Shabbat Message from Ezra S. Shanken

Ending this Passover with hope

Shabbat Message from CEO Ezra S. Shanken


April 14, 2023 | 23 Nissan 5783



This message has about 699 words and will take about 3 minute to read.

I hope you all had meaningful seders last week. It was wonderful to see so many community Passover events take place across the region.

From Burquest, to White Rock, Richmond, Vancouver and Whistler, we’re proud to support the thriving (and growing!) Jewish communities across the Lower Mainland and beyond. Our Community Connectors in the Sea-to-Sky region graciously opened their homes to community members who needed a space for Passover.

As part of our continuing efforts to build bridges with other faith communities, our advocacy agent, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, partnered with the Canadian Memorial United Church and the Living Interfaith Sanctuary to co-sponsor an interfaith Passover seder at the Canadian Memorial Centre for Peace. We’d like to thank the provincial government’s multicultural and anti-racism branch for the grant that made this event possible.

Our PJ Library program partnered with synagogues to host second seders for families.

In its ninth year, the Beth Israel Family Seder had 200 people in attendance, and in its first year, the Or Shalom Young Families Committee Seder had 60 people. PJ Library provided incredible haggadot and afikomen gifts at both of these events.

My family attended the family seder at Beth Israel and it was a very engaging experience for all of us. If you are a parent of young children and are not signed up for PJ Library, I encourage you to do so here. We are proud to support this program locally.

During Passover, dozens of rockets were fired at Israel and terror attacks rose once again.

The initial volley of rockets came from Gaza last Wednesday morning after violent clashes at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque late Tuesday night which flared again the following day.

Our partnership region of the Galilee Panhandle experienced a significant escalation of rocket attacks. If’at Eilon Heiber, the director of our Israel and Global Engagement department, spoke with Avichai Shtern, mayor of Kiryat Shmona, and he emphasized the city's commitment to supporting residents and ensuring normalcy and continuity of daily routines in the region. 

As always, your dollars were at work assisting those in need. 

Mashabim, the community stress prevention center that we have funded for several years, immediately activated two resilience centers and has taken significant steps to assist residents in the region. They immediately opened professional helplines in Hebrew and Arabic to respond to anxious citizens and provided in-person, phone, and online support.

They also activated their reserve therapists throughout small towns and villages that they had prepared and trained for this exact situation. They also distributed many instruction materials such as flyers, brochures, and self-help videos for individuals and families in seven different languages.

Our colleagues in Israel have shared their personal reflections on the experiences of the past few days.

I hope you will take a moment to read what she and Eddy Azran, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto’s Sderot representative, wrote here.

We ended Passover mourning the passing of British-Israeli sisters Maia and Rina Dee z"l  and their mother, Lucy Dee z"l, who were killed by a Palestinian terrorist, as well as Alessandro Parini z"l, an Italian tourist who was killed after a terrorist rammed his car into a popular seaside Tel Aviv promenade. May their memories be for a blessing.

From one serious topic to another, it's time to get two important events on your radar:

The first is the annual Yom HaShaoah commemoration (Holocaust Remembrance Day) organized by our partner, The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, on April 17.  

The second is our community’s Yom Hazikaron memorial service on April 24. You can attend virtually or in person, but seating is limited and registration is required for both.  

It’s also time for a big mazel tov to our partner, Tikva Housing.

As we always like to end on a high note, we are proud to share Tikva’s announcement of the purchase of a four-story, 20-unit apartment building, thanks to an extraordinary donation of $10 million from the Al Roadburg Foundation. It is the single largest donation received by Tikva and it is critical in addressing housing insecurity. A huge todah rabah to the Al Roadburg Foundation for helping Tikva address the urgent and growing issue of affordable housing.

Shabbat shalom.

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

Celebrating Passover at Beth Israel

Rabbi Leo Dee, the father of Maia and Rina Dee and husband of Lucy Dee, who were killed in a terrorist attack, is asking everyone to share photos of an Israeli flag on social media to honor their memory

Tikvah Housing Society purchase of the apartment building