by Lisa Libin and Adam Silver
(Calgary) – Good Afternoon,
As we continue to feel surrounded by antisemitism in our world, we are sharing another update on what Calgary Jewish Federation and our partners have been doing in our community to keep all safe and secure.
We continue to be in close contact with Calgary Police Service (CPS) and RCMP regarding security for our community. They continue to maintain a presence at our day schools, the Paperny Family JCC, and synagogues, and continue to patrol areas with Jewish infrastructure. We thank them for all the time they are spending in and around our community on a daily basis.
We held our second gathering for our high school and post-secondary students this week with Hillel and BBYO to discuss their feelings and challenges in a space safe – to be together and speak candidly. These sessions are being provided weekly based on feedback from the students. If you know someone of high school or university age that would like to join a session, please email Hannah Giesinger, Emerging Gen Coordinator or email Ishmaeli Goldstein, Youth and Teen Coordinator to learn more.
We continue to have in-depth government conversation with all levels of officials to ensure they hear and understand our need for them to be vocal allies. Councillor Kourtney Penner of Ward 11 was engaged this week to discuss our concerns and the need for municipal support at a local level, and we are also in touch with Mayor Jyoti Gondek‘s office. In addition, we continue to engage with provincial and federal elected officials and their teams, ensuring they are aware of our community’s experiences, and the need for government to call out those who support terror and the groups/gatherings that cheer for it.
We are proud of community members who have contributed to our Israel Emergency Fund as part of a centralized Canadian and North American effort by all Federations. As a reminder, this is intended to not only help with immediate, urgent needs but provide long-term support for the victims of terror and to support ever-changing needs. We are close to raising $500,000 for the fund here in Calgary and the overall fund is more than $500 million already! Canada alone has raised over $100 million. Please join others and make your meaningful contribution.
The emergency funds noted above are strategically and efficiently allocated and deployed based on real-time information provided by our team on the ground in Israel, which includes staff representatives from Canada’s partner regions based all over the country. Our Director General in Israel, Sarah Mali, is a lead member of Israel’s emergency table at this time. Here in Canada, Steven Shulman, President and CEO of Jewish Federations of Canada – United Jewish Appeal, was interviewed last Sunday by CBC Newsworld about the impact that Jewish Federations are making in Israel to help the victims of the Hamas terrorist attack, and to support Israel as a whole during this harrowing time.
We continue to work closely with non-Jewish, public and private day schools to ensure our students in these institutions are supported during this difficult time. We also continue to speak with administration at all levels of local post-secondary institutions to address issues of antisemitism on their campuses.
We are aware of plans for further demonstrations by pro-Palestinian (Hamas) groups this weekend. We continue to be in contact with CPS and RCMP who provide us with ongoing updates on the protests and are on-site at these gatherings to try to minimize violence and hate. Through our discussions with them, law enforcement also monitor chants/sayings and images that constitute hate, and act accordingly. Under police advisement, Federation’s current position is to not hold counter-protests against these groups. However, we do recognize everyone’s right to protest and if you do feel compelled to attend these protests, we ask you please exercise safety and do not directly engage with the other side.
These are only some of the activities from the last week, with many more actions being undertaken by Federation, other organizations in the community, and broad community members. We are in awe of the strength and commitment demonstrated by our staff team, partner beneficiaries, community’s synagogues and their leaders, other organizations, and the many individuals in Jewish Calgary. It is important during this time of challenge and fear that we stand proudly as Jews and as a community, continue to participate in activities, and we call out hate and antisemitism whenever we face it. We are Am Echad, one people, and no matter our individual backgrounds, we are in this together!
As we enter this weekend, the brave soldiers of the IDF and the resilient people of Israel will, no doubt, continue to be under stress and under fire. This Shabbat, let us keep them in our minds and hearts, and pray for a complete freeing of the hostages, and well-being for all innocent victims of this horrible battle between good and evil. May more peaceful days lie ahead.
Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom.
Lisa Libin is President and Adam Silver is CEO, Calgary Jewish Federation.