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Sunday, July 13, 2014

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Federation must focus on youth, new chair says

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TORONTO — On his last night as chair of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto’s board of directors, David Koschitzky welcomed his successor with an old saying.

David Koschitzky, left, and Alan Winer addressed UJA Federation’s board of directors meeting last week. [Jen Arron photo]

“The king is dead, the king is dead, long live the king,” he said before introducing Alan Winer as the new chair at last week’s annual meeting.

While addressing a group of about 90 people, Winer laid out his goals for his two-year term, which include better absorption of Jewish immigrants into the community and strengthening Jewish identity in the younger generation.

“We have a tremendous Jewish community in Toronto. It is… growing, successful, diverse and complex,” he said. “Yet our Jewish community is faced with many challenges.”

One of these centres on youth, he said.

“Approximately half of the Jewish school-age children in Toronto receive some kind of formal Jewish education… However, unless we concentrate on the other 50 per cent... we run the risk of allowing an entire generation to lose its way.”

Winer, a former vice-chair of federation’s board of directors, went on to say that the organized Jewish community needs to be more inclusive.  

“We need to open more doors to community participation for individuals who don’t neatly fit into our definition or perception of the Jewish community, including those with physical and mental disabilities,” he said.

During the meeting, board members discussed the economic downturn, which was reflected in the federation’s financial figures.

Last year, UJA Federation lost more than $18 million on its investments, although around $12 million has been recouped in the first quarter of the new year, the meeting heard.

In 2008-09, about $82 million was raised through the annual UJA campaign, the Tomorrow Campaign and the Jewish Foundation.

Federation president and CEO Ted Sokolsky emphasized the importance of philanthropy.

“That’s the way a community comes together,” he said. “Despite the economic downturn, through hard work and effort, we were able to provide our schools and agencies with the same amount of money… in some cases more.”

In 2008-09, federation spent $13 million on formal Jewish education.

To Koschitzky, investing in youth is vital.

“Everything we have done and everything we do is dedicated to ensuring the next generation understands and values its Jewish heritage,” he said.

“On the surface, our kids are no different than any other children in Toronto, but if properly nurtured with our traditions and culture, they grow up to represent, respect and be proud of our unique heritage.”

Correction


In this story “Federation must focus on youth,” incorrectly reported that UJA Federation of Greater Toronto lost more than $18 million on its investments last year, although $12 million has been recouped in the first quarter of the new year. In fact, it was the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto, not federation, that lost money and then recouped part of the loss. The CJN apologizes for the error.

In addition, the story said that in 2008-2009, about $82 million was raised through the annual UJA campaign. Updated information provided to us after we went to press noted that that the total amount raised for campaign, capital and endowments in the fiscal year 2008-2009 was $87 million.

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