By Jared Shore and Jordan Balaban
(Calgary) – The beginning of fall and the precipice of the Jewish new year is always a time of introspection and renewal. It is a sentiment that has perhaps never been more true than today; for us as individuals and for us as the Jewish Community of Calgary. The last several months, with all of their challenges, have brought to light the importance and pride we have in our community. In the early days of social isolation, Federation, along with camps, schools, congregations, and our other Jewish institutions, embarked on phone and email campaigns, checking in on community members. Local Jewish organizations gathered virtually, weekly, to lend support to each other and share ideas and challenges. Fundraisers were postponed, camps were cancelled, programs were modified – and through it all, professional and lay leaders maintained the optimism that our community would emerge strong and vibrant.
It is under these challenges that, as incoming presidents of Calgary Jewish Federation, our number one priority
is to ensure the emergence of a strong and vibrant community. Both of us grew up within local Jewish day
schools, Jewish day camps and overnight camps, Bar Mitzvahs in our city’s shuls, and life cycle events around
the city, surrounded by Jewish Calgary’s friends and family. This community has been integral to who we are,
and we are now honoured to give back in this capacity.
Our message to you, our Calgary Jewish Community, is that we don’t just need your dollars, we need your
engagement. We need your memberships at shuls. We need your bums in the seats for our film festivals, and
speaker events. We need your kids at camps and schools. Together, we need to ensure that all families have access
to meaningful Jewish experiences. With one strong voice, we need to hold media and public institutions
accountable for intentional or inadvertent antisemitism.
We need you at our side as we encourage our government to increase Holocaust education and empower our
law enforcement allies to fight hate crimes. We need you standing by us as we support other marginalized
communities in this city. And, importantly, we need to stand together as a community when we are the targets of
hate and discrimination.
As we embark on our term as Federation co-presidents, we cannot stress enough that the work of ensuring our
community’s health and growth is the work of many. It is the work of our parents and our children. It is the work
of our youth and our elderly. It is the work of our Russian community and our Israeli community. It is the work of
our professionals and our volunteers. It is the work of our LGBTQ community and our Jewish people of colour. It is
the work of our Ashkenazim and our Sephardim. It is the work of those who planted the seeds of our community
70 years ago, and it is the work of those who only recently have sought the shade of those same community trees.
May the coming new year bring health and happiness to all of you, and as a community, may it mobilize us to be
as strong as we’ve ever been.
Jared Shore and Jordan Balaban are Co-Presidents, Calgary Jewish Federation