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I shall pass through this world but once. Any good thing therefore that I can do, any kindness I can show to any human being let me do it now; let me not defer it nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again. - Felix M. Warburg, Joint Distribution Committee President 1914-1932
We want to begin by expressing our sadness upon hearing the update from New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal that the deadly attack on the Kosher market in Jersey City is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism “fueled by antisemitism.” Mindy Ferencz z’l, Moshe Deutsch z’l, Douglas Miguel Rodriguez z’l, and Jersey City Police detective Joseph Seals z’l were killed in the attack. May their memories be for blessings.
As events unfolded we were in touch with various organizations, including local law enforcement, our advocacy partner, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, and Jewish Federations of North America. You can read the statement from CIJA here.
When the news broke, I was in New York at the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) board meeting. Just prior to that I was in Toronto attending a national meeting of Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA (JFC-UIA) with our board chair, Alex Cristall, JFC-UIA’s Israel and Overseas chair, Karen James, and JFC-UIA board member, Harvey Dales in Toronto. We were there to meet with other Federation chairs, CEOs and leadership to discuss national priorities for the Canadian Jewish community.
One of the topics was Jewish life on campus. There are many young people from our community who attend colleges and universities in Ontario, and we all know how challenging it can be for Jewish students on campuses these days. We want to make their experience a positive one, and we discussed working with Hillel Ontario to ensure that it is.
At the JDC board meeting, they held a special ceremony at which Gary and Nanci Segal were inducted into the JDC’s Warburg Society in recognition of their leadership and support of the JDC’s work over the years. Gary and Nanci received a precious replica of the JDC Pesach Seder plate, which was distributed in the Displaced Persons Camps, where JDC cared for some 250,000 homeless Holocaust survivors after World War II.
Gary and Nanci have supported the JDC for many years and Gary currently serves on its board of directors. They have made a particular impact on the people of Ethiopia through their support of the work of Dr. Rick Hodes, JDC’s medical director. Dr. Hodes’s life-saving work has helped tens of thousands of people through two medical clinics, immunization, nutritional support, family planning, and community health. It was on a Jewish Federation mission to Ethiopia that the Segal family first met Dr. Hodes, and it’s been an inspiring and impactful partnership ever since.
The JDC is our trusted partner in overseas rescue and relief. For more than 100 years they have rescued Jews in danger, provided aid to vulnerable Jews, and led the Jewish community’s response to crises in 70 countries. We are proud to support their work through the Federation Annual Campaign. It is work that you support, too, through your Annual Campaign gift.
A few nights later, Gary spoke at a local screening of The Resistance Banker held in honour of the events that will mark the 75th anniversary of Canada’s liberation of the Netherlands. Gary’s father, Joe Segal, was among the hundreds of thousands of young men who risked their lives to fight for freedom. Joe was unable to attend, but Gary highlighted his father’s experience in the armed forces in his remarks. More than 7,600 Canadian soldiers died in the nine-month liberation campaign, and our countries have enjoyed a particularly close relationship ever since. Read more about the liberation here.
The bond between fathers and sons is a special one, and if you ask my young sons what’s on their minds these days Hanukkah would be at the top of the list.
Speaking of Hanukkah, members of Lion of Judah started the week off with their first-ever Hanukkah Mingle & Care Package Drive, where they put together packages for residents of the Louis Brier Home and Hospital. Lion of Judah is a recognition society for women who give $5,000 or more each year through the Federation Annual Campaign and is chaired by Dalia Bressler and Candice Thal. Kol hakvod to all who participated!
Last night, more than 200 young adults celebrated at the annual Hanukkah party co-hosted by our Axis program and JNF Future. Guests loved the live DJ, noshed on latkes, and had fun with the magic photo booth, airbrush tattoos, and more. Todah to the event sponsors: Congregation Beth Israel Vancouver, Congregation Har El, Hillel BC, Masa Israel Journey, Or Shalom Synagogue, and Temple Sholom. Check out photos on Facebook.
Hanukkah celebrations throughout the community are in full swing, including several taking place outside of Vancouver. Here are some of the Hanukkah events that we’re involved with in the regional communities through our Connect Me In and PJ Library programs:
Hanukkah Prep Party
December 14th at 5:00 p.m.
All-ages Har El Hanukkah Party
December 15th at 11:30 a.m.
North Shore Shabbat Group Hanukkah Potluck with Har El and Or Shalom
December 28th at 5:30 p.m.
White Rock/South Surrey
WRSS Hebrew School Hanukkah Pot Luck with WRSSJCC
December 15th at 12:00 p.m.
Build Your Own Menorah with music by Monica Schwartzman
December 15th at 2:30 p.m.
Build Your Own Menorah with Olive Press and Dinner (with PJ Library)
December 15th at 4:30 p.m.
Aleph in the Tri-Cities Hanukkah Potluck Party with Curling and Menorah Lighting
December 28th at 6:00 p.m.
Engaging people in Jewish life through Hanukkah celebrations like these is just one of the many ways you create a ripple effect throughout our community. All it takes is a gift to the Annual Campaign.
Ezra S. Shanken
Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver