In the early 1930s The Jewish community of Vancouver was the first in Canada to establish a council of local organizations on which all adult Jewish organizations were represented. It was meant to centrally coordinate and plan all the activities of the Jewish community. After 1962 when the new Jewish community center opened the Jewish council was gradually broken up into separate independent agencies intent to go their separate ways. By 1966 it was felt that decentralizing the community was not efficient and talks began to have a merger between the Jewish Community Council and the Jewish community fund, which culminated in a merger. The result was the establishment of the Jewish Community Fund and Council of Vancouver, British Columbia, in July 19, 1968. It amalgamated the administrative functions of (1) infrastructure coordination between the numerous Jewish community organizations in Vancouver and the lower mainland region, and (2) fundraising to support the work of those organizations. Prior to amalgamation as the Jewish Community Fund and Council, functions were fulfilled by the following organizations:
• Jewish Community Centre Society of Vancouver (est. 1924)
• Vancouver Jewish Administrative Council (est. 1942)
• Vancouver Jewish Administrative Organization (est. 1947)
• Jewish Community Council of Vancouver (est. 1950)
• Vancouver Jewish Community Chest (est. 1924)
• Vancouver Jewish Community Fund (est. 19)
Vancouver Jewish Community Chest. -- 1924-19
The Vancouver Jewish Community Chest (VJCC) was the first effort in the Vancouver region to create a single integrated, community-wide umbrella organization to collect and distribute funds for local, national and international needs. Although an originating constitution appears to have been drawn up, no copy of that constitution has been located to date. The first five years of the VJCC are recorded in a Souvenir Book and Annual Report: 1924-1929, published in 1929 at Vancouver. Its goal was to unify the fund-raising for major Jewish organizations, which at that time was undertaken separately by each organization, and in so doing succeed in "welding them into a community-conscious unit."
On September 24, 1924, a Board of Trustees was elected at a community meeting (at the Hotel Vancouver) with Joseph F. Morris as its first president. For the five years documented a revised constitution was adopted (also not found to this date). The first Executive committee included: Messrs E. Gold, W.J. Levin, N.C. Levin, S. Piters, Dr. S. Petersky, H.B. Wagner, L. Rosenbaum, Samuel Gintzburger, Rev. N.M. Pastinsky, Nace Swartz, E.R. Sugarman, Morris Soskin, Julius B. Jaffe, A. Rothstein, W.N. Zimmerman, and Mesdames E.R. Sugarman, Parker, N. Swartz, E. Gold, and Miss Stusser.
The first beneficiaries of the Chest were: Vancouver Hebrew Aid Society, Talmud Torah Hebrew School, The Western Canada Orphanage at Winnipeg, Old Folks Home, Winnipeg, Jewish Consumptive Relief Society (Denver), Consumptive Hospital (Los Angeles) and, added during the first year, "Palestinian Organizations, (Non-Zionist)."
The first year's campaign raised $8,329.62, including income from a bazaar convened at the Navy League Building by National Council of Jewish Women totaling $2241.85.
From 1925-1929 the Chairmen were: M. Soskin (1925-26), E.R. Sugarman (1926-27), W.N. Zimmerman (1927-28), and William J. Levin (1928-29).
In its early days the Chest focused its efforts on the financial affairs of the Talmud Torah and by the third year the Chest had assumed responsibility for 100% of the school's operating fund of over $5,000. It later changed this responsibility to include payment only for those students whose parents could not afford the tuition fees. This was done because while the initial agreement had been that parents would increase their donation to the Chest by the amount of tuition they were paying, in fact "the citizens who were anxious and desirous of this system, did not fully recognize their responsibility by increasing their previous years subscription by the Talmud Torah fees they had been accustomed to pay." So the agreement became one of subsidizing only those students whose families could not afford the regular fees.
In 1929 the Chest added to its responsibilities support for the Educational Department of the Council of Jewish Women. "The time is not far distant," wrote the author of the report, "when the Vancouver Jewish Community Chest will embrace within its fold every type of activity in the Community that is dependent upon the public for its support, and instead of having separate and varied appeals of institutions, they will eventually come within the scope of the Community Chest and one appeal will suffice."
