Dr. Randall and Shalene Trester, who run West 1st Chiropractic Wellness Centre. Last year, their food drive collected more than 400 pounds of food for the Jewish Food Bank. (photo by Allison Kuhl)
Since 2016, patients at West 1st Chiropractic Wellness Centre have been bringing in non-perishable food items destined for the Jewish Food Bank. These donations are collected and, in turn, provided to those in the community who face food insecurity.
The Jewish Food Bank struck a particular chord with chiropractor Dr. Randall Trester and his wife Shalene, who run the centre, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary this September.
“I had a few friends that had been helping with the food bank and they told me how difficult the situation is for some people. I felt we just had to get involved,” Shalene Trester told the Independent.
The Tresters hold the food drive every December, reminding clients ahead of time by posting information throughout the centre and via email correspondence.
“Our patients are really the ones who should get all the credit. We organize it every year and it’s amazing to see the generosity of our patients,” said Shalene Trester, who manages the office. “Our patients look forward to participating. It’s awesome to see the overflowing boxes at the end of the food drive. It’s such an awesome feeling to give back to our community every year.”
The most recent drive saw an increase in the amount of food donated. “There was a greater need,” she said.
“The Tresters have been supporting us for many years through their annual food drive and donating all the food to us,” said Carol Hopkins, the coordinator of the Jewish Food Bank. “Last year, they donated 410 pounds of food. We really appreciate their support.”
Distribution for the JFS Grocery Program is held weekly at JFS’s the Kitchen, located at 54 East 3rd Avenue in Vancouver, and at hubs throughout the Lower Mainland. For those unable to pick up their grocery order at one of the hubs, JFS offers a delivery service.
“We currently serve approximately 900 people and provide more than 12,000 kilograms of healthy food every month,” said Hopkins. “The JFS Grocery Program does not offer any meats, poultry or shellfish. We ensure that kosher items are available for clients who do keep kosher.”
The majority of supplies at the Jewish Food Bank are bought, and the team relies heavily on donations – non-perishable food or money. Among the benefits of hosting a food drive, the Jewish Food Bank notes on its web page, are “engaging your community members and helping to spread the word on the issue of hunger, [while] also providing an incredible service to your neighbours in need.”
Some of the best items to donate are rice; canned or dried beans, lentils and legumes; whole grains (oats, barley, millet, bulgur, quinoa, couscous); canned fish (tuna, salmon, sardines); canned tomatoes and tomato sauce; and pasta. According to the Jewish Food Bank, a $10 donation can buy $30 of food at wholesale prices or provide four days of healthy snacks for five children.
Soap, shampoo, toilet paper and diapers are greatly appreciated and needed as well.
The Jewish Food Bank funders include Jewish Women International-B.C. and many community members. Any person or organization wanting to organize a food drive should call 604-558-5698 or visit jfsvancouver.ca/food-drive.
Sam Margolishas written for the Globe and Mail, the National Post, UPI and MSNBC.
Joseph and Rosalie Segal (seated) and family at the 2016 Summer Garden Party fundraiser for Vancouver Hebrew Academy. (photo by Jocelyne Hallé)
Joseph Segal, an entrepreneur and philanthropist who was recognized by the governments of British Columbia and Canada with the highest civilian honours, a Second World War veteran who helped liberate the Netherlands, a businessman who founded and led iconic companies and a community-builder whose imprint on the Jewish and general communities in Vancouver is indelible, passed away May 31. He was 97 years old and was actively engaged in philanthropy to his final hours.
Segal was born in 1925, in Vegreville, Alta. After the death of his father, when Joe was 14, the family experienced financial hardship and young Joe Segal experienced hard labour while building the Alaska Highway. He fought in the infantry in the Second World War where, with his compatriots in the Calgary Highlanders, he participated in the liberation of the Netherlands.
After the war, he arrived in Vancouver and, with $1,500 in savings, started selling war surplus goods, then founded Fields department stores. Eventually, his business took over the Zellers store chain – which Segal described as “a case of the mouse swallowing the elephant” – and, later, obtained a large share of the venerable Hudson’s Bay Company before he launched Kingswood Capital Corp., which has interests in real estate, manufacturing and finance.
In recent years, while lauded for his business acumen, Segal was most prominent as one of Canada’s leading philanthropists. For his work in both fields, he was a recipient of both an Order of Canada and an Order of British Columbia.
