Shabbat Message - April 17, 2020


This message has 860 words and will take about 4 minutes to read.


We hope you had a great Passover and are getting ready to enjoy some freshly baked challah tonight.


One of the most important yet perhaps least understood aspects of our work is our role as a community convener. It’s a role that is unique to Jewish Federation and that provides short and long-term value. Bringing different people and organizations together may seem very simple, but it’s incredibly valuable – to us, to the organizations, and to the community as a whole.


Take, for example, the way we are working with organizations that provide services to Jewish seniors, and how we were able to collectively find a creative solution to some of the challenges faced by the population they serve. We are so pleased to see who stepped up to help.


Early on, we began convening organizations that serve similar populations, including the six organizations and five synagogues that provide programs and services to seniors. Together, we are identifying the immediate and longer terms impacts of COVID-19, as well as emerging needs and the gaps that need to be addressed. This has helped everyone understand where to focus attention, and, as you have already read here, led to Jewish Federation directing funds to organizations on the front line of providing essential and critical services to community members in need due to COVID-19.


While this funding is absolutely vital, and more will be needed down the road, we also recognized the need to mobilize a group of volunteers. But who, and where to find them?


One of the groups Jewish Federation identified as being of strategic importance to the long-term health of our community is young Jewish adults. So strongly do we believe in the need to unlock their potential, we singled them out in our 2020 Strategic Priorities, created our Axis program, and relaunched the Ben Gurion Society. The Axis chair even has a seat on our Board of Directors.


We are thrilled to tell you that 23 young adults have stepped up to volunteer to help seniors, and we are in the process of placing them at the organizations where they can make the greatest difference. We’ve said all along that they are not the next generation of community leaders, but that they are leading now, and this is a wonderful example. Kol hakvod!


Speaking of seniors, the generous and thoughtful donor who donated daffodils to brighten the rooms and the lives of residents at the Louis Brier two weeks ago has just donated over 250 tulips to help keep spirits lifted. Louis Brier is playing a critical role right now and they are hiring for several positions. Please share this widely, so they can fill their staffing gaps.


Speaking of staffing gaps, Giselle Hausman is one of our team members whom we have seconded to Jewish Family Services, to fill a staffing gap there. She is coordinating volunteers and reported this week that they welcomed 25 new volunteers, primarily for grocery deliveries and friendly phone visiting with seniors. “It’s been a really heartwarming, wonderful experience. Everyone is very enthusiastic about doing it,” said Giselle. We’re very glad to be able to assist our partners in creative ways like this.


In the regional communities, Hannah Yerington, community outreach worker with our Connect Me In initiative, has been creating resource packets for seniors as well as the families that participate in the Toddler Circle Time. She has been in constant communication with community members, offering support and referring them to proper resources. She is helping members of the North Shore Shabbat group learn how to use Zoom, and they are planning their first virtual Shabbat. In collaboration with other Jewish educators, Hannah has also created a fun, arts-based resource package filled with Jewish art workshop ideas to do at home, for families who were enrolled in what was to be the first term of our Jewish after-school program, JSprouts. Follow the Connect Me in on Facebook for more.


Connecting with each other is more important than ever, and there are three important opportunities coming up where you’ll be able to do just that.


On April 20th, at 4:00 p.m., the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre will join communities from coast to coast for an online Yom HaShoah presentation. The program will include greetings from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, curated films, performances, and prayers. Register here.


Yom HaZikaron (Israel’s Day of Remembrance) honours Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terrorist attacks. Our remembrance ceremony will be on Zoom on Monday, April 27, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. It will follow the traditional Israeli Yom HaZikaron format, with poems, readings, songs and a moment of silence. Click here for more.


For Yom Ha’atzmaut, this year we will be joining Jewish Federations of North America’s virtual live global celebration that will feature music, celebrity guests and more, as we toast Israel’s Independence Day on Wednesday, April 29th at 11:00 a.m. via Facebook Live. Click here to RSVP.


Our final message to you this week is in a video message. This is just one more way we can stay connected to each other, because social distancing doesn’t have to mean being isolated from your community or your Jewish Federation.


Shabbat shalom.


Ezra S. Shanken
Chief Executive Officer

Kehila Society and Chabad Richmond delivered Passover meals to hundreds of people, many of whom are seniors.

Tulips sent to Louis Brier Home & Hospital help keep spirits lifted.