Annual Report

2023 Annual Report

Report from JIAS Toronto Leadership

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.

Thank you,
Anna Morgan
Board Chair

Message from Elise Herzig, Executive Director, JIAS

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 represents the diverse communities we serve and operates on common values, dedication, integrity, and empathy. Individually and collectively, they 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.

Thank you,
Elise Herzig
Executive Director

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2022-2023 Year in Review

Our Mission

We welcome, support, and integrate new immigrants and refugees to build a vibrant Jewish community and a strong, inclusive Canada that values all newcomers. 

Our Mission
Our Values

Our Values

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.

Our Services

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.

Our Services

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.

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For some, immigration is a choice. For refugees, leaving home is not a choice. The poem “Home” by Warsan Shire gives a voice to the experience of refugees.


The dedication of our volunteers is one the greatest strengths of JIAS. Enjoy reading about our recent 2021/22 volunteer award recipients.

Tyna Silver

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 Talker

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 Smit

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 Tchaossovski

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 Hubert

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 Lerner

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.

Your Impact

Thank you to the following generous donors and grant funders for their significant donations.

Your Impact (continued)

Barry Keyfetz
Paula Keyfitz
Boris Kholodny
Michael Kinrys
Felice & Wayne Kirsh
Joel Kirsh
Tatiana Kiseleva
Roza Kitay
Kim Klaiman
Michael Kleiman
Boris Kling
Fran Klodawsky
Sharon Klug
Melissa Kluger
Pinhas Kobelkovsky
Hal Koblin
Noah Kochman
Lynne Koffman
Ludmila Kolesnichenko
Ada Kopshtein
Marissa Korda
Victoria Koren
Aaron Korman
Lubov Korobov
Ludmila Kotlear
Esfira Kotliarenko
Vladimir Kotlyar
Marc Kotov
Albina Koyfman
Sima Koyfman
Frances & Stephen Kraft
Iosif Kramer
Miriam Kramer
Naomi Kramer & Benjamin Murane
Kathie Krashinsky
Valerii Kravchenko
Len & Gail Krebs
Gary Krikler
Boris Krimus
Sarah Kula
Anna Kulikov
Alexandra Kuperman
Kuperman Family Foundation
Regina Kuperman
Alexander Kurtsfeld
Inna Kurtsfeld
Marvin Kurz
Eric Lakien
Deborah Lambert
Zahava Lambert
Stephanie Land
Brian Lang
Sara Lantsman
Lasry Family
Judith Laxer & Jeffrey Lipsitz
Kathy Lazarovits
Charles Lazzam
Miriam Leber
Catherine Lechter
Viktoria Leibel
Alisa Leitko
Mariam Leitman & Craig Perkins
Avraham Leneman
Semion Lerner
Maria Leshchinsky
Eric Letovsky
Elena Leventov
Veronica Levin Zlatkin
Wilfred Levin
Ivan Levine
Renee Levine
Boris Levitin
Sheldon Levitt
Janice Lewis
Robyn Lewis
Yury Leyman
Valery Libenzon
Dena Libman
Mark Libman
Elaine Lipman

Susan Lieberman & Mannie Zeller
Nathan & Glennie Lindenberg
Joy Lipkin
Rosie Lisogurski
Lev Lisovski
Barry Lithwick
Donald Loeb
David Lubek
Ida Lukovsky
Anton Lytvynenko
Adrian Merchant Macdonald
Leonid Maizelis
Kirill Malev
Reva Malinsky
Ryan Manilla
Robert Mansfield
Golda & Dave Manson
Harold Margles
Jacqueline Margolis
Jodi & Moish Margolis
Darian Margoulis
Edward Margulyan
Shelly Markel & Ian Freedman
Karen Marshall
Nicole Martin
Jack Martins
Igor Matushansky
Bernie Mayer
Gerald Mazin
Ela Mazur
Margaret McCain
James McCall
Margaret McCuaig-Johnston & Paul D. Johnston
John McGrath
Jerry McIntosh
Barbara McKenzie
Jennifer McQuestion
Maria Meindl
Leonid Meksin
Yanina Mendelevich
Roslyn Mendelson
Lianne Menkes, Menkes Development Ltd.
Golda van Messel
Sofia Mezhericher
Gennady Mezibovsky
Boris Mikhailovich
Andrew Miller
Cherie Miller
Gary Miller
Joel Miller
Ruth Miller
Sybil Milstone
Judith Minden
Dr. Michael & Sandy Minden
Pamela Minden
Risa Mintz
Alex Miretsky
Judy Mizrahi
Susan & Norman Mogil
Elena Morderer
Anna & Ed Morgan
Alan Morinis & Bev Spring
Ellen Morrow
Morris Moscovitch
Larry Muller
Sophia Muller
David Naimark
Lucille & Mickey Narun
David Nativ
Leah Nemirovski
Manuela Neuman
Philip Newman
San Nguyen
Noreen Nisker
Adele Nissan
Michael Noble
Jonathan Nobleman
Maha Noraddin
Tatiana Normatov
Nova Study N.C.J.W

