Shabbat Message - May 15, 2020


This message has 879 words and will take about 4 minutes to read.


One of the highlights of this past week was seeing so many people in our community reconnect with Mark Gurvis, and hearing from him about how COVID-19 is impacting Jewish communities across North America. It was all done via a Zoom event we presented with Beth Israel. Mark currently serves as executive vice president of The Jewish Federations of North America, but many here know him best as the former CEO of our Jewish Federation. Mark has always embraced every opportunity to give back to this community that he loves so much.


These days, more and more people are looking for ways to give back, and we have some great options for you.


The first is that we need people to help community members complete the mitzvah of tzedakah. That’s a fancy way of saying we need you to volunteer as a canvasser for the Annual Campaign. It involves talking with a few donors about the aspects of community that are important to them, and how they can support the full breadth of needs with a gift to the campaign. All it takes is a bit of your free time. You can start with as few as two donors and we’ll make sure to match you with people you’re comfortable talking to. If there was ever a time that your community needed you, it’s now. Email our campaign team to find out more.


The second opportunity is to help keep vulnerable populations safe by joining a cohort of volunteers to produce non-medical face masks for care providers in our community. Can you sew? Drive? Wash fabric? Do you have access to supplies of fabric, ¼” elastic, or galvanized steel wire? If so, we need you! We will start as soon as we procure supplies – hopefully, within the next week. Click here for more information.


Speaking of supplies, art supplies for some 30 art kits were packed up and delivered to the homes of the JCC's Inclusion Services program participants. Kim Almond, the art hive instructor, gathered all the supplies, and volunteer sisters, Amy and Lauren Shore, helped assemble and then deliver them. Participants were thrilled to receive the art supplies and to be able to work on projects while self-isolating. The JCC has been doing a great job of keeping members and program participants engaged in creative ways over the past several weeks.


Looking for a different way to give back? With their spring fundraising events cancelled due to COVID-19, King David High SchoolRichmond Jewish Day SchoolShalhevet Girls High SchoolVancouver Hebrew Academy and Vancouver Talmud Torah are collaborating for a virtual Day of Giving to raise funds to help offset operational costs and tuition deferrals. From Tuesday, May 26th at 9:00 a.m. through Wednesday, May 27th at 11:00 a.m., you can give to the school(s) of your choice or direct your donation to all five schools. Just click on the links above to each school.


Keeping kids engaged Jewishly during COVID-19 is important, so PJ Library and the JCC have teamed up to present PJ Playdates on Thursdays. You can join live on Zoom or watch them on YouTube when it’s convenient for you. So far, they’ve had a Lag B’Omer playdate, a challah-in-a-bag playdate, and next week’s playdate will have a mitzvah theme. Each PJ Playdate ends with Monika Schwartzman singing some songs.


For children in grades four through seven, the Public Speaking Contest is back and it’s gone digital. Submit your video by May 26th and then join us for the Zoom awards ceremony on June 7th. Click here for more information.


Before the COVID-19 crisis hit, our Connect Me In outreach initiative had gained some real traction on the North Shore, and like PJ Library, the JCC and others, they have found ways to adapt their programming. Recently, Connect Me In hosted their second virtual North Shore Shabbat in partnership with Or Shalom and Har-El. These shabbatot have been incredibly collaborative, with North Shore community members sharing music, art offerings, and stories. They have also shifted their monthly North Shore Shabbat Potluck group to Zoom, which is filling a void for those who live on the North Shore, especially seniors.


We owe much to the generations before ours, and so we were happy to provide a community engagement grant to a Russian seniors group, called MOST Bridge, which is composed of Jewish WW II veterans. Many of the veterans have now passed away, and the group wanted to do something for their widows. To mark the 75th anniversary of Russia’s victory over the Nazi regime on May 9th, they distributed gift baskets to the widows of these veterans and heroes.


While on the topic of heroes, we want to close by acknowledging with gratitude the work, the care, and the sacrifices of nurses. The staff at Louis Brier Home and Hospital (LBHH) are among those who have been working incredibly hard to care for their patients. This week, it was time to blow off a little steam and LBHH challenged their staff to come up with the most fun and creative TikTok clip for nursing week. You can check them out and vote here. Enjoy!


Shabbat shalom.


Ezra S. Shanken
Chief Executive Officer

Volunteer Michelle Gerber hard at work making non-medical face masks.

Amy and Lauren Shore assemble art supplies for the JCC's Inclusion Services program.

MOST Bridge gave gift baskets to widows of Jewish WWII veterans in honour of Russian Victory Day.