Shabbat Message from Ezra S. Shanken

Inspiring stories of impact at Annual Campaign Opening

Shabbat Message from CEO Ezra S. Shanken


August 18, 2023 | 1 Elul 5783



This message has about 701 words and will take about 2.5 minute to read.

August is always a busy time in our office as we gear up for the Annual Campaign. Shay Keil, who is chair of this year’s Annual Campaign, was featured in this article and shared a very personal reason for his involvement: “I was a beneficiary of generosity from this community in my earlier days, when my family required financial assistance in order for me to participate in Jewish life in Vancouver – that means being on subsidies to go to the Jewish day school and Jewish day camps.” He will share more of what that has meant to him at the campaign opening on September 10 at Schara Tzedeck. Click here and join us


Also joining us will be Barak Loozon, strategic advisor to the office of President Herzog.


So many of us are watching what is happening in Israel and asking what we can do to help that we wanted to bring a speaker of the highest calibre. I am very proud to say that President Herzog, who spoke at the campaign opening in 2019, personally selected and approved Barak's visit.


Barak is the lead on Time to Talk, which we are funding. Through this initiative, President Herzog intends to create a sense of belonging among diverse communities on the social and geographical margins of Israel and nurture meaningful dialogue around the core and oftentimes divisive issues that are at the heart of Israel's future and promise of longevity. Read more here.


Barak has devoted his career to strengthening Israel’s democracy and creating equal opportunity for all, as well as to reshaping the Israel-Diaspora relationship.


As the rifts in Israel’s society went beyond religion and politics, Barak utilized his skills, talents and expertise in strategic planning and impact driven program development adapting his philanthropic strategy to partnering with NGOs, government ministries and various philanthropists in building and supporting shared society frameworks and in advancing the politics of “common good”. He is a graduate of the Negotiation Strategies Institute (NSI) executive program, aimed at promoting communication across disputing governments and other groups affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Source.) 


Tough issues can be tough to talk about. How we do that makes all the difference.


This isn't the first time we have presented on the importance of civil discourse at a campaign opening. In 2017 Rabbi Jay Moses, vice president of The Wexner Foundation, delivered a FEDtalk titled, Civil Discourse: Our Jewish Roots, Our Jewish Future. He said that “as Jews we have roots that we can draw on to recreate a culture of civil discourse...” and used Hillel and Shammai as examples. He went on to say that “the way we conduct ourselves in conversation actually matters.” That is not always easy to do, but I truly believe that it makes us stronger as people and as a People. 

Delegates from our community witnessed our strength as a People in Ukraine this week.


They joined leaders from across the Federation system to visit war-torn communities, assess the needs on the ground, and witness firsthand the incredible impact of Jewish Federations’ philanthropy. Upon their return we will share their experiences with you here. In the meantime, click here for photos.


You can make an impact through us wherever help is needed, including assisting those impacted by wildfires. To date, the Federation system has distributed $249,000 USD to assist with humanitarian needs in Hawaii.


In Kelowna, I have been in touch with Steven Finkelman, who is active with the Okanagan Jewish Community Centre. 


He says that it has been very rough but that all their community members are safe and that they have arranged housing for anyone who may need it. Here are links so you can support needs on Maui and in Kelowna.


We are also keeping an eye on the needs of the thousands of people who have been evacuated from Yellowknife to see how we can help.


Now that Elul and the call of the shofar are here, it’s time to connect across the region!


We have Rosh Hashanah events taking place through our Connect Me In program in Langley, on the Sunshine Coast, in Whistler, and more. Plus, there is a Shabbat program taking place in New Westminster today. Click here for the latest.

Shabbat Shalom,


Ezra S. Shanken

CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

Shay (Shy) Keil

Barak Loozon

Federation leaders visit Ukraine

The Fed Four

130 Jewish young adults gathered at the Axis Summer Social last night.

Register for the Antisemitism: Face It, Fight It Conference.

CBC Article: Speaking out on antisemitic flyers in Langley.

PJ Library had it's very first event in the Okanagan last weekend.