In addition to leaving his mark on a vast number of institutions and causes in the Jewish community, he was a strong supporter of charities such as Variety Club, the United Way, Vancouver General Hospital and B.C. Children’s Hospital.
Among his community roles was serving on the board, and as chancellor, of Simon Fraser University. Perhaps his most visible contribution in Vancouver was his donation to SFU of the historic Bank of Montreal building at 750 Hastings St., creating a home for the Segal Graduate School of Business.
In 2010, Joseph and his wife Rosalie donated $12 million to the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundations to create the Joseph and Rosalie Segal and Family Centre, a 100-private-room acute care centre serving the mental health needs of people in crisis.
Joseph and Rosalie Segal modeled philanthropy for the successive generation of their family, including children Sandra, Tracey, Gary and Lorne, their spouses and, now, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
At Joe Segal’s funeral on June 1, Gary Segal reflected on his parents’ 74 years of marriage, calling it “a love story for the ages.”
“My father worshipped my mother, he relied on her support and wisdom and insights,” he said. “They were true partners in everything they did and accomplished in life.”
Gary Segal called his father “a natural-born philosopher, a generous man, caring. He would never forget anything or anybody. He was passionate about life. He had many dreams – his own and those that inspired others. He had the ability to talk to people and make everybody, no matter what stage in life, feel important, like they mattered, that somebody cared about them.”
Although he knew the impact that his father had had on the world and the people in it, “to see these genuine expressions of sorrow and appreciation for the person my father was has been truly extraordinary for me and for my family.”
He shared three core tenets of his father’s philosophy:
• Don’t worry about what you can’t control, worry about what you can.
• You need to commit to life and you need to commit to happiness.
• Money is only worth something if you do something good with it.
Gary Segal quoted actor John Barrymore, who said, “You’re never old until regrets take the place of dreams.” In that respect, said Segal, although his dad lived to 97, “My father was not old. He never aged. Right up to the last minute, he was young. He was always young at heart, in spirit, and right up to the end, he had his dreams.”
Longtime friend and book collaborator Peter Legge reflected on a half-century of friendship after the pair met when Legge was an adman at radio station CJOR.
“Joe was a man who shared all he could with those who needed help,” said Legge. “Never to lift himself up, but to lift up those who needed help.”
Rabbi Yitzchok Wineberg noted that some people are saying the passing of Joe Segal is the end of an era.
“I beg to differ,” said the city’s longest-serving rabbi and Chabad emissary. “Joe didn’t live his life for himself or for himself and Rose. He lived his life for his children, for his grandchildren, for his great-grandchildren. They were there to observe everything he did and be inspired by it…. This family will continue his legacy. It’s not the end of an era, it’s a milestone. It’s a date that we all know we are going to have to face one day and, especially at such a funeral, we think about our own mortality. But it’s not just what you’ve accomplished in your lifetime. It’s what’s going to be accomplished after you leave this world. For that reason, I feel it’s not the end of an era. It’s just a continuation, and God should help that we should celebrate many happy occasions together in the future and we should be there for one another just as Joe was there for everybody else.”
Rob Schonfeld, a grandson, said that it may sound strange to be shocked that a 97-year-old man has passed away.
“But Grandpa Joe was so larger-than-life and still 100% on his game,” he said. “None of us really internalized that this day was going to come.”
Of Segal’s 11 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren, Schonfeld said: “We all had really unique and different relationships with him. None of them was the same and it’s because he always treated us as individuals. He respected us as grown-ups – even when we were little kids. I think that allowed each of us to bond with him in really different ways.”
Schonfeld shared one of his favourite “Joe-isms” – “You can’t ride two horses with one ass” – and said Segal’s secret weapon was “reading everything in sight.”
Rabbi Andrew Rosenblatt of Congregation Schara Tzedeck compared Segal with the biblical Joseph. The moment before the Exodus, the rabbi observed, Moses was looking for the bones of Joseph to carry with the Israelites to the Promised Land.
“He’s fulfilling a promise, granted, but it’s more than that,” said Rosenblatt. “Moses needs a symbol of what it means to succeed materially in this world and to succeed with others. Joseph is that symbol. He is a symbol of somebody who can have material success and can have spiritual success as well. There are two chests that walk with the Jews through the desert. One holds the tablets that Moses brings down from Sinai and the other one carries Joseph. Our Joseph is a little like that, too. He is a lesson, a paragon, a role model, an icon. Just like the biblical Joseph, his personality, his legend, survives even him. Joe Segal will continue to be that for so many in our community.”
