Shabbat Message from Ezra S. Shanken

Our reach extends far beyond our name

Shabbat Message from CEO Ezra S. Shanken


August 11, 2023 | 24 Av 5783



This message has about 747 words and will take about 3 minute to read.

We watched with horror this week as parts of Maui burned and people lost their lives in fierce flames fueled by even fiercer winds. According to the governor, it is likely the worst disaster in the state's history.


Here are some of the immediate needs: people have lost homes; their businesses are shattered; they don’t know how they will deal with the slow bureaucracy of receiving insurance or government aid; they have lost contact entirely due to downed power lines; and they are incredibly traumatized and overwhelmed.


We have opened the Hawaii Wildfire Fund and you can donate through us. Together, we can help them deal with these issues and provide a sense of community beyond the islands.


In moments like this, as well as day to day, our reach extends far beyond Greater Vancouver.


Most Federations are named like we are: “Jewish Federation of [geographic location]”. Once upon a time, that might have been accurate for us, but to think of our Federation as being active only in Greater Vancouver no longer reflects our community and its needs, nor our work and impact.


Case in point: Lissa Weinberger, our manager of Jewish education and identity initiatives, is in Kelowna to lead a PJ Library event this Sunday. This is the first time we have had a PJ Library get together there, and so I will be there to join her and meet the families who attend.


If you know Jewish families in Kelowna, please invite them to join us at the Okanagan Jewish Centre for a light brunch  and to make a Havdalah candle and spice garden to take home. RSVP here.


Meet our new community connector! 


Earlier this year, we introduced you to our community connectors who were hired to help our Community Engagement team expand local capacity and support the growing Jewish communities across the region.


We are thrilled to share that Amanda Aron Chimanovitch has joined our team to support the White Rock/South Surrey, Delta, Ladner and Tsawassen communities.


Amanda is passionate about building community and helping newcomers adapt. Originally from Brazil, Amanda and her family arrived from Winnipeg four years ago. When she is not working with our Connect Me In team, you will find Amanda supporting the Orthodox community as a manager at Torah West.


If you or someone you know is looking to connect to the community in your area, please reach out to our Connect Me In team!


Speaking of teams, as one of the three organizations leading JWest, I was invited to speak on CBC's On The Coast with Gloria Macarenko about this transformational project and the impact it will have not only on our community but the region as whole. You can listen to it here.

Shabbat Shalom,


Ezra S. Shanken

CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

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