Shabbat Message - May 8, 2020


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Today marks the conclusion of Teacher Appreciation Week, and we want to give a huge thank you to the educators within and beyond our community!

Over the past few months, teachers have worked tirelessly to transition to online learning, constantly adjusting along the way. They have completely revamped the way they do their jobs, drawing on their creativity and talents, not to mention their ability and willingness to be flexible and embrace change. They have sourced new material, provided one-on-one assistance, and found new ways to help students reach their potential. On top of that, they miss seeing their students and being with them every day. It hasn’t been easy, but they’ve risen to the challenge. If you haven’t yet thanked the teachers in your life, here are a few ideas.
One bright ray of hope this week was the reopening of the JCC daycare for children whose parents are essential workers – and that includes the Shanken boys. It has meant a lot of reorganizing and changing the ways in which things are done, but the staff, led by daycare director, Jennifer Trickett, have done a fantastic job. They really made the kids feel special on their first day back.
Some schools in the community and across the province are also gearing up to welcome back children of tier one essential workers starting next week, so it is a very exciting time for many families.
During a week when many of us are showing special appreciation for our children’s teachers and the other teachers in our lives, Vancouver Talmud Torah sent us this very sweet video from their students thanking us for our support.
Our work is only possible because of you and your generosity, so we want to share this with you. As we have written about before, soon after the onset of the pandemic we were able to distribute targeted emergency funds to address urgent needs related to COVID-19. This was because of a series of strong Annual Campaigns, prudent contingency planning, generous donors who fund special projects above and beyond their Annual Campaign gifts, and fund holders at the Jewish Community Foundation. So, it is you who has made this help possible.
There is, however, significantly more work to be done. Every corner of our community has been hit, and everyone has been impacted to one degree or another. The effects will be felt well into next year. That’s why we are engaging with our leadership and professional staff, right now, in planning for the longer-term needs of our community. For a snapshot of how Jewish Federations across the country are responding, see this update from our advocacy agent, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).
As part of an organization that operates across North America, Jewish Federation’s reach is truly global. No other organization touches as many Jewish lives. And no one knows that better than Mark Gurvis, executive vice president of The Jewish Federations of North America, and former CEO of our Jewish Federation. We are very pleased to co-present with Beth Israel a Zoom and Learn event, during which Rabbi Infeld will interview Mark about the current status of the North American Jewish community. We hope you will join us on May 13th at 12:00 p.m.
In the midst of so much flux, the one certainty that anchors us each week is Shabbat. We want to shine a light on a great new project that’s taking place on Fridays: the COVID Free Challah Delivery Program. Mike Sachs is collaborating with us through our Connect Me In outreach initiative, and with the Kehila Society, to purchase and deliver challahs in Richmond and Coquitlam. Through Connect Me In, we are funding the purchase of challah for seniors and families in the Tri-Cities. Congregation Har El has also joined in, ensuring that North Shore families are served as well. Speaking of Kehila Society, we want to acknowledge the great work that Kehila and Chabad Richmond are doing together to address food security in Richmond, as is Beth Tikva.
Another bright spot this past week is that PJ Library did their first virtual program: “Playdate with PJ—Lag B'Omer Edition.” Check out this video on our YouTube channel. Follow them on Facebook to be the first to see their new resource sheet for Lag B’Omer that is coming out on Monday. Going forward, there will be a “Playdate with PJ” on Zoom every Thursday at 3:00 p.m., which will then be posted by Friday morning on YouTube and Facebook, along with a list of curated resources that will be sent every Monday. It’s a great way for families with young children to stay connected.
Last but not least, we want to remind you that if you need help, your community is there for you. For help with meal or food bank grocery delivery, counselling and emotional support, or even to receive a friendly phone call, reach out through the Community Care Hotline online, at 604-558-5719 or by emailing We are proud to have helped launch this with our partner, Jewish Family Services. Together we are here for you.

Shabbat shalom.


Ezra S. Shanken
Chief Executive Officer

JCC daycare opens for children whose parents are essential workers.

COVID Free Challah Delivery Program delivering challahs in the regional communities.