Chanukah: A Celebration of Hope, Heroism and Leadership




December 2016

From the desk of Julia Berger Reitman

Chanukah: A Celebration of Hope, Heroism and Leadership
If there is one lesson to take from the victory of the Maccabees, it is that we should always be prepared for the unexpected. With the right combination of belief, effort and circumstance, almost anything is possible.
As a Canadian, I cherish the freedom of choice that is the cornerstone of democracy. While we are living in unusual times, we are incredibly fortunate to reside in Canada - a free society where the will of the people is paramount. As a member of the Canadian Jewish community, I am heartened by the progress we continue to achieve on domestic and international fronts.
On December 1st, the Canadian Jewish Community lauded the decision by the provincial legislature of Ontario to pass Motion 36 rejecting "the differential treatment of Israel, including the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement". Professionals from our advocacy agent The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) were present at the session and announcement.

Across Canada, professionals and lay leaders within the Federation network have been busy strengthening community one achievement at a time.  Below are a few highlights.
The Canadian Jewish community contributed $100,000 towards assisting victims of the devastating fires that spread across the country in November. It is estimated that 700 homes were damaged or destroyed, mainly in the Haifa area. Funds were distributed to The Jewish Agency for Israel, the JDC and to help restore a playground in Zichron Yaakov, the home city of one of Toronto's shinshinim.
On December 18th, Canada Israel Experience brought 10 participants from Jewish family & Child (Toronto) to Israel on a custom 10-day trip. This initiative is funded by Jewish Family & Child Services.  228 young Jewish adults are registered for the winter Birthright Israel experience, for trips leaving between December 20th - January 1st . Of special note is the fact that this is the highest enrollment in the winter BRI program since 2011.
Upon Jon Goldberg's retirement at the AJC biennial conference in November, Naomi Rosenfeld officially assumed the role of Executive Director of the Atlantic Jewish Council. "One of my main focuses will be engaging young leaders. I know how to find them. They're in my age bracket... and I think I know what they need from a Jewish community. They're not necessarily keen on traditional, synagogue-based activities, but want to be part of a Jewish-focused community." 
Read the CJN Article Here

The 2017 JFC-UIA budget was approved at the December board meeting, where in addition to the usual business, interactive discussions provided valuable input and deepened understanding of issues that are highly relevant to both the Canadian and larger Jewish community. 
Looking forward, 2017 holds milestones for Canada's two largest federations. Both UJA Federations of Greater Toronto [] and Montreal's Federation CJA [] will celebrate 100 years of community service in 2017.   
In addition to being a festival of lights and all things fried, Chanukah is also a celebration of hope, heroism and leadership. As we look forward to 2017 and the good things the new year will bring, let's take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate our achievements and successes of 2016.
Wishing you a Chag Chanukah Sameach and a happy and healthy 2017.  

Julia Berger Reitman

Chair, Jewish Federations of Canada - UIA
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