A message from Lisa Libin, President, Calgary Jewish Federation

Lisa Libin, President of Calgary Jewish Federation

by Lisa Libin

(Calgary) – It is hard to believe this is the final Pom before summer. To say my first term as president has flown by is a definite understatement. As I look back on the last year, I am proud of all the things our community has accomplished and am so excited for what is still to come. Like any year, there have been big wins as well as big challenges, and for all of these I am grateful for the amazing Federation staff, my fellow board members, and you –our community– who have always lent your ears, voice, and support. For this final Pom, I thought it would be appropriate to go through some highlights of what our amazing community has accomplished this year:

We have officially announced plans for the Calgary Jewish Community Campus with some major donors already rising to the challenge of our $40 million capital goal. We are excited to host our community this Fall for a townhall to discuss the Campus plans as we need all our community members to step up and support this once in a lifetime endeavour.

Antisemitism is, and continues to be, on the rise. We see an increase in incidents in Calgary and area schools at all levels. Calgary Jewish Federation  (CJF) continues to work closely with Calgary Police, RCMP, schools and all other relevant parties to ensure the safety and security of our community. We are also working with all levels of government to ensure education and fighting antisemitism is a key priority for all.

Through our generous UJA donors, 40 families and 98 students received bursaries through our Integrated Bursary Program providing them Jewish education and experiences. Just a reminder that CJF continues to be a recipient of Shaw Birdies for Kids meaning that up to 50 per cent of your UJA donation made before August 31 will be matched by Shaw!

Our Holocaust and Human Rights: Remembrance and Education department has become a well-established leader in Holocaust education in Alberta and beyond. This year, over 6,400 students and 89 schools took part in various educational programs and initiatives. This department ensures that our community has meaningful Yom HaShoahKristallnacht, and Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorations, while maintaining strong connections with our survivor community.

We continue to raise (and exceed) the bar in positioning Jewish Calgary for the future. Calgary Jewish Federation is excited to have completed four years of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s LIFE & LEGACY® program. Combined with our agency partners, we have already raised an estimated $18,372,341 from 248 donors.

I am personally pleased to see the commitment and involvement from so many young families, young professionals, and post-secondary students and the growth potential from these groups. We currently support more than 650 families who are subscribed to PJ Library® and PJ Our Way® offering the gift of free books; through our active Hillel community on two local university campuses, post-secondary students remain engaged in Jewish life and regularly take part in leadership, advocacy, and service opportunities; JAC (Jewish Adult Calgary) continues to engage adults post-grad to 40 through recreation, leadership, and service opportunities, whether it be through Drinks After Work or the new WhatsApp group which was started this year. Other highlights include partnering with PJ Library Calgary for A Killer Shabbat: A Murder MysteryJAC Chanukah Party – Vodka and Latkes, and The Great JAC Hamantaschen Bake to celebrate Purim with synagogues.

CJF’s Kesher –an inclusion initiative which has served Jewish adults with disabilities and their families for over a decade– has thrived over the past year with the introduction of new programs such as Kesher Lunch ClubA Taste of Judaism – Food for the SoulWellness for All, and Unique Jewels, alongside annual events such as Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) and International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD).

Our Coast-to-Coast Partnership2Gether group supports the Etzba HaGalil region in Israel. Over the last year, we have been able to fund renovations and the equipping of community centres in the region, which in turn give space to social service programs as well as supporting individuals with disabilities. Calgary students met their peers in the region through The Calgary Jewish Academy Israel Experience as well as the 2023 March of the Living.

There is still so much to do. With transforming economic times, changes in government and relationships, continued anti-Jewish and anti-Israel rhetoric, and other major challenges coming our way, 2023/2024 will be a pivotal year for our community. I am confident the strength and passion our community has shown –and will continue to show– will ensure the coming year is even more successful than this one. Thank you again for all you have done and continue to do!

I look forward to seeing all of you on September 10 at our official UJA campaign kick-off and wish everyone a wonderful summer!

Lisa Libin, President, Calgary Jewish Federation


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