Throughout the COVID pandemic, Jewish Federation’s Connect Me In program has continued to work to ensure that members of the Jewish community throughout the Greater Vancouver area can stay connected. One result of this rewarding work is exemplified by the COVID Free Challah Delivery Program, an initiative that started as a grassroots effort with Mike Sachs in Richmond before Connect Me In helped extend it across the region.
As with many Jewish traditions, one of the most universally recognizable parts of Shabbat observance is the food. Over the course of nine weeks, Connect Me In helped deliver more than 1,500 challahs to families and seniors in 19 municipalities across the Lower Mainland and North Shore, together with our partner agencies, The Kehila Society of Richmond, Congregation Har El on the North Shore, and Aleph in the Tri-Cities. A dedicated group of volunteers from across these areas included community members, Richmond City Councillors, and even two local Members of Parliament.
The reach of this program truly has been regional. Of the more than 1,500 challahs delivered, more than 60 percent went outside of Vancouver and Richmond, to regional communities from Delta to Maple Ridge, and all the way up to Lion's Bay. Not only did this program, through the coordination, ordering and delivery processes, enable community members in these fast-growing areas to connect in new ways, but as a result of its success, Garden City Bakery has also recognized the significance of the Jewish regional communities, and are now offering their challahs at grocery stores in Coquitlam every week, as well as delivering weekly to stores on the North Shore.
Perhaps the greatest achievement of this program, even more than the challahs delivered, has been the genuine sense of connection that both volunteers and recipients have fostered with the greater Jewish community all across the region.