Perspectives by Deborah Corber, CEO

Edition 4,  February 6, 2015

Responding to Urgent or Emergent Situations

Deborah CorberIsrael at war: Should we have an Israel emergency appeal? Will it hurt us locally if we ask donors to contribute to Israel relief weeks before we launch our annual Campaign? How can we assess real needs during wartime? Should we continue our Israel experience trips or keep our kids at home?

Terrorism and Anti-Semitism in France: How can we help Jews who want to leave France to settle in Montreal? How can we craft an outreach strategy that doesn’t undermine French Aliyah and doesn’t offend French Jewish leadership?

How does Federation CJA deal with urgent and emergent situations affecting Jews in Israel and elsewhere in the world? How do we decide whether to raise and allocate relief funds in times of crisis, which by definition are unforeseen? How do we make sound and timely decisions when we’re bombarded by multiple sources of information and competing demands for assistance? And how do we do all of this without dropping the ball on our day-to-day responsibilities to raise the funds and provide the services on which our community relies?

Well, for one thing, we don’t do it alone. Federation CJA has local, national, continental and international partners who provide up-to-the-minute information and critical expertise so that we can make informed decisions.

When Israel is at war our representatives based there tell us what’s really needed and how we can have the biggest impact with our dollars, our presence, or both. So, during the war in Gaza last summer, we were well-positioned to identify actual needs with precision and to target dollars raised directly to those needs. We mounted a solidarity mission in a matter of days, sending the largest single delegation to Israel during the entire war. And we were able to decide which Israel trips could still go ahead with revised itineraries and increased security, and which should be cancelled. Our decisions may not have pleased every participant or parent, but they were always made with safety uppermost in our minds and based on reliable information from our partners in the field.

Throughout any given crisis, we gather and analyze information from our sources and consult with our national and international partners to ensure coordinated strategies and actions. Senior professionals and lay leaders deliberate on a daily, sometimes hourly basis to determine the most responsible and responsive way forward, always with an eye to fulfilling our duty, as Jews, to care for one another (Kol Yisrael arevim zeh la-zeh) – at home, in Israel and around the world.

In the case of emergencies in Israel, it’s a sad reality that recent history has made us pretty expert at analyzing and then acting quickly and effectively. Other cases – like that of Jews looking to leave France – are better characterized as emergent than urgent. Here the challenge is to be responsive without being reactive, to be thoughtful and strategic, but not so bureaucratic as to be ineffective.

A Global Community
The past several years have shown me, up close and personal, what it means to be part of a global Jewish community. I have seen how in moments of crisis, Federation CJA can collaborate across organizations and national borders to support Israelis and indeed fellow Jews anywhere in the world.

We can do this because we’ve acquired the skills and the experience to recognize the difference between urgent and emergent, and to act accordingly. We can do this because Federation CJA is part of an international network that knows the terrain and the players and has the mechanisms to make things happen. We can do this because, thanks to our annual Combined Jewish Appeal, we have the infrastructure to respond in real time and to direct 100% of relief funds where they are most needed. And we can do this because of people like you, who believe in the value of the collective, and who care enough to open your hearts and your wallets and to give of your time and your ideas so that no Jew will ever stand alone.

  Of Note

Return of Anti-SemitismThe Return of Anti-Semitism
Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz, violence and hatred against Jews is on the rise, especially in the Middle East and among Muslims in Europe.

Canadians rally for French Jews after attacksCanadians rally for French Jews after attacks
The synagogue vigil, organized by Federation CJA, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and the Montreal Board of Rabbis, was attended by more than 500 people. The event was a commemoration of the victims, a show of solidarity with France, and an eloquent statement that terrorism must not prevail over democratic freedoms.

Les juifs de France entre crainte et désespoir Les juifs de France entre crainte et désespoir (In French)
Cible d'une attaque meurtrière à Paris, la communauté juive de France, la première d'Europe, ne cache pas son angoisse face à la flambée des actes antisémites dans le pays.

Rabbi ScheierOpen Canada’s doors to French Jews, rabbi urges
Rabbi Scheier said the Canadian Jewish community should overcome any reluctance it has to appearing to be competing with Israel, which is actively and openly seeking olim in France, and do more to let French Jews know they are wanted here.

France anti-semitismOn doit tout recommencer (In French)
Les actes antisémites ont été multipliés par 2 en 2014 par rapport à 2013. Et le carnage de l’Hyper Cacher n’est pas pris en compte, il ne le sera que pour les chiffres de 2015.

Zelikow School - Jewish Professional LeadershipPutting More Than Smoked Meat and Wood-Fired Bagels on Montreal’s Menu
With funding from the Jewish Community Foundation and Federation CJA, The Wandering Chew’s pop-up dinners showcase a diverse world of Jewish cooking.

Solomon Schechter AcademyDay school tuition to be more affordable for multi-student families
With the cost of a Jewish education continuing to serve as a factor for families deciding where to enroll their children, Solomon Schechter Academy (SSA) in Montreal is launching a public marketing campaign to promote its new ‘Flex-Able’ tuition program.


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