The Louis Brier Jewish Aged Foundation announces David Zacks, KC, as chair of the 2023/24 The Brier, Their Home campaign.
Born and raised in Vancouver, Zacks has been an active member of the Jewish community for more than five decades. He practised banking and finance law and was recognized globally for his professional achievements. He is a Life Bencher of the Law Society of British Columbia and was appointed King’s Counsel in 2002. In his retirement, Zacks is devoting time and energy to a variety of charitable causes, including the Louis Brier Jewish Aged Foundation. He is most proud of his two sons and their spouses and his five grandchildren.
The Louis Brier Home and Hospital is the home of 32 Holocaust survivors. The Brier understands the depth of the complexity of care to be delivered in providing clinical, spiritual and psychological attention to this sector of our community. Most residents come to Louis Brier older, frailer and with more complex health needs than ever before. Holocaust survivors are an especially fragile group because of their cumulative trauma. Aging, for them, can often be a time of severe crisis, and presents the risk of retraumatization.
The Brier is one of the most important and resource-demanding establishments in the Vancouver Jewish community. For more than 60 years, 24/7, 365 days a year, the home and hospital cares for the most susceptible and often extremely ill members of our community with both clinical and emotional support. They are carefully guided through their most vulnerable and difficult times by the staff, who know that caring for this generation means not only providing critical clinical care, but equally providing opportunities for enjoyment and engagement – the Brier strives to be a joyous place for elders to live.
The Brier campaign takes place every two years. It is the main source of funding, and the Brier Foundation’s main fundraising endeavour. The funds raised cover the basic annual needs of the home that are not funded by government. The needs of a Jewish home extend far beyond the basic human requirements provided – every Jewish component of the Louis Brier Home and Hospital is completely reliant on community donors. Examples include having a chaplain/chazzan, a fully kosher facility, a shul, Holocaust education for staff, and the celebration of all Jewish holidays. The Brier Foundation also supports extras that most other long-term care facilities cannot, such as full-time infection control, quality-and-risk practitioners, security, medical equipment, music, art, physio, rehabilitation, and occupational therapy.
It is thanks to the commitment and consistency of community donors that Louis Brier Jewish Aged Foundation provides the Brier with stability of funding that provides the best possible quality of life for residents, one of dignity and happiness. The board members and executive director of the Louis Brier Foundation, Ayelet Cohen, are acutely aware of the immense responsibility they hold, and thank everyone for sharing this responsibility with them over the years.
May 1 marks the start of this year’s campaign – The Brier, Their Home – which runs until June 16. The Brier Foundation, together with the leadership of Zacks, hopes to raise $1.8 million to keep up with the home and hospital’s needs. This amount will just allow the Jewish home to cover expenses through 2023/24. Over the last six years, the Brier Foundation’s funding responsibility has more than tripled in an evolving healthcare environment. It takes immense resources to manage such an operation. The needs are great and ever increasing.
The Brier Foundation works to fulfil these essential needs, but cannot do this without the community’s help. If it is not done as a community, there is the risk of losing the ability to provide a dignified and gratifying end-of-life process for Jewish seniors. It is our collective duty to care for our elders, those who built our community for us.
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Chabad Richmond depends on a devoted team of volunteers. From delivering Light of Shabbat meals to assisting with programs, assembling Pesach packages, and so much more, Chabad’s cohort contributes not only their time but their enthusiasm. Leading the charge, along with Chabad Richmond co-directors Rabbi Yechiel and Chanie Baitelman, is the new board of directors, comprised of lay leaders who bring a multitude of talents to the table and have an ambitious vision for the future of Chabad.
New president Ed Lewin takes over from past president Steve Whiteside, and welcomes Phil Levinson as first vice-president and Jeff Wachtel as second vice-president and secretary. New recruits Gayle Morris and Brent Davis join existing board members Sheldon Kuchinsky, Shelley Civkin, Shaun Samuel (treasurer), Louise Wright and Yael Segal.
Lewin was born and raised in Vancouver, the middle child of Holocaust survivors. An avid sportsman and community worker, he has served on many nonprofit boards in the Jewish community and is past president of the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. He is proud to have represented Canada in basketball three times at the Maccabi Games in Israel, winning two bronze medals. He recently sold his business law practice in Vancouver and is currently associate counsel with Arora Zbar LLP. He moved to Richmond in 1987, and has been married to Debbie for almost 42 years. The Lewins have two children, both married, and a 1-year-old grandson, all of whom call Richmond home.
The board of directors supports Rabbi Baitelman’s dream of an expanded Chabad Centre in Richmond, recognizing the potential for growth in a community whose Jewish population is close to 4,000.
“The vision of a larger Chabad centre with increased capacity and a variety of amenities for all ages is on the horizon. With board and community support, it will become a reality,” said Lewin.
Chabad Richmond recently launched a young professionals group for 19-32-year-olds, and is expanding several of its programs.
“Education, community outreach and gathering as a community to celebrate Jewish holidays and lifecycle events are only part of what we currently do,” said Rabbi Baitelman. “We want to expand our reach and nurture every Jew in every way we can. We have much work ahead of us, but we’re blessed to have a steadfast and conscientious board who works to help us grow. Each one of them brings their unique talents to assist us in realizing our mission.”