Do a World of Good . . . Make a World of Difference 2011 UJA Campaign Begins in Calgary
Friday, 09 September 2011 20:57

Micah Libin is asking a lot.

He is asking a lot of people to do their bit for our community’s largest fundraising campaign.

“When you support UJA, you announce that you are part of the Calgary Jewish community.  I believe in Calgary’s Jewish community.  I believe that we care about our responsibilities.  I believe that together we can make a world of difference,” says Libin.

“Every single man, woman and child has a role to play.  Every single Jewish Calgarian can do a world of good by donating or volunteering to preserve, enrich and celebrate Jewish life”, adds Libin, who is chairing the community-wide campaign for a second straight year.

“I can’t think of a better way to express support for our own amazing community and solidarity with Jews throughout the world.”

 The difference is already apparent in the early and very generous support for the campaign, which officially began on September 1st, says UJA Director Diana Kalef.

“Calgary’s UJA Campaign has made a world of difference for close to half a century building and sustaining a truly wonderful community, and we should celebrate that.  But we can’t lose sight of how much more we all must do, especially for those members of the Calgary and world Jewish community who need us most.”

The annual campaign raised close to $2.8 million last year, which testifies to this community’s resolve to provide the services and programs that touch each Jewish life in one way or another.  But requests for 2011-12 funding in 2010 – some of them very urgent – exceeded the amount that dedicated campaign volunteers and staff were able to raise by more than $300,000.

“Last year, partner agencies worked tirelessly to provide the essentials for a good, strong Jewish Calgary, and they did a great job with what they had,” says Libin.

“If we fall short, as we did last year, we have very difficult choices to make.  Who doesn’t get funding?  Kids who want a Jewish education?  Families that can’t put enough food on the table? Combating antisemitism?  We have no choice but to raise the money.

Calgary Jewish Federation couldn’t fully meet this year’s agency funding requests, which exceeded campaign donations by 20 per cent.

“For the past two years, we’ve had to tell our partner agencies and all the wonderful professionals in our community to hold back on new initiatives, to limit their creativity and focus only on what services we could afford based on UJA donations. It wasn’t enough. We know there are people who are not being served. We know there are isolated seniors who would enjoy a visit. We know there are missed opportunities and cultural experiences that would enrich Jewish lives throughout our community. There is so much more we could be doing. All it takes is full participation by our community,” says Libin.

Despite that, the UJA story has, overall, been a success story.  For one thing, there is people power.

“We have a very dedicated and capable army of volunteers who are on a mission to speak face-to-face with as many other donors and potential donors as possible,” says Diana Kalef.  “They are passionate about serving our community.”

More than 150 volunteers form the backbone of UJA, which has played the central role in funding Jewish communal life in Calgary since the first local campaign was launched in 1962.

Serving alongside Micah Libin in leading the charge are Men’s Division Chair Sam Feldman, Women’s Division Chair Debbie Ryder, Lion of Judah Co-Chairs Naida Feldman and Carolyn Libin, YLD Chair Jordan Balaban, Events Chair Elizabeth Carson and Cell-a-Thon Chair Gay Libin. 

This year, UJA is asking everyone to do a world of good through a single campaign gift that will support vital programs and services provided by Calgary Jewish Federation and its local partner agencies, including Akiva Academy, Calgary JCC, Calgary Community Kollel, Camp BB-Riback, Jewish Family Service Calgary and The Calgary Jewish Academy.

”Our partner agencies deliver outstanding services and programs.  They deserve maximum, community-wide support”, says Drew Staffenberg.

Linking Jewish Calgarians to important charitable initiatives throughout North America, in Israel and around the world are Calgary Jewish Federation’s respected national and international partners including the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Jewish Agency for Israel, Jewish Immigrant Aid Services, the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and UIA Federations Canada.

 “The Jewish tradition is that we all give.  It is how we have survived for thousands of years.” 

“We do that by providing for Jewish day school education and summer camp experiences. By feeding the hungry and housing the homeless.  By reaching out to Jewish hospital patients and shut-ins,” says Libin.

“We won’t say no to women and children right here in Calgary who live in fear due to domestic violence.   We won’t say no to senior citizens who are starving in Kiev.  We won’t say no to immigrants and other newcomers who deserve a warm welcome and our help with resettlement.

“We won’t say no to them, so we say yes to UJA.”

In addition to providing for the less fortunate, UJA dollars feed the spirit of Jewish Calgarians of every age, stage and circumstance by funding the Calgary JCC which is the community living room and supporting educational, cultural, social and outreach programs as well as kashrut (kosher services) and the community mikvah (ritual bath). 

“Services funded by UJA touch the lives of every member of the Calgary Jewish community directly or indirectly.  Even those members of the community who choose not affiliate enjoy a safer and more secure environment because UJA funds human rights and Holocaust education and enables us to monitor and respond to antisemitic incidents and to meet with newspaper editorial boards, police and politicians.” says Federation president Adam Singer.

“Over the past few years, UJA has funded some remarkable success stories including the Integrated Bursary Program (IBP), the first program of its kind in North America,” says Drew Staffenberg who recently moved back to Calgary to head Calgary Jewish Federation.

The program arose out of CJF’s dedication to the ideal that individuals without the financial resources to pay full fees should not be denied a Jewish educational, social or cultural experience.  The application process was designed to ensure a dignified, anonymous and fair way of ensuring maximum and joyous participation in Jewish life. 

“It is one of the best things we do,” says Staffenberg of the IBP, which is wholly funded by UJA and has led to increased interagency cooperation and efficiency.

“The leadership and innovation of Jewish Calgary is attracting a lot of attention all over the Federation map,” says Staffenberg who adds that other communities are looking closely at Calgary’s IBP model and hoping to replicate it.

“It’s that energy and know-how that made me want to come home to Calgary.  And it’s that drive that will make this year’s campaign a record-breaker.”

Another UJA success story has been the very popular PJ Library program which, for a third season, is bringing the joy of Jewish reading to 211 children between the ages of six months and eight years and is sparking Jewish conversations in homes throughout the community.

 Young Leadership Division has harnessed the energy and enthusiasm of a whole new generation of Calgarians between the ages of 25 and 45, many of whom have already assumed major leadership roles throughout the community and who themselves contributed generously to last year’s UJA Campaign.    Their enormously successful 2010 Dine ‘n Dial raised over $20,000 in one evening, putting the fun in fundraising.

“Last year, UJA made a world of difference to those we were able to reach.  But I can’t stop thinking about those we couldn’t get to.  This year, we need to close that gap” says Libin.

“Being Jewish means taking care of the world and the people in it. Everyone can do that by donating and volunteering in this year’s UJA Campaign.  It’s what being Jewish feels like.  And it feels great!”


Watch for more details about the 2011 Calgary UJA Campaign in upcoming issues of Jewish Free Press, Pomegranate (Calgary Jewish Federation’s regular feature in the JFP) and E-Pom (to subscribe to this bi-monthly E-Newsletter, please contact Janene Puffer at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or visit Calgary Jewish Federation online at

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