Message from the Board Chair and CEO


As we marked the 30th anniversary of our Jewish Federation, we continued to move from a position of strength to a position of excellence. Our work is guided by our 2020 Strategic Priorities, and in this Annual Report we highlight a selection of the programs and initiatives that represent areas in which we made significant progress toward reaching our 2020 goals.


One of those areas is financial resource development, and we are very proud to announce that Jewish Federation generated an incredible $18.6 million dollars this year to address needs in our community, in our partnership region in Israel, and in Jewish communities in need around the world. This total is comprised of funds generated through the Federation Annual Campaign, the Jewish Community Foundation and special project funding.


The 2017 Federation Annual Campaign exceeded its target and generated $8.7 million, including $850,000 in special project funding. An additional $1.1 million in special project funding was raised outside the campaign to support specific programs that address community priorities.


Our endowment program, the Jewish Community Foundation, had a record year, generating $8.8 million in contributions to endowment funds, which is up 300% from two years ago. I encourage you to read the Foundation’s Annual Report to learn more about our work in this area.


Jewish Federation is also proud to have facilitated nearly $1.7 million in donations generated through the Bring Back Hope gala to support the humanitarian work of our trusted overseas partner, the Joint Distribution Committee; and $1.1 million in flow through.


Diversifying the ways in which Jewish Federation generates funds is a key factor in our ability to address growing and evolving community needs. We are adapting to changing philanthropic trends and working proactively with donors. By transforming the ways in which funds are generated, we can provide multiple pathways for partner agencies to access support so they can work to meet the increasingly diverse and complex needs of our community.


We see reflected in our community many of the trends that are apparent throughout the general population of the Lower Mainland, and they have the potential to impact us in lasting ways.


For example, as the high cost of living continues to climb, the cost of living a Jewish life climbs even higher. Many community members are making agonizing choices about the extent to which they can participate in Jewish community life. Our work with our partners, donors and fund holders is focused on keeping the cost of participating low, and on providing more robust subsidies for those who need them.


Geographic dispersal continues to be a challenge, too, with half of the community living in cities outside of Vancouver where it is often very difficult to access Jewish programs. We have made great strides with our Connect Me In initiative, which is developing programs with community input and delivering them throughout the regional communities. We now have successful programs running in areas like Langley, Squamish, the Tri-Cities, White Rock and more. We are also working with our partners so they, too, can extend their reach into these communities.


These broad changes affect other aspects of community life, too, and so a major focus this year has been on integrating our 2020 Strategic Priorities into our planning processes. Following the very successful affordability summit, we announced the formation of the Food Security Task Force conducted in collaboration with Jewish Family Services. The task force members have been working diligently to raise awareness and document the issues faced by community members, to explore programs in other jurisdictions and to generate potential solutions. We look forward to receiving their final report later this year. 


We are also addressing Jewish education, and in particular, part-time Jewish education. Mindful of the fact that almost 70% of Jewish children are not exposed to any form of Jewish education, our work in this area is concentrated on introducing new approaches designed to engage and retain families who have not connected with Jewish education in the past. Part of this approach is to provide existing supplementary school programs with additional funds to support innovative ideas. We are grateful to the Jewish Education Subcommittee which is working with our staff to launch this program. 


Then there are those aspects of community life that affect all of us. When we began the 2017-18 reporting year it was just a few weeks after our Jewish Community Centre received two bomb threats in the span of just eight days. Building on our proactive approach to community security, we acted on the recommendation of our Community Security Advisor Committee, and hired a new director of security, who has been providing leadership, delivering training workshops, and building relationships with stakeholders and law enforcement.


In Israel, our work continues to focus on investing for impact in our partnership region of the Upper Galilee Panhandle. Our Israel and Overseas Affairs Committee undertook a strategic planning process through which they clarified their areas of focus for the next three to five years. These are initiating and supporting a leadership program for social entrepreneurs in Israel and Vancouver and further developing Beit Vancouver as the model for development and community planning in our partnership region.


Read on to learn more about how our Jewish Federation is delivering on our mission of strengthening Jewish life locally, in Israel and around the world.




Karen James
Board Chair
  Ezra S. Shaken
Chief Executive Officer