The rabbi remarked that he was professionally forbidden from sharing the many stories of individuals who Joseph Segal helped when called on to assist an individual or family in crisis.
Rosenblatt added that Segal specifically asked for donations in his memory to be given to Yaffa House and to the Jewish Food Bank.
The Independent spoke with some of the people who worked with and knew Segal in different capacities.
David Levi served with Segal on the board of the Phyliss and Irving Snider Foundation and is on the board of governors for Camp Miriam, one of the causes Segal championed.
“Over the years, he’s given [Camp] Miriam quite a large amount of money and he was always very supportive of giving money to the camp and the kids. It was a central focus of his,” Levi said, noting that Camp Hatikvah was another cause Segal admired.
“Joe’s view, I think, on camp in general is that it built a connection to Judaism for kids at a young age and he saw camps making that connection to the Jewish community and to Israel. Those were important things for him,” Levi said.
“The thing about Joe was his complete commitment to the community – to the Jewish community and to the larger community.” But Levi stressed that large gifts to major organizations were not the only way the legendary philanthropist operated. Echoing Rabbi Rosenblatt, Levi referred to “Joe’s secret life.”
“He would get calls not only from individuals but from rabbis and other leaders in the community on a very personal level for people who needed a hand up or needed some financial means for a brief period of time,” Levi said. “It was smaller amounts of money, but, in his mind, as important as the organizations that he worked with. People would call and say we have this family and they are really having a tough time and they need an injection of $1,000 or $500 and Joe would quietly do that. He never really talked about it. He certainly never talked about the individuals he supported. But he was always available for those kinds of emergency calls.
“He believed in hard work but he also believed that people who had difficulty in achieving the kinds of things that he would hope everybody would be able to achieve, people who are challenged by mental or physical disabilities, he would help in any way he could,” Levi said.
Bernie Simpson, who is also on the board of Camp Miriam, echoed Levi’s reflections of Segal’s support for Jewish camping.
“For over 50 years, Joe was a strong supporter of Camp Miriam,” said Simpson. “He joined the late [B.C. Supreme Court] Justice Angelo Branca, who was the chair of the finance committee of Miriam in rebuilding the camp in 1970. Fifteen years ago, Joe was responsible for the building of the camp infirmary through the Snider Foundation, honouring Joe and Rosalie Segal’s close friends Mike and Rita Wolochow.… Joe’s support of the camp policy that every child should have a Jewish camping experience, regardless of their financial means, goes back to when he was a youth himself from very humble beginnings. Several years ago, he praised the camp and its leadership for their devotion to the youth whose attendance at camp was possible through the campership fund. He will be sorely missed.”
Simpson said Segal was in frequent contact with his wife, Lee Simpson, when she was president of the board of the Louis Brier Jewish Aged Foundation, to catch up on developments at the Jewish home and hospital.
“I understand, from other organizations, he would constantly keep in touch with what was going on in the community,” said Simpson. “He looked at the big picture.”
In a message to the Independent, Vancouver Hebrew Academy (VHA) said, “Mr. Segal took his responsibility to the Jewish community very seriously and he showed it in many ways. Of course, he was a strong financial supporter of Vancouver Hebrew Academy, as he was for many of our institutions, but his advocacy went further than that. He believed strongly in Torah education and what it means to the future of the Jewish people. In the summer of 2016, Joe and Rosalie were the honourees at VHA’s Summer Garden Party. There, Joe spoke passionately and emotionally of the importance of our mission.”
Rabbi Don Pacht, VHA’s former head of school, remembers fondly the conversations with Joe Segal about the school, the community and his admiration for those who chose to dedicate themselves to building community.
“I often came away from our visits encouraged in the work we were doing,” said Pacht. “Mr. Segal always had words of wisdom to offer … and sometimes a bottle of scotch too!”
Michael Sachs, executive director of Jewish National Fund of Canada, Vancouver branch, reflected on a long relationship.
“He was a titan in the business world and a leading philanthropist to all communities, but most of all he was a family man through and through,” said Sachs. “I have many fond personal memories with Joe from my childhood up until a few weeks ago. He touched everyone in our community and I count myself amongst one of those touched.”
