Shabbat Message from Ezra S. Shanken

Supporting Jewish education options

Shabbat Message from CEO Ezra S. Shanken


August 25, 2023 | 8 Elul 5783



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

As families get ready to send their children and teens back to school, it is a great time to think about the importance of having different ways for families to access formal and informal Jewish educational programs.


As our community grows it not only expands into new cities within and beyond the region, but it grows in its diversity.


From diverse family compositions to different levels of observance to various countries of origin, the bigger our community grows, the more variety you can find. The community is increasingly spread out, too, with many people settling in areas without a lot of bricks and mortar Jewish institutions nearby.


The challenge is making sure that families can find the variety of programs and services they want.


Topping that list is often Jewish education and identity programs for their children.


While day schools play an important role in any Jewish community, including ours, so do supplementary schools and other innovative Jewish programs for kids—from tot Shabbats to Hebrew literacy and more. Together, they are an important factor in ensuring that new generations of families can access what they need close to where they are.


Not only are we proud to support 11 of these programs we are proud that families are connecting and growing with these programs and doing so at a steady rate. That is in addition to the myriad other informal Jewish identity initiatives and experiences we support, from PJ Library to Jewish day and overnight camps to Birthright Israel, March of the Living and more.


What “we” support is really what you support. It’s your tzedakah that makes our work, and that of our partners, possible.


I hope you will join us to hear more about our collective impact (and be entertained!) at our campaign launch on September 10, so click here to join us. 

In the meantime, I’d like to shine a light on a few examples before we prepare for Shabbat.


Earlier today, we were proud to accompany three BC United MLAs on a tour of the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre (VHEC), which was organized by our advocacy agent, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. 


It was an opportunity to showcase the great work of the VHEC and I applaud the MLAs for learning about the work the VHEC does to further Holocaust education and remembrance in the province. Visits like this always serve as a stark reminder of the importance of not leaving hate unchecked. Here are the MLAs who joined us on the tour:

  • Dan Davies, MLA for Peace River North and Shadow Minister for Social Development and Poverty Reduction;
  • Karin Kirkpatrick, MLA for West Vancouver-Capilano and Shadow Minister for Housing, Childcare, Autism & Accessibility, Gender Equity & Inclusion; and
  • Coralee Oakes, MLA for Cariboo North and Shadow Minister for Post Secondary Education.

Strengthening our partners strengthens our community. Volunteer leaders play an important role in that.

If you are between 30 and 45 years old and want to grow your community leadership skills, we have just the opportunity for you. We are proud to support the Wexner Heritage Program, which empowers young volunteer leaders to take the helm in their communities. Potential nominees are invited to an information session with Rabbi Jay Moses, vice president of the Wexner Foundation and Alumni, on September 6 at 7:00 p.m. Register here.


This week, the best way we can sign off our message is with the words of Israeli President Isaac Herzog.


President Herzog sent a video message to the Canadian Jewish community affirming the importance of our role in supporting dialogue in Israel through Time to Talk, a new presidential initiative through which Israelis will be able to focus on their shared humanity despite their differences.


We expect that Time to Talk will reach hundreds of thousands of Israelis and strengthen their ability to build greater understanding and consensus. We are partners in supporting this alongside the Jewish Federations of Toronto and Montreal, as well as other federated communities across the country through Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA. You can read more about it here.

Shabbat Shalom,


Ezra S. Shanken

CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

BC United MLAs tour the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre

The Fed Four

Sign up for a fun Challah Bake event in Whistler on September 10th.

Connect Me In Shabbat dinner in New Westminster last Friday.

Make a gift to relief funds to help support those affected by the wildfires.

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