Shabbat Message - January 17, 2020


This message has 830 words and will take about 3 minutes to read.


In preparation for International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27th, we want to share with you a message about the World Jewish Congress’ (WJC) annual #WeRemember campaign. Our advocacy agent, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), is the Canadian affiliate of the WJC. We participate in this campaign every year, and we hope you will lend your voice – and your photo.
With levels of antisemitism and Holocaust-denial on the rise around the world, participating in #WeRemember is one way each of us can take an unambiguous stance against antisemitism to help ensure the horrors of the past are neither forgotten nor repeated. 
Just write the words “We Remember” on a sheet of paper, take a picture of yourself holding your sign, and post it on social media on January 27th. Please be sure to use the following tags and hashtags: @WorldJewishCong @cijainfo and #WeRemember. Tag us @JewishVancouver, too, and we’ll share your photo.
Together, we can ensure that this tragic history is never forgotten. By learning from the past, we can build a better future. That is a focus of the outstanding work of another of our partners, the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre (VHEC), whose work you can read about here.

There are a number of commemorative events taking place in the community that we invite you to attend, including this panel discussion moderated by Rabbi Dan Moskovitz on January 29th, which is part of the Opera and Symposium Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. You can find information about the symposium here.

We also invite you to share your views on what you think CIJA should be focusing on. Take the survey at and help shape their advocacy priorities.
Building a better future is the heart of what we and our partners do each and every day, but there is always more work to do. I saw earlier this week that a report on child poverty was released, which showed the slow progress made in reducing the childhood poverty rate in BC. This is a good reminder to us all that this issue affects our community, too.
Approximately one in six members of our community lives in poverty, including some 630 children.  When an individual or a family needs help, they typically need the assistance of more than one organization. This could include employment counseling and grocery vouchers from Jewish Family Services, tuition assistance from one of the Jewish day schools, a program subsidy from the Jewish Community Centre, and a safe and stable home from Tikva Housing. Watch this video from Tikva Housing to get a better sense of both the need and the impact of services in our community.
Each one of our partners does an important part of the work, and we bring it all together through the partnerships we’ve developed, through the Annual Campaign, and through our community planning functions. We are proud to work with them, and grateful to you for supporting the work we do together to restore dignity and hope.
Reaching out to help is an important part of who we are as people and as a People. You will remember how much it meant when members of other ethno-cultural and faith-based communities made the effort to be with us on the Solidarity Shabbat after the Tree of Life shooting. It is something we have done and will continue to do for other communities in their times of need, and something that they do for us.
This Sunday is no different. We invite you to join us at Har-El when they host the local Iranian and Persian communities’ memorial for the victims of flight PS752. Here is a message from their Board co-chairs, Rachel Laniado and Anat Schwartzman:
We are acutely aware of the seasons right now, the seasons of the year and the seasons of life.
We know that many among us have felt the grief of our friends and neighbours in the Persian community following the tragic plane downing. So when Jewish Federation asked us if we would be interested in hosting an event to show our solidarity and compassion to that community Rabbi Gibbs and every single member of the Har El board was very supportive of this initiative. The event will take place this Sunday afternoon from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.. While we are hosting it, we did not organize it and we don't have all the details as of yet. We know many of you will wish to attend. The event is open to all.
We were reminded in today’s National Young Leadership Cabinet’s Shabbat Message that Rabbi Herbert Friedman said, “the Jewish People must regularly renew its claim to exist, if you protect your heritage, it will protect you.” So, whether you’re raising your voice, sharing your photo, having your say, attending an event, or giving or receiving help, the actions you take help shape our community.

Shabbat Shalom,


Ezra S. Shanken
Chief Executive Officer