Segal’s legacy was celebrated and remembered outside of the Jewish community, including by many organizations that Segal, wife Rosalie and the family had collectively supported.
“Joe was an enthusiastic champion of the university,” Simon Fraser University said in marking Segal’s passing. “His advice, energy and wisdom supported eight presidents and his business savvy and connections helped SFU to thrive. His commitment to community-building and philanthropy was recognized in 1988 with a doctor of law, honoris causa, from SFU and in 1992 with the President’s Distinguished Community Leadership Award, honouring his innovation, optimism and strong sense of public service to SFU’s community.”
The VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation issued a statement honouring Segal.
“A pledge of $12 million in 2011 to initiate planning of a new purpose-built mental health facility was the largest individual donation to this cause in B.C. at the time. This commitment initiated a $28 million fundraising campaign and the construction of an $85 million purpose-built mental health facility which stands as his legacy: the Joseph & Rosalie Segal & Family Health Centre.”
It continued: “Joe never retired, and his mind and memory were sharper at 97 than many people years his junior. Until very recently, he remained active in business, working from home as was required throughout the pandemic. Similarly, he continued to support the causes he cared about, offering sage advice, wisdom and guidance. He continued to support VGH and UBC Hospital’s most innovative clinician-researchers and surgeons, kicking off a campaign in support of the Vancouver Stroke Program and seed-funding research for innovative medical talents, as well serving as the honourary chair of the Brain Breakthroughs Campaign.”
Coast Mental Health declared Segal “B.C.’s most significant supporter of mental health services.” His devotion to the cause began in 1999, when he first attended the Courage to Come Back Awards, where he heard people share personal stories of living with mental health and emotional challenges. His devotion to the cause was born out of a belief that no one is immune from the detrimental effects that mental illness can have if not properly treated.
Lorne Segal has chaired the Courage to Come Back Awards for the past 17 years, and the family as a whole has championed the cause.
Shirley Broadfoot, the founding chair of Courage to Come Back, recalled meeting Joe Segal for the first time.
“He was inspired by the power of the evening but said, ‘You really don’t know how to fundraise.’ It was true. We didn’t. So his son, Lorne, took on the role of chair for Courage and all that changed. Through Lorne’s leadership, Courage has risen to be the largest event in Vancouver. We could never have imagined that the awards would flourish and go on to give hope to people for 24 years, including through a global pandemic, while raising over $22 million and honouring 139 heroic British Columbians,” she said.
Coast Mental Health chief executive officer Darrell Burnham added: “Joe Segal was an incredible leader who gave so much to the community of Vancouver. I met Joe in the ’90s, and I was so pleased when he chose mental health as one of his philanthropic causes. Joe knew everyone in the city. He also had the charisma to engage other philanthropists in social causes that needed visibility and support. When Coast Mental Health Foundation and the Courage to Come Back Awards took shape, it was Joe Segal and his family who stepped up to provide financial assistance to support Coast Mental Health.”
Ezra Shanken, chief executive officer of Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, said Segal “was not only a titan in the business and philanthropic worlds, but a genuinely caring and compassionate person – a true mensch. He is among a generation of leaders who helped shape our Jewish community.… Joe was a steadfast supporter of countless worthy causes both within and beyond our Jewish community, including the work of our Federation and our partners. We are deeply grateful to him for his incredible generosity over the decades.”
The Jewish Food Bank operates out of Jewish Family Services’ the Kitchen, on East 3rd Avenue. (photo from JFS)
Like so many other individuals and organizations since Joseph Segal’s death on May 31, Jewish Family Services Vancouver has been reflecting on the impact he has had.
“Joseph Segal was a very generous supporter of the program,” said Carol Hopkins, coordinator of the Jewish Food Bank, which was one of the two organizations people were asked, at Segal’s funeral, to donate to in his memory; the other being Yaffa House.
“He touched the lives of many people through our Seniors Home Support program and annual Passover holiday campaign. However, food security and food access was his passion and a clear priority,” said JFS in a statement. “His dedication to help underwrite our food voucher program was notable. This was a special program for many, especially in the early days, before we had satellite food hubs across the Lower Mainland.”
Those vouchers allowed people to purchase groceries near where they lived. Further, the program presented recipients the opportunity to maintain anonymity and a sense of dignity – by not having to line up at a local food bank or use discount coupons at a till. Segal placed great value on a dignified means of accessing support.
