Changing with the Times

Message from Dr. Mark Siegel, Chair of RJCO

In any dynamic situation, change is a constant force. Sometimes things change for the better and sometimes for the worse. But in order to move forward, we must adapt to changes in our circumstances – voluntary or not.   

At this time each year, especially this year after a bitter winter and tepid spring, Canadians are celebrating the arrival of the ‘dog days of summer’. What better time to reflect on some of the changes affecting  the Canadian Jewish Collective with regards to our umbrella organization Jewish Federations of Canada- United Israel Appeal (JFC-UIA), a national organization committed to supporting Israel and the Canadian Jewish Collective.


I have for some time had the privilege of representing the small communities of Ontario on the Board of Directors.  Recently, JFC-UIA has been addressing the challenges of a consistently shrinking budget, resulting from reduced campaign dollars Canada-wide, while at the same time supporting its core services. The financial constraints have been felt by many across Canada and Israel.

At the AGM in Toronto on June 7th, triggered by the need to rebalance the fiscal budget, the board of directors undertook a holistic and thorough operational review. The dialogue resulted in many recommendations to be implemented in 2016.  


The process, while challenging, was illuminating. It allowed us to collectively explore and define our essential core values and services.  


For example, the Regional Communities Council, led by Daniel Stern and dedicated professional and lay community leaders, was highlighted by outgoing Chair Dr. Ralph Shedletsky as an impressive accomplishment in that it meaningfully connects distant regional Jewish communities across Canada.  Going forward, it will serve as a catalyst for positive change as we explore novel and efficient methods of communicating and sharing best practices. I look forward to continuing this web-based dialogue with small community leadership and am hopeful we can expand the outcomes of this unique forum.  


Core services, like campus and Jewish identity programs, will continue to be generously funded.  Israel programming will always remain a cornerstone of our fundraising efforts. JFC-UIA is committed to supporting core programs in an efficient and value driven way.


We ended the day committed and energized to make JFC-UIA work for Canadian Jewry from coast-to-coast, including regional Jewish communities across Ontario and Canada. We can’t ask for a leaner and more dedicated organization. Regional community donors and affiliated members can be assured that their dollars are well spent. I’m proud to have acted on your behalf in this process!


There will soon be a shift in professional leadership on the regional community scene. After five years as Director of Campaign and Regional Development, Daniel Stern has left JFC-UIA. His professional and personal contributions have been tremendous and I know I speak for many when I say that he will be missed.  We are, however, very fortunate that we are able to welcome back Perry Romberg in the role.  I wish both of them great success!  


Wishing you a peaceful and pleasant summer.


Dr. Mark Siegel