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Laurel Malkin and Elaine Goldstine

Message from the President and the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg July 2018

Dear Community Members,


The months of May and June have been full of activities. Our community was honoured to host a visit with Yossi Tanuri, Director General of Jewish Federations of Canada Israel office, and Gabi Ashkenazi, former Chief of Staff of the IDF and current President of the Rashi Foundation. Mr. Tanuri and Mr. Ashkenazi spent time with the Jewish and non-Jewish communities providing an update on Israel’s security situation. Mr. Ashkenazi reassured everyone that Israel is in a good place these days with a strong military. He then shed some light on the current threat of cybersecurity which Israel has made one of their top priorities with over 400 companies involved in cybersecurity research. Israel, such a remarkably innovative country, has found a way to create education and employment opportunities for marginalized youth in this specialized field. Mr. Ashkenazi commented that the next steps would be to establish a central resource centre for cyber education in Israel. 


We, along with Joel Lazer, Vice President and Co-Chair of Public Affairs and Advocacy, met with the Honourable Jim Carr, MP of Winnipeg South Centre and Minister of Natural Resources, to discuss our concerns regarding Prime Minister Trudeau’s remarks on Gaza. When we asked what the Liberal party’s position is on Israel, Mr. Carr told us that the Canadian government is a friend of Israel. Since our Prime Minister released his statement regarding the Israel-Gaza situation, we have received many emails and calls from concerned community members. CIJA (Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs) has spoken directly to all federal political parties, and we would like to assure you that what we do is with and on behalf of you. 


Following our request to meet with leadership from the Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), Laurelle Harris and Joel Lazer, Jewish Federation of Winnipeg Public Affairs and Advocacy Co-Chairs and Elaine met with Jonathan Dueck, CMU VP Academic and Terry Schellenberg, CMU VP External to facilitate an open discussion on our wish to develop a better working relationship with the University. We requested that they provide their program and event coordinators with a more balanced perspective from the Jewish community when developing and hosting programs relating to Israel and or the Israel Palestinian relationship. 


We met with the Manitoba NDP Caucus members to share information on Jewish culture and customs. We partnered with Congregation Shaarey Zedek and Rabbi Matthew Leibl and have since received other requests for such educational sessions. 


We hosted Canada’s Ambassador to Israel, Deborah Lyons, for various events and meetings. This included a wine and cheese reception at the Legislature where Ambassador Lyons spoke on the innovations and technology of Israel and how the provincial government could benefit with partnerships with Israel.


We continue to advocate for Israel in our community, and we sent a letter to CBC to express our concerns over their journalists’ clear anti-Israel bias, respectfully asking that this matter be looked into urgently. View the letter here. We will report back on any further updates. We have a meeting date set to discuss their unbalanced reporting.


Israel and Overseas has seen a remarkable year. The Partnership 2Gether (P2G) program hosted very successful May 2018 Coast to Coast meetings in Winnipeg with participants from Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa and Halifax as well as volunteers, staff and mayors from Israel. While here, the mayors had a private meeting with our Mayor Brian Bowman. P2G connects the Jewish communities of the Coast to Coast Canadian cities and the Upper Galilee Panhandle through the development of a Gesher Chai (Living Bridge) through people to people exchanges. This year, our Gesher Chai program had the largest participation from Gray Academy with 15 students and 2 teachers visiting Israel in April!


We have had and continue this summer to have a record number of youth participating in Birthright trips with 74 young adults participating in the free 10-day trip, which is partially funded by Federation. The trip is open to all Jewish youth between the ages of 18-26. New to Birthright this year, is a pilot project welcoming adults from ages 27 to 32 who have never gone on Birthright. Six Winnipeggers will participate this year. Winnipeg Next, the Birthright Alumni group, keeps these individuals engaged through fun events once they return. 


We kicked off Pride activities in Winnipeg with a Pride Shabbat Dinner. With sponsorship from CIJA, we collaborated with Anakhnu and Chofshi LGBTQ groups from Rady JCC to host this dinner for the first time. Over 30 guests enjoyed a delicious kosher meal and great company as we celebrated together at the Kitchen Sync. 


The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg celebrated leadership and community volunteerism at its annual Kavod evening. We are so thankful for each and every volunteer and their invaluable dedication to make a difference. We recognized Past President Adam Levene who has given and continues to give so freely of his time and energy to our community. View more information and images from the Kavod Evening.


Student safety and security on campus continues to be a top priority. It is very important that students feel they are in a safe environment when attending post-secondary institutions. We met with the University of Winnipeg’s President, Dr. Annette Trimbee, to discuss student safety on campus as well as offering our assistance for future speakers to ensure the university offers a balanced perspective on the Middle East. 


This week, the Asper Jewish Community Campus (AJCC) began a series of security upgrades including the main entrance. During construction the main entrance will remain open. These safety upgrades are an effort by the AJCC to maintain modern practices when it comes to security. Please contact the Asper Jewish Community Campus with any questions. 


Our doors are always open. We welcome and thank you for communicating with us on all matters of importance to you.


The LMTM 80 for 80 challenge continues over the summer months.


Our Allocations report will be made public over the summer months and our agencies will begin receiving their distributions beginning in September. We distribute funds locally as well as nationally and overseas. At times we are asked about our national commitment. The CEO of Jewish Federations of Canada sent an email out this week discussing their work.  

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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