More recently, JFS has directed its efforts towards mitigating food insecurity in the community to the food bank, of which Segal was an ardent and magnanimous backer. Currently, the food bank, which operates from JFS’s the Kitchen, at 54 East 3rd Ave., serves more than 800 clients regularly and delivers more than 10,000 kilograms of healthy food every month.
On its website, JFS notes, “While not a kosher food bank, the Jewish Food Bank does not offer any meats, poultry or shellfish. In addition, for those clients who do keep kosher, it ensures that kosher items are available to them.”
Since its inception, the food bank has been operated in partnership with Jewish Women International-BC. It started with a few volunteers and has operated from various locations since the mid-2000s. It first served clients from the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver. Later, it switched to the Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture, where it was based until COVID-19 hit.
At the beginning, the food bank was mostly a walk-in model. Clients would come in and people would select the items they needed. This changed to an all-delivery model during the pandemic: bags were packed and then dropped off to clients who needed support.
The number of clients has grown since March 2020, with deliveries going across the region, including the North Shore, Surrey, Coquitlam and Burnaby. In April 2021, the food bank made its move to the Kitchen, where it maintains a warehouse facility with refrigerators and freezers, allowing JFS to keep perishable donations until they are ready to be used.
In addition to providing people the chance to pick up food at the Kitchen, JFS can distribute directly to clients and to its hubs across the Lower Mainland. Food is brought into the Kitchen on Mondays and sent out to different locations from Tuesday to Thursday. In an average week, more than 40 volunteers help the program.
“We are seeing more and more the challenge of food prices going up in conjunction with expensive housing, not to mention seniors on a fixed income,” said Hopkins. “People are having trouble supplying food. Our grocery service allows people to get support and the nutritious food that they need. We really pride ourselves on that.
“JFS is fortunate,” she said. “Distributors supply us with the best pricing that they can. This allows JFS to stretch the financial contributions it receives and buy in bulk.”
JFS depends largely on donations, both monetary – to buy supplies – and of items such as food, soap, shampoo, toilet paper and diapers.
JFS estimates there will be 150 new families accessing the food bank in the coming year, given economic trends; costs are increasing and needs are growing. Rising food prices are changing the perception and the reality of who needs the help of the food bank.
The Vancouver Jewish Food Bank is now distributing more than 10,000 kilograms of food every month. (photo from BI and JFS)
According to the Community Food Centres Canada report Beyond Hunger: The Hidden Impacts of Food Insecurity in Canada, “Even before COVID-19, nearly 4.5 million Canadians struggled to put good food on the table for themselves and their families. In the first two months of the pandemic, that number grew by 39%, affecting one in seven people.”
Demand on the Vancouver Jewish Food Bank has almost doubled since the start of COVID-19. The organization is now distributing more than 10,000 kilograms of food every month; supporting seniors, families and individuals. While some of us have been impacted by food scarcity during COVID-19, those most in need live in a state of constant worry about where their next meal will come from.
The 1996 World Food Summit defined food security as: “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” To this end, Jewish Family Services and Congregation Beth Israel are hosting More Than a Bag of Food on Jan. 28, bringing organizations and people together for a Tu b’Shevat program on food security in our community and beyond.
Vancouver Talmud Torah and Richmond Jewish Day School students are raising awareness about the food bank and reaching out to recipients. King David High School is hosting a cooking demonstration with Hilit Nurick and Rabbi Stephen Berger at 4 p.m. on Jan. 28, which will feature local ingredients and discuss the need for healthy food for everyone. Hillel BC is running an online quiz, with prizes, and a deep dive into information around food security.
At 7:30 p.m. on the 28th, there will be a Zoom panel including Dr. Tammara Soma, assistant professor, School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University; Dr. Eleanor Boyle, educator and author; Krystine McInnes, director and chief executive officer of Grown Here Farms; Mara Shnay, chair of the JFS client advisory committee; and Cindy McMillan, director of programs and community partnerships at JFS. Lawyer Bernard Pinsky will moderate the discussion.
“This is an important conversation,” said McInnes. “The stakes are very high. The pandemic has thrown into sharp relief just how vulnerable we are, given the way our society is organized. ”
Food systems produce and deliver based on historic demand. With the advent of COVID-19, the system has been stretched, leading to empty grocery shelves and desperate food banks. International supply chains are no longer reliable, with Russia and Vietnam limiting the sale of wheat and rice outside of their countries. Canadian food production plants have been hard hit by pandemic outbreaks and the lack of international workers. This is particularly problematic when food production is concentrated at large facilities; for example, two plants in Alberta provide 70% of Canadian beef.
