Shabbat Message - April 24, 2020


This message has 825 words and will take about 3.5 minutes to read.


It’s part of our tradition to mark the bitter before celebrating the sweet. So, we want to start by recognizing the deep pain that our friends, family and fellow Canadians in Nova Scotia feel in the aftermath of the worst mass murder in our country’s history. We grieve with them and hold them close to our hearts as they grapple with this tragedy.


This week we also paused to remember the millions who were murdered during the Holocaust and honour those who survived. We joined the cross-Canada Yom HaShoah program online, and if you missed it you can watch it here until Monday.


For the first time in 32 years, there was no March of the Living on Yom HaShoah. That left 40 teens from our community – and tens of thousands more from around the world – deeply disappointed that they could not be in Poland in person. Had they been there, they would have written their reasons for marching on small wooden plaques and placed them on the train tracks at Birkenau. That act, too, went virtual this year. Watch the ceremony here.


Meanwhile, we are preparing for Yom HaZikaron, during which we will remember those who have lost their lives in Israel’s wars and in terror attacks. Please join us on Zoom on Monday at 7:30 p.m. for our annual commemoration, which will be led by Geoffrey Druker, chair of our Yom HaZikaron Committee. The remembrance ceremony will follow the traditional Israeli Yom HaZikaron format, with poems, readings, songs, and a moment of silence. Register in advance here.


You can add the names of your fallen loved ones and light candles at the Vancouver Community Remembers website, which will be live from April 26th to 28th.


Then on Wednesday, it’s time to celebrate! Jewish Federations of North America has organized an online celebration of Israel’s 72nd anniversary of independence that kicks off with Matisyahu singing a medley of One Day, accompanied by voices from The Jewish Agency for Israel’s Partnership2Gether communities and Jewish leaders from more than 30 countries. It starts here at 11:00 a.m. on April 29th. Click here to register.


When it first became clear that COVID-19 would significantly impact our community, we pledged to keep the lines of communication open. To that end, we are hosting a town hall meeting for donors this afternoon. Joining me to answer questions will be Alex Cristall, our board chair, and Shelley Rivkin, our vice president, planning, allocations and community affairs. I was also pleased to answer questions from the congregants on a Zoom call yesterday hosted by Beth Israel. Thank you to Rabbi Infeld for inviting me to participate.


We also pledged to maintain good information hygiene, and as part of fulfilling that promise, we are co-hosting a public health forum organized by Temple Sholom next Friday, May 1st at 1:00 p.m.


Rabbi Moskovitz will lead a conversation with Dr. Patricia Daly, vice president, public health and chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health and Dr. Eric Grafstein, regional head of emergency medicine at Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care. They will provide a report from the medical frontlines, and then the forum will be open to questions. Join us via Zoom, or watch on the Temple Sholom website and Telus Optik TV channel 8915. It is open to the entire Jewish community, but advance registration is required. The event is made possible by the Temple Sholom Caring Community Fund.


A number of other organizations, including schools and synagogues, have also been hosting public health forums. Check the websites and social media accounts of other organizations for the full variety of options available.


The last update we want to leave you with is that we are continuing to meet regularly with the seven Jewish organizations that serve Jewish seniors, as well as six synagogues, to assess their evolving needs. We are encouraged by the increasing level of collaboration in which they are engaged. The more they convene, the more they collaborate. It’s great to see. Seniors are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and ensuring their needs are met during this time is particularly important.


Speaking of seniors, there is something quite wonderful happening in Richmond for community members, many of whom are aging. Every Tuesday, Beth Tikvah is delivering kosher meals to Jews who are isolated or otherwise in need, and on Fridays, the Kehila Society and Chabad are doing the same. On a weekly basis, they are serving over 100 dinners. We were pleased to support this important initiative with a $10,000 grant.


As you sit down to Shabbat dinner tonight, we want you to know that you are not alone – even if you are on your own. There are resources available through our partners; just check our COVID-19 Resources page. If you can’t find what you need, be in touch with us and we will direct you to where you can find help. You can always turn to us.


Shabbat shalom.


Ezra S. Shanken
Chief Executive Officer