Shabbat Message from Ezra S. Shanken

Philanthropic Impact, Community Engagement, and More

Shabbat Message from CEO Ezra S. Shanken


June 16, 2023 | 27 Sivan 5783



This message has about 783 words and will take about 3 minute to read.

The week began for me in New York, where Candace Kwinter, our board chair, and I attended Jewish Federations of North America’s (JFNA) Board of Trustees meeting, where they approved core priorities for the year, including increased philanthropic resources for Jewish communal security, Ukraine humanitarian relief, strategies to combat antisemitism, and the evolving situation in Israel. You can read more in this blog post.

We returned to see the Diamond Foundation make an unprecedented impact on a serious issue.

Addiction has touched many of us and our families, and finding help is often incredibly difficult. As Jill Diamond said in her heartfelt editorial published in the Globe and Mail, “Our system isn’t simply broken. The system we need doesn’t even exist.”

The Diamond Foundation has donated $20 million to fund a program at St. Paul’s Hospital called the Road to Recovery, which will offer a full range of treatment options across the recovery journey, all in one location.  
“Our hope,” Jill says in the article, “is this new system sets a standard across the country.” I want to thank them for their remarkable act of tzedakah, which gets to the heart of the meaning of this mitzvah: justice. 
Speaking of tzedakah, we held our first canvasser training session this week. 
Volunteer canvassers play an important role in helping our community. Come join us and connect with your community in an impactful and purposeful way. Just email our campaign team and we’ll make sure you have all the tools and resources at your fingertips so that your canvassing experience is productive and meaningful. Just see below for the good work you'll enable.

Here are some of the things you’ll help make possible: 
Ongoing investments in community security... 
We have taken a strategic and coordinated approach to investing in community security over the years. Recently, our Federation, in partnership with Beth Israel, the Foundation for a Path Forward, and CIJA, hosted a security awareness training session on school-based violence presented by the US Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Centre.

Although the training was organized for the Jewish community, we were pleased to welcome over 130 participants, including 11 other faith-based organizations, several independent schools and colleges, four security companies, and a number of law enforcement personnel. 

Daniel Heydenrych-Davis, our director of community security, is working with the co-sponsors to offer another training session specifically focussed on places of worship.  

Helping Jewish life flourish across the province... 

Last weekend, 55 people from Langley, Burnaby, Coquitlam, South Delta, and Richmond, spent two nights at Sasamat Camp in Belcarra. The weekend was organized by Kulam Ba’ Valley and the Burquest community with the help of a community engagement grant that we provided.

Connecting young adults with their heritage... 
This week our Birthright Israel group returned from an unforgettable experience led by Grace Miller-Day, our associate director of community engagement. Forty young people from across Canada came together with seven Israeli soldiers to tour Israel in a meaningful way. They visited everywhere from Caesarea and Jisr az-Zarqa to Mitzpe Ramon, where they spent Shabbat, and Jerusalem, where they ended their 10-day adventure.  
By supporting this program we are supporting young adults in growing their connections to Israel. This trip has helped inform many of their connections to their Judaism and we can’t wait to see them continue to engage with our local community! 

Supporting Jewish education in all its forms... 

Yesterday was a milestone for 62 teens at King David High School who celebrated their graduation—the biggest class ever. We are proud to have supported them on their educational journey, whether it began in Jewish daycare or just started this school year. A big mazel tov to them all—and their parents and teachers! 

We are delighted to host our AGM at King David on June 27—but it won’t be all business. We’ll be celebrating our amazing community leaders and our colleague, Shelley Rivkin. We want you to be there. Please register here.  
It’s not every day that you turn 115... 
...which is the milestone that Congregation Schara Tzedeck celebrated this week. For 20 of those years Rabbi Rosenblatt has provided steadfast leadership to the congregation and helped set the spiritual tone for our entire community. He has also been a tireless advocate for new ideas to make living an observant life here easier and more fulfilling. It is a blessing to have a professional of his calibre working for our community, and I am very proud to call him not just an esteemed colleague but a true friend. 

Shabbat Shalom,


Ezra S. Shanken

CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

Jill Diamond announces a $20 million donation to St. Pauls Foundation for substance abuse care

Daniel Heydenrych-Davis, director of community security

Sasamat Camp in Belcarra

King David High School Graduation