Frequently Asked Questions
What is CIJA’s Mission?
Who does CIJA Represent?
CIJA represents the perspectives of 150,000 Jewish Canadians affiliated with their local Jewish Federations.
As the Jewish and pro-Israel community is not monolithic, no one organization can claim to serve as the sole representative of that constituency. However, CIJA is the most democratic and representative Jewish organization in Canada, with a structure comprising various local and national bodies that enable Canada’s Jewish community to have a direct role in determining CIJA’s positions, priorities, and initiatives.
What does CIJA believe?
• Canadian thought leaders and policy makers serve all Canadians when they factor the Canadian Jewish perspective into Canadian policies and laws
• Human rights are worth fighting for
• Jewish Canadians have an important role to play in Canadian society
• Jewish Canadians have an important role to play in Canadian. Jewish. Advocacy
• Fighting antisemitism and bigotry in all its forms is critical to a healthy society
• Jewish and pro-Israel students should have a welcoming and enriching educational experience on university and college campuses, free from harassment and discrimination
• The Jewish community has an enormous amount to contribute to Canada’s continued success
• A strong Canada-Israel relationship benefits Canadians and Israelis alike
How is CIJA governed?
CIJA’s National Board includes 30 from communities across the country. Nominations to the Board are guided by an independent process whereby the nominations committee thoroughly assesses the background, skills, experience, performance and qualifications of prospective Directors and submits a list of candidates to CIJA members for consideration.
CIJA members, also known as CIJA’s Local Partners, include representatives of all federated communities (Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton, Ottawa, Victoria, Winnipeg, London, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and Windsor), non-federated communities (Regina, Saskatoon, Kingston, Atlantic Jewish Council), and Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA.
The Members vote on the candidates during CIJA’s annual general membership meeting. The Directors then elect the Chair, Vice Chair, and Treasurer.
Consistent with CIJA’s mandate of reaching out to all Canadians, CIJA benefits from the experience and insight of non-Jewish Board members (non-voting) who share the Jewish community’s concerns and public policy interests.
The Board meets in person three times annually and by conference call monthly, or as necessary. The Board approves strategic goals and provides advice and support for programming pursuant to CIJA priorities which are established with Canadian Federations, our members, and the Canadian grassroots Jewish community.
Joel Reitman and Jeff Rosenthal are Co-Chairs of CIJA’s Board of Directors. Joel and Jeff are assisted by an ad hoc Executive Committee, comprising the Immediate Past Chair, Vice Chair, and Treasurer. A list of CIJA’s Board members is available here.
CIJA’s professional team is led by Shimon Koffler Fogel, President and CEO.
How are decisions made at CIJA?
CIJA’s staff, Board, Local Partners, members, and JFC – UIA all have a direct role in determining CIJA’s long-term strategic goals.
CIJA’s professional staff design and implement these programs, advocacy initiatives, and near-term objectives – which are all subject to review and approval by CIJA’s Board.
Advocacy challenges often have an impact on specific local Jewish communities. In these cases, CIJA works closely with the local community in the affected community to provide strategic advice and resources that enable it to take the lead in addressing the issue.
What are CIJA’s priorities?
CIJA’s core priorities are:
- Combatting antisemitism
- Increasing community security
- Educating Canadians about the important role the people and land of Israel play in Jewish life
- Advancing a range of public policy issues in jurisdictions across Canada
For a full list of CIJA’s current public policy priorities, please visit: www.cija.ca/prioirites
How does CIJA determine its priorities?
To set our agenda, CIJA consults broadly with our community, listens to what is important to them, and makes sure that their perspectives and values are heard by the people who make Canadian law.
CIJA’s priorities are set by our Board of Directors whose decisions are informed by ongoing discussions with our Local Partners and Members in combination with engagement of our grassroots community through semi-annual grassroots consultations and a semi-annual grassroots survey.
If you would like to participate in the consultations or the survey, please sign up and we will send you information in advance of our next grassroots engagement.
What does CIJA do?
CIJA undertakes a range of targeted advocacy initiatives and educational activities including:
- Government Relations. CIJA works closely with federal, provincial, and municipal decision-makers. We provide expert resources and advice to educate policy makers on the organized Jewish community’s position on a range of public policy issues.
- Media Relations. CIJA builds relationships with reporters, editors, producers, and publishers to ensure our community’s position is reflected in Canadian media. We also provide background information and expert resources to help media understand and better cover a wide range of complex subjects.
- Jewish Community Relations. CIJA provides resources and direct support to our Federation partners and other Jewish communal bodies to assist with local advocacy challenges and to support greater Jewish engagement in civil society and political life.
- Other Faith and Ethnic Community Relations. CIJA works closely with leaders in other faith and ethnic communities on issues of common interest.
- Leaders in Civil Society. CIJA works closely Canadian leaders and influencers, including with government agencies such as the Canadian Human Rights Commission, their provincial counterparts, and others who are contributing to Canada’s national conversation.
- Empowering Students on Campus. CIJA works with university administrators on matters affecting the Jewish community on campus and on fostering relations between Canadian post-secondary institutions and their counterparts in Israel. CIJA also provides resources, training, and direct support for Hillels and other Jewish student groups so they are prepared to promote an understanding of Jewish issues on campuses across Canada.
