(image courtesy of Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver)
Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver’s annual campaign has a brand new look this year, one that will hopefully convey an important message to the community.
“We’d exhausted photographic resources we’ve used in past years and things weren’t looking fresh anymore,” said Alvin Wasserman, a volunteer on Federation’s working cabinet.
Past years have featured photography, but finding those photographs had always presented a challenge. “When you’re talking about housing or food security, people are naturally reticent to be shown,” he explained. “Often we were scrambling for stock photography or images that other federations have used, and that wasn’t as representative of our community as we wanted it to be.”
When the cabinet read the campaign brief that Federation put together this year, the group realized the theme was the existential issues our community is facing. “The brief was about people’s inability to connect with Jewish life because of the high cost of living or because they were moving further outside of the core,” Wasserman told the Independent. “It was about Jewish people having to make serious choices about buying groceries or being involved in Jewish life, so we decided the new look for the campaign should be an illustration, which is an allegory through which you can tell stories.”
This is a pivotal year for the community, added Al Szajman, who has served as marketing chair for the past nine campaigns and helped develop the marketing and communications strategy. “Certainly, the different look helps draw attention to our very focused messaging this year.”
The messaging centres on the importance of maintaining our Jewish community, particularly in the face of the cost of living in Vancouver. “Everybody who resides locally understands that, if you’re living in Vancouver, costs are crazy,” Szajman said. “It’s very hard for many in our community to deal with those costs, plus having the incremental costs of trying to live Jewish and be connected to the community through various services and events. This campaign is about finding ways to help our partner agencies provide services to people locally and make opportunities available at lower rates than otherwise might be available.”
He noted that up to half of the Jewish community of the Lower Mainland now lives outside of Vancouver in cities including Surrey, Delta, Langley, Burnaby, Maple Ridge and Coquitlam. “A lot of these areas don’t have easy access to Jewish services, a Jewish connection. This whole notion of affordability and access is critical,” he noted. “If we’re not a community, what are we? We’re nothing.”
Shelley Rivkin, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver vice-president, said the campaign exists to fund solutions that keep people connected. “If we want to have a strong community, we need to make it easy for people to participate, whether they’re living in places like Abbotsford or Squamish and come to the programs we and our partners now offer there, or whether they’re overwhelmed by the cost of living in Vancouver and need more robust subsidies. At the heart of it, there is a sense that we as Jews need each other and we are meant to be a part of a community. That’s what we needed to convey this year.”
Illustrator Paul Gill created the illustration, a Star of David comprised of a community where a couple of people are falling off the edge of one of the triangles. “It describes the issue in a really interesting manner,” said Wasserman, who worked with a creative team that included Kelsey Dundon, Camilla Coates and Becky Saegert. The video in honour of Federation’s 30th anniversary, which was screened at the campaign launch Sept. 13, was produced by Eli Gorn. For more information, to watch the video or to donate to the campaign, visit jewishvancouver.com.
Lauren Kramer, an award-winning writer and editor, lives in Richmond. To read her work online, visit laurenkramer.net.