Connecting the community is what fuels the Federation

When people ask me what I love about my job, there are a few different answers I will give that all boil down to one core element: connecting. Whether it is connecting with volunteers and emerging leaders, partnering a donor with a philanthropic opportunity that fulfills their values and addresses a strategic goal, connecting our community leadership with one another, or connecting our community with people in Israel, these are the most fulfilling moments.  

Yasher Kocheh (yes, they are all female) to our young leaders, who are embarking on our inaugural leadership development program. They heard the call and said “Hineni”. I particularly enjoyed providing a session about the Jewish Federation with them, where we also discussed the differences between charity and philanthropy. Jacqueline Medalye developed this in-house program. It’s supported by a Government of Canada Community Services Recovery Fund called Building a better future for all. A final requirement will be service on a committee or board of the Jewish agencies they meet throughout the program. 

A special thank you to all the community representatives and committee chairs who attended our board meeting Monday night, where we took time to discuss key areas of concern since October 7, including impacts on community and how to better address antisemitism. Hearing from one another was invaluable, deepening our understanding of concerns and sentiments experienced by community leaders. This better informs our planning and ability to represent Jewish Edmonton.  

I am honoured to inform you that I have been selected to join the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) Chief Community Council. This opportunity allows me to connect with the EPS community relations team and civilians from various backgrounds and professions. Together, we will engage with and advise the chief of police on various issues throughout the year.  

Earlier this week, our staff and Partnership2Gether (P2G) volunteers joined a virtual mifgash and update from our partner region in Etzbah HaGalil. Mayors from Metulla and Meevot Hahermon were informing us about the challenges they and their communities are facing. We learned a mother and son who were injured by a rocket on their way to kiryat shmona, in critical condition and undergoing surgery. In the following days since, a rocket hit Tzfat (much further south than the Lebanon border) and a rocket hit a soldier in the north, running to a bomb shelter within 30 seconds of notification. With increasing escalations in the north, the impacts on mental health, the ability for the displaced to return home, and the community are staggering. The report from the director of the Jewish Agency Victims of Terror Fund, Ayelet, informed us about the work they do (supported by Jewish Federations) and there was not a dry eye among us.   

As some of you know, I am headed to Israel this week for a Coast-to-Coast P2G Mission, where we will learn more about this situation and needs in our partner region, the philanthropy that we are engaged in, and then to attend the Jewish Agency for Israel Board of Governors meetings. As I alluded to, the tzedakah—funds many of you provided—met immediate needs brought about by the trauma of October 7. That said the future of the northern region and the touchpoints of the partnership where we can further leverage our collective impact will be something we will do a thorough analysis on with our friends and colleagues from the north. True philanthropy is a partnered conversation. ‘Tune in’ next Shabbat, where I will report back on what we learn. With our P2G chair, community relations co-chair and another leader at my side, I know we will have productive conversations that will further connect and inform Jewish Edmonton with eretz Yisrael.   

As we enter the Shabbat of Family Day weekend, I want to say a special thank you to the Talmud Torah children and families who stuffed my suitcase with cards and gifts for our Israeli brethren. Wishing you a restorative weekend with your families, and a Shabbat Shalom.