From the Desk of Yair Szlak: COVID 19: Campaign launches now
From the Desk of Yair Szlak

July 17, 2020

For generations, the Montreal Jewish Community has stood steadfast in support of our community's vulnerable populations. The values of Kol Israel Arevim Zeh Bazeh - כל ישראל ערבים זה בזה and Chessed - חֶסֶד are deeply entrenched in our everyday lives and have guided us as an organized community for over 100 years. Today, more than ever, our community is facing a crisis of a magnitude we haven't seen in generations.

The question of what we stand to lose as a Jewish community from this crisis looms heavy over Federation CJA's leadership, as it does for all Jewish communal organizations.

The pandemic poses a real and possibly existential threat to Jewish life as we know it and is likely to cripple much of our Jewish landscape as it exists today, including our Jewish day schools, overnight camps, many of our agencies, community organizations, and synagogues. While so many of us have been impacted in one way or another by this pandemic, we estimate that 600 families have become temporarily vulnerable due to crisis. These families are now counting on us to make sure that this crisis is only temporary and does not make them permanently dependant on thecommunity. Supporting them over the next 18 months to two years will stabilize them and ensure that they can overcome the crisis.

Unparalleled times call for extraordinary action and as such, we have launched a 2-year Comprehensive Campaign, in place of our traditional annual campaign in the fall. This Campaign's top priorities will be to support our community's essential needs, to ensure stability and to build capacity for our community's recovery from the crisis.

This crisis has posed challenges to our community that we have never encountered before. To emerge from this pandemic having protected the most vulnerable among us, and ensuring that our community will continue to go from strength to strength for many years to come, will require an extraordinary and united response.

To respond to the emerging needs, as well as address the new needs of our community, we must secure $100 million over the next two years, and we need every member of our community to step up, to take part, to join us. The time to ensure the strength of the Montreal Jewish community is right now.

This crisis is not over, not by a long shot. Temporarily vulnerable families need our help now to avoid the cycle of poverty; they need immediate intervention. It is up to us to ease their burden. It is up to us to sustain our Jewish community so it can survive, and ultimately, continue to thrive. We don't know when this will all be over, we don't know what is to come, we need to be prepared to deal with every situation that may arise, and for that we need YOU.

This is an unprecedented time in history and the community as we know it will be forever changed. This is the call of our generation: to ensure that the Jewish community in Montreal continues from strength to strength for generations to come. 

As such, I implore you to stand together with us, to support the power of the collective gift, and to come together in solidarity for our Montreal Jewish community.  

It is my pleasure to invite you to join us next Thursday, July 23 at 7:30 pm for our virtual Campaign launch. Please show your support of our amazing community by joining me and our special guest Bari Weiss, outspoken former New York Times journalist, as we share realities of the looming crisis and how we must stand together as a community to overcome it.

Yair Szlak, LL.B
Chief Executive Officer, Federation CJA

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