Engage with our Jewish community

The ongoing terror attacks in Israel claimed the life of a young man last week. Elan Ganeles, an Israeli- American, who came to Israel as a participant in the Masa program. May his memory be a blessing. 

Recently, I met with a community member who asked me “What keeps you up at night?”

I told her that although I am faced with many challenges, the problems that I contend with are ones that we can work on together. What I worry about is our youth, whether their Jewish identity and their connection to Israel is strong enough to face continued antisemitism and anti-Zionism. They are contending with it in on a daily basis through social media and many have experienced incidents in person at school or on campus. I worry they will disengage. 
Since that conversation, we have seen an escalation in tensions and a polarization in Israeli society. I fear more people are turning away, instead of turning in.  I am hearing concerns from many of you on a multitude of issues including the actions of the government and of people on the streets. 

Concerns are welcome and understandable. They are signs of engagement and care. For anyone who has raised or heard concerns about the current and recent political issues in Israel, and support of our collective federations’ work in the country, I would like to highlight a few key points.

Our key partners in Israel are non-political organizations. For example, the challenges and issues addressed by Jewish Agency for Israel and Keren Hayesod are not controversial, but rather humanitarian in nature and help strengthen Israeli society and its people.

Over the past few months, we have all encountered concerns regarding the sensitive situation in Israel. Our Canadian federations’ and communities’ largest philanthropic partner in Israel and across the Jewish world is the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI). With that in mind, Keren Hayesod (KH), our partner in raising funds for critical needs of the Jewish people, particularly the work of The Jewish Agency for Israel, put together a video of KH's Chairman, World Board of Trustees, Steven Lowy, addressing various related issues. 

Israeli governments come and go and we need to be able to work with all of them–just as we have over the years on Aliyah from Ethiopia, Ukraine, and Russia.

The work we support goes beyond the current debate. We support disadvantaged and weak segments of Israeli society: olim, at risk youth, the underserved people in the periphery, in our partner region Etzbah HaGalil.

As we approach Israel’s 75th anniversary. It’s important for Jews in Canada, in Israel, and around the world, that our partnership with the people of Israel stays strong. In next week’s shabbat message, we will bring you an update about the partnership and ways to get involved from our Partnership 2gether (P2G) chair, Erin Wright. 

Now, more than ever, we need you to lean in. Lean in to community, and lean in to engaging with Israel. Join us in Yom Haatzmaut celebrations. Support and enjoy the much-anticipated Edmonton Jewish Film Festival this May, whose proceeds will continue to support P2G and a continuation of the project engaging Jewish and Arab youth in Metullah and surrounding villages together. Help us represent Israel at Heritage Festival by volunteering for a shift or coming out to support the Pavillion. 

Starting Sunday there are three days of Purim celebrations. I wish you all a shabbat shalom and hope to see you this Purim so we can share in a l’chaim together.

Shabbat Shalom,