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Wow! We have heard from so many of you who were inspired by FEDtalks on Monday night. Thanks for your calls, your emails, and your support of our community through the Annual Campaign.
Many thanks to Jonathon Leipsic, our Campaign Chair; Alex Cristall, our Board Chair; Karen James; our Immediate Past Board Chair; Renée Katz, Co-Chair of the Jewish Food Security Task Force; and Lianna Philipp, Chair of the Axis Steering Committee who introduced the FEDtalks presenters and helped make the night a huge success.
I would like to give a special thank-you to Michael Frankel, chair of Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA; and Nikki Holland, CEO of Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA for joining us from Toronto.
One highlight of the night was seeing more than 150 community members in their 20s and 30s at FEDtalks with us. Todah rabah to Jonathon and Karly Leipsic for the generous gift of free tickets for all of these young adults. They are our future and the future is now.
The courage of our final presenter, Dr. Gillian Presner, astounded everyone. Here is the video of her FEDtalk. Diagnosed with brain cancer, Gillian recommitted herself to leading through Jewish Federation and the National Young Leadership Cabinet as a way to create a legacy for her children. She referred to time as among her most valuable resources.
How we spend our time matters. Hundreds of canvassers, who volunteer their time are calling community members. If your canvasser has reached out to you, please help them by getting in touch as soon as you can. You can also make a secure donation online right now.
Time is precious, so our Annual Campaign video is short and sweet. Click or tap and see how you can create a ripple effect across our community when you give.
We can also think of time in a broader sense when it comes to the value of l’dor v’dor – from generation to generation. From young to old, from here to as far away as Siberia, we saw some great examples this week of how you honour that value when you support the community through the Annual Campaign.
On Tuesday morning, we hosted The Honourable Rob Fleming, BC’s Minister of Education, on a tour of King David High School, Vancouver Hebrew Academy, and Vancouver Talmud Torah.
Jewish Federation and our advocacy agent, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, briefed Minister Fleming on the day school system, and he met with students, parents, and school staff. Each person conveyed the schools’ commitment to academic excellence, community, inclusivity, Jewish peoplehood, and social responsibility. Thank you to the Heads of School: Emily Greenberg, Russ Klein, and Rabbi Pacht for opening their schools for this visit. Thank you to Minister Fleming, who spent valuable time learning about our community.
Just like Jewish education, our ageing population is one of our 2020 Strategic Priorities. In 2018, Jewish Federation and six partner agencies hosted the first forum on ageing, Changing Landscapes, which focused on ageing in place, caregiver support and social connections.
Now we are consulting with community members of all ages about what you believe should be the priorities. As a first step, we are launching a two-part online survey that focuses on existing gaps and anticipated needs, followed by the proposed redevelopment of the Louis Brier Home and Hospital.
We want to hear from a broad section of the community: adult children of ageing parents; caregivers of spouses, partners or other family members; those who are currently attending programs and services; and those who are thinking about the future.
Click here to start the survey. It will only take 10 minutes of your time. We hope to present the preliminary results at our second annual Changing Landscapes forum on November 26th.
Our impact doesn’t just span the full breadth of our local community - it spans the Jewish world. We feel a deep responsibility to Jews in need in Far East Russia. We are the closest Federated community to Siberia, and I travelled there last August with a group of our volunteer leaders who took time to learn about the needs and the work being done by our trusted partner in international rescue and relief, the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).
In Siberia, Jewish families and children are living in desperately poor conditions. The JDC is providing families in greatest need with basic humanitarian assistance, along with SOS funds for essentials like a bathroom repair, a new refrigerator, or a grant to pay an unanticipated hospital bill.
Families with children who have disabilities are in a particularly difficult situation. In Russian society, people with disabilities are often shunned. The Khabarovsk Jewish community offers people with disabilities social support, inviting vulnerable families and children with disabilities to community events and offering scholarships to JCC programs and activities.
Elderly Jews in Siberia are vulnerable, too. They are unable to scrape by on their extremely low pensions. Often, their children and grandchildren have moved away to urban centres for work, leaving these seniors isolated, lonely, and without a support system. They are desperate for the basics, like food and medicine.
There is no time to waste. From the youngest to the oldest, the JDC – and by extension, our Federation – is their lifeline. By working with the JDC we can provide the most meaningful and impactful support possible while making the most efficient and effective use of the funding available. That funding, of course, comes in part from the Federation Annual Campaign.
Fortunately, you don’t have to choose who to help. When you give through the Annual Campaign, you help all of them. And there’s no better time to help than now. You’ll create a ripple effect across our community and across the Jewish world.
Ezra S. Shanken
Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver