As the northernmost Federated Jewish community in North America, or what I affectionately refer to as “The Shtetl in the North”, it is easy to feel isolated and out of the loop. Through the marvels of modern technology, this was farthest from the case this week. Connecting Jewish Edmonton with the greater Jewish world is something it privileged me to be a part of in many forums.
We had an open Zoom discussion with Jewish Agency for Israel leaders and Canadian colleagues about Israel's situation and its impact on diaspora communities. The discussion also revolved around the agency's work and the challenges the agency is facing. There is incredible work being done on the ground to absorb an enormous wave of Olim this past year, including bringing Ethiopians to Israel in the most challenging of conditions amid civil war. This organization brings the concerns and voices of the diaspora to the table with Israeli leaders and government.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) held its board retreat in Toronto to discuss its strategic priorities. Steve Shafir and I attended along with representatives from across the country. Jewish leadership from across Canada discussed issues related to advocacy, such as social and quality of life issues for Jewish people, antisemitism, and the Canada Israel relationship. If you are at all concerned about antisemitism in our country, I urge you to come to Ottawa for Face It Fight it. This two-day conference is hosting excellent speakers and you will join Jews from across Canada who are standing up to be part of the fight against antisemitism.
At the conference, the Hon. Irwin Cotler will be honoured with a lifetime achievement award. Irwin recently received the Presidential Medal of Honour by Israeli President Isaac Herzog. I want to give an official Yasher Koach and mazel tov to Steve Shulman, President and CEO of the Jewish Federations of Canada - United Jewish Appeal who is listed as a one of the Top 50 Jewish Influencers by the Jerusalem Post. Those of you who attended the United Jewish Appeal campaign launch heard it first! Also, a mazel tov to Jess Burke, CIJA Director of EDI and Liaison to LGBTQ2+ Partnerships, who is named as on the top 100 influencers by the Tel Aviv Institute.
Finally, the Consulate General of Israel in Toronto and Western Canada is partnering with the Jewish Federation of Edmonton to provide consular services in Edmonton, which we're thrilled about. Anyone requiring service should sign up using this form, and a consular services representative will contact you to schedule an appointment.
Whether bringing the Edmonton voice to our partners or bringing our partners to Edmonton, it is a privilege to connect Jewish Edmonton with Klal Israel, the Jewish people.
As we approach Yom Kippur, I wish you all a Gmar Chatimah Tovah, may you be inscribed in the book of life. I leave you with this beautiful rendition of Avinu Malkeinu, sung by Barbra Streisand to President Shimon Peres in 2013. You can read about the performance and watch the performance in this Kveller article.