Shabbat Message from Ezra S. Shanken

Community Security Update from Jason Murray

Shabbat Message from CEO Ezra S. Shanken


April 5, 2023 | 14 Nissan 5783



This message has about 900 words and will take less than 4 minute to read.

Passover is my favourite holiday. The seder is a perfect moment for us to engage in conversation around a myriad of topics, celebrate new beginnings and pass on our origin story to the next generation.

I was recently interviewed for a Washington Post article on the unique opportunities this year's seder presents and how the topic of Israel today will be incorporated at my seder table. This year, I am introducing a second seder plate with a block of ice to be left to melt as a reminder to take climate action. Like every Passover, Israel is an important topic. We tell the story of exodus, which is very much the story of the birth of Israel. Every seder everywhere in the world ends with L'shanah haba'ah b'Yerushalayim - Next year in Jerusalem. A seder is a time to ask questions and engage in meaningful dialogue and I expect this year will be no different. You can read the article here.

Speaking of seders, there are a couple of additions I invite you to include at your table. I will be including them at mine. 

There is a Passover social media campaign in support of an American Jewish Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested in Russia on false charges and now faces up to 20 years in prison. Jews around the world are being asked to set a place for Evan at their table as a show of support, take a photo and use the hashtag #FreeEvan. Read more here.

Our international partner in rescue and relief, the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has shared a special reading for Jews in Ukraine to read after we raise the matzah for the first time to show our solidarity and to help elevate Jewish Ukrainian voices. 

As it is typical of our Shabbat Messages right before Passover and Rosh Hashanah, we like to provide an update on community security. I am very pleased that Jason Murray, chair of our Community Security Advisory Committee, is our guest writer this week.

We will soon gather around seder tables with family and friends to recall and retell the story of our exodus from Egypt and liberation from slavery. The Haggadah offers us many lessons, including that unity is crucial for community security.
As we approach Passover, we think it helpful to report on three of the several themes that motivate the work of our Community Security Advisory Committee: communication, collaboration, and ensuring that our community partners have access to the resources and support they need to ensure a safe and secure community. These are themes that underpin our committee’s mandate to support our Federation and director of security, Daniel Heydenrych-Davis, on issues such as institutional and event security, emergency planning, cybersecurity, communication, and education.
Effective communication about community security matters is essential for raising awareness about potential security risks and threats to our community, building trust, promoting collaboration amongst community members, law enforcement agencies, and other organizations, and helping investigate and prevent crime. Over the coming months, we hope to update and elevate the security information, advice, and resources on the Jewish Federation website, including the trusted cybersecurity resources compiled by our Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Information Protection (SCsIP).
As our Jewish Federation’s CEO, Ezra Shanken, reported to you a few weeks ago, we recently had the opportunity collaborate with and share best practices with Secure Community Network (SCN), the security and safety initiative of the organized Jewish community in North America, co-founded and funded through Jewish Federations of North America. We hope to continue exploring opportunities to collaborate with SCN over the coming months. As part of their visit to Vancouver, SCN also delivered Countering Active Threat Training to Jewish Federation staff and leaders of several partner agencies.
The federal budget proposed last week includes a plan to significantly increase Public Safety Canada’s delivery of the Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Program (SIP). The government plans to launch this enhanced program later this year which, in the past, provided funding to private, and non-profit organizations at risk of hate-motivated crime to mitigate the costs of security infrastructure improvements, like security equipment and hardware, renovations to enhance building security, closed circuit television systems, and related training costs. As details of the enhanced SIP program emerge, as with past rounds of funding, Jewish Federation will work with eligible community organizations to ensure they are aware of the opportunity, and to assist them in applying for SIP grants.
While government infrastructure funding is no doubt welcome, please know that Jewish Federation’s important work in enhancing our community’s security would not be possible without the dedication of its volunteers, professionalism of Federation staff, and generosity of our donors.
Wishing you all a chag Pesach kasher v’same’ach.

Shabbat shalom and chag Pesach sameach.

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

Jason Murray

Daniel Heydenrych-Davis