Shabbat Message from Ezra S. Shanken

Marketing milestones across our community

Shabbat Message from CEO Ezra S. Shanken


March 31, 2023 | 9 Nissan 5783



This message has about 1,172 words and will take less than 4 minute to read.

The week started very differently from how it ended.

Tensions that had been brewing for months in Israel came to head earlier this week, with the prime minister ultimately postponing the judicial reforms until the next legislative session. It is a very welcome decision, and, if our calculations are correct, it gives all parties until sometime in the summer to work out a compromise. A pause is not a halt and we implore the parties to come to the table with President Herzog, which is what we have advocated for since the start. I sincerely hope that this is a peaceful, restful, restorative Shabbat for everyone in Israel.  

It’s worthwhile to get informed and know how organizations are responding on our behalf.

Our advocacy agent, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, posted a succinct breakdown and issued this statement on Monday. They also launched Have your say where you can find everything you need to connect with the offices of the central figures in Israeli politics and more. Whether it’s a concern, an idea you’ve come up with, or an issue you want to raise directly, they have compiled a list of quick-access resources to take you directly to those making decisions affecting Israel’s future.

Also, you can register here for Jewish Federations of North America’s (JFNA) next webinar in their series on the implications of the new government in Israel: The Latest on Judicial Reform in Israel: Where Do Things Stand Now - What Might Come Next? The call is scheduled for Monday, April 3 at 9:30 a.m. and will focus on the prime minister’s decision to pause the legislative process, the negotiations now taking place under the auspices of President Herzog, and how these developments are playing out across different parts of Israeli society. Speakers include Yaakov Katz, editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post; Julie Beren Platt, chair of the Board of JFNA; and Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of JFNA.  

While the country works through this very challenging situation, it is on the cusp of a major milestone: 75 years of independence.

Many people are struggling with how to balance serious concerns around the political situation with how to honour this landmark occasion, and whether they feel they can do both. At the end of the day, these two things are not mutually exclusive. Why? Because both are deeply rooted in love. Celebrating doesn't mean we dilute our concerns. It means we lean into our love for Israel despite our concerns, and perhaps even because of our concerns.  

Dozens of local organizations have planned more than 30 events across the entire region, from Abbotsford to the Tri-Cities to Vancouver, Squamish, and beyond. You can learn to make hummus, splash around at a pool party, enjoy films and music, or delve into current events and intersecting identities. There is truly something for everyone

Israel@75 culminates in the JCC’s Festival of Israeli Culture and our annual concert featuring Teapacks at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre, both of which take place on Sunday, May 14th. Tickets for Teapacks are on sale now. The Shanken family have ours and we hope you will join us.

This week, two of our partners held milestone celebrations of their own.

We want to say mazel tov to all involved with the 30th annual RBC JCC Sports Dinner and Hillel's 75th anniversary event and shine a special light on some of the honourees. Meghan Agosta, four time Olympic Medalist and constable with the Vancouver Police Department, received the Jack Diamond Sports Personality of the Year Award. At the Hillel 75th anniversary event, former executive directors, Rabbi Bregman and Sam Heller, were honoured for their outstanding commitment and achievements. We are incredibly proud to support the work of both organizations, and I was honoured to attend both events. 

UBC’s Hillel House was also the gathering place for our Hazon/Adama Seal of Sustainability event. 

Last Sunday, in a great show of collective action, 13 local organizations received their sustainability certification from Adama (previously known as Hazon) for the work their green teams have been doing. They took part in a full full day of experiential sustainability exercises with a facilitator from Adama and there was an incredibly positive vibe in the room.

This is an inspiring example of how the community convenor aspect of our role results in an amplified outcome. In other words, when we bring organizations together to pursue a common goal, we accomplish much more than any of us could have done alone.

You can read more about each organization's projects in our e.Yachad newsletter next week. If you don't already receive it, sign up here. In the meantime, join me in saying todah rabah to all of them on their great work.

A thank you goes a long way. 

Before we leave you to your Shabbat preparations, we want to say another thank you, this time to our volunteer canvassers and partner agencies, who, along with our committed donors, are integral to our Annual Campaign. At our canvasser and partner appreciation event last week, we recognized 21 partner agencies whose boards achieved 100% participation in the Annual Campaign. That means that every board member made a gift and took part in helping our community through its central fundraising initiative. Many of our canvassers have been volunteering for years, and we acknowledged them based on the power of 10, giving those who have volunteered for 10 years, 20 years, and 30 years special recognition for their commitment and dedication and contributions. Todah rabah!


Shabbat Shalom.

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

Hillel's 75th anniversary event

Canvassers and Partner Agency Appreciation Event

Hazon/Adama Seal of Sustainability event