An important message from Federation CJA’s CEO, Yair Szlak.

Securing our community means different things to each of us.  Whether it means ensuring the next generation is Jewishly engaged or that our most vulnerable are not wanting for basic needs, Federation CJA has been securing our future for over 100 years.  Today, securing our future has taken on a more distinct set of responsibilities for Federation CJA .

With antisemitism rising around the world, not only in Europe but in North America, in our own backyard, we must take a vigilant, proactive approach to changing our culture around security. A comprehensive, long-term approach to security is essential.

While we have no indication or information from law enforcement agencies of an immediate threat to our community, Federation CJA, as every other significant Jewish community across North America, is taking a pro-active approach, along with a noteworthy number of schools, synagogues and other Jewish institutions, to substantially upgrade the state of security for our community.

Some 15 years ago, in response to a firebombing of the Jewish day school United Talmud Torah (UTT) St. Laurent, Federation CJA appealed to the broader community to support increased security measures. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the funds that were raised enabled us to ensure a higher level of security by providing increased surveillance to the Jewish day schools, and other Jewish communal organizations. 

As confirmed in the 2018 Statistics Canada Hate Crimes Report, there has been a recent spike in violent hate crimes in Canada. We have seen a similar worrying trend in the US and Europe – including the tragic shootings at synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, which took place just six months apart. It is critical that we work together to ensure our communal safety.

To this end, Federation CJA has taken on the responsibility of leading a collaborative, community-wide effort to increase security preparedness and confidence. Our newly formed Community Security Network will serve as a single point of contact for critical incident coordination, information and intelligence sharing, as well as safety and security training. In partnership with experts in the field and over 31 local Jewish institutions, we are developing best practices to enhance the safety, security and resilience of our schools, synagogues, and agencies.

The Community Security Network will:
  • Develop comprehensive community-wide, as well as institution-specific, security protocols
  • Use cutting-edge technology to enable ongoing, consistent monitoring of Jewish institutions
  • Establish ongoing security training for institutions' staff
  • Train and vet a third party security firm
  • Implement amplified security infrastructure, and oversee ongoing upgrades to Jewish institutions

As our security needs continue to grow, our relationship with the SPVM and all law enforcement agencies remains strong. We are fortunate to have Jacques Bisson in the important role of Federation CJA's Director of Security – whose mandate is to monitor and consult on community security, and oversee a robust security plan which is second to none. Together with the Community Security Network and our advocacy agent, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), we are working every day to ensure the safety of our community.

But we cannot do this alone. It is all of our responsibility to make sure that our community, and everyone in it, is safe. Kol Yisrael Aravim Zeh Bazeh – All Jews are responsible for one another. 

This year we are asking everyone in the community to continue your steadfast support for the annual Combined Jewish Appeal Campaign, and as well, when you are asked to make a gift to the community security campaign, we are counting on you to give generously! These funds will not only allow us to establish consistent security protocols for institutions throughout our community, but they will enable us to provide ongoing training and upgrades in the years to come.

For over 100 years now, Federation CJA has been protecting the future of our community. This is our obligation: to take care of each other, safeguard our community, and make the world a better place. 

Thank you for helping us maintain a strong, vibrant, and safe community – for today, and tomorrow.

Yair Szlak, LL.B
Chief Executive Office
Federation CJA 

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