Shabbat Message from Ezra S. Shanken

Announcing Extra Mile contest winners

Shabbat Message from CEO Ezra S. Shanken


March 25, 2022 | 22 Adar II 5782



This message has about 722 words and will take less than 3 minute to read.

Today, we are announcing the five winners of our Extra Mile contest with Air Canada!

Frontline workers across our community have given their all to help us get through the pandemic. Together with our sponsor, Air Canada, we are honouring the staff at the five Jewish day schools in our community. They have gone the extra mile to help students and families, and it is important both to Air Canada and to us that we go the extra mile for them.

One winner from each school will jet off to the destination of their choice anywhere Air Canada flies in North America. I want to thank Air Canada for their incredible generosity and for honouring the staff who have worked tirelessly for our children.

We asked parents, students and school leadership what they had to say about teachers and staff, and it got pretty emotional. Children have had a lot on their shoulders and schools have been a sanctuary of community and support for them.

Click here to see who won at each school!

Speaking of travel, Birthright Israel experiences are up and running again, which is very exciting news for young adults who want to connect with their heritage. We are proud to work with Tailor-Made to provide YVR departures for these transformative Birthright Israel experiences. Click this link for more.

You don’t have to travel to connect with Israel, because we are bringing the celebration to you.

You still have a few more days to send us a quick video clip of you and your family and friends singing and dancing to this year’s community song, Salaam. We will feature a compilation at our Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration on May 4th at The Vogue. Click here for tickets.

My family’s connection to Israel is important to us, and now we have another country to truly call home.

All the Shankens are officially Canadian citizens!

Our children were born here and Rachel took her citizenship oath while I was in Israel a few weeks ago, so that left me as the only non-Canadian in the house. But not for long! I was honoured to take my oath this week, and it was made even more special by our partner, the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre (VHEC).  
They loaned me two very special siddurim (prayer books) from their extensive collection. One was given to Mayer Levit z”l at the time of his liberation from Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and the other was issued by the Canadian Army to Captain Sol Malkin z”l, who landed in Normandy on D-Day and took part in the liberation of the Netherlands.

A big thank you to Nina Krieger, the VHEC’s executive director, and Caitlin Donaldson, the VHEC’s collections registrar for making this possible.

One of the ways my Jewish and Canadian values intersect is in caring for the world around us and how it is changing.

On Sunday, we launched a new climate change initiative in partnership with Hazon.  

Twenty-six participants representing 13 different organizations gathered to learn more about how their organization can contribute to change. Each participating organization will form their own green team to identify activities or practices that can make a difference. 
Food security is closely tied to environmental sustainability, and it has been a focus of our work, since the joint Food Security Task Force we led with Jewish Family Services in 2018. We are kvelling today, because the co-chairs of that task force have been honoured by the province.

Yasher koach to Renée Katz and Stan Shaw on receiving the BC Medal of Good Citizenship!

We were very proud to nominate them for the ground-breaking work they have done in food security, which has seen our community adopt a broader approach to this issue.

Their work leading the task force and in the year following has led to new programs, such as JFS’ The Kitchen, that are moving organizations beyond transactional relationships to actively engaging people in food production and delivery.

When we look at the world around us, there is no greater urgency than the humanitarian disaster in Ukraine.

As the situation worsens daily it has become clear that we will need to be in this for the long haul. So far, we have raised $850,000, and I want to thank everyone who contributed and helped us meet the match generously funded by a lead gift of $100,000 from the Ronald S. Roadburg Foundation, and additional commitments from the Diamond family, the Segal family, the Arnold and Anita Silber Family Foundation, and an anonymous donor family. If you haven’t contributed yet, I urge you to give today.

Community member, Mark Weintraub has found a very creative way to contribute. In collaboration with Art Works BC, he has organized ‘Artists for Ukraine’, a fundraising event from which partial proceeds will support our Ukrainian Emergency Relief Fund. This event is open to public, so check out the exhibit with your friends and family!


Shabbat Shalom.


Ezra S. Shanken
Chief Executive Officer

Watch this video announcing the winners of the Extra Miles contest.

Ezra S. Shanken

Renée Katz and Stan Shaw