Shabbat Message from Ezra S. Shanken


Shabbat Message from CEO Ezra S. Shanken


May 12, 2023 | 12 Iyar 5783



This message has about 862 words and will take about 4 minute to read.

If you haven’t heard yet, we announced the results of the 2022 Annual Campaign: $13.17 million for community! Here is the breakdown:

$10.24 million through the 2022 Annual Campaign

$2.91 million in Additional Support (This includes additional special project funding, community relief, and emergency relief.)

But what do those numbers really represent? That’s where I can shed some light.

Last fall, when we launched the campaign, there was still considerable uncertainty, and the effects of the pandemic remained very raw. But there was also a sense of strength and hope—at Jewish Federation, amongst our partners, and across our community. We had proven our resilience and successfully risen to challenge after challenge. It felt like a time to come back together (in person) and take our community to new heights.

The $10.24 million campaign result takes us past a new threshold.

What we achieved is amazing, but it’s not a Jewish Federation achievement. It’s an achievement by our community, for our community. Just look at the “numbers behind the numbers”:

  • 2,500+ donors made Amazing Happen
  • 900+ donors gave for the first time or increased their gifts
  • 21 partner agency boards achieved 100% campaign participation, meaning that every one of their directors supported the Annual Campaign.
  • 200+ volunteer canvassers

The campaign is led by volunteer leaders from across our community, and I want to thank the entire Annual Campaign Cabinet who did a remarkable job guided by the leadership of Lana Marks Pulver in her second year as chair: Shay Keil, Megan Laskin, Alvin Wasserman, Al Szajman, Chana Charach, Lindsay Isserow, David Linde, Catherine Epstein, Andrew Altow, David Porte, Michael Nemirow, Todd Thal, Sue Hector, Lucy Adirim, and Justin Ergas.

On behalf of the thousands of people, here and around the world, whose lives are made better by collective giving, I want to thank everyone who participated in the Annual Campaign and took our results to new heights for our community.

To put the power of the results in context, we need to look back at the last few years.

The pandemic ushered in a period of change for our community that continues to evolve and impact us. At first, that period was characterized by crisis and increased needs that were unprecedentedly urgent and extreme. What followed was uncertainty and rising costs in an already expensive region. These changes had the potential to weaken our community’s frontline organizations, our Federation, and the very fabric of our community.

That didn’t happen. The opposite did.

Our community has gone from strength to strength because when we were tested, we pulled together and we've kept pulling together. It is clear from our conversations with our partners that the rapid change of the past three years is not yet complete—and that’s ok. As a Federation and as a community, we have the confidence to look forward with increased positivity, knowing that we can meet whatever challenges may come down the line with responses that are innovative, strategic, and strong. That is part of the broader, bigger picture power of your gift.

Our community has also generously supported emergency relief efforts to help communities in crisis around the world.

We all witnessed the increase in tensions in Israel this week, as more than 800 rockets were fired into Israel. The Beit Canada Community Centre in Sderot took a direct hit. Our Board responded immediately by approving the disbursement of $10,000 from our Emergency and Disaster Fund towards one-time emergency relief grants administered by the Jewish Agency for Israel to support individuals and families in Southern Israel who have been impacted by the recent rockets. Our ability to do this is a direct result of your support. As always, our work is your work.

Before we leave off for the weekend, let's take a moment to take pride in how our community has grown.

Just look at the Israel@75 celebrations in Langley, Abbotsford, Burnaby, the Tri-Cities and White Rock/South Surrey, ranging from picnics to Israeli dancing, that drew over 300 people! In Langley 150 community members celebrated together, and the Sea-to-Sky celebration brought participants together from Squamish, Whistler, and the North Shore.
This is just incredible. We are so proud to see the energy and vitality of these growing communities and to support them through our new community connector staff. I want to thank the Ronald S. Roadburg Foundation for making Israel@75 events in the regional communities possible through their generous support.

The fun continued with L’ag B’omer events across the Lower Mainland. To celebrate this holiday one of our community connectors reached out to the White Rock South Surrey JCC and The Bayit to support a collaboration between their respective communities in Delta. We love bringing people together and making community happen!

We have the last two Israel@75 celebrations this weekend with the Israeli Cultural Festival at the JCC and the Teapacks concert at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, and I hope to see you there.


Shabbat shalom.

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver