Shabbat Message from Ezra S. Shanken

Building a Secure Future for Our Community

Shabbat Message from CEO Ezra S. Shanken


July 7, 2023 | 18 Tammuz 5783



This message has about 650 words and will take about 2.5 minute to read.

We have just entered into the Three Weeks, when we mourn the destruction of the first and second temples. Yet, as we remember the tragedies in our history, we continue to build for the future of our community and our People.


Community security is one of our key strategic priorities on behalf of our community.


With a longstanding commitment to proactive measures, we are excited to announce our new partnership with the Secure Community Network (SCN), made possible through the generous support of the Ronald S. Roadburg Foundation. 


SCN is wholly dedicated to safeguarding 146 Jewish Federations and 50 partner organizations, and collaborating with partners across the public, private, not-for-profit, and academic sectors.


This partnership elevates our security role and allows us to maximize the resources and enhance the training opportunities for the community.


It will also enable us to expand our support throughout the province to Jewish communities on Vancouver Island and in the BC Interior. We mentioned last week that our role has expanded beyond the “Greater Vancouver” geography in our name, and this is a perfect example of that. It reflects the reality that Jewish life is growing across the region and the province.


We will also reintroduce our Security Grant Program. 


In the past, this program has provided significant funding to local organizations to improve their security measures and enabled them to qualify for matching funds from the federal government. This is another important result of the Roadburg S. Roadburg Foundation’s funding, and details about the process will be provided directly to community organizations very soon.


I expect that many of you will be interested in hearing more about this new partnership with SCN, and so after the High Holidays we will host a roundtable for the community.


Security is not just a local issue. 


In Israel, tensions and violence escalated this week, from Jenin to the terror attacks in Tel Aviv to the resignation or political ousting of Tel Aviv's District Police Commander Ami Eshed.


Regardless of our individual political views, as a community I hope we can agree on the need to be there for our extended family in Israel, especially in moments of profound personal loss.


Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of Jewish Federations of North America, and Mark Wilf, chair of the Jewish Agency, were in Israel to distribute emergency funds from the Victims of Terror Fund, which we always keep open.


Eric Fingerhut said, “When we deliver (the funds), we’re able to say we love you and refuah shlema, but also that the Jewish people of the world are thinking of you and are with you and our hearts are with you."


Speaking of Israel, part of our work is building people-to-people relationships, especially between educators.  


Eight teachers and principals from three local schools are in our partnership region meeting with their counterparts. The Northern Galilee is an extension of our community, and the Canada-Galilee School Connections Program creates relationships between Canadian Jewish schools and schools in the Northern Galilee that deepen understanding on personal, professional, and community levels.


The educators’ seminar is an opportunity to renew and deepen existing partnerships and to create new ones—because when educators are connected, they can connect our kids.


We had an opportunity to make new connections here, too.


When Ya’ara Saks, Member of Parliament for York Centre and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, knew she would be in Vancouver, she reached out to us and to our advocacy agent the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), and we were delighted to introduce her to our community.


She, along with Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville, Taleeb Noormohamed, toured The Kitchen, received a briefing on JWest, and learned about the unique demographics, priorities and needs of our community. Thank you to Tanja Demajo and the JFS team, Alex Cristall, Eldad Goldfarb, Jennifer Trickett, Nico Slobinsky, Gabe Bloomfield, and Shelley Rivkin for helping to make this visit a memorable one.


It’s time to cheer on our local athletes! 


Local teens have united with teens from our partnership region at the JCC Maccabi Games in Israel to compete against and make friends with 1,000 peers from around the world, including, Morocco and the UAE, thanks to the Abraham Accords, which is history in the making.


Vancouver Hebrew Academy (VHA) welcomes alumna Ellia Belson as head of school. 


Ellia is an alumna of VHA and comes back to the school in her new role after working at King David High School, where she was the director of Jewish life and events. What better way to build for our future than with homegrown talent. Mazel tov, Ellia... and mazel tov, VHA!

Shabbat Shalom,


Ezra S. Shanken

CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

MP Ya’ara Saks and MP Taleeb Noormohamed visits the JFS Kitchen