In 1925 the Chest raised $8331.62; in 1929 the Chest raised $11,018.76. Over the five years the largest recipient was the Hebrew Aid and Immigrant Society, which received $14,530, followed by the Talmud Torah at $12,484. At the other end of the range were the Great Palestine orphanage and the Schara Tzedeck Hospital, each receiving $25.
The report concluded, "As we go to press the call has come from our afflicted brethren in Palestine, and within a few days the Community Chest, sponsoring the Palestine Emergency Relief Fund, ably assisted by prominent willing workers of the city, raised over $6,000.00 for immediate relief in the Holy Land, the Community Chest itself leading the list with $1,000.00 contributed out of its reserve fund."
In the report are also contained administrative summaries of the beneficiaries: Hebrew Aid and Immigrant Society; Vancouver Immigration Committee (later absorbed by HAIS), Talmud Torah Hebrew School, Educational Department of the Council of Jewish Women, and the Jewish Orphanage and in Winnipeg the Children's Aid of Western Canada and the Old Folks Home, Western Canada.
The report contains the disbursements for five years, the names of the trustees, and the names of those who pledged amounts and the amount still due as of 1929.
In the absence of a documented mandate, there is evidence provided in the reported activities of the Chest to discern its evolution into the role of central coordinator and umbrella fundraiser for the community.
The Vancouver Community Chest operated above the individual parts of its constituency:
(1) By agreeing to raise and distribute funds from the whole community, and to all its constituent agencies, it assumed responsibility for supporting one general campaign and reducing the numbers of individual campaigns that had previously been conducted.
(2) As a part of this initiative, it grappled with the issue of disclosure. At first agencies were reluctant to share their financial status; but according to the report, by the end of the five years they were willing to do so. That disclosure has now become a standard part of the allocations process of Federation.
(3) Rather than working through an existing agency, the Chest drew its initial representatives from those agencies and formed an independent committee.
(4) By agreeing to fund students of the Talmud Torah Hebrew School whose families could not pay the tuition, a principle was established for school support that still holds today.
(5) Finally, the call of "afflicted brethren" in Palestine necessitated an emergency campaign, one that was immediately able to raise over $6,000 including $1,000.00 from the VJCC out of its reserves.
Unfortunately, no minute books of the Community Chest or its founding documents have been found. Therefore there is a great hiatus in the record, from 1929 to the end of World War II, in the documentation of a central planning and fund-raising body for the Jewish community of the lower mainland.
Vancouver Jewish Community Fund. -- 19-1968
The fundraising function of the Vancouver Jewish Community Chest was taken over by the Vancouver Jewish Community Fund circa 1960. However there is no documentation discovered to date that indicates the reason for the name change or if it was registered.
Jewish Community Centre Society of Vancouver. -- 1929-1947
On February 24, 1928 the Jewish Community Centre Society of Vancouver was registered under the BC Society's Act. (Registration #1650 - That number is still assigned to successor organization, the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver.) The founding signatories were Julius Jaffe and Sam Kostman (merchants), Abraham Hirshberg (Optometrist) and Abraham Cohen (manufacturer). The objectives of the Society were as follows:
• To build and operate a community centre for the Jews of Vancouver and vicinity;
• To foster athletics and gymnastics;
• To promote the interests of the Jewish population of Vancouver socially and educationally.
To be a member of the society one had to live within 25 miles of the Post Office at Vancouver, and be Jewish. Thus residence in the city of Vancouver (or its surroundings, which meant for a part of the Jewish community the city of New Westminster), and ethnicity/religion (Jewish) gave one membership in the Society. Membership cost $25, payable in five installments. It appears that the society had some difficulties in early years, possibly financial, since it was struck off the register in 1933 and reinstated in 1934 after agreeing to file the necessary papers. The Centre, however, did not take over fund-raising or planning for the community, although the building was a central meeting place for the community on the west side of the city.
Vancouver Jewish Administrative Council. -- 1942-1947
On February 10, 1942, the Vancouver Jewish Community Centre Society changed its name to the Vancouver Jewish Administrative Council, thus, it would appear, transforming the Centre Board into the Administrative Council Board. There are no minutes from this period.
