Since biblical times, the motivating factor for most Jewish migrations has been a quest for freedom - whether freedom from direct persecution, freedom to openly practise our culture and religion, or freedom to build a better future for our children. As a people we have been resolute over the ages in our desire, indeed our need, to be free.
This pursuit of freedom stems from an ingrained sense of Jewish identity, a deep connection to those who came before us, and a visceral understanding of who we are as Jews in the world today. Our collective identity and connection transcend the need for individual freedom and link us to community and to past and future generations.
Historically, Jews in both democratic and oppressive societies have faced exceptional challenges. The modern world, sadly, is no different. Those of us fortunate enough to practise Judaism in an open society, free from overt discrimination, celebrate Passover with joy.
At the same time, we are concerned over continuing efforts by international factions to delegitimize Israel.
We are apprehensive about the global promotion of antisemitism, anti-Zionism and terror by radical groups like Hamas and ISIS.
We are anxious about the regular occurrence of targeted antisemitic incidents in communities across the globe.
Yet the Jewish people continue to thrive, strengthened in resolve with every blow, to create a strong and vibrant future. The Jewish Agency continues to receive a record number of Aliyah inquiries and applications from both France and Ukraine.
Through its partnership and direct programs and initiatives, Jewish Federations of Canada - UIA strives every day to strengthen Jewish Identity in individuals and communities across Canada and to connect Canadian Jewry to Israel.
In recognition of our responsibility to prepare today's young adults to assume leadership roles in the future, many of our initiatives focus on youth. We are regularly engaged on campus with our partners at CIJA and local Hillels.
We are active in creating transformative educational experiences such as the March of the Living and Taglit-Birthright Israel.
We continue to build living bridges between young people through our Partnership programs that link Canadian communities with twin cities in Israel.
These are just a few of the many invaluable programs provided by Jewish Federations of Canada - UIA and its partners that serve to strengthen the Canadian Jewish community.
On April 3rd, as you gather around the Seder table with those dear to you, take a moment to acknowledge the countless brave actions taken over the centuries by our ancestors and recognize the ordinary people making history every day by doing extra-ordinary things in modern times. It is thanks to them that we are able to celebrate the rights and freedom that many of us enjoy today.
Jewish Federations of Canada - UIA and its partners and affiliates are proud to be a part of Jewish history. Let's continue to work together as a Canadian Jewish community, to build a brighter future for our children and grandchildren.
Wishing you and your loved ones happiness, peace, prosperity and all the joys of Passover!