Shabbat Message - February 14, 2020


This message has 805 words and will take about 4 minutes to read.

Monday was no ordinary start to the school week for students and staff at our partner, Vancouver Hebrew Academy (VHA). It marked their first day of study in their beautiful new building.
We are committed to maximizing the opportunities for families to send their children to Jewish day schools, and this much-needed new school building, together with the 20 new daycare spaces that have been created with a $500,000 grant from the provincial government, will be catalysts for growth for the entire local Orthodox Jewish community.
The Jewish Community Foundation supported this project through a grant from their unrestricted grant program. The significant improvements that were made possible as a result helped bring to life this newly enhanced, safe and modern learning facility. 
We look forward to seeing successive classes of VHA graduates take their places among the next generation of active leaders in our community and beyond. One day, they will be the ones who build for our community’s future, and to whom we will entrust the remembrance of our past.
Remembering the past just took a step forward in Vancouver, when City Council voted to proclaim January 27th International Holocaust Remembrance Day on an ongoing basis. From now on, this important day of remembrance will be be added to the official calendar of dates and commemorations, and a ceremony of remembrance will be hosted at City Hall every year. Many thanks to Mayor Stewart and city councillors for recognizing the ongoing importance of Holocaust remembrance. Special thanks to Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung, who introduced this motion, and our advocacy agent, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), for their efforts on this.
The work we do would not be possible without the support of our donors, and last Sunday we partnered with Calgary Jewish Federation to host our annual joint event for our major donors who spend the winter in Palm Springs.
Kol hakavod to the guest speakers, who gave an inside look at global antisemitism and community security: Shimon Fogel, CEO of CIJA; Major-General (ret’d) Ed Fitch, chair of the CIJA National Community Security Committee; and Harold Gernsbacher, chair of SCN - the Secure Community Network. SCN is the national homeland security initiative of The Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Many thanks to Laura and David Martin of Calgary for hosting the event in their home, and to our generous corporate sponsor, ZLC Financial, whose support made this event possible.  
Community security is an area of our work that is constantly evolving, and nowhere are changes more apparent than in the use – and misuse – of technology. In response, our Community Security Advisory Committee, chaired by Bernard Pinsky, is forming a Cyber Security Sub-Committee to identify cyber security issues faced by Jewish communal organizations, and to develop and propose policies, procedures, and training opportunities to reduce risk.
Community security was also a topic of conversation during the briefing and roundtable meeting that CIJA facilitated on Monday with the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Honourable Marco Mendicino, MP for Eglington – Lawrence. Geoffrey Druker, chair of CIJA-Pacific Region’s Local Partner Council (LPC), did a terrific job moderating, and it was a great opportunity to meet Minister Mendicino and share more information about our community's priorities and CIJA's advocacy agenda. Thank you to CIJA for organizing this, and to all who participated, including our board chair, Alex Cristall, and our vice president, planning, allocations and community affairs, Shelley Rivkin, who delivered a presentation on our community’s needs.
The Minister also attended a JCC site redevelopment briefing with the JCC’s executive director, Eldad Goldfarb, which was a great opportunity to tell him about the scope of the project and its importance to the region.
Two last things before we head into this long weekend:
The first is a look back at last weekend. More than 120 young adults partied the night away in style at the Birthright Israel Mega Event, ParTyLV. The point of our work is not just to help young adults connect, but to connect them to opportunities to get involved in the community through one-on-one follow-up meetings and opportunities through our young adults program, Axis. Congratulations to Dafna Silberstein, Jewish Federation’s manager, Israel and Overseas Affairs, and her Mega Event committee for organizing such a successful event.
The second is an opportunity for you to get more involved in the community. We are gearing up to welcome two new shinshinim next August, and we are looking for families who are willing to host one of them for a three-month period. These shinshinim are Israel’s best and brightest young adults, who are choosing to volunteer in our community for a year before their compulsory army service. Mull it over and check back here for more details soon.  

Shabbat shalom and have a happy Family Day long weekend with your mishpocha!


Ezra S. Shanken
Chief Executive Officer

P.S. Help us plan ahead to meet the needs of our ageing population by filling out this short survey. We need everyone’s input, not just that of older community members.

Community representatives at City Hall with Councillor Kirby-Yung

Harold Gernsbacher, Shimon Fogel and Ed Fitch spoke to major donors in Palm Springs

Meeting with Minister Mendicino

Birthright Israel Mega Event