The summer of 2015 began with great anticipation and excitement. Over the winter, we worked collectively on the Macro Review process to reimagine the national system. While it is agreed that there is much more to be done, we were able to achieve and implement the financial targets and programmatic changes approved at the 2015 AGM thanks to the collective good will of our stakeholders.
Responsibility for management of Ontario campuses shifted from JFC-UIA to Hillel Toronto, now integrated as Hillel Ontario. Out west, we began to connect the Vancouver federation with regional communities in British Columbia. Nationally, we entered into a service contract with the Jewish Family Service Network to provide their Canadian agencies with strategic planning and related services.
In keeping with our capacity building goals, we offered direct fundraising support in many communities and executive search assistance for Federations and communities in transition. We forged a new relationship with JPRO – a continental organization dedicated to providing professional development for all sectors of Jewish communal service. Regional community campaigns, notwithstanding all predictions to the contrary, successfully held their own.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, our advocacy agent, designed a revised outcomes measurement approach and reporting model that allows for more meaningful accountability and evaluation.
In Israel, we concluded our first real estate sale and have several more in the pipeline. We became actively engaged with the social housing initiative of the Jewish Agency.
Although our Israel Experience programs faced challenges beyond our control in 2015, we continued to find creative ways of offering high quality programs to thousands of Canadian youth and young adults. This year, participation in MASA Israel increased significantly because of a new staffing model.
While we were focused internally, we celebrated the 30,000th Canadian Birthright Israel participant in Jerusalem at a ceremony where we witnessed firsthand the transformative impact that the program has on young adults. At the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly, our Canadian profile shone brightly with brilliant addresses by Judge Rosalie Abella, the Honourable John Baird and the Honourable Irwin Cotler. The GA was a truly continental event enjoyed by a large delegation of Canadian leaders, in particular a strong group of students and young leaders.
All this occurred against a backdrop of renewed tension and violence in Israel and in Europe where stabbings and bombings continue to terrorize and destroy lives. Closer to home, local manifestations with BDS resolutions on Canadian campuses continue to surface. While our students continue to be actively engaged in making the case for support of Israel and against BDS activities, campus professionals are working to train and equip them with the skills required to effectively challenge antisemitic and anti-Zionist sentiment.
These disruptive events and activities, near and far, remind us just how connected and how vulnerable we are. While they create concern and fear, they also motivate us to work harder to prevent further incidents and build strong bridges with supporters.
Our work is only possible because of the efforts of the professionals and volunteers working on behalf of JFC-UIA. We express our deep appreciation for their continuing dedication and outstanding commitment. We are equally grateful for the active support of the partners and stakeholders with whom we work every day.