This Annual Report highlights our work from April 1, 2022 – March 31, 2023, but before, let me rewind to three months prior to the beginning of our fiscal year, January 2022. I was developing the budget to present to the JIAS Board which had recommended a one-year stabilization strategy with minimal additional growth because the agency had committed to the following time-sensitive projects which would stretch our resources:
- Building infrastructure to support a post-Covid hybrid workplace.
- Launching community outreach initiatives for the centennial celebrations.
- Expanding our sponsorship targets to 100 refugees.
- Rolling out our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion research initiative.
- Implementing trauma-informed workshops through funding from the Ontario Brain Institute.
My plan articulated the many benefits of putting on pause any additional projects as we were at capacity and needed to recalibrate. My plan never made it to a Board meeting.
The unprecedented number of Ukrainians entering Canada, the urgent need to sponsor Afghan refugees, the dire demand for immigrant housing, and the potential risks to unaccompanied minors from Ukraine rendered my plan obsolete.
As a settlement agency with deep roots in supporting immigrants and refugees from Ukraine, as a Sponsorship Agreement Holder with the ability to privately sponsor refugees, and as a Jewish organization that knows the dangers of sending unaccompanied minors to other countries from our experience in the Holocaust, we recognized that we were uniquely positioned to lead and respond.
So, we did.
The JIAS board supported our shift to expand staffing, adapt service delivery, and develop new partnerships. This growth strategy positioned our agency to become a leading responder to the urgent needs of displaced Ukrainians and Afghan refugees.
In the Jewish text the Ethics of the Fathers, Ben Zoma states, “Who is wise? One who learns from every person.” I thank each of our JIAS staff, board, volunteers, donors, funders, and clients who contribute to our agency – both in actions and ideas. I learn from each of you, every day.
Our team has expanded to represent the diverse communities we serve and operates on common values, dedication, integrity, and empathy. Whether you are a front-line worker or provide essential supports that take place behind the scenes, each of you are an integral part of the JIAS team and your contributions are equally valued. Individually and collectively, you are the dream team of the settlement sector.
Our Board brings a multi-faceted skillset to our agency. They provide their time and talent to ensure JIAS remains sustainable and has the necessary procedures, controls, resources, and systems to achieve our strategic priorities. They lead by example and provide sage advice. Under the leadership of Anna Morgan, our Board Chair, JIAS transformed into a trusted thought leader and partner of choice. Anna, thank you for your unwavering support and non-stop effort in an exciting and challenging time of growth.
To our volunteers who are the backbone of all that we do. Your compassion, kindness, and caring gives our clients hope and a sense of belonging.
To our donors, thank you for your generosity and confidence in our ability to make an impactful difference. Your support allows us to be more agile, responsive, and innovative. Without your support, we would not have accomplished all that we did this year.
To our funders, we thank you for your continued support and trust.
To our partners, thank you. It is a privilege to collaborate and join forces with your incredible teams.
To our clients. Your bravery, tenacity, and resilience fuel our efforts, touch our hearts, and strengthen our resolve.
To the eldest child of five Afghan orphans whom we sponsored and welcomed in November, I salute your resoluteness in keeping your family intact – you were the glue that kept your family safe and in doing so, you carried on your parents’ wishes at great cost to yourself.
To the Ukrainian caregiver and her thirteen-year-old son, who brought to Canada an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor. They advocated for her and now live with her in Canada so that she is not alone. We are grateful for how you treat her with dignity and love.
To our refugee who balances building a life in Canada and dealing with the trauma of leaving behind loved ones. When you choose to volunteer at JIAS as part of your path forward, you bring hope and understanding to other refugees.
While it has been an amazing year with a lot of successes, there are big questions the sector needs to address that will require even more partnerships, collaborations, and new thinking. JIAS has already started this process by initiating a community practice of sharing lessons within the sector on diversity, equity, and inclusion, building a crisis response plan, and exploring what an agency of the future must look like. We are proud to live in a country that values newcomers. This is a time for Canadians – governments, institutions, communities, and individuals – to rally together in support of newcomers as they play a vital role in our economic and social well-being. And JIAS, as we always have, will continue to lead, advocate, and innovate.
