Hakol, Volume #10, Issue #1

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HAK L

PJ Library offers families grants to host fun gatherings

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EDMONTON

From the desk of our CEO Page 2

March of the Living participant Page 4 Youth programs find support Page 6

Holocaust symposium returns Page 9

Federation uses art piece to advocate about antisemitism

One of the top issues that arose from consultations for the Jewish Federation of Edmonton’s strategic plan was fighting antisemitism. The Federation released its 20222025 strategic plan in the fall of 2021. In October 2021, the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) announced plans for an awareness campaign called Shine a Light on Antisemitism and the timing seemed to be perfect.

A grant was submitted to create a mosaic to bring the Edmonton Jewish community together and have a creative outlet to voice how antisemitism impacts individuals. Once funding was received, the mosaic came together quickly, thanks to artist Lewis Lavoie and those who painted a tile for the project.

The original plan was to unveil the mosaic at Edmonton city hall, but COVID-19 put a temporary halt to this. Instead, a virtual exhibit was created for the Federation website and Mayor Amarjeet Sohi helped unveil the mosaic during an online event.

Following this unveiling, the mosaic sat in the Federation office with very few people seeing it unless they visited the virtual exhibit on the website. Organizers of K-Days heard about the mosaic and approached the Federation with the offer to display it during the 2022 festival at Northlands with the potential of between 700,000 and 800,000 people who attend the event to see it.

The potential to educate more people about antisemitism through touring the mosaic around Edmonton was conceived.

COVID restrictions were lifting and JFNA announced plans for a second year of the Shine a Light awareness campaign with more grant funding available. The Federation submitted a project where the mosaic would be displayed in prominent areas with two goals in mind. One was to continue the education of antisemitism and the other was to advocate on behalf of the Jewish community about the rise of Jew hate.

Once funding was approved, the mosaic began its tour at the Alberta Legislature in November with an event that drew members of the United Conservative Party and Alberta New Democratic Party caucuses. The mosaic became an avenue to kickstart conversations about antisemitism. Not only did provincial politicians see the mosaic during its month-long display at the Legislature, but many school tour groups and other visitors who came through the building saw it as well.

To propel the Shine a Light campaign in December, the Federation created another webpage with resources and educational materials on combatting antisemitism paired with social media posts. The mosaic was moved to Beth Israel Synagogue for the month. During Chanukah, a meeting was held where members of the Edmonton Police Service and community leaders were invited to view the mosaic and discuss antisemitism.

The Federation received an opportunity to showcase the mosaic at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium while the Broadway Across Canada’s production of Fidder on the Roof was in town for a week in early January. Fiddler drew between 15,000 and 20,000 people who potentially saw the mosaic as they walked into the building. This collaboration

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THE VOICE OF THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF EDMONTON HAKOL | VOLUME 10, #1
FEBRUARY 2023
Fiddler on the Roof cast members discuss antisemitism and the mosaic during a media conference in January.

FROM THE DESK OF STACEY LEAVITTWRIGHT CEO

Let’s go back in time to January 2021. Our United Jewish Appeal (UJA) campaign has been shrinking. Gatherings are virtual. Our Federation is making hard decisions to ensure that agencies will continue to receive funds as allocated. Energy and interest are low to do any activities, but we strive that we as a community will weather through COVID. While Edmonton is not my place of birth, it is my home. One thing that I love about our community is our resilience and our dedication to ensuring a strong Jewish base, both today and for future generations.

By the end of 2021, we had surveyed the community and put a strategic plan in place. Our leadership wanted to know—what is most significant now, and how we should best concentrate our efforts as we emerge from the pandemic and in the initial phases.

Our role, as defined by our mission, is to mobilize and develop resources and strengthen relationships in order to provide leadership at home, in Israel, and around the world. After one year of implementing the strategic plan, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you what we have accomplished to date and where we are moving forward.

In no order, let me highlight a few areas.

We were told loud and clear that our communications and branding needed improvement. With an accredited public relations professional in place, we have been able to tell community stories via social media, on video, and in print. Creating a voice and increasing our followers and engagement across social media channels (Facebook,

Instagram, Twitter) has engaged new cohorts. The Jewish Federation is a trusted source and partner for local media. We modernized our logo and changed the name of our weekly e-newsletter to The Bridge in order to reflect on how we are the community connector.

With heightening concerns about antisemitism and the impact on the community, we focused our intentions on advocacy and education. While we will not eradicate antisemitism, we are here to ensure that our community voice is represented in the city and province. We make opportunities available to learn about Jewish culture and heritage. A proud moment was when I was asked to deliver words on behalf of the community when Alberta became the fifth Canadian province to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.

Most notably, we have strengthened and leveraged our Holocaust education program and used grants with the Shine a Light on Antisemitism mosaic to propel this forward.

