Shabbat Message from Ezra S. Shanken

Update from Michelle Pollock, chair of our Israel & Global Engagement Committee

Shabbat Message from CEO Ezra S. Shanken


April 21, 2022 | 20 Nissan 5782



This message has about 819 words and will take less than 3.5 minute to read.

I hope you all had meaningful seders with family and friends last weekend. 

We tried to make Passover extra special this year for some of our community’s seniors by providing them with all the necessities to participate in a seder with ‘Seder Plate in a Box’. In partnership with Chabad Richmond and supported by volunteers across many of our community organizations, over 250 seniors received seder plates and cards made by our day school students, along with grape juice, candles, chrain, shmura matza and other treats to celebrate the holiday.
While we’re celebrating, Kol Ha’Kavod to Louis Brier Home and Hospital who is the proud recipient of the Canadian not-for-profit Employment of Choice award for 2021 (two years running!) and the Reader Digest Stars award for First Place in Senior Residence 2022.

As Passover draws to a close this weekend, it is the perfect time to reflect on the themes of the holiday.   

On Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. at the JCC, our community will mark Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, presented by our partner, the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre (VHEC). This year’s commemoration marks the 79th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Amalia Boe-Fishman will deliver the survivor keynote address and second-generation Holocaust descendant, Marsha Lederman, will deliver a special address based on her upcoming memoir Kiss the Red Stairs. There will also be songs of remembrance, prayers, and a candle lighting ceremony for survivors.

The next day, we and our advocacy agent, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, invite you to join for an online Yom HaShoah Commemoration with the Honourable John Horgan, Premier of British Columbia. At a time when solidarity and community are more important than ever, we hope you will join us online in commemorating this important day at 12:00 p.m. on April 28th. Registration is not required. 

Now I would like to turn it over to our guest writer, Michelle Pollock, chair of our Israel and Global Engagement Committee.

Shabbat Shalom! I am delighted to be sharing this space with you today on behalf of the Israel and Global Engagement Committee (IGEC). The IGEC is dedicated to improving the lives of Jews in Israel and worldwide and building Israel related connections within our local community in Vancouver. We work with Jewish Federation’s partner agencies to identify how best to support struggling regions, facilitate volunteer opportunities, and strengthen the Canada-Israel relationship. 

The committee recently began a strategic planning process to determine how we can best support and catalyze Jewish Federation’s investments in our partnership region of the Galilee Panhandle (Etzba HaGalil). We had our first allocations priorities workshop this month, funding which is made possible by the Federation Annual Campaign, and we will diligently continue the process to ensure our allocations are strategically aligned to current needs for the 2022-2025 cycle.

Etzba HaGalil faces unique economic and security challenges as it is located on the Lebanese border as well as being politically isolated from the country’s centre. Based on the committee’s recommendations, Jewish Federation strategically invests funds to strengthen the region through education, leadership development, community building, and wellness services.

The committee addresses needs in a multitude of circumstances and locations. Here are just a few examples:

  • Programs such as Net@, Unistream, and the Beit Vancouver youth centre, which focus on providing youth in our partnership region with skills, confidence and support networks;  
  • Partnering with the Joint Distribution Committee in Far East Russia to provide food and social assistance to elderly Jews living in poverty, and support leadership development programs for young Jewish adults; and  
  • Gesher Chai programming in our local community, so everyone feels connected to Israel.  

We are particularly excited that Israel experience trips are back on. We’re excited to support 50 local young adults who have already registered for Birthright Israel and two classes from King David High School who will travel to Israel and spend time with students and teachers from their sister school in Etzba HaGalil. 

Being part of making an impact of such depth and breadth is very meaningful for me on a personal level, because having volunteered with myriad organizations, including Federation the JCC and CIJA, over the past 20 years I have learned a great deal about the needs in our community and across the Jewish world.

The volunteers on the IGEC and the Jewish Federation staff who support us in our work are passionate and dedicated people who share an intense love of Israel and desire to aid world Jewry effectively. I want to thank our committee members for their wisdom and commitment.  

We are all bonded by the same inner drive to lend a hand, and as we approach the seders we take comfort in knowing that Jews around the world are also bonded by custom and ritual.

I wish you all a chag sameach!  

I hope to see you in person celebrating Israel at the Yom Ha’atzmaut community celebration for Israel’s 74th Independence Day on May 4th at The Vogue Theatre, and for the Yom HaZikaron ceremony the evening before.  

גוט יום־טובֿ 

Chair, Israel & Global Engagement Committee 


Shabbat shalom and chag Pesach sameach.


Ezra S. Shanken
Chief Executive Officer

Seder Plate in a Box

Michelle Pollock

Beit Vancouver