“We are going to talk about initiatives from local to global,” said Boyle, “and panelists will let audience members know about some of the creative approaches to food security that are being taken at the Jewish Food Bank, as well as what’s going on around the world to try to shift agriculture and diets toward being better for climate and public health.”
Newcomer to Vancouver and longtime National Council of Jewish Women of Canada member Rachel Ornoy, left, cheers the Purse Project volunteer gang on.
Members of National Council of Jewish Women of Canada, Vancouver section, under the guidance of Cate and Jane Stoller, stuffed purses with cosmetics, toiletries, comfort candles, chocolates, gift cards, pyjamas and other useful items on the morning of Sept. 27 for partner agency Atira Women’s Resource Society, a not-for-profit organization committed to the work of ending violence against women.
Thank you to everyone who dropped off purses, helped fill the bags and collect their contents – more than 100 purses were delivered to Atira. Also thank you to Jane Stoller for putting together the hostess table with coffee and Timbits. It was a lovely pre-Kol Nidre morning mitzvah and it was great to have a socially distant visit with our NCJWC Vancouver friends.
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This year’s Project Isaiah campaign required Jewish Family Services (JFS) to change the way it looked at the traditional food drive. From Sept. 8 to Sept. 29, JFS ran its very first virtual community food drive, ending with a COVID-19-safe drive-thru drop off.
Despite the needs being greater than ever – more than double compared to last year – this year’s Project Isaiah campaign has been the most successful food drive in the past 10 years. Thanks to donors, the Jewish Food Bank will be able to feed 700 clients (up from 450 last year) over the next four to six months; recipients include 175 children and 118 elders within our community.
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Carolyn Digby and Aaron Klein were wed in a romantic ceremony, surrounded by family and friends, Nov. 9, 2019, at VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver. The couple resides in Toronto, where both are pursuing studies, Carolyn in a clinical psychology counseling master’s program, and Aaron in aerospace engineering, doctorate program.
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The Peretz Centre has appointed Liana Glass to lead the centre’s pnei mitzvah program. The Peretz pnei mitzvah – pnei (faces) rather than b’nei (“sons of”), to reflect a gender-neutral descriptor – is a two-year program in which students meet once every second week for two hours, culminating in a group ceremony. The next intake period is this fall.
Glass, who has earned a master’s of community and regional planning at the University of British Columbia, has considerable experience in teaching and facilitating groups from diverse backgrounds, most recently as a research intern with Vancouver’s Social Purpose Real Estate Collaborative.
Glass’s path to secular Judaism was not a straight one. After studying Yiddish at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute’s summer program in 2017, she found that “Yiddish opened up a secular avenue for me to explore my Judaism and connect with it on a different level. It allowed me to reexamine Judaism in the larger context of my life and as part of my cultural identity. The prospect of helping pnei mitzvah students find that sense of connection through the various subjects we’ll explore in class is extremely exciting.”
“In our search, we indicated that we were looking for a candidate who is dynamic, enthusiastic and firmly committed to secular Jewish ideals and learning. Liana brings all that and so much more. We’re looking forward to working with her and seeing where she’ll be taking the program next,” said David Skulski, Peretz Centre general manager.
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Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver elected its 2020-2021 volunteer board of directors at its annual general meeting Sept. 30. New directors, elected for a two-year term, are Hodie Kahn, Shay Keil, Kyra Morris, Lisa Pullan and Stan Shaw. Each of them brings a background of community leadership and past contributions to Jewish Federation.
Kahn is currently chair of Jewish Federation’s Jewish Day School Council, whose work addresses the ongoing enrolment and financial stability needs facing the day schools; she is also a member of the Community Recovery Task Force. Keil is chair of major gifts for the Federation annual campaign and a member of the Jewish Day School Council; he is a past co-chair of men’s philanthropy. Morris is the new chair of the Axis steering committee, which oversees Federation’s programs for young adults. Pullan has lent her fundraising and leadership expertise to Federation for many years, including chairing women’s philanthropy and serving on the board in that capacity. And Shaw has held several leadership roles with Federation; he co-chaired the Food Security Task Force and is now bringing his cybersecurity expertise to the new cybersecurity and information protection subcommittee.