Message from Anna Morgan, Chair, JIAS Board of Directors
Two years ago, when I became JIAS chair, I could never have imagined how much the world would change, nor how important immigration and settlement work would become in Canada.
I also could never have imagined what a truly incredible team I would have to help me, whether we were facing a crisis, which unfortunately has become part of our normal environment, or when dealing with the day-to-day questions faced by immigrants. Our staff tireless, our volunteers energetic, our board determined, and our donors never fail to open their hearts.
For example, when COVID hit JIAS was put into crisis management mode. How would we service our clients when so many of them were on their own? How would we get them laptops so that they could access services? How do we provide the reassurance that we all need during this difficult time? We began to implement a more flexible board process to deal with the changing needs of the organization. When news began about a possible war in Ukraine, JIAS began to discuss its impact on immigration long before newspapers recognized it as a real possibility. Through these challenges we never flinched. The Board, its committees, and JIAS staff and volunteers worked together as a giant team to deal with the crises at hand. Biweekly meetings became weekly meetings, then daily meetings and then sometimes hourly meetings. Donors volunteered their time and their money to help. Board members asked for tasks before we even recognized what the next steps needed to be. I watched Elise Herzig and the JIAS staff rise to the challenge. All of you make me so proud to be part of this organization.
I must recognize the people who worked with me on the Board over the past few years to make sure that we thrived. Thank you to: Moy Gutfrajnd, Bonnie Zelman, and Errol Tenenbaum, who made sure that our accounting was always above board and transparent in a changing environment. Winston Persaud, who kept the human resources part of the process clear and on track during a time of crisis and growth. And to Amyn Sarif for keeping our networks safe and reminding us of the importance of cyber security. Jacqueline Valmont and her committee for examining strategic partnerships. Linda Igra for formalizing a much-needed crisis management plan. David Lubek, who jumped into many of our committees to help wherever he could and who will be our new vice-chair moving forward. Bari Zittell, for your leadership in working with and supporting constituent groups. Adam Hummel, who helped with legal matters and questions in a changing immigration environment. Nanette, who originally got me involved in JIAS, always made sure that the hard questions were addressed at our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion meetings. Ariel Lasry and Shelly Markel for all their work on our Executive Committee, ensuring we remain on track. As Shelly Markel steps into the role of our board Chair, I speak for everyone in wishing her great success. I would also like to welcome Joe Milstone and Vlad Volodarski to our Board, your input has already been felt.
As I end my term as Chair and reflect on the past few years, I feel inspired and honored to have worked with all of you. We did it. We navigated unfamiliar terrain with bravery. We never buckled under critical load. While not every moment was perfect, and at times the enormity of the tasks at hand felt overwhelming, we did everything we could to meet our goals. As a result of our efforts, JIAS has become a vital part of the global community of settlement agencies.
We welcome, support, and integrate new immigrants and refugees to build a vibrant Jewish community and a strong, inclusive Canada that values all newcomers.
Rooted in Jewish values and guided by the principle of welcoming the stranger in our midst, we believe that all newcomers should be warmly welcomed, well serviced, and connected to communities. Immigrants and refugees have the right to be safe, treated with dignity and respect, and valued for their traditions, cultures, achievements, and aspirations. We believe that newcomers should be provided with choices and opportunities that will empower them towards self-reliance.
JIAS helps immigrants and refugees overcome social, economic, and cultural barriers to become full and active participants in the community. We connect newcomers to people, organizations, programs, and opportunities that help them thrive.
In 2022-2023, JIAS saw exponential growth in high need clients, and has adapted our programs and services to meet the urgent and ongoing needs of these vulnerable newcomers.
Highlights from the Year
As part of our Community Engagement work, JIAS staff provide opportunities for students to learn about the refugee experience and the contributions of refugees.
JIAS Executive Director Elise Herzig with the Honourable Melanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Honourable Ya’ara Saks, MP, meeting on the pressing needs of newcomers.
