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This past Sunday, community members gathered at Beth Israel synagogue to commemorate the tragic loss of life at three Pittsburgh congregations—Dor Hadash, New Light, and Tree of Life * Or L'Simcha. The event, organized by the Rabbinical Association of Vancouver, CIJA and Hillel began with the lighting of 11 yarzheit candles by individuals connected to the Pittsburgh Jewish community.
Several speakers were featured, including Sukaina Jaffer, the vice principal of Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy in Richmond, Father Nick Meisl, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, Rabbi Philip Bregman, and Vancouver City Councillor, Sarah Kirby-Yung.
It was comforting to have diverse representatives from many religions and the City of Vancouver share our grief and join in our call for an end to senseless attacks directed against sacred spaces. Thank you to all who attended.
For the past few days I have been in Israel for the Coast-to-Coast partnership meetings. The group of volunteer leaders who have accompanied us is one of the largest ever delegations from our Israel and Overseas Affairs Committee, led by committee chair, Candace Kwinter. Not only do these volunteers dedicate their time and tzedakah, but they pay their own way to travel to Israel as part of their role, often multiple times a year.
For more than 10 years we have invested strategically in tech education, and two years ago we began investing in the next generation of the region’s leaders as a result of the strategic planning process undertaken by the Israel and Overseas Affairs Committee.
Here’s how Candace put it earlier today, when she spoke at the meetings:
One of the things that was clearly evident in all our sessions was that the most valuable asset of our region is the people who live here. We all agreed that Jewish Federation should take the initiative to ensure local residents in our partnership region would be empowered to lead. We knew that, with the right guidance, we could be a catalyst in creating a cadre of effective local leaders who would work to strengthen the region today, tomorrow and for years to come.
While in the region we visited Beit Vancouver. There, we saw many great programs from the Net@ Fix-It Lab where residents bring their computers to students for repair, to Krembo Wings, a program that brings together children with disabilities and their able-bodied peers.
We also had the pleasure of dedicating the new music therapy room for students with special needs at Emek Hachula High School. The equipping of the music room was made possible through the generosity of Peter Krivel-Zacks, Shira Gold, Laylie Woods, Juliet Zacks, and Linda and Ted Zacks from our local community. Kol hakavod to them for making this commitment, which will improve the quality of life for so many young people. This is a great example of the work we do throughout the year to connect donors to projects locally and in Israel that meet high-priority needs.
We also attended a historic meeting of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s (JAFI) Board of Governors, convened in Jerusalem, where they approved a new direction, vision and mission for the organization’s 10th decade. JAFI will address the critical challenges of the current era by focusing its efforts in three key areas: promoting Aliyah and Jewish safety, connecting Jews worldwide, and giving voice to world Jewry in Israel.
To achieve this, JAFI will make far-reaching operational changes, refocusing their efforts on convening coalitions and enabling inclusive platforms, while working “glocally”– i.e. globally in scale, but locally in focus. This is a very exciting time for JAFI and for world Jewry, and we are so proud to have both Candace and our immediate past board chair, Karen James, represent our community on the JAFI Board of Governors.
As we all make our way home in the next few days, we are also gearing up for a sold-out Choices event on Sunday with 500 women, all of whom have supported our community by giving through the Annual Campaign. We are so grateful to these women, and to each of you who have already contributed, for leading the way. If you haven’t yet had a chance to make your gift, don’t wait. Click here and support our community today.
Ezra S. Shanken
Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver
P.S. Help us plan ahead to meet the needs of our ageing population by filling out this short survey. We need everyone’s input not just our older community members.