by Jared Shore
(Calgary) – In a recently released archived letter written by Albert Einstein to American businessman Fred Behr, Einstein wrote that what “has enabled the Jewish people to survive for thousands of years has been based to a large extent on traditions of mutual helpfulness.” Jewish Calgary, as I know you all can relate, 2021 will go down in my books as a considerably challenging year. The ongoing rise in antisemitism, our seemingly perpetual battle with COVID, and the isolation we felt as individuals and as a community from both of those issues, has taken its toll on us all. I, for one, am optimistic that better things lay ahead this year.
And while we cannot simply wave a wand and put all of that behind us as we turn the calendar to 2022, I hope you will share my optimism that this coming year will be a bright one. For me, one of the best moments of last year came at its closing hours as Diana Kalef, Director of Development, sent me word that our 2021 UJA Campaign goal had been reached. I cannot overstate what a great achievement that was, in the midst of such challenging times. When our community needed you most, you stepped up. Of note, this year we had over 70 new donors and over $140,000 in donation increases.
This year’s campaign was marked by a unique approach that engaged our partner agencies as leaders in raising funds and awareness for the work that Federation does, and the connection between Federation and the critical work of each partner. Staff and lay leaders across our community joined together in the work and can now rejoice together in the success of this year‘s campaign. It highlights the amazing partnership that our community’s agencies are engaged in.
I hope that in those canvassing calls, you all had the opportunity to understand the work that Federation and our partner agencies do. For those that I spoke with, I know that those conversations give the assurance that your hard earned time and dollars are serving to strengthen Calgary‘s amazing Jewish community: now and for years to come. In a most timely fashion, our programming calendar kicked off with an event that enlightened and inspired. In partnership with Jewish Federation of Edmonton, and the Calgary and Edmonton Public Libraries, we presented a conversation with author, educator and advocate, Ben M. Freeman.
Ben’s book, and message, are about the importance of ‘Jewish Pride’, in the face of many challenges. As easy as it is to constantly play defense to the hatred directed at our community, we must refocus on all of the things that truly define us.
We are a diverse community. We are a spiritual community. We are a resourceful community. We value inclusion. We welcome the stranger. We respect our elders and nurture our young. We seek justice. We seek truth. And as this year’s campaign has well demonstrated, we are stronger together. There is so much to be proud of.
Happy 2022, Jewish Calgary. B’Shalom.
Jared Shore is Co-President, Calgary Jewish Federation