As part of our 100 year anniversary, JIAS celebrated the contributions of past leaders such as Maurice Benzacar, known as “Mr. JIAS,” pictured here with his family.
JIAS staff and Afghan women clients at the Canadian Opera Company, where renowned Iranian-Canadian artists expressed solidarity with Iranian and Afghan women.
JIAS’ Program for Newcomer Teens at the Prosserman JCC, where the teens met with peers and enjoyed the great facilities.
Students in the JIAS Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada program (LINC) visit the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to learn about the provincial government.
There are two categories of people who come to Canada; those who come by choice and those who come by circumstance.
Immigrants come by choice. They have researched or tried out life in Canada and decided it would be a good option for them, whether their goals are family reunification, economic opportunities, or a different lifestyle.
Refugees come by circumstance. Fleeing their country, they are unable to return home and are living outside their country of origin. Many have experienced horrors and all have a well-founded fear of persecution. For the first time in decades, the majority of new JIAS clients are coming because of circumstance, fleeing their homes to find safety in Canada.
Whether by choice or by circumstance, being a newcomer presents many challenges that JIAS can help our clients overcome.
Private Sponsorship of
JIAS Toronto’s Sponsorship Agreement Holder status with the federal government enables our agency to sponsor refugees to come to Canada under the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program. This work is ongoing and growing in need. Record numbers of refugees continue to come to Canada, many of whom are, and will be, clients of JIAS. Core to the Private Sponsorship of Refugees model are volunteers who help the refugees in their first year in Canada. The dedication of our volunteers is one of the greatest strengths of JIAS. Pam Albert is an example. Together with a friend, Pam sponsored a Rwandan family. They were able to partner with a strong group of volunteers at Holy Blossom Temple, and now this refugee family has begun a new chapter in Canada with support, strength, and love.
Partner Spotlight: Airbnb.org
When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the world watched horrific scenes of bombed-out buildings, cities under siege, and desperate people trying to escape through land borders. Ukrainians hoped the war would end quickly. But, as the violence escalated, many sought refuge in other countries, too scared or unable to return home.
Canada responded with an emergency temporary visa program that ultimately approved over 815,000 applicants, of which an unprecedented 170,000 arrived in Canada within 16 months. Thousands more are still anticipated to arrive.
JIAS recognized that Ukrainians would have urgent and specific needs upon arrival in Canada. To plan strategically, JIAS proactively worked with partner groups that were on the ground in countries neighbouring Ukraine to share an intake form with displaced Ukranians to gather information before they moved to Canada. Our data indicated that most respondents would need immediate housing. After hearing about Airbnb.org’s commitment to provide free, short-term housing to up to 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing the war, JIAS reached out to Airbnb.org and became the first Canadian settlement agency to become a partner in achieving this goal. We then helped another settlement agency build a similar relationship. This collaboration was a game changer for the agency, allowing JIAS to further its mission of removing barriers for immigrants and refugees integrating into Canada.
The partnership was so successful that the original funding provided by Airbnb.org has more than doubled and the scope of the mandate extends beyond the Ukraine crisis to include other refugee populations in need. JIAS and Airbnb.org are fulfilling their third agreement together as partners.
Thank You to Our Trusted Partners
Partnerships and Collaboration
JIAS is a pioneer of research and innovative collaboration, whose joint work is often shared across the settlement sector as best-practice.
Ontario Brain Institute
To study the impact of JIAS’ Mental Health group programs.
The Kunin-Lunenfeld Centre for Applied Research & Evaluation (KL-CARE)
To conduct research on mental health interventions with vulnerable newcomer populations.
University of Toronto, The Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
To explore anti-racism through the lens of a newcomer.
University of Toronto, Rotman School of Business
To conduct an environmental scan of the changes in the immigration ecosystem.
To help solve the immediate, short-term housing needs of Ukrainian clients arriving in Canada.
Child Welfare Immigration Centre of Excellence
To conduct a national study and develop a report to protect unaccompanied and separated minors coming to Canada under CUAET.