Vancouver Jewish Administrative Organization. -- 1947-1965
On February 27, 1947, the Vancouver Jewish Administrative Council became the Vancouver Jewish Administrative Organization. Its objectives expanded considerably and now included:
• To promote the peace, order and good government of the Vancouver Jewish Community and be the official spokesman on their behalf;
• To administer funds allocated to the Vancouver Jewish Community and by the Greater Vancouver Community Chest and any other funds accruing;
• To erect and operate a community centre for community use and benefit (including athletics, etc.) and to own and operate the existing Jewish Community Centre at 11th and Oak;
• To own and publish the Jewish Western Bulletin as the official publication of the Vancouver Jewish community;
• To supervise the activities of the Jewish Family Welfare Board;
• To conduct an endorsation bureau to regulate the raising of funds for Jewish charitable and communal needs;
• To create, raise, distribute and administer a Vancouver Jewish Community Welfare Fund "which will embrace the requirements of all local and external Jewish charities and communal organizations which may agree to become members thereof and participate thereof."
Any member of the Jewish faith, over 21, living within 25 miles of Vancouver for one year or more could become a member of the VJAO. Upon payment of $2.50 yearly per family one could hold office and vote, and receive the Jewish Western Bulletin (JWB) community newspaper free of charge. The Board would consist of 1 member per organization for every 75 members (maximum of 3) and 10 members elected from the community at large. As well, the constitution authorized the VJAO to acquire the assets of any defunct member organization.
According to minutes from the time, [Minutes of Publications Committee 1962-70] the publications committee looked after the JWB; another reported on the Jewish Family Welfare Board (to become the Jewish Family Service Agency); a third managed the Community Centre; a fourth the campaign; and there may have been a separate budget committee.
Thus, between 1929 and 1947 the community had grown in numbers and in organizational complexity. One event of major significance was the creation of the State of Israel and the continuing drive to collect money for its support through the United Jewish Appeal, as well as continuing to support local organizations.
In 1948 the Zionist Organization of BC (ZOC) and Canadian Congress, Pacific Region (CJC) joined together to run the United Jewish Appeal campaign. In 1949 under the auspices of the Community Council, the joint Welfare Fund was created, but it seems to have failed to garner support for a campaign. In 1950 ZOC and CJC ran the United Jewish Appeal and from the proceeds funded local organizations, [Community Council Annual Report, 1950], which continued to operate on their own.
According to a letter dated Nov. 22, 1965 from Lou Zimmerman, this campaign had, over the years, taken about 90% of funds raised, and local organizations - Talmud Torah, Peretz School, Home for the Aged (Vancouver acquired one in the 1940s) and Hillel are named in the letter -- drew money from the UJA based on a percentage of funds raised in the 1955 campaign. What happened to the local campaign during these years is not clear, nor do we have records of just what organizations were funded.
Jewish Community Council of Vancouver. -- 1950-1966
On November 6 1950, the VJAO became the Jewish Community Council of Vancouver. Its constitution had as its objectives (among others):
• To promote the welfare of the Vancouver Jewish Community;
• To act and speak on behalf of the Jewish Community of Vancouver in local secular matters (but recall that by now Congress had a local office, so that this objective would soon be superseded by CJC's mandate);
• To organize, regulate and administer in Greater Vancouver [the first time this appellation occurs] a voluntary Jewish Welfare Fund for local and non-local Jewish charities;
• To promote inter-group relations within the Jewish community and deal with controversial issues that threaten these relationships [there were obviously issues that had arisen among the proliferating agencies];
• To engage in welfare planning for the Jewish community and implement such planning;
• To foster relationships as will promote better understanding between all groups of citizens regardless of race or creed [another objective which the CJC would later embrace];
• To regulate promotion and raising of funds for Jewish charitable and communal needs and to grant or withhold endorsement of any such fund-raising project;
• To administer funds allocated to the Vancouver Jewish community by the Greater Vancouver Community Chest and other funds accruing to the Vancouver Jewish community;
• Erect, lease, rent, or operate etc. a Jewish Community Centre for use and benefit of the Jewish community of Vancouver and the vicinity;
• To carry on the work of the Jewish Welfare Board;
• To own and publish the JWB and other similar publications.
The requirement for membership now included subscription to the annual campaign, as well as residency requirements.
Standing committees of the Council were as follows: Budget - to examine agency budgets and recommend an amount to be allocated; Campaign - to organize and conduct fundraising campaigns for the Jewish Community Council; Jewish Community Centre - concerned with the management of the building and programs, and expenditures within an approved budget; Publications - to arrange for the publication of the JWB and other publications, and to lay down policies governing presentation of news and editorials; and the Family Welfare Board - to direct operations and administer funds.
Within this administrative structure the Jewish Community Council of Vancouver directly managed and funded several subsidiary organizations: The Jewish Western Bulletin, the Jewish Community Centre, and the Jewish Family Welfare Board. Apparently funds also went to the Home for the Aged and programs of the National Council of Jewish Women. It appears that moneys raised by the Vancouver Jewish Fund were distributed, or at least the distribution recommended, by the Jewish Community Council of Vancouver.
In the Jewish Community Council of Vancouver minutes for 1963 the relationships between the Council and the Jewish Family Service Agency (formerly the Jewish Family Welfare Board), the Jewish Community Centre, and the United Jewish Appeal were spelled out in a number of memoranda. The Centre separated from the Council in 1962.
In 1962-3 discussions began regarding a merger of the Vancouver Jewish Community Council and local fund-raising through what was variously called the Community Chest or Community Fund. It appears that the UJA up to 1963 conducted a campaign that allocated 15% of funds raised up to a maximum of $190,000 to the Community Council, the Talmud Torah, and the Peretz School (and possibly to Hillel as well). The remaining 85% was divided between the Zionist Organization (ultimately destined for Israel) and Canadian Jewish Congress. The discussion revolved around creating a "Jewish Welfare Fund" that would be a central planning and fund-raising body, having aspects of what we now call Federation.
On November 24, 1964 a meeting convened to plan a combined local campaign, separate from the UJA, which would be tried on a one-year basis and have a goal of raising $80,000 [Minutes 1960-1965-66]. Recipients would be the Talmud Torah, Jewish Community Centre, Home for the Aged, Peretz School, and maybe Hillel. Other beneficiaries were turned down, on the assumption that the yearly campaign was experimental and needed to be tested. Led by Joe Cohen and Vancouver Jewish Community Council President William Gelmon, the effort was "designed to eliminate separate campaigns by each institution."
By November 15, 1965 the campaign had raised $76,000, and by February 1966 had reached $91,000. Even before that date, on November 18, 1965, negotiations began to merge the Council and the local "Fund." Other forces were at work. It appears that the UJA had decided to exclude local beneficiaries from its campaign (so noted in July 28/66 minutes). The 1966 campaign had been a success, and the "moribund condition" of the Vancouver Jewish Community Council pushed efforts forward. On February 9, 1966 the local group of fundraisers met and approved the merger in principle, as did the Council on February 9. A joint meeting of the two boards was held on June 6/66 and guidelines established for the Jewish Community Fund and Council:
• Objectives of the new body included: community planning, fund-raising, budgeting and budget supervision of participating agencies, and the establishment of coordination, cooperation and discipline in the community;
• Less weight would be given to organizational representation on the new board than had been on the previous Council (every organization had been represented as per the formulas devised). A "substantial portion" of the board was to be elected by campaign contributors. Allocations were to be "kept free from political influence and retained in the budget committee."
Interim co-chairs for the organization were Joe Cohen and William Gelmon and in July 1966 a temporary board took office. In addition to fundraising coordination, funders would get involvement in community planning. The beneficiaries for that year were to be Talmud Torah, Peretz, Hillel, the Home for the Aged and the JCC, with small allocations to Camp Miriam and the Hebrew school in New Westminster. The campaign goal for 1966-67 was set at $110,700. Despite the reluctance of several organizational representatives, who worried that their agencies would not receive adequate funding, the second campaign went ahead.
