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This weekend marks an especially joyous time. We welcome Shabbat, bid farewell to Sukkot on Shemini Atzeret, rejoice in the completion and restarting of the Torah cycle, and have a reminder from the secular world of the importance of gratitude. Each one of us can find something personally meaningful in this convergence of celebrations. They are also all times when we normally would have gathered in larger numbers than we are now.
With that top of mind, last night we hosted a webinar with Dr. Patricia Daly, Chief Medical Officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, which brought together our partner agencies to discuss their protocols and responsibilities in the event that a member, student, or employee tests positive for COVID-19. Our community is so interconnected that an exposure in one place can have an impact on other community settings. We felt that it was important to have a consistent approach across the community and that each organization understood what was expected of them.
Dr. Daly provided an overview of best practices and described the process that health authorities follow when an individual is exposed or tests positive. She also spoke about the unintended consequences on the mental and emotional wellbeing of children and youth as a result of the lockdown this past spring, and how important it is for children and youth to be in school and maintain their social interactions.
A number of issues were raised during the question period on how best to maintain the overall safety of our community institutions, and the importance of maintaining social connections while keeping our bubbles small. In her opinion, social distancing is the most important preventive measure.
We are so appreciative of how generous Dr. Daly is of her time and knowledge. We feel very reassured that our partners are investing the appropriate time and resources to keep our community spaces safe and to maintain the mental health of our children, families, and older adults. Click here for a recording of the webinar.
Today, we have a surprise for you: a special message from our campaign chair, Jonathon Leipsic. Jonathon has a way with words, so we wanted to let you hear directly from him.
“If you don’t know what you’re living for, you haven’t yet lived.” – Rabbi Noah Weinberg
Shalom chaverim. To start, I want to send my wishes for a year of continued good health and happiness for 5781.
I was asked to share a few words to provide insight into why I have agreed to serve as the campaign chair for Jewish Federation for a third year in a row. Some have asked me if I have lost my mind; others ask where I find the time.
For me, it was not a decision; it was an obligation. An obligation to do my part to help nurture and contribute to our beautiful community and Jewish peoplehood in this challenging time. I have always felt blessed to have been born and raised within the warmth of the Jewish community, and to have inherited the richness of Jewish text, traditions and thought. To have been born to a people modest in number and always modest in might, but that have made such incredible contributions to the collective human experience. Many of my generation focus on the modern contributions, but we should reflect even more on profound ancient contributions such as the oneness of our creator, the morality of the 10 commandments, the centrality of the golden rule, and the focus on chesed and tikkun olam, always striving to make the world a better and more peaceful place.
For me and my wife Karly, and many, many of our friends, our volunteerism and philanthropy within the Jewish world is not altruistic in the least... we are simply caring for our family and heeding our call from Sinai to live Jewishly and to live in accordance to the Talmudic words kol yisroel areivim zeh be zeh (all of Israel is a guarantor for one another). For me, this focus has provided tremendous meaning and purpose, and through that, happiness.
So, when people ask where I find the time to volunteer, I remind them that none of us “have time." Our time belongs to our maker and it is through blessing that we are given that time to use wisely, meaningfully, and with purpose. To that end, I hope you will join me in doubling down to your commitment to Am Yisroel, to the Jewish community, to Jewish tradition and text, and do our part to ensure that Klal Yisroel comes through this pandemic stronger than before, and that we can pass on this overwhelming legacy and inheritance to the coming generations, just as it has been over the last 140 generations, despite overwhelming challenges, since we received our calling at the foot of Sinai.
In closing, As Rabbi Fedegrun wished us in shul during the Chaggim, may the coming year be filled with as many positive surprises as last year was filled with negative ones, and may it finally bring that which we all yearn for: true, meaningful, and everlasting peace for all of Israel and all of the children of the world.
Jonathon is a busy professional, a devoted husband and father, and a dedicated community leader, as well as a dear friend. We want to say a special thank-you to him for taking this on. He is one in a long line of outstanding community volunteers, past and present, whose involvement makes it possible for us to deliver on our mission. It must run in the family, too, because his father is chair of the Annual Campaign in Winnipeg. Hear what community leaders, like Craig Diamond, Frances Belzberg, and more have to say in this series of videos we are releasing throughout the campaign.
One last note about the provincial election. Our advocacy agent, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), is working closely with Elections B.C. to distribute important information to our community about when, where, and how to vote. Please visit the CIJA Election Hub, for the latest information and resources. Advance voting runs October 15-21; election day is October 24.
Shabbat Shalom, Chag Sameach, and happy Thanksgiving!
Ezra S. Shanken
Chief Executive Officer
P.S. Every year we send young people on Israel experiences, where they connect with our homeland. Since is it hard to travel these days, we’re bringing virtual Israel experiences to you. Get ready to show what you know at our trivia night this Thursday.