JIAS makes referrals to a long list of agencies. We also benefit from in-kind contributions and work closely with partner organizations to sponsor refugees, meet client needs, and amplify our mission. Here are a few of the trusted partners that JIAS worked closely with in 2022-2023::
Bernard Betel Centre
30 Birds Foundation
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
Canadian Race Relations Foundation
Canadian Ukrainian Immigrant Aid Society
Circle of Care
City of Toronto & United Way North York Cluster of Social Service Agencies
City of Toronto & United Way Newcomer Cluster
The Jack & Pat Kay Centre Camp
JF&CS (Jewish Family and Child Services)
JF&CS Family Resource Centre
JRCC (Jewish Russian Community Centre)
Kehilla Residential Programme
Miles Nadal JCC
National Council of Jewish Women, Toronto
Ontario Jewish Archives
Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights
RUN Hong Kong Ltd
Saskatoon Open Door Society
Shawna Goodman & Todd Sone Family Foundation
Toronto North Local Immigration Partnership
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto
York Region Local Immigration Partnership
York Region Social Services
York Region Centre for Community Safety
Thank you to the following generous donors and grant funders for their significant donations.
Jonathan C. Abrams
Marcy & Leonard Abramsky Family Fund at the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto
Judy Adler Lotin
Julia Yael Alekseev
Alex U. Soyka Foundation
Karen & Bert Amato
Deborah Anschell & Howard Shiffman
Dr. Gerald Arbus & Joy Wagner
The Azrieli Foundation
Tommy & Marilyn Bacher
Eleanor (Hykie) Ballett
Dr. Benjamin Barankin & Dr. Kimberly Liu
Beaton Burke Young LLP
Barbara & Stanley Beck
Natalia Ben Shimon
Lea and Michael Bendes
Cheryl & David Blinick
Jodi & Eric Block
Piers & Katie Bocock
Susy & Avi Bogler
Andrea & Allan Bronstein
Mitchell & Susan Brown and Family
Lee Ann Bryant
Canadian Global Response
Judi Caplan Zelikovitz & Joel Zelikovitz
Caravel Law Professional Corporation
Marlene & Frank Cashman
The Cohen Family – Niagara
Gwen & David Cole
Conam Charitable Foundation
Congregation Beth Haminyan
Deborah & David Cooper
Mary Cruden & Peter Donolo
Allie Herzig Cuperfain
Susan & Peter Dan
Minda & Moe Davis
Mark & Shelley Diamond Family Fund the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto
Phil & Lisa Draper Fund at the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto
Janet & Edwin Durbin
Wendy R. Eisen Endowment Fund at the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto
Miriam Erlichman & Eli Klein
Lynn Factor & Sheldon Inwentash
Pavel (David) Faynberg
David & Maya Fine
First Narayever Congregation
Deborah Fisher & Jack Colman
Tom & Jacqueline Friedland
Mr. & Mrs. Harvey and Annice Frisch Family Foundation
Sandra Frydman de Helfant
Helen & Aladar Gal Memorial Fund at the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto
Ester (Fira) Gershman
Debbie Gilbert & David Lefkowich
Allan Gold & Lisa Nerman
Rose Marie Gold
Bonnie Goldberg & Adam Abramson
Gary & Linda Goldberg
Michael & Nancy Goldberg
Ronald & Hilary Goldenberg
Sheldon & Fern Goldhar
Bonnie & Jerry Good
Gloria Good Draper
Morris & Rosalind Goodman Family Foundation
Shawna Goodman Todd Sone Family Foundation
Adam Gropper, Mikey Woolfson and Molly Gangbar
Ellen & Warren Grossman
Marc & Ricki Grushcow
Dr. Manor Haas
Jonathan Hausman & Stacy Rosen
Gila&Hart Heller Fund at the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto
Kate Hemblen & Glyn Thomas
The John Herbert Foundation
Elise Herzig & Ron Cuperfain
Marilyn & Jack Holtzman
Adam & Jeanette Hummel
The Jagelber Fund
Jewish Community Foundation of Calgary
Jewish Federations of Canada – UIA
Jewish Teen Board of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto
Jocelyn & Leon Kadish
Howard & Ilsa Kamen and Family
Suzanne & Stephen Karr
Tom & Christine Kasperavicius
Mira Kates Rose
Suanne Kelman & Allan Fox
Felice & Wayne Kirsh
Frances & Stephen Kraft
Naomi Kramer & Benjamin Murane
Len & Gail Krebs
Kuperman Family Foundation
Judith Laxer & Jeffrey Lipsitz
Mariam Leitman & Craig Perkins
Veronica Levin Zlatkin
Susan Lieberman & Mannie Zeller
Nathan & Glennie Lindenberg
Adrian Merchant Macdonald
Golda & Dave Manson
Jodi & Moish Margolis
Shelly Markel & Ian Freedman
Margaret McCuaig-Johnston& Paul D. Johnston
Lianne Menkes, Menkes Development Ltd.
