Shabbat Message - June 12, 2020


This message has 855 words and will take about 4 minutes to read.


When COVID-19 hit, we quickly refocused our organizational resources on closing the Annual Campaign and addressing urgent community needs. Now, we are circling back to announce some terrific news, which is that the 2019 Federation Annual Campaign raised over of $8.9 million!
Here is a general breakdown of the funds raised:

$7.9 million in unrestricted funds to support programs and services locally, nationally and in Israel through the allocations process;
$1 million in special project funding from donors who give above and beyond their Annual Campaign commitments to support programs that meet high priority community needs; and
$40,000 to support the work of specific agencies from donors directing a portion of their increased gifts through our Plus Giving program.
We would like to give a huge thank you to everyone who contributed, and to everyone who volunteered to make the Annual Campaign a success, including the more than 250 community members who volunteered as canvassers and team captains.
Our campaign chair, Jonathon Leipsic, once again demonstrated outstanding leadership, energy and passion for community as he led our Annual Campaign Working Cabinet. We want to say kol hakavod and todah rabah to each of these community leaders. We are extremely fortunate to have this incredibly dedicated team in place.
Jonathon Leipsic, Campaign Chair
Shay Keil, Major Gifts Co-Chair
Lana Pulver, Major Gifts Co-Chair
Michael Averbach, Men's Philanthropy Co-Chair
Daniel Dodek, Men's Philanthropy Co-Chair
Susan Hector, Canvasser Development
Al Szajman, Marketing Chair
Alvin Wasserman, Campaign Advisor
Catherine Epstein, Agency Liaison
The funds raised in this campaign will be distributed locally, nationally and in Israel during the 2021 allocations cycle, which will take place next summer. This is part of the two-year allocations cycle that we established after the 2008 economic downturn in order to provide greater predictability to our partners, and to provide a measure of protection in the event of unanticipated fluctuations. The prudent contingency planning that we have been able to do as a result is part of what enabled us to provide emergency funding in April to community organizations that were hit hardest by COVID-19.
A healthy Annual Campaign is just the start. With the challenges our community is currently experiencing due to COVID-19, Jewish Federation’s central role has never been more important. While this strong Annual Campaign result will help sustain our community, more resources will still be needed to address increased community needs related directly to COVID-19 – and Jewish Federation will be here to lead the way.
We are not the only organization releasing great news this week. Our neighbour, the Louis Brier Home and Hospital, entered into an agreement with Concert Properties to develop a master plan for the four acres of land they own. The mixed-use plan is expected to include a new Louis Brier Home and Hospital, affordable housing, market housing and other amenities that will serve our community for decades to come. Together with the proposed redevelopment of the JCC site, there are some very exciting times ahead for our community.
Community security is one of our strategic priorities. Our Cybersecurity and Information Protection subcommittee, a branch of our Community Security Advisory Committee, has asked us to share this link as a resource to help community organizations reduce the risk of cyberattacks arising from the adoption of remote work arrangements and the use of new technologies in the workplace. Alert: COVID-19 Exploited by Malicious Cyber Actors describes different kinds of COVID-19-related phishing scams and attacks on remote working technologies and how to defend against them.
Last week, we shared with you the statements from Jewish Federations of North America and Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA. These organizations represent us, as does our advocacy agent, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA). After listening and speaking to leaders within the Black community, CIJA co-authored an OpEd in The Toronto Star with their partners at the Assembly of First Nations, Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada, S.U.C.C.E.S.S., and the World Sikh Organization of Canada. It includes four concrete steps to combat racism in Canada.
We also want to share with you an open letter to the Jewish organizations, including Jewish Federations, that was co-authored by three Jews of colour, including Rachel Sumekh. You may remember Rachel from her presentation at FEDtalks in 2017. In addition to being an outstanding young leader in her Jewish community, Rachel is the founder and CEO of Swipe Out Hunger, an organization that addresses food security on college campuses.
Eric Fingerhut (another past FEDtalks speaker), president and CEO of Jewish Federations of North America, shared the letter with us. He said that he “does not view this letter as a critique but rather as an opportunity for all of us to work closely with Jews of color in our community. We don’t have to agree with the authors on everything, but we should commit to being the best partners we can in building a safe, welcoming, and inclusive community for acheinu kol bet yisroel - for all of our people.”
One thing we can all do is to listen to Black Jews and non-Black Jews of colour, and you can start right here, right now. Earlier in the week, CIJA brought our attention to this very powerful video from Rivka Campbell, a Black Jewish woman from Toronto. We urge you to watch, listen and reflect on it as we commit ourselves to doing better as individuals, as members and as leaders of organizations, and as a community.


Shabbat shalom.


Ezra S. Shanken
Chief Executive Officer

2019 Annual Campaign Chair Jonathon Leipsic

Canvasser Appreciation Evening