Returning directors elected for a two-year term are David Albert, Bruce Cohen (secretary), Alex Cristall (chair), Jessica Forman, Rick Kohn (treasurer) and Lianna Philipp. They join the following directors who are in the middle of a two-year term, and will be continuing their service on the board: Jim Crooks, Catherine Epstein, Marnie Goldberg, Candace Kwinter (vice-chair), Melanie Samuels and Pam Wolfman.
Joining or continuing to serve on the board are Sue Hector (women’s philanthropy co-chair), Karen James (immediate past chair), Jonathon Leipsic (campaign chair), Shawna Merkur (women’s philanthropy co-chair) and Diane Switzer (Jewish Community Foundation chair).
At its Oct. 14 annual general meeting, the Vancouver Holocaust Centre Society confirmed the society’s board of directors: Rita Akselrod, Marcus Brandt, Jeremy Costin, Michelle Guez, Belinda Gutman, Helen Heacock-Rivers, Philip Levinson, Michael Lipton, Shoshana Krell Lewis, Jack Micner, Talya Nemetz-Sinchein, Ken Sanders, Joshua Sorin, Al Szajman, Robbie Waisman and Corinne Zimmerman. For more information, visit vhec.org/who-we-are/#board.
More than 80 volunteers came together to help Jewish Family Services sort the food on Sept. 26, organizing nearly 1,300 bags of food and toiletries. (photos from facebook.com/JFSVancouver)
During this year’s Project Isaiah food drive, the Metro Vancouver community donated four months’ worth of provisions for the Jewish Food Bank, which will feed and support the 300 households who turn to the Jewish Food Bank each month.
More than 80 volunteers came together to help Jewish Family Services sort the food on Sept. 26, helping unload, box and organize nearly 1,300 bags of food and toiletries. The collection is a huge effort and JFS could not have done it without all of its partners across the Jewish community, as well as the countless individuals who donated and volunteered, and Vancouver Talmud Torah and Congregation Beth Israel who offered the use of their facilities.
The number of those who rely on the Jewish Food Bank continues to rise. JFS’s services also include home delivery to seniors and people with disabilities, and the recently launched Jewish Food Link program extends the agency’s reach to serve people in the Tri-Cities and Richmond areas.
Jewish Family Services has launched a new program to provide short-term financial assistance to Jewish community members living in the Tri-Cities area, including Maple Ridge and Mission. This program is funded by a grant from a private donor through Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver.
Called the Chesed (or Compassion) Program, the project responds to recommendations made by the Jewish Food Security Task Force, a joint collaboration between JFS and Jewish Federation, that identified the lack of regionally based Jewish food options as one of the top priorities to address.
According to a report from the Jewish Federation, 4,200 Jews in the Lower Mainland earn less than $30,000 annually and live below the low-income cut-off. Approximately 20% of these households live in the Tri-Cities, Mission, Langley and Maple Ridge. Another five percent of households in these areas earn less than $50,000. This means there are approximately 1,000 people living in these communities, many of whom are single-parent working families, who are considered food insecure.
Richard Fruchter, chief executive officer of JFS, said that, for those living in this situation, their day-to-day reality is dire. “Many do not have enough food to last the whole month without accessing a food bank,” he explained, and “some parents go without so that their children have enough to eat. Still others have poor diets, lacking sufficient income to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables.”
Nearly all Jewish programs and services are located in Vancouver and, despite the number of low-income Jewish households in these geographic areas, there are no Jewish-run social services available to them. Many are families that have requested assistance from JFS but, because of the distance to Vancouver or the Jewish Food Bank’s limited hours of operation, they are not getting the help they need. In addition, a significant number of these households are new immigrants, the majority of whom are Russians or Russian-Israelis. They would benefit from being connected to the Jewish community and having access to social and educational programs offered closer to their homes. The Chesed Program is a small but significant step in creating access to these social services.
The program is designed to offer up to six months’ short-term assistance for people in crisis where no other source of funding is available. Eligible are Jewish community members 18 to 65 years old who are residents of the Tri-Cities, Maple Ridge or Mission and can demonstrate financial need (i.e. bank statement, rent receipt, income tax statement, social assistance cheque, proof of income) and are willing to develop a long-term plan for addressing their financial needs, where possible. Individuals or families who meet the eligibility criteria will receive a loaded credit card that can be used for purchasing basic needs items.
