Shabbat Message - September 4, 2020


This message has 830 words and will take about 4 minutes to read.


We are three days into the Federation Annual Campaign and gearing up for the big kick-off event on Tuesday. If you haven’t signed up already, just click here. We have had five years of tremendous success with our FEDtalks format, and this year’s pivot is going to be great.
You’ll hear updates on our community and on the work of the Community Recovery Task Force. We’ll have a Q&A with Sarah Hurwitz, author and former White House speechwriter, and a presentation on food security from Nigel Savage, CEO of Hazon, the Jewish lab for sustainability. We know that it’s back to school for families and teachers next week, so we’re starting at 5:00 p.m. and we expect to be done in under an hour.
Support for the community is already starting to come in, and we want to say thank you to those of you who have taken the initiative to make your donations early. We are also very grateful to Temple Sholom and their congregants for jumping in to help in a new way. They have launched their Half-Shekel campaign and are giving congregants the opportunity to direct 25% of their donation to our Community Recovery Fund.
Rabbi Moskovitz told us that they “didn’t want people to feel torn about what to support–their synagogue or the broader community. We don’t see Federation as another organization; they’re a member of the family. Federation is doing so much right now that helps all of us, and the message of coming together for community recovery really rang true.” Temple Sholom has moved their High Holyday services and programs online (and uniquely, on Shaw and Telus), and they welcome everyone to participate.
This is the first time I can recall a local organization giving their donors the opportunity to direct part of their gift through Federation. We send a huge todah rabah to Rabbi Moskovitz, the team at Temple Sholom, and, of course, their very generous donors.
This past week, we convened a meeting with the synagogue board chairs, and it is impressive to learn the variety of ways local synagogues have found to enable congregants to experience the High Holydays. Many are combining in-person connections with online services. You can find a list of local synagogues here.
While the pandemic is forcing all of us to find new ways to celebrate the High Holydays this year, there are some wonderful opportunities to toast to a sweet New Year with Jewish communities near and far. The Jewish Federations of North America is presenting a virtual Communal Kvell on September 16th at 10:30 a.m. PST, featuring celebrity guests, musical performances and more. Enjoy inspiring stories about how our community has come together during this crisis as well as some great entertainment with Jews from across North America. You can register here.
Closer to home, Jewish Federations across Canada are joining forces for the first ever virtual Canadian Rosh Hashanah on September 13th at 4:30 p.m. PST. The event promises a great line-up of meaningful presentations and performances by Canadian and Israeli artists, including the best shofar blowers from across Canada. You can register here.
In just a few days, many families’ bubbles will expand as a result of children heading back to school. Many grandparents will then face difficult decisions about whether to remain within their family’s expanding bubble or to isolate in order to preserve their safety. Many seniors have been isolated since mid-March, and earlier this week we shared a letter with a group of donors about just that. It was based on the experience of a local volunteer, who also happens to be one of our staff. We have had so many people call our office about it that we decided to share a bit of the letter with you.
We all understand isolation on a deeper level than we did before the pandemic hit. It is painful. It can feel hopeless.
Imagine you are still completely isolated, months after social distancing started. If you’re a senior in this situation, you may have lost almost all contact with the outside world. You may not have the technology to connect with family or friends through video calls, which means you might not see familiar faces anymore.
In some heartbreaking instances, the volunteer who delivers meals is the only person one might see in a week. Think about that for a moment. The only person.
At the same time, hunger and food insecurity are growing. There has been a sharp increase in need for meal support since this pandemic began. Volunteers who deliver these meals to the most isolated members of our community are seeing similar effects over and over again: declining mental health and increasing frailty.
We are able to help now, because we and our partners have been here all along. You can help, too. Join us on Tuesday for Opening Night. Answer your canvassers’ call when they reach out. Sign up to volunteer. Or make a secure gift online.

Shabbat Shalom.


Ezra S. Shanken
Chief Executive Officer