Shabbat Message - June 26, 2020


This message has 912 words and will take about 4 minutes to read.


Last Friday, we introduced you to one of the key recommendations of the Jewish Food Security Task Force that was jointly established and managed by Jewish Federation and our partner, Jewish Family Services (JFS), to identify and implement food security strategies to ensure dignity and promote healthy choices for people in need. The task force met over a 14-month period to gather information and research best practices to better address the needs of community members considered food insecure.

The idea of a comprehensive and coordinated approach to food distribution was already being explored before COVID-19, but the onset of the pandemic prompted an immediate response to the growing number of people in our community in need of food. In response, we have seen the amazing work undertaken by JFS, Congregation Schara Tzedeck, Kehila Society of Richmond, Chabad Richmond, and Congregation Beth Tikvah to provide groceries and prepared meals to the newly vulnerable in our community. The success of these initiatives illustrates both the individual strengths of each of these organizations and our collective ability to make a difference.
Before COVID-19, when we began our work, we looked at the long-term impact of affordability on people’s access to basic needs and, in collaboration with JFS, intensified our focus on food security. The Jewish Food Centre is one example of that and of our ongoing partnership in this area with JFS. Even though we expect the bulk of our work over the next year to focus on recovery, we are keeping one eye on the longer-term future, too. Today’s update is part of a series that will showcase the work we have been doing to address food security in our community.
This week, we are bringing you an excerpt from the Jewish Food Centre Report that illuminates the shift around food distribution that is taking place across North America, including here in the Lower Mainland:
Food banks are changing. Initially created as a temporary solution to food insecurity and hunger, food banks are now considered to be part of the fabric of non-governmental and needed social services. As our understanding of food security has evolved, many in the food justice movement across Canada and the US are looking for ways to recognize and address some of the underlying factors contributing to food insecurity, such as income and social inequality.
There has been a move away from stand-alone emergency food services to more long-term, community-wide approaches that incorporate an array of programs and services associated with food insecurity. One of the promising models that has emerged that has the capacity to address food distribution in a more wide-ranging and dignified manner is the food centre model: a comprehensive, holistic approach to community food security and resiliency.
The next update we will bring to you will focus on a vision for the future that would connect Jewish life and heritage, and offer meaningful ways to bring people together to create deep and lasting change.
Our advocacy agent, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), is creating positive change in other ways. They have done some remarkable work on the issue of anti-Black racism, including issuing an action alert that we are sharing with you today. Their mission to improve the quality of Jewish life in Canada includes advocating for a range of public policy issues that impact not only the Jewish community, but other minority communities and Canadians.
Jewish Federations across the country are helping amplify this important message:
We have been listening to members of the Black community in Canada and learning about the hatred and racism that exists against their community. The Federation of Black Canadians is proposing four policy priorities impacting all three levels of government that will help combat anti-Black racism: better data collection; economic support for the Black community; a transition to community-based policing; and police reform more generally.
Listening is critical, but action effects change. Your voice matters! And it can make a difference. Click here to show your support. 
Actions affect change in many ways, and today we can celebrate the actions of some of the volunteers in our community.
First, we are very proud to let you know that 500 masks handmade by community volunteers were delivered to the JCC this week. These are part of the #MitzvahMask initiative that we wrote about in our June e.Yachad, which is a partnership between Jewish Federation, Temple Sholom’s Tikun Olam Gogos and the local non-profit Canask. Volunteers are already hard at work on the next batch of masks for partner agencies. 
We also celebrated the myriad contributions of Lianna Philipp, who concluded her term as chair of the Axis Steering Committee. During the course of her two-year term, numerous new programs and events were launched, including Axis’ successful networking series with prominent business leaders from our community, and young adults’ participation almost doubled. Lianna also played a pivotal role in helping Axis adapt its programming to a virtual format. Her fellow committee members planned a surprise, physically distanced picnic in the park to thank her for helping take Axis to new heights.
Speaking of which… not being able to gather at a pub didn’t stop Axis, Beth Israel Young Adults, and Har-El from having a trivia night. Like so many other events these days, they just moved it to Zoom.
In the spirit of that fun event, we have decided to do our own mini-trivia contest. It’s easy. Just leave a comment on our Facebook post with the names of all three #MitzvahMask partners. If you’re right, we’ll enter you in a draw for one of these gorgeous masks. 

Shabbat shalom and happy Canada Day.


Ezra S. Shanken
Chief Executive Officer

P.S. We know there are a lot of needs coming out of COVID-19. Click here to tell the provincial government what is important to you and to our community, and complete their COVID 19 - B.C. Restart and Recovery Survey.