September 1, 2023 | 15 Elul 5783
This message has about 701 words and will take about 2.5 minute to read.
We start the Annual Campaign today, but first I want to take a moment to acknowledge the tremendous life lived by Reuben Sinclair z''l, who passed away this week at the age of 112. He was the oldest man in Canada and I was privileged to know him and to pay my respects at his funeral. Click here to learn about this remarkable man.
Today we launch the 2023 Federation Annual Campaign.
Just as the needs of our community evolve, so does the way we work to address them. This year, our focus is on the transformational power of individual and collective action. Because we can accomplish much more together than we can on our own.
When we brought our professional team and volunteer leaders together to talk about the challenges we need to address, we also discussed the potential for innovation that is being fueled by post-pandemic shifts and rising costs.
Despite the challenges, and because of them, our community is poised for change and growth.
One of our strengths is our ability to bring people and organizations together to create synergies, develop new approaches, and build community strategies through collaboration with our partners.
Through our work together, we see the interconnectedness of key issues affecting individuals, families and the organizations that serve them. Take, for example, the affordability crisis and how it is tied with child and youth poverty and Jewish education.
The impact of affordability has an impact on the robustness of the community. Operating costs is an overarching issue for our partners, and many are rethinking the kinds of programs they can provide. Even volunteers are harder to find.
Among individuals there is anxiety about whether their kids and grandkids will able to afford to continue living here. Already we see many families joining either a synagogue or a school, but not both.
Add to that the estimated one in six children and youth in our community who live in low-income households.
We and our partners held an affordability summit focused on this and our Planning Council identified three areas of focus: advocacy for a national breakfast program, streamlining the process of applying for support, and ensuring inclusive, respectful processes for applicants.
Jewish education remains one of our biggest areas of support.
In addition to funding we are bringing added value and stability through our Day School Strategic Council. Utilizing processes in a strategic way to bring expertise that the schools need is one of the many ways our unique role and collaborations come together to make community stronger.
There is an impact on youth mental health, too, and our preventative approach complements the frontline work of our partners.
Many of our partners work in the area of mental health, and representatives of the day schools have a voice on our Day Schools Counselors Committee. We support partners with funding and with expertise and training for staff who work with youth. We also help families navigate the mental health system. These are some of the many ways we strengthen our partners.
At the same time, the Seniors Services Committee that we brought together during the pandemic is continuing their important work.
They are looking at how to support seniors to age safely in community, how to address social isolation—a broader issue exacerbated by the pandemic—as well as focusing on caregiver support, transportation, and innovative housing options.
As our community spreads out, we are extending our reach through a new, more effective outreach model.
Our community connectors live right in the communities they serve, building sustainable local Jewish communities and engaging more people. We are starting to tap the potential of communities from Squamish to Delta and more. We are also collaborating with our partners to extend their reach.
In Israel, the people of our partnership region in the Upper Galilee remain valued members of our extended community.
The region is deeply disadvantaged, with a life expectancy two years lower than for residents of Central Israel. Our decades-long partnership provides them with a stability they lack in other areas. We cannot turn our backs on them when they need us the most.
When we connect the dots between big issues, it becomes clear that they impact the community as a whole.
The Annual Campaign is not about some people being in need and others giving to support them. We are part of our community together. And we build, strengthen and care for our community together.
Part of our unique role is to collaborate with our partners to tackle big-picture issues. Challenges don’t put us off; they are what drives us. They are the reason we’re here.
But we can’t do it alone. None of us can. We need the power of together.
You join Federation and our partners in this, because you fuel our important work. Your gift, combined with the gift of thousands of donors makes all of this possible.
That’s the power of together, too. Community only works when we make the choice to participate. I hope you will participate both in this opportunity to fulfil the mitzvah of tzedakah and in joining us at the campaign launch on September 10th. I look forward to seeing you there!
Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver