An important message from the Jewish Federation of Edmonton

(February 19, 2019) – In light of recent events in our community concerning the JCC, the Jewish Federation of Edmonton would like to share the following message:

For the past 11 years, Jewish leadership in Edmonton have been working toward building a new community centre. A place where people from our Jewish community can meet for social, educational or recreational activities.   A place to bring our community together.

We have had many different iterations of a Jewish Community Centre in Edmonton.  The last Centre was sold when it became evident that our community’s demographics and finances could no longer sustain the site.

All the funds from the sale of the land and building continue to be held in the bank in the hope that we could build or find another location for an Edmonton JCC.  We have approximately $5.5 million, including interest, which has remained untouched.

Federation leadership has taken a transparent and inclusive approach to determining the best use of the funds. The entire process has included numerous consultations with community members and stakeholders, and has been widely publicized to our membership through all means available.

The community repeatedly told us that the preferred site for a new JCC was on the site of the Edmonton Talmud Torah.  For the past 10 months, a group of volunteers representing the Talmud Torah Society and the Jewish Federation of Edmonton has met countless times and for hundreds of hours, putting together a plan to build the centre on the Talmud Torah site.

Unfortunately, a consensus was not reached.   So where does that leave us?

The Federation will get back to work trying to find a solution that will work for our Jewish community.  All options for the use of the funds are on the table, including either the identification of land to purchase, a significant capital campaign for a free-standing facility or dedicating the use of funds for programming to enhance our Jewish community without a physical JCC.  The Federation will continue to communicate with you throughout the process.  However, we unfortunately are running out of time.

The funds from the sale of the old JCC are considered restricted funds according to the Canada Revenue Agency.  All of the funds must be designated for use by the Jewish Federation of Edmonton by 2022.

We are committed to keeping an open and transparent dialogue with our members.  The Federation will do its due diligence to make sure that whatever decision is made will both lead to strengthening this community and that it will ultimately be sustainable.  Being able to have a JCC that would satisfy all may ultimately be outside of our means, or at least exceed the funds we currently have, or are able to raise.  But we sincerely hope that the next solution is one that brings us all together as a community, which is what a “Community” is all about.

Steve Shafir, President of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton,

and the Members of the Executive Committee: Shane Asbell, Mor Barzel, David Eisenstat, Ellery Lew & Lisa Miller

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