by Maxine Fischbein
(AJNews) – Calgary Jewish Federation’s newly minted co-presidents Jordan Balaban and Jared Shore have their work cut out for them as they begin their new mandate. Fortunately, they bring a combination of youthful enthusiasm, decades of significant volunteer experience, energy and creativity to the task.
“Our community has been drastically impacted by [COVID-19],” said Shore who is, nonetheless, looking at the bright side.
“We saw unity in our community from the get-go . . . . Differences were put aside for sharing of ideas and lending of support. We acted as a cohesive community,” Shore said.
“In our vision for the community we need cohesion, engagement. We need everyone on board . . . we really do!”
For Shore and Balaban that means active participation in community life, a priority that builds resiliency for individuals, families and the community as a whole.
“It is important that UJA dollars are there, but we need kids at the schools, people at the JCC,” Shore says.
“We have some donors who support our community disproportionately,” says Shore, “but we need to be engaged top to bottom.”
“We can’t simply say we need community members to engage,” adds Shore. “We recognize the altruism and goodwill that goes into community building . . . but we can’t deny the fact that people are also consumers. We have to make sure that what we provide is relevant, engaging, stimulating, meaningful and valuable.”
“It’s also going to be important for us to engage with and continue to build partnerships with our agencies,” said Jordan Balaban adding that Federation is working on a strategic plan to guide the community over the next decade.
The goal, says Balaban, is a sustainable community model for the future.
Balaban also has his eye on the here-and-now and its implications for Jewish Calgary.
“We are asking everyone to be as generous as they can during this challenging time,” Balaban said. “We are asking those who are able, to help pick up community members who are struggling . . . This is a time when those who really can give need to step up.”
Every bit as important is Shore’s message to those in our community who are struggling.
“We are a community. When you feel nobody is there, the Jewish community is always there,” says Shore. “We’ve got you.”
Some community agencies and organizations are struggling more than others, says Shore, noting that the JCC and Camp BB Riback lost tremendous revenues over the past summer. The Calgary Jewish Academy and Halpern Akiva Academy are faced with unanticipated costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic including the need for PPE, enhanced cleaning and substitute teachers, among other things.
“It’s been a challenge for many of our agencies that we lost six months of fundraising,” Shore adds.
Balaban and Shore are ready to tackle both near and long-term issues with “Together WE CAN” spirit.
“I have faith that our community will step up,” said Balaban. “We’ve always been a strong, generous community . . . we’ll get through this.”
Shore points to the life changing effects of UJA-funded initiatives like the Integrated Bursary Program.
“Every child and family in this community should have the opportunity to access Jewish life. This is ground zero for that,” says Shore of the one-stop bursary process dedicated to ensuring that lack of means does not prevent participation in Jewish life.
Balaban and Shore want all kids to benefit from the privileges they enjoyed growing up in Jewish Calgary, including Jewish day school educations and the joy of summer camp.
Having jointly ascended to the community’s top lay leadership position at the relatively tender ages of 35 and 45 respectively, Federation’s new co-presidents know what young individuals and families need and are devoted to finding ways that Jewish organizations can address them.
Balaban and Shore’s individual and combined track records of leadership and rootedness in families dedicated to philanthropy and leadership bodes well for the community they now lead as do their complementary skillsets and interests.
Shore, who is a speech pathologist and former performing musician, has devoted a combined total of 17 years to serving on Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Committee which he first joined in 2003 and chaired beginning in 2017. While living in Nashville between 2004 and 2006, he served on that community’s CRC. Last year he was VP on the Calgary Jewish Federation board under the leadership of then-president Yannai Segal.
Balaban, who is co-founder, CFO and Director of Greengate Power Corporation, has served in a variety of volunteer positions for charitable organizations within and beyond Jewish Calgary, most notably as Federation treasurer for six years. He was the founder and producer of Pink Ribbon Pin-Ups, a calendar that raised $150,000 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation between 2011 and 2013.
“Jared and Jordan value the foundation established by all the matriarchs and patriarchs of our community and are laser-focused on continuing the legacy of community building,” said Federation CEO Adam Silver.
“I’m thrilled to be working with them, a talented executive and board, and a dedicated staff that are tuned in to the needs of a new generation. Things are evolving as we look for new ways to connect people to one another within our community, provide meaningful intersections between communal and secular interests and support the people of Israel.”
Maxine Fischbein is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Alberta Jewish News.