From Linda's Desk: Reflections on 2016

The Jewish saying 'May you go from strength to strength', is particularly apt now, as we start a new calendar year.  Jewish Federations of Canada - UIA and its partners can be proud of a myriad of accomplishments in 2016 upon which we can successfully build in 2017.  Below are some highlights from the past year.

Canada Israel Experience

Canada Israel Experience continues to reach out to new markets to provide niche experiences for first time travelers to Israel - like the following Birthright Israel Experiences: Extreme Adventure; Recharge: Mind, Body & Soul; 7-Day Express.

On December 18th, Canada Israel Experience brought 10 participants from Jewish Family & Child (Toronto) to Israel on a custom 10-day trip. This initiative was funded by Jewish Family & Child Services.

228 young Jewish adults experienced the winter Birthright Israel program. This was the highest enrollment in the winter BRI program since 2011.

As a recipient of the Jewish Funders Network grant, and with great appreciation to the Goodman Family Foundation, Canada Israel Experience - Canada's exclusive organizer of Birthright Israel trips - has partnered with Honeymoon Israel to bring groups of young Canadian intermarried and/or unaffiliated couples to Israel to build and enhance their personal connection to Israel and Judaism. The program aims to encourage ongoing meaningful involvement within local Jewish communities once the couples return home. The first Canadian program will begin in Montreal in collaboration with Federation CJA in the spring of 2017.

Jewish Agency Social Housing Project

The Jewish Agency - in partnership with JFC-UIA, JFNA-UIA and the Government of Israel - embarked on an important project aimed at addressing one of the most significant social challenges in Israeli society. The project will build 3,000 affordable housing units for vulnerable citizens. JFC-UIA is proud to be a partner and will be making some of its eligible properties available for this important project.

In 2015, the JFC-UIA board mandated the professional team to identify properties from among the 300 + properties owned by JFC-UIA that were no longer being used for their intended purpose and to find alternative uses or ownership. We closed our first sale in 2016 and with that the Limor property in Ashkelon is now the first property to be developed by the Jewish Agency for the social housing project.

National Activities

Alex Dworkin Canadian Jewish Archives  The historic home for archives and archival research now operates directly under the auspices of JFC-UIA. It will remain in Montreal on the downtown campus of Concordia University.

In September, Jewish Federations of Canada - UIA sponsored a national conference in Montreal entitled Engaging with Aging. It was co-organized with the Cummings Centre. We collaborated with local federations and Jewish family and seniors service providers and agencies. Over 120 people from across Canada - and some from the USA - were in attendance. Interest in this mature cohort arose directly from the 2011 National Household Survey which indicated a very large and growing bulge in our Jewish population. Not only is the seniors cohort growing, they are aging differently, living longer, working longer and engaging with family and community in a different way than previous generations. There are also some unique areas of specialization that require expertise and development.




Community Leadership

  • Lay Leadership Howard Conter of Halifax has succeeded Stephen Gaerber of Vancouver as chair of the dynamic 11-community Coast-to-Coast Partnership2gether program.
  • Federation Board Chairs Bruce Leboff was recently installed as chair of the board at UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. We extend thanks to immediate past chair Morris Perlis.
  • Federation Leadership Naomi Rosenfeld has succeeded Jon Goldberg as Executive Director of the Atlantic Jewish Council. Adam Minsky has officially assumed the role of CEO of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.


As is the pattern of the cycle of life, along with gains comes loss. The Jewish world lost great leaders with the passing of such incredible people as Elie Wiesel z"l and Shimon Peres z"l. And here at home, the year ended with the loss of one of the Toronto Jewish community's great leaders - Rose Wolfe z"l. Rose was a leader in advancing women in senior leadership roles in the academic and voluntary sectors.  The impact of their life's work has been and will continue to be felt for generations.  

This coming year, the JFC-UIA team will work to build upon past achievements. We will seek to extend our reach and widen our impact. As example, Canada Israel Experience is organizing the first Canadian LBGTQ Birthright Israel Experience in June.  We will continue to serve the Canadian Jewish federations and larger Jewish community - locally and globally. From our offices in Toronto and Israel, we will manage programs and services to improve and enhance Jewish life.

We are excited about the future and look forward to continuing to collaborate with our partners at home and abroad.

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2017.  


Linda Kislowicz
President & CEO
Jewish Federations of Canada - UIA



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