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Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

February 15, 2019 | 10 Adar 1 5779 | Candlelighting at 5:14 p.m.

This message has 800 words and will take about 4 minutes to read.

When the weather isn’t cooperating, there’s nothing better than curling up with a good book, or heading out to a Jewish Book Festival event. We were thrilled to see that 100 people came to the book festival event in White Rock, and 35 attended in West Vancouver. Clearly, people want to engage with Jewish community in these cities.

Through ourConnect Me In initiative, we strive to engage the widest possible cross section of community members outside of Vancouver. In 2016, we launched our first survey to obtain the views of people living in the regional communities and who are interested in Jewish programming. We want to learn more! If you didn’t fill out the survey in 2016, or if you have more to share, we invite you to complete this short survey. Your feedback will inform our expanded program development and delivery. 

One of our most successful outreach programs continues to be PJ Library, which sends free Jewish children’s books to families. For the past two years, PJ Library has also offered parents their choice of Jewish-themed adult books as a way of meeting parents at their own level, rather than only at their kids’ level.This year, in partnership with the Jewish Book Festival, they brought in Marjorie Ingall, author of Mamaleh Knows Best. 

By all accounts, Marjorie was bright, interesting and funny. She read an excerpt from her book and talked about how to share your family story and encourage your kids to read. Marjorie doesn’t consider herself a parenting expert and didn’t set out to write a parenting book. Her main point is to trust your instincts, which is a powerful and validating message for many parents.

This is the first time that we’ve ever done anything through PJ Library that’s just for parents, and it’s definitely becoming a trend across North American PJ Library communities. After all, it’s important as a parent to have a like-minded community around you. We look forward to more parent-focused events.

Last fall, our Community Security Advisory Committee launched a new program to recruit people interested in being part of a cadre of security volunteers. Being a security volunteer is a great way to deepen your involvement with the community. Volunteers serve as “eyes and ears” for local law enforcement, report suspicious incidents or potential security risks, and engage in proactive crime prevention activities. You don’t have to be part of a stand-alone team; however, increasing your own security awareness is an important part of many different volunteer activities. Last week, for example, Daniel Heydenrych, our director of security, offered a training session for the greeters at Beth Israel. If you are interested in applying or bringing a similar workshop to your organization, contact Daniel by email or at 604-362-5706.

While our local work is a priority, so is our work connected to Israel. On Sunday, we welcomed Douglas Scott Proudfoot, head of mission for Canada to the Palestinian Authority, for a briefing about the current status of Israel-PA relations and a conversation with volunteer leaders of Jewish Federation and our advocacy partner, The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs(CIJA). We hear regularly from Deborah Lyons, Canada’s ambassador to Israel, and we hear from Israeli diplomats who visit Vancouver. As a Canadian envoy in the region, Douglas provides a unique perspective, and as a community that builds strong support for the Canada-Israel relationship, we need to stay informed. It’s also good for him to hear from us as a stakeholder community, and there was plenty of opportunity for dialogue. We talked about Canada’s ability to play a constructive role in advancing peace, and about Canada’s role in building accountable, liberal, democratic institutions within the PA.  

This isn’t the first time that we’ve met with Douglas. In 2017, our board chair, Karen James and I, along with several community members, participated in a mission to Europe and the Middle East that was spearheaded by our immediate past chair, Stephen Gaerber, and organized by CIJA, to see firsthand the strategy that informs the core of CIJA’s work. Many thanks to Stephen for taking the lead on organizing Sunday’s meeting, too.  

Before we sign off for Shabbat, we want to leave you with this lovely message from our colleagues at Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh who, on behalf of their community, have thanked us and you for supporting them in the wake of the tragic shooting in October. As you may recall, local community members donated nearly $15,000 to support the victims and their families. That was matched by our Federation and directed to their community reliance fund, bringing the total support to nearly $30,000. We hope you will take a moment to read their messages of thanks.

Shabbat Shalom.

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

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