Building Jewish Community from Abbotsford to the Sunshine Coast

Jewish Federation’s outreach work in the regional communities, through our Connect Me In initiative, continues to grow and expand. We have long described our efforts to engage local Jews who live beyond Vancouver and Richmond as spanning from Abbotsford to Squamish, but we’ll need to amend our description now that we are also connecting with the Jewish community on the Sunshine Coast.

“It’s amazing to see the impact Connect Me In is having,” said Marnie Goldberg, chair of Jewish Federation’s Regional Communities Committee. “So many children are becoming engaged in the Jewish community in ways they never could have before, and their families are getting to know each other, too.”

Supporting the Sunshine Coast Hebrew School

Supported by a Connect Me In Community Engagement grant, the Sunshine Coast Hebrew School has 12 students enrolled this year, enjoying a curriculum focusing on Hebrew language and Jewish culture. The Jewish community in the area has been creating opportunities to bring families together for Shabbat dinners, and last year over 80 people attended the annual Hanukkah party.

Local Jews, who were once concentrated within a small part of Vancouver, now participate in Jewish community events and programs throughout an area over 115 kilometres across, from Gibsons to Abbotsford. Working closely with community members throughout this area is the key not only to keeping local Jews engaged even when they live far from established Jewish infrastructure, it is also the key to keeping our whole community connected and strong.

Langley Hebrew School Returns for Second Season

Over 90 kilometres from Gibsons, the Langley Hebrew school is back for the 2018-19 school year on the heels of a very successful launch last spring, with 20 children registered for bi-monthly sessions. This Connect Me In program is filling a void for families who would have no other way for their children to learn about their heritage and religion, Hebrew language, Israel, and traditions, all while forming friendships with other Jewish children. The connections fostered by the school don’t end with the children who are learning together; their parents were so keen to remain in touch between sessions that they were instrumental in planning a berry-picking program over the summer.

Social Programs and Adult Education Forge Connections

Children aren’t the only community members who benefit from Jewish educational programs. More than half a dozen people attended this fall’s New Westminster Adult Education series, Talmudic Ethics: Finding Your Way to Good Decisions, led by Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman of Chabad of Richmond.

And the Tweens Club at Burquest continues to go strong, with around 15 tweens attending monthly programs centred around social activities or Jewish holidays. Tweens Club members also help out at community events – they organized and ran the carnival stations at the Family Hanukkah Party at Burquest, co-hosted by Connect Me In, on Sunday, December 9, 2018.

New Community Development Manager

We are very happy to welcome Hannah Yerington as our new community development manager. Hannah is a graduate of Quest University, and she is very excited to be working with the Jewish community in Squamish. Be sure to welcome Hannah when you see her at the Squamish events.

Visit the Beyond Vancouver section of our website for more on what’s happening in the regional communities, and find upcoming events on Connect Me In's Facebook page.