by Lisa Libin
(Calgary) – Over the past few months, I have been fortunate to attend a number of events and simchas within our community. At each occasion I have observed a renewed vigor amongst families and friends to be back together; to be catching up in-person instead of via Zoom. Over the last few years, the amazing staff and volunteers at Calgary Jewish Federation and our partners did a fantastic job keeping us all safely in touch. But there is nothing like being physically together to truly feel like a community.
Taking on my new role of president at Calgary Jewish Federation has come at a uniquely opportune time. While my predecessors, Jared Shore and Jordan Balaban, took on the extremely challenging and unprecedented task of navigating our community through the difficult stages of the pandemic, I feel that now we can look to a more positive time; a time to take this renewed community excitement and passion, and use it to define us moving forward. I truly believe that now is the time to make Jewish Calgary into something it has never been before.
The pandemic provided us with numerous opportunities we cannot forsake. Through hard work and creativity, we were able to virtually gather with community members – many of whom in the past may not have been able or may not have wanted to attend events in-person. We were able to provide top-quality programming with talent from outside of our Calgary borders such as internationally renowned speakers, global experts, and interactive workshops. And when we could be together – such as through the phenomenal Here To Tell exhibit at the Glenbow Museum – we did so with caution and safety. What the pandemic has shown us is that we have the ability, and need to continue, to reach all corners of our community in a mixture of ways.
The past few years have shown the importance of our community. Through the good times and bad, the support we have all provided to, and felt for one another, speaks to the foundation of what Jewish Calgary is. As I reflect on the last 24-plus months as a Federation board member, and how I was continually inspired by the personal and financial generosity of community members, I cannot help but smile with pride and admiration towards those around me.
My vision for our community moving forward is simple: to ensure Jews in our city continue to recognize the value of our community. Being apart made all of us work harder to be together, and we all need to continue working in order to keep our community strong.
As the pandemic has shown us, even a small act can make a major difference; I ask us all to keep this in mind as our UJA annual campaign officially kicks off next month. We are fortunate to continue being resilient and vibrant but we still face many challenges going into this campaign year. Our community needs all of you – not just during a pandemic but for the future years to come. And just as we took the time and care to support our community during a global crisis, this support needs to continue as we recover and set ourselves, and our future generations up for whatever the next years hold.
I am excited for the future of Jewish Calgary. I am excited to be together with all of you in a hybrid of ways. And with that, I invite all of you to join me in this excitement, and supporting our community both physically and financially, in whatever way you are able to do so.
Shana Tova U’Metuka – may your year be sweet, happy, and healthy! I look forward to seeing all of you, in many ways, over the coming year.
Lisa Libin, President Calgary Jewish Federation.