Shari Novick
Margarita Novodvorets
Irene Nyaga
Wen-Chih O’Connell
Matok Tomer Ohayon
Erica Oielgisser
Alla Okun
Orbach Family Foundation at the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto
Wendy Orbach
Clifford & Donna Orwin
Judy Orzy
Shirley Osler
Raymond Oster
Maria Ostrobrod
David Paperny
Polina Patlazan
Brenda Patlik
Madison Pearlman
Josh Pekarsky
Jordan Pelc
Edward Peleg
Tali Pelich
Bernice Penciner
Derek Penslar
Rita Petlakh
James & Karin Phillipson
Matt & Melissa Picken
Gregory Pilin
Marina Pilin
Igor Pinsky
Katy Pitch
Richard Polisuk
Alexander Polovitcki
Earl Pomer
Michelle Porepa & Moss Weinstock
Carl & Kathryn Posluns
Michael Pozneris
Shlomo Press
Ellen & Martin Prosserman Foundation
David Pulver
Anna Pyanin
Alexander Rabinovich
Alex Rabinovich
Mark Rafman
Christine Raissis
Annika Ramos
Sarah Rana
Rapkowski & Gertsberg Family
Lynda Rapp
Lola Rasminsky & Bob Presner
Joyce Raymond
Ted & Cathy Rechtshaffen
Joel Reiken
Karen Reinblatt
Jill Reitman & Joel Reitman, C.M.
Sarah Revich
Gerry & Shelley Richler
Alla Rimashevski
Carol & Michael Ringel
Irina Riskin
Gail Ritchie
Abby Robins
Marina Rodov
Ela Rogatsky
Simion Rohkin
Matt Rosen
Harriet Rosenberg
Allan & Ellen Rosenbluth
Syrille Rosman
Michael Ross
Rochelle Ross
Sharon & Meir Rotenberg
Raya Rozenberg
Svetlana Rozumovich Shlush
Elena Rubanovski
Anna Rubezina
Aryeh & Raquel Rubin
Nina Rubinovich
Dave Rushton
Sima Rutman

Janet & Michael Ryval
Paulina Sadevich
Deanna Sadinsky
Edward Sadinsky
Maryna Saidova
Arielle Salama
Robert Salna
George Saltzberg
Caroline Sand
Alan & Lorraine Sandler
Amyn Sarif
Joyce Schachter
Jennifer Schaffer
Raphael Schapiro
Sophie Schapiro
Ellen Scheinberg
Paula Schipper & Joel Finkelstein
Michelle Schneeweiss
Kathy Schneider
Karen Schucher
Andrew Schwartz
Donald & Fay Schwartz
Farrah Schwartz
Maya Schwartz
Olivia Schwarz
Andrea Schwebel
Alina Segal
Joel Segal
Melanie Segal
Naftali Seitelbach
Marsha Selick
Elena Selizer
Shaarei Beth El Congregation of Halton
Ian Shabinsky
Mark Shabinsky
Maureen Shandling
Daniel Shapiro
Judy Shapiro
Susan Shapiro
Lauri Shay
Nina Shchypkova
Rimma Sheikhman
Ilan Shelest
James Shenkman & Denise Zarn
Geraldine Sherman
Maya Sheynin
Elaine & Danny Shiff
Tatum Shiff
Reuven Shilensky
Svetlana Shkolnik
Tatyana Shkolnik
Grigory Shlimel
Edie Shore
Elad Shoval
Stella Shpayer
Anna Shremova
Alexsandr Shtein
Esfira Shvartz
Frida Shvarzman
Svetlana Sidorkin
Alisa Siegel
Mireille Siegel
Lynn Sigel
Ilya T. Silbar
Suzanne Silk Klein
Doreen Silver
Daniel Silverman
Pat & Pekka Sinervo
Singler Chapman Family Foundation
Carolyn Singman
Alexandra Sipos Kocsis
Elena Skorik
Elaine Slater
Jay Slater
Nahum Smirin
Gwendolyn Smith & Cynthia Freeman
Mitchel Smith
Jacquie Sobey
Herbert Sohn
Susie Sokol

Constituent Groups

Thank you to our constituent groups who, in partnership with JIAS Toronto, sponsor refugees to come to Canada and provide crucial support to these vulnerable newcomers.

Adath Israel Congregation
Afghan Association of Saskatoon
Beth Tikvah
Beth Tzedek Refugee Committee
Beit Tzion Shul
Bornstein Group
Camp Manitou
CHAI (Canadians Helping Asylum Seekers in Israel)
City Shul
Danforth Jewish Circle Social Justice Committee
Dawit Demoz, Family and Friends

DDDW Welcoming Group
Displaced Syrian Family Reunification
Freeman Family
Friends Together
Misra Group
The Naomi Project
Northern Lights Canada
Nebo’s Horizon
New Beginnings

Oraynu congregation
Toronto Harbour
Temple Sinai
Volunteers from Holy Blossom Temple
Westmoreland Refugee Support Group
Wadi Kaja Organization for Refugee and Immigrants
Y&D Group