Shabbat Message from Ezra S. Shanken

We're talking Israel

Shabbat Message from CEO Ezra S. Shanken


March 17, 2023 | 24 Adar 5783



This message has about 756 words and will take less than 4 minute to read.

This week, we hosted representatives from the Secure Community Network (SCN), the official safety initiative of the organized Jewish community in North America. SCN works with communities and partners across North America to develop and implement strategic frameworks that enhance the safety and security of the Jewish community.

We had some productive discussions about how we can build capacity in this important area, and they led a security workshop for representatives of local Jewish organizations. We have asked Jason Murray, chair of our Community Security Advisory Committee, to share more details with you in our April 5th pre-Passover message.

Israel remains top of mind for many of us and what happens there affects us here.

We want to keep you updated on Jewish Federations of North America’s (JFNA) response. On Wednesday, lay and professional leaders from over 30 communities across North America, including our own, flew to Israel to engage in open dialogue with Israeli leaders.

JFNA shared that discussion centred on concerns relating to the proposed judicial reforms and other issues of importance to the North American Jewish community, while emphasizing "our community’s unconditional and eternal support for Israel." The leaders urged government representatives on all sides to negotiate a compromise based on the recommendations of President Herzog. For more information you can read the statement put out by JFNA here or the statement from Keren Hayesod leadership here.

We were extremely fortunate to have a seat at this table, and we look forward to having our representative share more from the experience in next week’s Shabbat Message.

There are several ways to stay informed on the situation in Israel.

Keren Hayesod is holding a virtual briefing with The Honourable Irwin Cotler on the proposed judicial reforms and its implications on Sunday, March 19th at 1:00 p.m. Thanks to Jewish Federations of Canada UIA, you are all invited to join here.

JFNA is hosting a webinar on March 21st on how new government policy affects Israel's economy and foreign relations. If you would like to join please register here.

On March 23rd, our advocacy agent the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) will be delving behind Israeli headlines to analyze their impacts on the diaspora with their townhall webinar: Unity not Uniformity – unpacking the controversy. Register here.

Speaking of Israel, it's time to BUYcott Israeli wine

I hope you will show your support of Israel by purchasing Israeli wine ahead of another boycott that has been called for April 1st. By purchasing Israeli wine off the shelves of your nearest BC Liquor store, we demonstrate that the Jewish community, and our supporters, won't be bullied by tactics of intimidation and hatred against our people and the state of Israel. There are several wonderful Israeli wines sold at our local BC liquor stores and now is the perfect time to stock up for Pesach.

At the seder we invite all those who are hungry to come and eat—an increasing challenge for many in our community.

For five years, we have been bringing community together around issues of affordability. Our most recent Affordability Summit focused on experiences for children and youth growing up in low-income homes.  We are proud to share the three areas of focus identified by our Planning Council.

  1. Advocacy. We are one of the only OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries without a national breakfast program. This is one opportunity where we can join with other groups to advocate.
  2. Single point of entry. Currently, it is a time-consuming patchwork of applications that puts an unnecessary burden on families who are already struggling. We envision a portal where families apply once and multiple organizations can review the information.
  3. Inclusive, respectful processes. In practical terms, this means that employees becoming more familiar with the diverse needs of clients so they can respond appropriately.

Let’s celebrate Israel@75!

On Monday we announced our three-week community-wide celebration of Israel@75 from April 25 - May 14. We are proud to partner with organizations across our community to bring you the best of Israeli arts, culture, food, music, dance and more. And we are thrilled to once again be able to bring you top talent from Israel. Israel’s favourite pop band, Teapacks will be live in concert on May 14th. Click here for the full list of events and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more.

If waiting until the end of April to start celebrating feels too far away, join Temple Sholom’s weekend of comedy and conversation about Israel next weekend.

On a final note, this is the last weekend to catch the Jewish Film Festival in person, and I encourage you to check out the line up, grab some friends and enjoy Jewish arts this weekend. Can’t make it? Catch their screenings online through March 26th.


Shabbat Shalom.

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

JFNA dialogue with Israeli leaders

Hosting representatives from Secure Community Network

Jewish Community Affordability Summit