The mosaic ensures that our community’s lived experience is considered when discussing antisemitism and its impact. This art piece has been on display in several key locations throughout Edmonton. The next step, with thanks to the City of Edmonton’s Community Safety and Well-Being grant, is to have it tour schools. Edmonton Public Schools is a committed partner in seeing this through and is celebrating Jewish Heritage Month this May.

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Recently, we met with Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, city councillors, and leadership to talk about antisemitism and its effects on the community. This was an eye opening and frank discussion. The city lit up multiple monuments for the We Remember campaign for International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It made a commitment that the High Level Bridge will be lit annually on January 27 for this occasion.

The strategic plan marked a goal of developing the capacity and knowledge of Judaism within our community. By supporting and organizing partnered educational events, we have brought in speakers such as Ben Freeman and Yaron Deckel. We also offered teen workshops on Israel advocacy and understanding antisemitism by partnering with Stand With Us.

Education goes on outside of our community as well. We have maintained relationships with junior high and high school teachers in Edmonton and northern Alberta and offered access to the Dianne and Irving Kipnes Holocaust Symposium virtually. This year the symposium will be back in-person. If principals, teachers, and parents have questions about antisemitism and the Holocaust, they know the Federation is a trusted resource.

Israel engagement and advocacy remains one of our pillars as we continue to host a pavilion at the Heritage Festival. The pavilion not only highlights Jewish culture and religion but also traces the history of our roots in the diaspora. The Federation continues as an active partner in support of the Coast to Coast partnership (P2G) in our partner region in the Galilee Panhandle. We support capacity building initiatives, connect people between our communities and we earmark our Edmonton Jewish Film Festival proceeds for partner

region projects.

Our door is always open as we welcomed guests and officials from national Jewish organizations and both the consul general of Israel and the Canadian ambassador to Israel. The Federation also reaches out to have a presence at national tables and in our coast-to-coast partnership in Israel.

There has been a steady growth of the UJA campaign. In addition, supplementary sources of funding such as Shaw Birdies for Kids, which is a matching grant program, help enhance our bursaries. We are continually applying for and securing more grants to better leverage your donations. Not only does the Federation raise money for local needs, but there was also an establishment of successful additional campaigns for people of Ukraine and now Turkey.

Another strategic priority is leadership development. We have hired a staff member to focus on this. There is a plan to roll out a community approach program this fall that serves volunteers/boards of all registered organizations. This same staff is focusing on developing the leadership of our young Jewish adults through our new Genesis program.

By the end of the strategic plan, a facility proposal should be in place. The board has formed a committee to address our facility and space needs. The committee is meeting for the first time this month.

A strategic plan is vital for an organization, but the plan’s concepts can’t come to fruition without people. I am most proud of the dedicated staff team who are working hand in hand with passionate and committed volunteers as we set building blocks in place.

To read the strategic plan, visit jewishedmonton.org.

HAK L EDMONTON Page 3 Hakol is published three times a year by the Jewish Federation of Edmonton.
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March of the Living experience still resonates

March of the Living is returning this year after being dormant because of the pandemic. Nathan Campbell, 21, was one of the past participants from Edmonton and still carries with him the memories and impact of the trip.

He wanted to go on the program to experience firsthand what his maternal grandparents and great grandparents went through in Lithuania. In 2018, he registered to be part of the coast-to-coast delegation, which included students from Calgary, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Winnipeg. Prior to the trip, he attended weekly meetings at the Jewish Federation of Edmonton to learn the background of the Holocaust.

The first week was spent in Poland, and included visits to cities and villages that were once vibrant centres of Jewish life, including Warsaw, Krakow, and Lublin. They also visited concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek, and Treblinka. The teens walked the three kilometres from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) in honour of those who survived and in memory of those who perished.

“The experience in Poland was a little more solemn. It was more learning and seeing firsthand what happened to the Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis. It was hard to experience. When you see all the shoes lined up in the museum, it really makes it seem real more than learning from a textbook,” says Nathan.

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He had been to Israel before but the trip to this country was different through March of the Living. “After going to Poland and then going to Israel, it’s something I never experienced before. You go through these hard, sad times in Poland with your friends. Then you go to Israel, and you feel in a completely different way. It was a flip around where you are celebrating that we are all here together and this is what we have been through,” says Nathan.

The march to the old city in Israel was surreal and gave him a connection to the past and the present. “You have thousands of Jewish teens and participants walking together and singing in Israel, all unified,” he says.

Nathan encourages others to experience March of the Living if they can and says it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. “It gave me a connection to my Jewish heritage and my homeland. It gave me a new outlook on life in the sense of anything can happen and it’s important to be proud of who you are. Don’t let others get in the way of standing up for who you are. It made me more confident in expressing my Jewish identity.”

