Rising to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead

January 21, 2020

The start of a new year, especially when it comes at the beginning of a new decade, is a natural moment to pause and reflect.

And with Federation CJA's Board of Directors recently embarking on a new strategic planning process, we have all been taking stock of where our community is now, what we have already accomplished and what remains to be done as we move forward toward 2040.

Looking back over the past decade, I have been thrilled to see a renewed vibrancy in Montreal. There has been increased financial development, investment and unprecedented growth, particularly in AI. This momentum has created a palpable sense of excitement about the future, as we contemplate the massive potential of our city.

The past decade has also reaffirmed Montreal's position as one of North America's foremost Jewish communities. During my formative years, many parents encouraged their children to leave the city and establish their roots in communities that seemed to have a brighter future. Today, Montreal is a place where young adults are hopeful about their prospects and rightfully excited to begin establishing their lives.

At Federation CJA over the last 10 years, we hit our Centennial milestone, celebrated the vast achievements of Montreal's Jewish community, and began a successful capital endowment and security campaign — ensuring the vitality and safety of our community for the next generation.

But alongside these positive developments, we have had to face the reality that Millennials and the generations that follow them are not maintaining the same sense of Jewish identity that has ensured our community's survival for the past century.

Even more concerning, the past decade has seen an insidious increase in antisemitism throughout the Diaspora. The rise of the BDS movement on university and CEGEP campuses has dangerously impeded our students' ability to speak out and stand tall as Jews. Anti-Jewish harassment and violence have become routine in France, England, and across North America, even here in Montreal.

Nonetheless, we have so much to be proud of, and excited about, even as we must acknowledge and address the threats that lie ahead.

To help us in choosing the direction of strategic change for our organization in this new era, Federation CJA's Board of Directors has committed to taking an in-depth view of our communal landscape over the coming year — engaging a consulting firm to carry out a comprehensive needs assessment, and meeting with and hearing from a multiplicity of constituents and stakeholders.

I want to take this opportunity to introduce you to the talented group of dedicated and experienced lay leaders who have undertaken to evaluate our communal landscape and prepare us for the journey to 2040 alongside me:

  • Gary Alexander
  • David Amiel
  • Trish Bengualid
  • Glen Eisenberg
  • Patrick Essiminy
  • Pascale Hasen
  • Neil Hazan
  • Karyn Saragossi Lassner
  • Serge Levy
  • Doug Liberman
  • Daniel Lieberman
  • Heather Paperman
  • Steve Sebag
  • Joel Segal
  • Dr. Mitchell Shiller
  • Karen Soussan
  • Gilbert Tordjman
  • Marc Yedid
  • Marnie Zigman Stern

During our first retreat a few weeks ago, I was struck by the depth and breadth of our new Board. I am pleased to share that a very intentional effort to broaden the scope of Board membership has resulted in the most diverse group in Federation CJA's history. The members, who have been tasked with the responsibility of envisioning our collective future, have been chosen specifically for their ability to give voice to different segments of our wonderfully diverse community.

They range in age from 31 to 62. They have young children and they have young grandchildren. They are doctors, lawyers, accountants, and businesspeople. They are men and women, Sephardic and Ashkenazi, Francophone and Anglophone. We have representation of our young people, including the current Chair of GenMTL and four Wexner Heritage Program alumni. We also have seasoned volunteers and senior leadership voices, several of who have been Agency Presidents or Campaign Chairs for Combined Jewish Appeal.

I encourage you to learn more about this exceptional group of leaders by clicking here to read their full bios

Each one of them brings a unique perspective and experience to the conversation, and it is clear that the diversity of backgrounds will result in a variety of opinions and solutions, which will undoubtedly help us rise to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.

I encourage you to join the conversation, as well, by reaching out to me or any member of the Board to share your views and perspectives on the future of our community.

Together, we will chart the course.

Wishing you a year of good health, peace and fulfillment!


Gail Adelson-Marcovitz
President, Federation CJA

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