Shabbat Message from Ezra S. Shanken

3 weeks, 40+ events, 4000 community members engaged

Shabbat Message from CEO Ezra S. Shanken


May 19, 2023 | 28 Iyar 5783



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

This week we wrapped up three weeks of Israel@75 celebrations that attracted over 40 events that engaged 4,000 community members!

On Sunday night, Teapacks wasn’t the only great performance. Thank you to all the kids who took the stage and the staff and parents who helped them prepare. A big todah rabah goes to our honorary co-chairs, Jonathan and Heather Berkowitz, whose love for Israel was on full display as they took the stage in front of 1,200 guests.

None of this would have been possible without the generous support of our donors and sponsors, and the dedication of our volunteers and staff. I want to thank Our Israel and Global Engagement team of If’at Eilon-Heiber, Dafna Silberstein and Nicole Nozick, and our Local Community Engagement team of Grace Miller-Day, Kimberley Berger, Helen Mann, Lyssa Anolik and Eliana Mandel for showcasing our performance values of collaboration and excellence. 

Speaking of Israel, we want to showcase the resilience of the people of Sderot.

Sarah Mali, director general of JFC-UIA in Israel, visited Sderot after the recent rocket attacks and talked with the people who were directly affected. Sderot is just over a kilometer from the Gaza border—about the same distance the JCC is from Beth Israel. Sarah calls the experience her own “lesson in social emotional learning.” Read about what it’s been like and how we are helping through our international partners, including through our Victims of Terror Fund.  

Here at home, we’re helping through our Alberta Wildfire Relief Fund – and your gift will be tripled!

As of this morning, there were 100 active wildfires across Alberta, and maps show almost the entire province engulfed in smoke including the major population centres of Calgary and Edmonton. Our partner federations in these cities are working with the Red Cross, which has agreed to triple your gift until June 2. It is our tradition to help each other, to do our part to repair the world, to fulfill the mitzvah of tzedakah as we prepare for Shabbat. I hope you will join me in supporting this fund.

Amazing Happens when we work together, and The Other People is a great example.

The Other People is a program started by our interfaith liaison, Rabbi Bregman. Comprised of community leaders from various ethno-cultural and religious backgrounds, they call their group The Other People because each of them has been “othered” at some point. Their work together is designed to build understanding by helping students to recognize and acknowledge their biases. They have been addressing students at schools across the province and on Wednesday Rabbi Bregman and Tariq Tyab addressed our staff.

Their aim is to introduce teenagers and young adults to people who have experienced discrimination based on their religious, ethnic or cultural background. By enabling students to meet them firsthand, hear their stories and ask questions, “The Other People” are helping to dismantle the “us vs. them” divide that leads to prejudice, exclusion and marginalization.

We are going to delve deeper into their work next week, because we have a lot to say, and you have a long weekend to get started. In the meantime, you can find out more about The Other People here.

Mazel tov to the Granville Greats!
Todah rabah to Taleeb Noormohamed, MP for Vancouver Granville, who recognized four Jewish organizations and programs as “Granville Greats” and presented them with the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Pin on the occasion of Jewish Heritage Month. The Other People and the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre were recognized for their work in combating hate. The Diamond Foundation and the Ronald S. Roadburg Foundation were recognized for their philanthropic leadership with JWest. A hearty  mazel tov to them all!


Shabbat shalom.

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver