Campaign we talked about the challenges our community is facing, and the importance of every community member's participation in Jewish life.

Thanks to your generosity, our partners will continue to provide robust subsidies. That means families will be able to enroll their children in Jewish schools, summer camps, and educational programs. Seniors will be able to access the support they need to live independently and to stay connected socially to their peers. And, for the vulnerable among us, the social services they rely on will continue to be available. 

In fact, all across the region, Jewish community life will flourish. We are continuing to develop and deliver Jewish programs through our Connect Me In initiative, and in partnership with other organizations. Last week alone we reported on events that were held in Coquitlam and Squamish. We’re proud to tell you that the Langley Hebrew School is going strong for the second year in a row, and registration is underway for a Hebrew School in Coquitlam.

For our extended family in our partnership region in Northern Israel, we will keep reaching out to at-risk youth and providing them with opportunities to achieve their full potential. And our strategic focus on developing the next generation of young leaders through programs like Galil-Up will continue, so they can take the entire Upper Galilee region to the next level.

In the former Soviet Union, we will continue to provide a lifeline to 165,000 elderly Jews – many of them Holocaust survivors – who are among the most destitute Jews in the world. They rely on us for groceries, medicine, and oil to heat their homes in the winter.

On behalf of our Board Chair, Karen James, we sincerely thank everyone who helped make the Annual Campaign a success, with special kavod to our leadership who worked tirelessly for our community:

Jonathon Leipsic - Campaign Chair
Alex Cristall - Immediate Past Chair
Shay Keil and Lana Pulver – Co-Chairs, Major Gifts
Megan Laskin – Chair, Women's Philanthropy
Michael Averbach and Ken Miller - Co-Chairs, Men's Philanthropy
Marcus Brandt and Bryan Hack - Co-Chairs, Young Adult Philanthropy
Al Szajman – Chair, Marketing and Communications
Alvin Wasserman - Campaign Advisor
Susan Hector and Daniel Miller –Co-Chairs, Canvasser Development
Michael Nemirow – Chair, Sponsorship
Catherine Epstein – Agency Liaison

We would also like to say todah rabbah to the more than 250 community members who volunteered their time as canvassers, and everyone who volunteered at an event or on a committee.

Behind every successful campaign is a team of dedicated professionals. Many thanks to our Campaign department: Laura Braude, Ayelet Cohen Weil, Dana Soffer, Kate Webster, Gavi Beigel, Fiona Luo and Anna Labadze, and the entire Jewish Federation staff.

We can’t talk about the Annual Campaign without mentioning the 39 local, national, and international organizations we are proud to call our partners. Not only do they deliver the programs and services on which thousands of people rely, we are working together in new ways to benefit our community.

One example of that is the Jewish Food Security Task Force, which was jointly led by Jewish Federation and Jewish Family Services, and chaired by Renée Katz and Stan Shaw. The task force was an outcome of the Affordability Summit that we co-hosted in 2017, and their mandate was to recommend a community-wide food security strategy. With a community poverty level of 16%, there is a long-term impact that we identified in our 2020 Strategic Priorities and which must be addressed.

Together with JFS, we are very proud to share the Jewish Food Security Task Force Report with you. You will see recommendations to improve options for the people who are currently served, while pursuing more innovative approaches that would expand our community’s ability to address food security for a larger segment of those in need, are the core components of a new vision.

One of the task force’s recommendations was to develop a comprehensive food centre, where multiple users would participate in and benefit from a range of volunteer opportunities and services associated with food sustainability.

Pursuing this vision requires a different set of skills and expertise than we currently have, and we’re pleased to let you know that we have hired Ilana Labow to develop the business plan for the food centre, establish best practices for its operation, and work on design and implementation. Ilana is the co-founder of Fresh Roots, an organization that connects community farms with healthy food distribution, and she has served as a food security consultant to the City of Vancouver and other not–for-profits throughout North America. We are delighted to be working with her.

We would like to thank Renée, Stan, and the members of the task force for their incredible work in this very important area.

Tonight and tomorrow night, we open our haggadot, we open our doors, and we invite all who are hungry to come and eat. And we end by looking ahead to next year. There’s no better time to read the report and see how we are planning for the future.

Shabbat shalom and chag sameach,

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

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