Shabbat Message - September 11, 2020


This message has 812 words and will take about 4 minutes to read.

It was announced a short while ago that Bahrain has agreed to normalize relations with Israel. What wonderful news to start off Shabbat!

With Rosh Hashanah only a week away, synagogues across our community have continued to find innovative ways to adapt their programs and high holidays services. The rabbis deserve kavod for the leadership they have continued to show throughout the pandemic. We are so fortunate to have rabbis who work together to make our whole community better, and we want to thank them for all they are doing to make this unusual Rosh Hashanah a special one. We want to highlight just a few of the amazing initiatives some of them have been doing.
Beth Israel is hosting informal Rosh Hashanah family gatherings in parks around Vancouver. Schara Tzedeck is offering nine separate in-person services, and in partnership with Chabad and Beth Hamidrash is giving people the opportunity to hear the shofar at 15 different locations across the region. Beth Tikva is offering a Traveling Shofar in points throughout Richmond. Har El has a virtual apple cake baking class. Or Shalom has a Selichot Story Slam. Temple Sholom even has their services on Facebook Live. This is by no means a complete list, but it will give you a taste of what it available for you. Please check each synagogue’s website for a full list of what they are offering.

We want to give a huge thank-you to everyone who joined us for the Annual Campaign Opening Event on Tuesday. An estimated 600 people watched the show, including young adults who had a viewing party of their own and a post-event discussion about how they can give back to the community. We really appreciate that you took time out of your busy schedules to tune in. Thank you!
If you didn’t catch the show, you can still see it on Facebook. We kept it to just 45 minutes, so it will take less time than most of your favourite Netflix episodes. You’ll hear from author and speechwriter, Sarah Hurwitz, and the president of Hazon, the Jewish lab for sustainability, Nigel Savage. We have some additional video of Sarah Hurwitz to share with you next week.
Yasher koach to our volunteer leadership who took up the call and presented an important snapshot of what is happening in our community, and how we and our partners are working together to address these challenges:
Jonathon Leipsic, Chair of the Annual Campaign;
Alex Cristall, Chair of the Jewish Federation Board;
Risa Levine, Chair of the Community Recovery Task Force;
Sue Hector, Co-Chair of Women’s Philanthropy;
Shawna Merkur, Co-Chair of Women’s Philanthropy; and
Lana Pulver, Incoming Chair of the 2021 Annual Campaign.
Many thanks to the staff team whose attention to detail ensured the event was polished and professional.
If you have already made your Annual Campaign gift, we want to thank you, too. If you haven’t, now is the time. Watch our Annual Campaign video, which premiered at the launch event, and then click here to donate.

If you’re usually called by a canvasser to discuss your gift, this is the time to answer the call–literally and metaphorically. Our volunteer leaders know how hard it is to make those calls, and as serious as their work is, they also had a little fun putting together this video:


If you noticed a little extra traffic this week, you weren’t alone. Families and teachers were out in force as students went back to school. Some students returned part-time in June, some attended camp inside their school all summer, and others have not been inside a community building for nearly six months. Teachers and school staff have done an incredible job of preparing for this unusual school year, and we want to say a big todah rabah to these heroes!
To ease the transition, PJ Library organized a back-to-school webinar for families on September 3rd, titled Preparing to be Unprepared: Helping Kids Transition to the New School Year. Presenters Sheldon Franken and Dr. Susan Siklos provided tips and ideas to help students of all ages settle in.
It is hard to believe that Rosh Hashanah is just around the corner. Project Isaiah, Jewish Family Service’s (JFS) annual High Holiday food drive, kicked off this week at a time when more community members than ever before are struggling with food insecurity. Due to COVID-19, JFS has introduced a new collection procedure for much-needed healthy pantry items. You can safely drop off your donated provisions on September 29th from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the VTT /Beth Israel parkade. Contributions to the virtual community food drive are also welcome. Check the JFS website for details and additional drop-off locations.
On Sunday,we had the honour of welcoming Dr. Yifat Shasha-Biton, a member of the Knesset (MK) to a virtual gathering of our Hebrew-speaking community. Dr. Shasha-Biton, who was born in Kiryat Shmona, in our partnership region, is no stranger to Vancouver, having visited when she was a member of our Partnership2Gether steering committee.
Currently chair of the Knesset’s Coronavirus Committee, she shared her insights about the need to strike a balance between Israel’s public safety and economic health. 
Speaking of Israel, you’ve heard a lot from us about what’s happening locally, but that is not the full extent of our work. Next week we are going to bring you an update on our work in Israel and in overseas Jewish communities in need. Until then, we want to leave you with videos from Kedma and Unisteam, two of the  programs we support in our partnership region of Northern Israel.
Kedma student villages bring life and new energies to the peripheral borders of Israel. The students volunteer and lend a helping hand to the farmers in the area, strengthening the agriculture along the borders. Unistream is an entrepreneurship training and long-term mentorship program that helps youth achieve financial independence and success.
In the meantime, you can read more here about the programs in the Upper Galilee that you support through your Annual Campaign gift.

Shabbat Shalom.


Ezra S. Shanken
Chief Executive Officer