Shabbat Message from Ezra S. Shanken

It’s Jewish Heritage Month! 

Shabbat Message from CEO Ezra S. Shanken


May 5, 2023 | 14 Iyar 5783



This message has about 898 words and will take about 4 minute to read.

Our Jewish community is an important part of the multicultural fabric of our country, and Jewish Heritage Month is a time to celebrate that. From dozens of Israel@75 events, including our Teapacks concert on May 14, to arts and the book festival awards and more. These are also ways for us to reach out to others both within and beyond our community.

Institutions play an important role in this too, with the JCC leading the way in engaging the broader community in a space that is intrinsically Jewish. As we, the JCC and King David High School continue to make progress on JWest, it is clear how much the new project will be a Jewish space that benefits everyone while providing a legacy for our community.

The JCC daycare is where our boys have marked milestones, made friends, and connected with their Jewish heritage.

It is also an incredibly diverse learning environment, where the different languages and heritages of children and teachers are honoured and celebrated – all within a Jewish learning space.

We were extremely proud when JWest announced a new gift to the capital campaign from husband and wife, Dr. Andrei Karpov and Dr. Kate Milne, that was inspired by the value they place on early childhood education—and increased accessibility to high quality programs like the JCC daycare.

The doubling of childcare spaces is one of the ways in which JWest will address a significant issue faced by thousands of people across the region. You can read more here.

Speaking of children, many of them are looking forward to the start of summer camp.

Yet there are others who are a bit nervous. Alisa Farina, our child, youth, and young adult mental health worker has offered support to both Camp Miriam and Camp Hatikvah, based on the camp’s specific needs as defined by the camps themselves. Alisa will be at Camp Hatikvah two days a week all summer and is providing pre-camp mental health training to camp leaders so that they can develop skills and strategies when supporting campers this summer.

Coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Week, Alisa facilitated SafeTALK suicide prevention training at the JCC this week for frontline community staff who work with youth. The goal is to have as many community members trained in SafeTALK as possible this fall.

May is also Asian Heritage Month and we are pleased announce that S.U.C.C.E.S.S. will receive our partner of the year award at our AGM.

Our partnership with S.U.C.C.E.S.S has seen our communities come together on many important issues like combatting racism and supporting affordable housing, including their partnership with Tikva Housing at Dogwood Gardens. This year, marks S.U.C.C.E.S.S's 50th anniversary, please join me in wishing them a hearty mazel tov!  

I hope you will join us on June 27th as we elect new directors to our board, vote on a special resolution to amend our bylaws, and celebrate individual award recipients from across our community. It will also be a very special opportunity to honour Shelley Rivkin, our VP of local and global engagement, who will be stepping back from her leadership role but continuing on with us as a consultant. Shelley has done so much for our community over the decades, and we are looking forward to celebrating her and her impact. We will bring you more details soon, but for now mark the date so you can join us.

One last note on which to leave you this shabbat...

...we want to thank our advocacy agent, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, for building relationships with elected official from all political parties and coordinating a community tour for Kevin Falcon, MLA, Vancouver – Quilchena and Leader of the Official Opposition; Michael Lee – Critic for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, MLA for Vancouver Langara; Teresa Wat – Critic for Multiculturalism, Anti-Racism Initiatives, Arts & Culture, MLA for Richmond North Centre; and Dan Davies – Critic for Social Development and Poverty Reduction, MLA for Peace River North. You can find photos here of their visits to and roundtable with multiple community organizations.

I want to say todah rabah to Geoffrey Druker, who is concluding his term as chair of CIJA’s Local Partnership Council (LPC) for the excellent work he has done, who just last week hosted the Hon. Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation and MLA for Vancouver – False Creek, at his and Roseanne Kipnes’ home for Shabbat.

With Karen James, our former board chair, poised to take on leadership of the LPC, CIJA will certainly go from strength to strength. We wish her great success in her new role!

Shabbat shalom.

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

Rendering of the new entrance of the JCC Early Childhood Education Centre

Shelley Rivkin

Jewish community tour for elected officials