Let the year end in light and faith

In my weekly Shabbat message, I like to touch upon some of the more topical issues to keep you informed and shed light on all that the Federation does. As this is my last Shabbat message of 2023 (next week I will be on a short break), I want to share with you how privileged I feel to be in this role with a thank you to the board and community as I begin a renewed contract for the next five years.  

Our community has faced many complex issues and challenges since October 7, and there has been much to bridge both internally and externally. This moment has shed light on the importance of our mission and mandate. Advocacy, community supports, fundraising to direct needs and to the people in Israel—this is our moment. Thank you to those of you who have recognized and supported this through a gift to the United Jewish Appeal campaign, and to the Israel Emergency Fund. We are still accepting donations to both, online or by our office, prior to December 31, if you want a tax receipt for this calendar year.  

A reminder that if you or someone you know has experienced or witnessed an incident of hate, whether an online post, a flyer, an interaction—please report it to the Edmonton Police Service online hate reporting tool. Sometimes a random event sheds light on an emerging scenario, and/or is a contribution to the numbers of incidents that show the rise in antisemitism. Please make us aware via info@edjfed.org as well, so we can direct you and also be aware of when concerted advocacy is warranted.  

I want to leave you this week with a bit of light. First, I cannot help but think about Jewish pride as an antidote to the heaviness of antisemitism that we are facing. Locally, we had a fine example of the strength of Jewish identity and pride in a woman of valor who was so beloved by many, Shirley Goldberg z”l. I know many mourn her loss, including myself. I recall her classic Bubby kisses, hugs, and candies in her pockets at shul for all the ‘kinder’, how welcoming she was and her warmth that should only be an inspiration to all of us.  

Second, we enjoyed a visit from Archbishop Richard W. Smith and Julien Hammond of the Catholic Archdiocese this morning. Jewish Federation leadership, rabbis and staff held a meaningful dialogue together, and his insights and wisdom were truly impactful. We talked of our concerns for all civilians affected by the terrorist Hamas entity, and the nuances and complexities of the region. We spoke about the importance of shared space for mourning and look forward to more opportunities for dialogue in our ongoing relationship.  

When I light my Shabbat candles this week, I will continue to add one in solidarity with all hostages, with a prayer for their swift and safe release, and a prayer for the soldiers and their well-being. I hope you are anchored in whatever provides you with faith and light as well.  

Shabbat Shalom,