Shabbat Message - June 5, 2020


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


“Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may live, and inherit the land which the Lord your G-d gives you.” (Deut. 16:18-20)
As the killing of George Floyd  continues to reverberate across the United States, Canada and the world, we want to share with you the statement released by Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA and this one from the Jewish Federations of North America:
“The Jewish Federations of North America is outraged and sickened by the violence of the Minneapolis police officers that led to the death of George Floyd. We share in the heartbreak, pain and sorrow provoked by his loss and the loss of many others through sordid acts of hate and bigotry. May their memory be for a blessing.
We pledge to our brothers and sisters in the black community – and all communities of color – to work together to reverse the systemic racism embedded within our country’s institutions and society in general. “Our work won’t be easy,” revered civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis reminded us this week, “nothing worth having ever is.”
In the strongest terms, we also condemn those who are taking advantage of the anguish over George Floyd’s death by hijacking what would be peaceful rallies across the country for their own violent and destructive agenda. These acts threaten our Jewish communities as well as our democracy as a whole. We commit to partnering with community leaders to ensure the safety of all who are at risk.
Together, we can and must be stronger than hate. We will stand and fight for a world free of racism and bigotry in all of its forms.”
Our office joined BC’s Lieutenant Governor, The Honourable Janet Austin, along with many elected officials, community organizations and individuals in taking the #DifferentTogether pledge. We encourage you to take it as well, and to share it with others. Learn more here.
We also invite you to read the statements released by other organizations, including this one from our partner, the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre.
Since COVID-19 restrictions came into place, there has been an increase in hate crimes and hate-related incidents targeting people of Asian descent right here at home. We could go on, too, whether it be recent incidents targeting people of colour, Canada’s troubled history regarding the treatment of indigenous peoples, and more. Over the years, we have built strong relationships with organizations that represent other ethno-cultural communities, such as S.U.C.C.E.S.S. and Reconciliation Canada, and we continue to work together to promote greater understanding, compassion and tolerance.
One thing we all have in common is that we all want our children to take pride in their ethnic, cultural and religious identities. As a minority community, we often have to work hard to make sure our children can have every opportunity to strengthen their understanding of who they are and of our shared values, such as pursuing justice or righteousness. One way we do this is by seeking out opportunities for them to do normal kid things, but in a Jewish setting. Summer camp is one example.
That is going to look a little different this July and August, because of COVID 19 restrictions. However, many of the camps are finding creative alternatives. It is heartening to see the spirit of cooperation and collaboration among the camps to ensure that that our kids will have a great summer, and we are proud to support a range of camp experiences. Please check the individual camps’ websites for updates and registration details.
JCC Camp Shalom will be operating their full summer day camp program. Due to COVID 19, activities will be held at the JCC and Vancouver Talmud Torah to ensure social distancing and reduce the number of children per counsellor.
Camp Miriam will be offering a four-week day camp program in Vancouver for kids in grades two through 10, a CIT leadership program for youth in grade 11, as well as a two-week program for youth in Victoria. They will be co-locating with the JCC at Vancouver Talmud Torah.
Camp Hatikvah is working on a proposal for an alternative to their normal summer programming and will be letting the community know of their plans shortly.
Camp Gan Israel will be offering their regular summer day camp program, incorporating a combination of face-to-face and virtual programming for children aged three to 11 years old. 
Camp Solomon Schechter will be offering some day programming for Metro Vancouver families in collaboration with Camp Shalom. They anticipate offering a family camp program in August at their Olympia location.
In addition to the camps, there are several other summer programs to engage our youth. These include BBYO which plan to offer a series of virtual and local person-to-person programs over the summer; and USY which will be offering a comprehensive virtual summer program.
We also want our children not just to respect the differences of those around us, but to embrace and cherish them, so they can be agents of positive change. Here are two great resources to help you get started with your children: “What is Jewish About Respecting Differences?” from PJ Library, and “Talking to Kids About Racism, Early and Often” from The New York Times. It’s an ongoing education for all of us, as we can seek out our own opportunities to do better ourselves.


Shabbat shalom.


Ezra S. Shanken
Chief Executive Officer