Shabbat Message from Ezra S. Shanken

Standing with Ukraine

Shabbat Message from CEO Ezra S. Shanken


March 11, 2022 | 8 Adar II 5782



This message has about 640 words and will take less than 3.5 minute to read.

Mark Weintraub gave a very moving speech at a rally for Ukraine held on Sunday at Jack Poole Plaza. I want to share some of his remarks with you, because I believe he speaks for all of us:

To those with family and friends in Ukraine, as fellow Canadians, we want to let you know we are here with you; as Jews we want to let you know that we have heard President Zelensky’s call to the Jewish conscience; and as citizens of the world we want you to know that we call on all people, everywhere, to stand with Ukraine.
Our advocacy agent, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, which has been active on the immigration aspect of this with the government, issued a statement of solidarity and call for government action, which was signed by over 130 organizations. Click here to read it.

I am also proud to share that on Monday evening, our board approved the distribution strategy for our Ukraine Emergency Fund, which now stands at over $660,000.
Our top priority is to distribute funds raised in our community to our partners on the ground in Ukraine as quickly and effectively as possible.
Here is the breakdown:

  • 80% will be split equally between our two key international partners, The Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI)
    • JDC is delivering urgent care to Jewish seniors and families, including food packages, online support and help to those sheltering in place, and transport and accommodation for those fleeing their homes.
    • JAFI is providing Ukrainian Jews with guidance and information regarding the Aliyah process, as well as general assistance for members of the Jewish community in Ukraine.
  •  20% will support the work of other organizations that are providing aid and services on the ground in Ukraine.

In addition, we are supporting the Ukrainian Canadian Congress’ work with a donation of $25,000.

We recognize that the needs may shift to providing support to refugees and family reunification, and we are prepared to look at that as the situation evolves.
Hotlines for family and friends in Ukraine
We know that many of you are worried about your family and friends in Ukraine, and that you are looking for ways to help. Please connect them with our partners who can assist with everything from food and medicine to rescue and Aliyah. Click here for a list of hotlines.
There is still time to have your gift matched.
I want to thank the hundreds of donors who have contributed. Click here to give, if you haven’t already, and we’ll match it.
Every dollar counts, as the students at Vancouver Talmud Torah and King David High School have shown us. VTT students brought their toonies to school and raised over $1,000, which was then matched by their ZLC Financial Chesed Fund. KDHS students raised over $700, and both schools donated their funds to our Ukraine Emergency Fund, triggering our match, which turned their efforts into $4,000 and $1,400 respectively. What an inspiration these kids are—kol hakavod!  
 As much as the war in Ukraine rightly occupied the headlines, there was other, happier, news in our community.
On International Women’s Day, we celebrated the many impressive women who are leading our organization. I am sure you will recognize many of them in this video. I also want to recognize the many women on our staff, including those on our senior management team: Marcie Flom, Shelley Rivkin, and Becky Saegert.
And while Yom Ha’atzmaut may seem far away, tickets go on sale next week.

It will be our first big in-person event. We are pleased to announce this year’s community song is SalaamClick here for details and to upload a video of you singing and dancing along. What better choice than this classic song about peace.


Shabbat Shalom.


Ezra S. Shanken
Chief Executive Officer

Vancouver Talmud Torah and King David High School students raised funds for Ukraine