Since going on the trip, he was involved in BBYO and now with Hillel.

This year’s March of the Living trip is taking place from April 16 to 30 with four Edmonton students. The students will be in Poland for Yom HaShoah and in Israel for Yom HaZikaron and Yom Haatzmaut. They are already participating in pretrip education sessions. Eliyanna Forbes is the chaperone for Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, and the Jewish Federation of Edmonton is partially subsidizing the trip with further support from the Russ Joseph z”l Memorial Fund.

was also featured in the local media with three television newscasts and the Edmonton Journal covering the story. After Fiddler, the mosaic moved to Edmonton city hall for three weeks and helped Federation board and staff host a lunch and learn about antisemitism with the mayor, councillors, and city staff.

The Federation has received a $15,000 grant from the City of Edmonton’s community safety and well-being program. The funding will be used to have the mosaic tour local libraries and be on display at junior and senior high schools for teachers to use as an educational tool to discuss antisemitism with a toolkit that will be in development for this purpose.

The priority of education and advocacy from the strategic plan is well underway in part because of the Shine a Light on Antisemitism mosaic project. If you want to get involved with the mosaic project, please contact info@edjfed.org.

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Nathan Campbell

Maccabi to have two delegations from Alberta this year

Will Hatch was one of eight teens from Edmonton and Calgary who had a chance to experience JCC Maccabi in San Diego, California in August 2022. The experience opened his eyes to the Jewish world outside of Alberta.

“I feel like we have a smaller Jewish community than other cities. Outside of Talmud Torah, I didn’t have many Jewish friends until I started going to BBYO. But when I went to Maccabi, I didn’t realize how many Jewish teens there were, especially Jewish teens who play sports,” he says.

He wanted to go to Maccabi after hearing about it from friends at Camp BB Riback. During his trip, he played hockey, stayed with a billet family, and made new friends, some who he still stays in touch with.

The games celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2022. It’s an opportunity for teens to play 13 different sports from delegations around the world. The mission of the JCC Maccabi Games is that it is a Jewish event for Jewish

teenagers intending to foster long-lasting memories and identification with organized Jewish community groups and with Israel. JCC Maccabi Games aim to foster a strong Jewish identity among all its participants.

Maccabi pairs well with the Jewish Federation of Edmonton’s strategic plan to develop young leaders and provide accessible Jewish experiences. This year there are 11 teens going to Fort Lauderdale, Florida from August 4 – 11. They will be billeted with local host families and participate in table tennis, swimming, volleyball, baseball, and tennis. There is also a separate trip for the Israel JCC Maccabi Games from July 5 to 25. Eight athletes are competing in soccer, swimming, flag football, and hockey. This delegation will also include a few Israeli teens from the Federation’s Partnership2Gether region. The sporting tournament will include meeting famous and influential Israeli sports figures, and will culminate with a tour of Israel focusing on sports and important cultural and historical sights. The participants will be housed in dorms. Chloe Soibelman and Marit Abrams are the delegation heads for Team Alberta.

For Will, he believes JCC Maccabi is an opportunity that teens shouldn’t pass up. “I think it’s life changing. Most people only go once, and they try to make it the best experience for you.”

Federation supports local youth programs

Funding and supporting Jewish youth programs make a difference in a life like Ellie Vogel’s.

For Ellie, Camp BB and BBYO have strengthened her Jewish roots and connected her to teens in Calgary and Edmonton. The 16-year-old has been going to Camp BB for nine summers. She still remembers her first camp experience.

“I had so much fun. I had stayed for a week for my first summer and I wanted to stay longer. My parents didn’t want me to because I was only seven. I immediately had a connection with the people there. It already feels like home even if it’s your first time going just because of the community,” she says.

Over the summers at camp, Ellie built strong friendships and relationships. Last summer she was a counsellor in training, and she plans to apply to work as staff this summer.

“As you get older, your experiences at camp change. It’s fun. Your favourite parts of camp always change. When you are younger, it’s about the cool things you get to do and when you are older, it’s about the people you get to see. You get to spend the summer with your best friends,” she says.

Her experience at Camp BB helped her to understand why it’s important to have programs for youth. “It keeps you in touch with the Jewish culture. The cultural aspects are so important to keep. It keeps your roots strong. It shows you all the beautiful things about it like doing Havdalah. Keeping our traditions and culture makes us strong,” says Ellie.

The connections from camp easily flow through to her experiences with BBYO. She sees many of the same friends from camp at BBYO programs but also makes new friends. Ellie also gains leadership skills from what she learns at BBYO and her role as a CIT at camp. Currently, she is the BBYO chapter president for the girls in Edmonton.

