Message from the Chair - Passover 2019

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I am sure you are as excited as I am to gather around the Seder table with your family and loved ones to celebrate Passover. This year especially, as I near the end of my term as chair of Jewish Federations of Canada – UIA, I am headed into this important Jewish holiday in a spirit of reflection.
At its core, the Passover story is the continuing narrative of the Jewish people. Time and time again we have overcome oppression, hatred and attempts at annihilation, only to come out the other side more dedicated to our faith and culture. It is this ardent resolve throughout the history of the Jewish people to triumph in the face of adversity that has strengthened the heart of our community. 
Looking back over the past 22 months since I became chair, I am incredibly proud of what the staff and lay leaders at Jewish Federations of Canada – UIA have accomplished, despite challenges, in taking the first steps to bring this historic organization to new heights.
In March, Jeremy Grafstein stepped seamlessly into the role of Chief Financial and Operating Officer. We are confident that Jeremy will succeed in streamlining the processes of the finance department and general operations to realize greater efficiencies and effectiveness at our offices in Toronto and Israel.
Since August, Nikki Holland has been successfully managing the day-to-day operations while also focusing on the development of a strategic plan to enhance Jewish Federations of Canada – UIA and propel the organization forward. It has been a true pleasure to work closely with her on the Strategic Planning Committee as chair, alongside lay leaders and professionals from across Canada.
The current environment at JFC-UIA, with a change in senior leadership and the formation of the committee, has set the stage for an important shift in the direction and future of the organization.
Looking forward beyond the end of my term on June 2 nd , I envision a scenario where Jewish federations and communities across Canada are well-served by an agile and responsive national organization that is working for them and with them. Together, we will speak in a united voice that represents all Canadian Jews, nationally and internationally.
To achieve meaningful and measurable change, the status quo must always be disrupted. While disruption is not a bad thing, to have a successful outcome the purpose behind the process must be based on genuine need and a desire for improvement. Considering current circumstances, I am highly confident that all the work being done by the staff and committee will most certainly be worth the effort. The gains to the national system and our stakeholders will be immense.
As Jewish history has proven, a single action by one person can change the world. As you gather around your Seder table this weekend, take a moment to consider what changes you can affect as an individual that might yield positive results – both to yourself and your community.
I would like to extend a ‘nessia tova’ to the March of the Living delegations that are leaving on April 29 th . Over 700 youth and adults will soon be changed forever after walking in the footsteps of those who perished at Auschwitz-Birkenau. And the first Birthright Israel bus of the summer season will be leaving on May 1st. We wish them all a safe and meaningful journey.
Wishing you peace, good health and happiness on Passover and always.
Leslie Gales, Chair
Jewish Federations of Canada - UIA