Shabbat Message - September 25, 2020


This message has 809 words and will take about 4 minutes to read.


The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are when we take stock and challenge ourselves to do better. We reflect on what we value most and recommit ourselves to what matters deeply to us. And for many of us, it is a time when we try to make the world a more just place by giving tzedakah. You will find a little twist on each of these themes in today’s Shabbat Message.  

First, taking stock and challenging ourselves.

Over the past several years, our Community Security Advisory Committee, chaired by Bernard Pinsky, has provided bi-annual updates through our Shabbat Message. This year, committee members challenged themselves to expand their work into an important new area, and established the Cybersecurity and Information Protection Subcommittee.

Here is the update from Bernard:

These past six months have fundamentally changed how most community organizations function on a day-to-day basis. Jewish Federation’s Community Security Advisory Committee is no exception. With most organizations transitioning to remote operations, the typical work of the committee and Jewish Federation’s director of security had to adapt. Long concerned about the threat of cyberattacks, Committee Security Advisory Committee members recognized that the time was right to establish a cybersecurity subcommittee. Almost all of our communal agencies were conducting their daily business remotely, and synagogues, schools and the JCC were using various online platforms to reach their congregants, students and members. At the same time, there was a growing number of cyberattacks directed at municipalities, corporations and other large institutions.

The mandate of the Cybersecurity and Information Protection Subcommittee is to recommend and communicate to Jewish community agencies information about specific cyberthreats and guidance that is published by recognized authoritative sources regarding cybersecurity (e.g., best practices, assessment tools, educational/training materials, and policies/procedures); to provide training sessions; and to help Jewish community agencies work together to procure and implement cybersecurity services from commercial providers, where available. A key aspect of the subcommittee’s work is to help our partner agencies understand their level of exposure to cybercrime, and to make recommendations on how to reduce the risk.

The subcommittee’s work has just begun, but already we are seeing some trends that will enable us to make recommendations, both to individual agencies and to Jewish Federation on how to keep our agencies safe.

We are incredibly fortunate to have as members of our committee several cybersecurity specialists, including Stan Shaw, one of our co-chairs, who has created an assessment questionnaire that can determine the cybersecurity readiness of any organization. These professionals have all agreed to volunteer their time and their proprietary tools for the benefit of our Jewish community partner agencies. All that our partner agencies have to do is spend the time to take advantage of this very important opportunity. In order to get on the list for an assessment, contact Jewish Federation’s director of security, Daniel Heydenrych, at 604.362.5706.

Next, reflecting and recommitting ourselves to what matters. Here, we want to share with you a glimpse of what many families are dealing with.

From job loss and income loss, to mental health issues made worse by isolation and increased anxiety, many families are stressed and their children are having a tough time. Many of us tend to think of children as resilient, but resiliency is something that is built through multiple supports over time.

It can be hard to see who is struggling, as children strive to maintain a sense of normalcy. Educators have told us that often it’s the children and teens they wouldn’t expect who have the hardest time coping.

Through the Annual Campaign, our partners provide counselling to ensure families receive the mental health support they need, rent subsidies so families don’t have to worry about losing their homes, and more. We are proud to support their work.

And third, making the world a more just place through tzedakah.

Here, we are going to turn it over to the experts: Rabbi Dresner, Rabbi Gabay, Rabbi Moskovitz, and Rabbi Stein. No one sees every facet of a community better than a congregational rabbi. They see us at our best and our worst, our happiest and our saddest, and they see the full range of needs. Each one has something to say about the importance of supporting our community. I think you’ll be inspired by some of the insights they share. Click here.

This Rosh Hashanah felt very different for each of us, and while many people participated in services online (and a few in person), for a variety of reasons many did not. So, we want to give the last word in this message to Jonathon Leipsic, chair of the Annual Campaign. Jonathon has a special way of combining yiddishkeit and an inspiring message. We hope you’ll give him a few minutes of your time during this important period of introspection and action. Click here for Jonathon’s video.

G’mar chatimah tova and Shabbat shalom.


Ezra S. Shanken
Chief Executive Officer