When Ellie thinks of Jewish life beyond the youth programming she is involved in, she desires to continue to connect with others in the community. “I think the roots I have gotten from BBYO and camp will keep my Jewish roots strong enough to find Jewish groups wherever I am.”

As part of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton’s strategic plan, one of the organization’s roles is to be the connector through engagement and education.

The Federation hosted an evening of profiling youth programs to help parents connect with these Jewish organizations and agencies. Recently, the Federation helped link parents to all Edmonton rabbis to discuss options for b’nei miztvahs. If you need community resources for your family, the Federation can help. Contact info@edjfed.org.

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Will Hatch Ellie Vogel

PJ Library Get Together grant helps connect families

Thanks to a PJ Library grant, Amanda Rose had a wonderful experience hosting a small Chanukah get together to introduce her non-Jewish friends to the holiday. The Get Together grant, provided by a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, supports families in organizing a Jewish-related event with up to $100. Families can apply for the grant up to three times a year.

“The grant really enhanced the overall experience. I purchased sufganiyot (Israeli donuts) from Bliss Baked Goods, made homemade latkes, played dreidel, and did a beautiful menorah lighting. It was a learning experience for my friends and fun for us to host. It was a lovely evening,” says Amanda.

This was her second time receiving a grant. Her first experience was organizing a Passover seder. With both positive experiences, she encouraged her brother to apply.

Amanda says it’s a straightforward process for the Get Together grant.

“You fill out what it is you want to do and once approved, you organize the event, take a few pictures, and send them back. Then the funds are sent by mail or electronically. It’s as simple as that!” she explains.

Being able to host traditional Jewish events is very meaningful to Amanda, whose family were the only Jews in the small town of New Brunswick where she is from. She moved to Edmonton about 10 years ago and met her husband, who is not Jewish. By chance, she met Jewish friends who introduced her to the local organizations and resources. The first friend she connected with was Davina Eisenstat.

“I was able to continue many of the traditions out here by joining their families for some of the holidays. It’s been wonderful being in a community where there are a lot more Jewish people,” says Amanda.

When she had her son in 2022, women from the Shalom Baby group reached out by leaving gifts at her doorstep and offering an abundance of support. They also introduced her to PJ Library, where she has since been receiving Jewishrelated books monthly for her son and has attended several events to connect with other moms.

Amanda says the connections she has made and the community support she has received make it a lot easier to become involved in Jewish Edmonton. The United Jewish Appeal campaign funds the free books to over 200 children, including Amanda’s son.

“It made me feel a lot more connected to the Jewish community, and just being more aware of the resources and support out there, and how close to home they really are. It’s truly a great community.” she adds.

To learn more about Shalom Baby and PJ Library, reach out to Jenn Magalnick at magalj@edjfed.org.

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Amanda Rose, with her son, qualified for two Get Together grants.
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Holocaust symposium to be held in person this year

Holocaust education has always been a core focus of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton and, historically, the annual Dianne and Irving Kipnes Holocaust Education Symposium has been a key program to reach high school students from across the city. The pandemic necessitated a shift from an in-person experience to a virtual symposium for the last three years. The Federation is finally ready to offer it in-person again. This year the symposium will be held in the Muttart Theatre at the Stanley A. Milner branch of the Edmonton Public Library (EPL) on May 9 and 10.

The half day program is offered to Grade 11 and 12 social studies classes and is expected to have 500 students registered. The Federation is partnering with EPL as part of its ongoing partnership that focuses on Holocaust and human rights education.

Another partner is Azrieli Foundation, an important institution in Holocaust education across Canada, who will be bringing a Holocaust survivor to speak to the students. The foundation will also provide a copy of this survivor’s memoir to all attendees that students will use to prepare for the interactive part of the survivor testimony.

Prior to COVID-19, the symposium was offered to high school students over two days. The program has taken place for over 25 years to supplement to the Alberta Education curriculum, which does not formally include the Holocaust. The Federation is pleased to continue this important function of ensuring that Holocaust education is an accessible to students in the public school system in Edmonton and surrounding areas.

Like Dr. Eva Olsson and Rene Goldman, two survivors who have participated in this program in the past, this year’s survivor speaker will also share a personal story, helping students to understand the impact of the Holocaust through testimony. Elie Weisel famously said, “Whoever listens to a witness, becomes a witness.”

“With the aging of our precious Holocaust survivors and Holocaust distortion and denial becoming more prevalent, it is more important than ever for students to hear this testimony,” says Jenn Magalnick, the Federation’s associate director of Holocaust education and community engagement.

To learn more about Holocaust education and resources for junior high and high schools, contact holocaustedu@edjfed. org.

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The Dianne and Irving Kipnes Holocaust Education Symposium caters its content to high school students.
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