by Stacey Leavitt-Wright
(Edmonton) – At this time last year, I had just accepted the position of CEO of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton. The number one question I was asked was if this was going to be a full-time job (it is) and now I am consistently asked if I am enjoying the role! While navigating a pandemic and rising antisemitism comes with its challenges, I am eager to share with you unequivocally how I not only enjoy the role, I love my job. I live my beliefs every day, which is a special privilege that not many enjoy in the workforce. I am in a wonderful position where I can fulfill my values of collaboration, strengthening relationships and encouraging connections between people and agencies.
At the Federation we have engaged, dedicated staff and passionate volunteers who care deeply about Jewish continuity, connections to Israel and support for the most vulnerable. We spend our days dedicated to the promise of a flourishing Jewish Edmonton. We are here to ensure that ‘We are Here for Good,’ as a Federation and as a community. This small phrase encompasses the DNA that is Federation, and through our UJA campaign you can demonstrate your commitment to our community as well.
Your UJA campaign gift ensures that ‘We Are Here for Good.’ This is no small statement, as your donations are the engine that drive the work that we do. This past year we provided support to community members who found themselves in precarious financial situations. Whether it was via bursaries for camp and day school, interest free loans from the Jewish Free Loan or grocery cards and emergency relief through the newly established Covid relief fund, the good we did was made possible from your gifts. When a family living under the poverty line can enjoy the same Jewish experiences as the rest of the community in a dignified manner I see first-hand how ‘We Are Here for Good’.
‘Here for Good’ means we can provide a flourishing Jewish Edmonton with engaging programming including events for holidays, topical speakers, a robust Film Festival and a revived PJ library program. We identified opportunities to further connect and engage community members through the launch of Shalom Baby and with events throughout the summer with our Summer Fun Series. Field trips and drop off days were a welcome relief for parents and children who were missing social connections as a result of COVID-19 restrictions this spring. Obtaining grants to fund and staff these programs is how we leverage your UJA gift to the
betterment of the community.
Through our support and commitment to funding Hillel, Jewish youth are ensured support on campus in the face of rising antisemitism. When University students move here from other parts of Canada and overseas and make new friends and connections as a result of Hillel programming, I see firsthand that we are ‘Here for Good.’
Being ‘Here for Good’ also means ensuring that people can live openly and freely as Jews in Edmonton without fearing for their safety. It allows us to invest in our relationships with our law enforcement partners and fund security when and where it has been most needed.
In the face of rising antisemitism, being ‘Here for Good’ means that the Jewish Federation of Edmonton has taken an active role in advocating for Israel and for our community. It has been an honour to speak on behalf of the community with politicians, schools, and local media. We also have a unique opportunity in Edmonton to advocate for Israel with the largest outreach event in Canada through our continued participation in the Heritage Day Festival. One of the highlights of my summer was watching hundreds of people join in the dancing at our pavilion and clap along with the youth performing at the Israel Pavilion. Not only were we positively interacting with the public on a person to person basis, our children and teens felt proud of their Jewish identity and their connection to Israel.
It is important to again emphasize that ‘Good’ doesn’t happen on its own. It takes a community to strengthen a community. When a volunteer UJA canvasser calls please show your support with your UJA gift and let them know what you are most passionate about. It is my hope that you will join me with an increase to your UJA gift this year as a gesture of recognition for the good that we will continue to do.
Your donation right now means that the Jewish Federation of Edmonton will continue to help ‘Good’ grow. Just as we have in the past. Just as we will in the future. Because with your help, we’re not going anywhere. Please be as generous as you are able.
Stacey Leavitt-Wright is the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton.