It is a privilege to lead an organization that elevates, educates, and empowers immigrants and refugees. For the past 99 years, JIAS has supported waves of immigrants and refugees from different countries who have chosen to make Canada their home. JIAS was founded to support Jewish refugees who were forced to flee Eastern Europe because of pogroms and persecution. While our original client base has expanded to include newcomers from all faiths, ethnicities, and backgrounds, what has remained unchanged is our commitment to our Jewish values to welcome the stranger with dignity and respect. Our Jewish history, teachings, and values, combined with our mandate as a settlement agency charge us with the moral imperative to continue to welcome the stranger, stand up for injustices, help the vulnerable, and combat racism.
Our Annual Report covers the period of July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. In July 2020, we were a little over 100 days into the pandemic and we were operating remotely.
While we did not know much about the future, what we did know with certainty were three things: that our commitment to ensure that each and every client had access to services and programs was unwavering; that our dedication to our staff’s safety and wellbeing was paramount; and that the way we operated moving forward would forever be transformed.
Like most other organizations we had to rethink, re-examine, and redesign how we approached our work. This process forced us to realign our approaches to be more client-centric; think differently about outcomes, deliverables, and communication; address issues of organizational systems and processes; and reframe how we use quantitative and qualitative data to better inform decisions. In looking back at the past year, I am so proud of the individual and collective contributions of our staff and volunteers. While we still have a lot of work to do, their efforts have elevated our work, our impact, our clients, our organization, and each other.
A huge thank you to our many partners, funders, and donors. We are grateful for your support and our trusted relationships.
We look forward in 2022 to celebrating our 100th anniversary. There will be many opportunities to become involved at JIAS, whether it be sharing your family’s immigration story, planning programs, attending events, or helping fundraise. Follow us on social media or join our mailing list to stayed informed about JIAS anniversary announcements.
Highlights of the Year
July 1, 2020
Meeting with Citizenship Judge Albert Wong
Executive Director Elise Herzig spoke with Citizenship Judge Albert Wong, who has sworn in more than 100 000 new Canadians – with enthusiasm, warmth and humour.
July 16, 2020
Summer School Support for Yazidi Children
JIAS staff and volunteers packed and delivered boxes of school supplies to Yazidi children participating in our innovative summer virtual program, which enhanced our ongoing settlement work with the Yazidi community.
July 27, 2020
Bike Drive for Refugees
Volunteers donated bikes, and Barry’s Bikeyard provided bike repairs pro-bono to ensure that our clients received safe and beautiful bikes to enjoy!
September 16, 2020
Rosh Hashanah Packages
JIAS Toronto board members and volunteers delivered Rosh Hashanah packages to recent newcomers.
November 22, 2020
JIAS at Limud Toronto
JIAS staff spoke at Limmud Toronto to discuss the challenges of fulfilling the mitzvah of welcoming the stranger during COVID-19.
February 25, 2021
Staff Purim Photo
JIAS Staff enjoy participating in the UJA Purim photo challenge each year.
March 7, 2021
JIAS Executive Director Elise Herzig participated in an international panel about how global Jewish communities are working on behalf of displaced people.
March 17, 2021
Entrepreneurship workshop with Naama Blonder, Eliav Kling etc.
Former JIAS clients Naama Blonder Revital Kling and Eliav Kling spoke with newcomers about entrepreneurship and how to make your business idea a success in Canada.
April 15, 2021
Yazidi Vaccine Info Session
Leading Experts Dr. Issac Bogoch and Dr. Chaim Bell spoke with Yazidi clients about the importance of COVID-19 vaccines and to address vaccine hesitancy and misinformation.
The dedication of our volunteers is one the greatest strengths of JIAS. Enjoy reading about our recent 2021/22 volunteer award recipients.
Tyna has worked with a newcomer family from Eritrea for over four years. She is deeply involved with each of the eight family members. She has tutored the children, monitored their educational progress, and advocated for the family in the school system. In addition, she has planned activities for the entire family and even recruited additional volunteers to provide family support.
Debbie has dedicated five years to assisting a Yazidi family. She frequently visits the family, helps the children with homework, communicates with the school to ensure they are aware of the family’s circumstances, and assists with medical appointments. Debbie is their best friend, trusted confident and source of advice.
Guido has supported three Yazidi families since they arrived in Canada in 2017. Each family is comprised of a single mother with young children. Between them, there is a total of 10 children. Guido is a role model for the teen boys, mentoring them and encouraging them to pursue their dreams in the safety of their new home in Canada.
Oleg created a Welcome Circle for newcomers from Ukraine. He and the rest of the Welcome Circle helped a mother and her two teenage sons apply for their social insurance numbers and financial assistance. In addition, they provided food, accompanied the family to appointments and assisted in searching for housing.
Oded has volunteered with a wide range of newcomers. He has organized summer programs for kids, assisted clients in developing their social and professional networks and accompanied them to job interviews. In addition, he has tutored children and mentored teens. Oded has a profound understanding of newcomers’ challenges, enabling him to provide exceptional support and anticipate client needs.
Elliot has been volunteering with JIAS since 2000. He was the very first volunteer for the Telephone Language Companion program, and then he continued volunteering when this program was replaced with the English Conversation Circles. He has helped countless clients improve their language skills. He has had so many great connections with our clients, and for many of them, he became more like a Family-to-Family volunteer. He continues to be in touch with many of the clients today.
Thank you to the support of our generous donors, without whom we would not be able to fulfill our mandate.
Judy Adler Lotin
Boris & Diana Beliavsky
Tatyana Ben Daniel
Natalia Ben Shimon
The Benevity Community Impact Fund
Franklin & Ellen Bialystok
Jodi & Eric Block
Stanley M Brooks
Mitchell & Susan Brown & Family
David & Reni Cuperfain
Miriam & Frumie Diamond
Janet & Edwin Durbin
Paul Michael Egri
EMR Shielding Solutions
Steven Garmaise & Sue Rebick
Michael & Nancy Goldberg
Fern & Sheldon Goldhar
Yudel & Fania Goldman
Ena & Moshe Greengarten
Stephen & Carol Handelman
Harvey & Annice Frisch Family Foundation
Elise Herzig & Ron Cuperfain
Hove Cocksfield Limited Partnership
Gayle & Jeffrey Jackson
The John Herbert Foundation
Miriam Erlichman & Eli Klein
Robin and Paul Leszner
Malka Lewittes & Elan Pratzer
Viviane and Tito Massouda
Octaviana Matushansky -Obodan
Lisa & Steve McDonald
Mitchell Ornstein & Alexandra Kuperman
The Prosserman Family
Ted & Cathy Rechtshaffen
Beverley & Les Rothschild
Alan & Lorraine Sandler
Daniel H. Schild
Donald & Fay Schwartz
The Sharna Foundation
Joseph Zev Shiffman
Elaine & James Slater
Nahum & Tatiana Smirin
Faye & Michael Thorek
Turks Head Holdings Inc.
Gilda Ann Whyne
We would like to thank our constituent groups who support refugees in partnership with JIAS Toronto.
Beit Tzion Shul
Danforth Jewish Circle Social
Dawit Demoz, Family and
New Beginning/Beth Tikvah
Northern Lights Canada
RUN Hong Kong
Shaarei Torah & Temple Emmanuel
The Naomi Project
Volunteers from Holy Blossom
Wadi Kaja Organization for Refugees
and Immigrants Project