Golda van Messel
Dr. Michael & Sandy Minden
Susan & Norman Mogil
Anna & Ed Morgan
Alan Morinis & Bev Spring
Lucille & Mickey Narun
Nova Study N.C.J.W
Matok Tomer Ohayon
Orbach Family Foundation at the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto
Clifford & Donna Orwin
James & Karin Phillipson
Matt & Melissa Picken
Michelle Porepa & Moss Weinstock
Carl & Kathryn Posluns
Ellen & Martin Prosserman Foundation
Rapkowski & Gertsberg Family
Lola Rasminsky & Bob Presner
Ted & Cathy Rechtshaffen
Jill Reitman & Joel Reitman, C.M.
Gerry & Shelley Richler
Carol & Michael Ringel
Allan & Ellen Rosenbluth
Sharon & Meir Rotenberg
Svetlana Rozumovich Shlush
Aryeh & Raquel Rubin
Janet & Michael Ryval
Alan & Lorraine Sandler
Paula Schipper & Joel Finkelstein
Donald & Fay Schwartz
Shaarei Beth El Congregation of Halton
James Shenkman & Denise Zarn
Elaine & Danny Shiff
Ilya T. Silbar
Suzanne Silk Klein
Pat & Pekka Sinervo
Singler Chapman Family Foundation
Alexandra Sipos Kocsis
Gwendolyn Smith & Cynthia Freeman
Constance (Chana) Solomon
Randy E. Spiegel
Josh & Orli Stanley
Elaine & Joseph Steiner
Judi & Allan Stoller
Sherri & David Taras
Judith Teller Foundation
David & Myrna Thomas
Thorek Scott and Partners
TJRJ Fund at the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto
Eli & Ellen Turkienicz Family Foundation
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto
Evgeniy (Jenny) Vernik
Kon von Haehling
Waisberg/Bellwood Charitable Fund
Debra & Gary Walters
Lesly Weinstein, CJPAC
Daniel & Karen Weisbrod
Janice Weiss & Rick Zarnett
Wendolyn Reputation Management
Gilda Ann Whyne
Wilansky Family Found at the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto
Samantha Wolfish & Laurie Permack
Women of Reform Judaism
Doron Yakovlev Golani
Anatoly & Polina Yakubov
Roslyn, Howard and Sue Yerman
Bonnie Zelman & Philip Plotnick
Elena Ella Zilberman
David Zitzerman & Karen Friedman
Moses, Libby and Sam Znaimer
Rochelle Zubcov & Mark Albert
Carole Herman Zucker Family Fund at the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto
Peter Zukovski z”l, In Memoriam
Thank you to our constituent groups who, in partnership with JIAS Toronto, support vulnerable ewcomers without a support network in Canada.
Adath Israel Congregation
Afghan Association of Saskatoon
Beth Tzedek Refugee Committee
Beit Tzion Shul
CHAI (Canadians Helping Asylum Seekers in Israel)
Danforth Jewish Circle Social Justice Committee
Dawit Demoz, Family and Friends
DDDW Welcoming Group
Displaced Syrian Family Reunification
The Naomi Project
Northern Lights Canada
Volunteers from Holy Blossom Temple
Westmoreland Refugee Support Group
Wadi Kaja Organization for Refugee and Immigrants