It’s campaign kickoff season for Federations around Canada. But are their galas worth the cost?

A UJA Federation of New York gala for young leaders held in February 2020. (Photo courtesy of UJA Federation of New York/Facebook)

It’s campaign fundraising season across the country, as Jewish organizations hold banner events with big-name speakers to bring in machers and dollars for major projects. Toronto’s Federation is hosting Stephen Harper and George W. Bush, while Vancouverites are joined by Mayim Bialik and Fran Drescher—the latter focusing on Vancouver’s forthcoming JWest, a new community centre and residential complex that will be one of the most expensive Jewish building projects Canada has ever seen.

But with so many in-person events postponed during the pandemic, we wanted to ask whether the enormous price tag for putting on these extravagant galas is truly worth it. To break down why these events matter and scrutinize their value, we’re joined by two guests: Ezra Shanken, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, and Elizabeth Gomery, a founding partner at Philanthropica, a consulting agency.

Plus, Avi will recap his weekend at The CJN’s booth at the Ashkenaz Festival, and David recaps a treasure trove of Jewish board games found at a Goodwill in Calgary.

What we talked about


Bonjour Chai is hosted by Avi Finegold, Ilana Zackon and David Sklar. Zachary Kauffman is the producer and editor. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Socalled. The show is a co-production from The Jewish Learning Lab and The CJN, and is distributed by The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.