Shabbat Message - March 20, 2020


This message has 1064 words and will take about four and a half minutes to read.

Dear Chaverim,

We hope you and your loved ones are healthy and as well as can be during this challenging time.

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve and uncertainty persists, our commitment to you and to our community remains: We are here to help.
Our entire community and everyone in it – including people from all walks of life – have been impacted to varying degrees. We have been working more closely than ever with community organizations to ensure we understand their unique needs, and to determine how we can best support them in the short, medium and long term. It’s what we are here for.

At Jewish Federation, we remain committed to supporting our partners, donors, staff, volunteers and community members. It is precisely at times such as this that our crucial work and our role as a vital community leadership, planning and funding resource is needed. We are operating at full capacity to ensure we can continue to provide the leadership and services that our community needs, and relies on. Our staff are continuing to work, albeit remotely, and everyone is readily available by email.

As a valued member of our community, we want to update you on what we are doing to help our community navigate this extraordinary time, as well as where to find a helping hand and where to extend one.

Comprehensive Support Plan
We are leading a coordinated response across all our partner agencies. Most community organizations have had to shut their doors and are in the process of delivering their programs and services online. Many have already been hit hard. We are in daily communication with them to understand their unique challenges, collectively problem-solve, and provide support. This is informing the development of a comprehensive support plan. Included in this effort is the work that our advocacy partner, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, is doing on behalf of our community with various levels of government. Work has begun and we will announce details in the coming days.

Find a Helping Hand
We recognize that many people in our community need help, and we want to make it as easy as possible for them to find and get the support they need quickly. There is a wide range of community resources available, and the list is growing daily.

JFS Community Care Hotline
Call 604.558.5719 or email
Details at

Jewish Family Services (JFS) has launched a Community Care Hotline through which help is available for emergency essential services by phone at 604.558.5719 or online at Whether someone needs help with meals or a food bank grocery delivery, emotional support and counselling, or would welcome a friendly call, there are trained and caring professionals ready to help on the other end of the phone, seven days a week, from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. JFS staff are monitoring all requests and will be in touch within 24 hours or less. We are proud to be part of this extremely important initiative with JFS.  

COVID-19 Resources Page
Our team is posting regular updates to our COVID-19 Resources page to keep community members informed about the new ways they can access programs and services from community organizations, as well as about important updates or changes from those organizations. From emergency loans to virtual minyans to links to federal government financial assistance programs, it’s a comprehensive list that is updated throughout the day.

A number of people have asked questions about whether COVID-19 will affect the availability of Kosher for Passover food, and there is good news on that front. Click here for details.

We all need something to look forward to right now, and we invite you to join us for a mini-concert on Sunday with Idan Raichel. Links to the concert and other ways to connect with community are on our COVID-19 Resources page.

You can also keep up to date by following us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, where we are posting regularly, and learn more through our publications.

You Can Turn to Us
If you aren’t sure where to turn, turn to us. Email us at info@jewishvancouver or leave us a message at 604.257.5100 and we will redirect you to the appropriate agency.

Extend a Helping Hand
Many of you have asked us how you can help. We have been heartened by the many acts of kindness, large and small, that we have heard about, or personally experienced.

Reach Out & Check In
Many of us are feeling increasingly vulnerable during this crisis. A call or an email can do wonders. Please reach out to your friends, family, neighbours, and fellow community members to see how they are. Reassure them that resources are available. Ensure that they know where to find help and can keep passing the word along.

Many organizations, including Jewish Family Services, are already experiencing an increase in demand. Jewish Family Services welcomes anyone who is interested in volunteering. They will be posting information on their website soon.

On a final note, we want to acknowledge the incredible work of two groups of people who are doing an extraordinary job serving our community.

The first are the rabbis. Our community has long been blessed by having rabbis who work collaboratively with each other. They have really come together to find ways to make sure people can connect Jewishly and spiritually. They are also getting the message out about how to stay safe and connected at this time. Watch this video they created together.

The second are Jewish educators and supplementary school teachers, who are preparing to deliver distance learning to hundreds of students. Some already are. Students have always been their highest priority, and that was evident in the ways in which they dove right in and met this challenge head on. Jewish education is one of the key predictors of a child’s future involvement in the Jewish community, and it is vital that schools and parents stay the course together. We will be there with them every step of the way.

Throughout the generations and across millennia, our People have weathered many storms. In every instance, we have had each other – just as we do today. Your Jewish Federation is here to ensure our community remains stable and resilient, now and for years to come.

Stay safe, stay well, and please take care.

Shabbat shalom.


Alex Cristall Ezra S. Shanken
Board Chair Chief Executive Officer

Teachers from KDHS preparing to shift to online learning.