Vancouver Jewish Community Fund and Council. -- 1968-1987
On July 19, 1968 the formal change to the Vancouver Community Fund and Council was registered. Each beneficiary agency appointed one representative, with an additional thirty elected members. An additional 10 members could be appointed by the Executive, and all congregational Rabbis were Board members automatically.
The objectives for the Fund and Council were stated as follows:
• To promote the welfare of the Vancouver Jewish Community;
• To coordinate activities and foster cooperation among the organizations of the Jewish Community in the City of Vancouver, "having due regard to their autonomy";
• To conduct an annual campaign for local Jewish charities, causes and agencies as JCFC determines;
• To review and assess obligations, responsibilities and effectiveness of all agencies requesting money and make allocations to those agencies;
• To review and determine the need for all fund-raising campaigns in the Vancouver Jewish community and endeavor to control the dates and duration of such campaigns and programs; to give approval to such campaigns and programs when they are deemed to be "worthy of community support":
• To engage in welfare planning and implement such planning;
• To own and publish the JWB and other like publications.
Committees: Campaign (conducts campaign); Budget and allocations (1 representative from each beneficiary and an equal number of Board members to study and evaluate requests and allocate by a majority vote); Nominations (proposes slate); Endorsation (endorses local individual agency and program campaigns); and Publications and PR (responsible for the Jewish Western Bulletin and "shall determine its policies", as well as for other publications).
The locality had also been altered from "chiefly in the city of Vancouver" to "the Greater Vancouver Area." Seeing that the suburban communities had begun to growth and create their own institutions, this was a necessary concession for what had been a largely Vancouver-centric organization.
In 1968 the campaign raised $107,127 for 8 agencies. By 1975 there were 22 beneficiaries and $295,000 had been raised.
At first, the JCFC had no professional staff beyond the time given to it by Lou Zimmerman, Director of the Jewish Community Centre and for some time also staff for the UJA campaign. The demands of these positions would make it necessary to hire professional staff. Morris Saltzman was hired between 1967 and 1970 to direct both the Canadian Jewish Congress Pacific Region and the JCFC.
From 1965, the JCFC operated alongside the annual UJA in a 2-line campaign. It worked through subcommittees which met annually to review agency budgets and make recommendations on an amount to be allocated from the campaign. Some years the goals were not met and agencies did not receive their full allocations. As a result, the goal of preventing separate campaigns was not met, as more organizations needed bigger budgets than could be met by the JCFC. Endorsed separate campaigns became harder to coordinate, as some agencies' campaigns collided with others. Community planning was thus done largely through the mechanism of budget and allocations control, rather than as a separate function taking long-term community needs into account beyond the immediate and pressing needs of annual budgets.
In the early 1980s some community members began to press for a federated community. By 1986, Vancouver was the only major community in Canada not operating as a Federation. As the idea of Federation grew stronger, leaders began to look at what benefits a federated community could bring to Jewish agencies and individuals, now spread across the lower mainland with over 80 organizations and a population of nearly 20,000 (according to the 1991 census).
The first interim Board meeting was convened in January 1983, and 3 committees (Constitution, Nominations, and Structure) were to explore these aspects of federation. On November 21, 1983, the UJA Board approved the interim Federation Board's discussion paper on structure, prepared by a special Task Force headed by Malcolm Weinstein.
The Interim Federation Board: Co-Chairs Lois Raphael and Arthur Fouks; Rabbi William Altshul, Arnold Barkoff, Shirley Barnett, Brent Belzberg, Frances Belzberg, Rabbi Phillip Bregman, Zoe Gropper, Morris Harowitz, David Huberman, Larry Izen, Howard Karby, Gail Lemish, Risa Levine, Ken Levitt, Norman Miller, Michael Moscovich, Ira Nadel, Leslie Raphael, Ruth Ross, Larry Rossoff, Elaine Schwartzman, Irving Sirlin, Harriet Spiro, Malcolm Weinstein, Ted Zacks, Nate Zalkow.
Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver. -- 1987-present
On January 14, 1987 the Jewish Community Fund and Council became officially the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver. The constitution and by-laws of the JFGV are in the files of the Jewish Historical Society of BC.