Shabbat Message from Ezra S. Shanken

It’s up to you to activate our Ukraine match

Shabbat Message from CEO Ezra S. Shanken


March 4, 2022 | 2 Adar II 5782



This message has about 984 words and will take less than 4 minute to read.

I want to start by thanking everyone who has made a gift to our Ukraine Emergency Fund. So far, we have raised over $460,000! Yesterday, we announced that your gift will be matched, and today we are announcing an increase to that match.

You can double your impact, thanks to 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. Because of their generosity and desire to inspire others, our total match is now $200,000! Thank you!

These matching funds are only activated if donors like you make a gift. So, please click here to donate.

The Ronald S. Roadburg Foundation committed an additional $100,000.

Their match contribution is only part of the Ronald S. Roadburg Foundation's commitment. They also contributed an additional $100,000 to the Ukraine Emergency Fund, bringing their total gift to an incredible $200,000! It is a truly remarkable commitment they have made, and we are deeply grateful.

The Ronald S. Roadburg Foundation is focused on strengthening local and global Jewish communities and the Lower Mainland region, and helping to develop innovative solutions to challenging societal issues.  It was founded after Ron Roadburg’s z'l passing last spring, and is led by directors Bernard Pinsky, Jack Bogdanov and Stephen Gaerber.  I want to thank them for their support and for inspiring others to give.

Every day, the situation in Ukraine is becoming more desperate.

Our international partners have been working in Ukraine for many years, and they have remained in place to help. They are on duty 24/7 now. The circumstances faced by families are unimaginable. Natalia Forys and her family drove for 20 hours straight, and they are now in Warsaw enroute to Israel. But they made the gut-wrenching decision to leave her parents behind.

"I took my children without socks or anything else," she said. "We are here only with the clothes on our backs and documents. That’s all.” You can read more here.

The first Ukrainian families to make Aliyah arrived in Israel this week.

It’s being reported that up to 10,000 Ukrainians may make Israel their new home. Three flights with about 300 Ukrainian Jews will land in Israel on Sunday in a special rescue operation that is a collaboration between three of our partners: The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Hayesod UIA, and Jewish Federations of North America.

That brings us to an update from Israel, where I am with our board chair, Candace Kwinter, and the director of our Israel and global engagement department, If’at Eilon Heiber.

The first portion of our trip was focused on the Jewish Agency’s meeting of its Board of Governors, on which Candace serves alongside Karen James (who participated remotely). We heard from the Jewish Agency’s shaliach in Ukraine, who reported on our activities there, and reviewed the Jewish Agency Security Fund, which was established following the terror attack on the Ozar Ha Torah Jewish day school in Toulouse, France 10 years ago. The video they showed is very powerful, and we want to share it with you here.  

Then, we headed north to our partnership region of the Upper Galilee, where we opened two new facilities and awarded scholarships to students.

Our first stop was to pay our respects at the memorial for the 73 IDF members who lost their lives when two helicopters crashed in the area 25 years ago. It was an accident that shaped not just our partnership region but a generation of Israelis, and the anniversary will be one focus of this year’s Yom Hazikaron ceremony on May 3rd.

From there, we dedicated the new community art studio at Beit Vancouver with Mayor Avichai Stern of Kiryat Shmona. Our Federation strategically invests funds to strengthen the region, including projects that address the immediate and long-term needs of the area’s residents, especially youth.

Participation in the arts, including visual arts, can have a significant positive impact on a young person’s development, and investments like this help youth fulfill their potential.

Speaking of young people, we presented so many scholarships! Several were awarded to students attending Tel Hai University, including the first two recipients of a scholarship that Rachel and I set up in memory of my grandfather.

More than a dozen scholarships from a single program were awarded to students who will each volunteer 100 hours in the community as part of their commitment to give back to the region. This is thanks to a local donor family’s longstanding commitment to the region and its future.

We also opened the Multi-Purpose Facility at the Eastern Galilee Hydrotherapy Center. The Mevoot HaHermon Regional Council, led by Mayor Benny Ben Muvchar, has taken a holistic approach to support people with special needs, and this includes the belief that caregivers need care, too.

The facility will give caregivers and families a place to enjoy some well-deserved downtime. Thanks to our donors, we are truly changing lives and helping people live with dignity.

You’re invited to Israel—this Sunday.

As we sign off after a very busy and productive week, I hope you’ll join me for a virtual tour of Israel that we are presenting in collaboration with local synagogues. After we made the difficult decision to cancel the synagogue trip planned for this summer, Rabbi Moskovitz had the inspiring idea to organize a virtual trip for the whole community. There will be some dynamic presenters, and it will give us all a chance to have some of what we’ve been dreaming of, namely visiting Israel together. Click here for details.


Shabbat Shalom.


Ezra S. Shanken
Chief Executive Officer

Meeting with President Isaac Herzog

Beit Vancouver

Mult-Purpose Building