For more information about the Chesed Program, contact Tanja Demajo, director of family and adult resources at JFS, at [email protected] or 604-637-3316.
Chabad Lubavitch BC’s 40th Annual Gold Plate Celebration raised $10,000 for the Jewish Food Bank. (photo courtesy)
Lubavitch BC held its 40th Annual Gold Plate Celebration on March 15, 2018. The dinner celebrated 43 years of Chabad Lubavitch service to British Columbia.
Instead of having a sit-down affair this year, Chabad Lubavitch BC had a cocktail reception and donated the money raised (the costs saved by not having a sit-down dinner) – $10,000 – to the JFS Vancouver Jewish Food Bank to help those in need.
There was also a raffle for the grand cash prize of $18,000.
On Feb. 20, students at Vancouver Hebrew Academy packaged more than 200 mishloach manot bags full of non-perishable food items donated by the Marine Drive and Grandview Superstore locations. (photo from VHA)
The atmosphere at the Jewish Food Bank on Feb. 22 at the Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture was almost festive. Adults chatted, kids played, as people made their way through the various lines. Vancouver Hebrew Academy students had already come and gone – having delivered more than 200 mishloach manot packages in anticipation of Purim – and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould had stopped in to visit.
“We were thrilled to be able to distribute the Purim packages through the food bank,” Rabbi Don Pacht, VHA head of school, told the Independent. “It was the idea of Hodie Kahn and Rachael Lewinski, two die-hard VHA enthusiasts … Hodie is a past VHA parent and board member, Rachael is a current VHA parent (and a VHA alum) and board member. They have been largely responsible for building the program to where it is today. They saw this as a great way to bring the lesson of Purim into living colour. So much of the Purim theme revolves around helping others and bringing community together to celebrate – think mitzvot of sending food to neighbours and charitable gifts to those in need. What better way to celebrate as a community than to bring the joy of Purim to more and more families?”
“It’s a powerful symbol of love and friendship among our community,” said Richard Fruchter, Jewish Family Services chief executive officer, about the mishloach manot project in the agency’s February e-newsletter. He also noted that, during Wilson-Raybould’s visit, the minister spoke “with JFS about food security, housing and mental health services. She connected with the dozens of volunteers and hundreds of clients who benefit from this twice-a-month service.”
All of the items provided in the 200-plus mishloach manot gift bags were donated by two Real Canadian Superstore locations: Marine Drive and Grandview. “And they have [donated] for several years now,” said Pacht, stressing his gratitude.
In years past, the initiative has included other Jewish schools – Vancouver Talmud Torah, Richmond Jewish Day School, King David High School, Pacific Torah Institute and Shalhevet Girls High School – and “was an avenue to raise funds for all of the Jewish day schools,” said Pacht, as people donated to have Purim packages sent to friends, family and colleagues. Run under the umbrella of VHA, it was the “Vancouver Jewish Day Schools Purim Project,” he added.
“In past years, we have hosted the event at KDHS and had students from all the schools participate in various capacities,” explained the rabbi. “VTT, VHA and RJDS students packing, KDHS students setting up and cleaning up, PTI and Shalhevet students picking up items from Superstore, etc. We also have had parents from all of the schools volunteer their time to assist the packing process and deliver the packages on Purim day.
“This year, we took a step back and did not run the program as a fundraiser. With only 200 packages being prepared, that were then distributed through the Jewish Food Bank, we managed the entire process in-house.”
VHA also sent out “a mailing containing a Purim kit, with some information about the holiday and a few practical goodies as well,” said Pacht.
“What started in Ruth Huberman’s living room – at the time she was a VHA parent and board member (she now has several grandchildren attending VHA) – preparing about 100 packages, mushroomed into a program that reached the farthest corners of our community. We have over 1,200 families we connect with each year!” he said. “After 10 years of doing the same thing, we found it difficult to maintain the same momentum and enthusiasm. We are looking at various alternative models for next year. Something to refresh the program and keep the community engaged.”
Global TV was at Richmond Jewish Day School last week to recognize the efforts of Grade 6 and 7 students who are selling flowers to fundraise for the Variety Club, Richmond Animal Protection Society and the Jewish Food Bank. To date, the students have raised $2,000 for these charities. Pictured, left to right, are Rachel Marliss, Shai Rubin and Nathan Brown. (photo by Lauren Kramer)