- Missions. CIJA hosts intensive fact-finding missions to Israel that enable Canadians in key positions to understand first-hand the democratic values shared by Canadians and Israelis and the challenges facing the people of Israel.
What issues fall within CIJA’s mandate?
CIJA’s activities span several policy areas. Examples include combating antisemitism, strengthening the Canada-Israel relationship, advancing human rights, and advocating on behalf of society’s most vulnerable. These and other priorities are determined by the essential criteria of preserving, promoting, and protecting Jewish life in Canada and abroad and contributing to the wellbeing of Canadians in keeping with Canada’s core democratic values.
Who works at CIJA?
CIJA’s team reflects diverse personal and professional backgrounds with significant experience in key sectors such as government, government relations, media, academia, public opinion research, business, and non-profit. Staff members include Jews and non-Jews from across Canada who represent a broad spectrum of political orientation and religious practice.
What makes CIJA different from other Jewish organizations?
CIJA is the only registered lobbyist for the Jewish community. It is the sole advocacy agent of Canada’s Jewish Federations, focusing much of its work on engagement of the non-Jewish community who shape public policy. CIJA’s approach to advocacy is strategic, based on research, polling, and analysis. CIJA is the only organization to take hundreds of Canadian influencers and decision-makers to Israel on educational missions every year.
How does CIJA support Jewish students on Campus?
In partnership with Hillels across Canada, CIJA’s preserves, protects, and promotes Jewish life on campus in several ways. We provide essential funding, which supports Jewish and pro-Israel advocacy programming on more than 20 post-secondary campuses nationwide; we train and empower the next generation to effectively advocate on issues of concern to the Jewish community; we maintain collaborative relationships with senior university administrators from coast-to-coast; we hosts campus leaders on intensive fact-finding missions to Israel; and we build meaningful collaborations between Canadian and Israeli researchers.
How can I get involved in CIJA’s work?
There are many ways you can get involved with CIJA:
Stay informed. Check out our resources page to learn about issues and policies affecting the Canadian Jewish community.
Sign up to receive email updates.
Be an online activist. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and help us share our content and expand our network.
Volunteer. Get involved in planning and implementing advocacy initiatives through the Local Partner Council (LPC) in your community. Find your nearest LPC here or contact us.
How does CIJA report progress?
CIJA stays in touch with Canada’s organized Jewish community through its Local Partners and Local Partner Council, through issue-specific email updates, widely read summaries from lay leadership in A Word from our Chairs, and with the broader community through CIJA’s online channels and mainstream media.
CIJA issues an annual report which outlines progress on the public policy issues on which CIJA has been engaged.
How is CIJA funded?
CIJA is entirely funded by Canadian donors. As the advocacy agent of Canada’s Jewish Federations, CIJA’s core funding comes from Jewish Federations across the country through Jewish Federations of Canada – UIA (JFC – UIA), which reflects the support of approximately 150,000 Federation-affiliated donors in Jewish communities across the country.
Additional funds are raised through events, meetings, and email campaigns from Canadian donors. These generous donations are used to support and enhance programming delivered to Canadians.
CIJA is a non-profit organization that receives no funding from the Government of Canada or the State of Israel. CIJA is entirely funded by and accountable to Canadians.
How do I make a donation to CIJA?
Donations may be made online here.
Donations may be made by credit card or by cheque, made out to:
Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA with CIJA in the memo line
and sent to:
c/o Catherine Morrow
4600 Bathurst Street, Fourth floor
Toronto ON M2R 3V2
Tax receipts for donations to CIJA will come from JFC-UIA.
What is CIJA’s Budgeting Process?
CIJA’s Members and Board review and approve programs and budgets developed by professional staff.
What Are Local Partners?
CIJA’s Local Partners consist of Jewish Federations as well as non-Federated communities (such as the Atlantic Jewish Council). The Local Partners serve as CIJA’s shareholders. CIJA works closely with Local Partners in helping to manage advocacy challenges affecting local Jewish communities by providing national strategic advice, subject matter expertise, and resources.
What Are LPCs?
While core messages and initiatives are generally consistent with a national advocacy strategy, every community is unique. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to local implementation.
Therefore, joint Federation-CIJA bodies of community volunteers known as Local Partner Councils have been established across the country to enable local grassroots individuals or groups, with the support and resources of the CIJA and the local Federation, to take the lead in addressing local challenges. LPCs are responsible for implementing national initiatives at the local level.
CIJA benefits not only from direct input into advocacy activity locally but also from the input by the LPC in the national policy development process.
What is the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus?
The Canadian Rabbinic Caucus (CRC) provides CIJA with guidance and input on behalf of synagogues across Canada spanning the spectrum of Jewish religious practice. The CRC meets regularly by conference call and serves as a spokesperson on public policy matters affecting Jewish religious life and freedom of religion in Canada.
Membership in the CRC is open to rabbis from any denomination of Judaism. The CRC is led by an 18-member executive committee (six Reform, six Conservative, and six Orthodox) which, in turn, elects Co-Chairs. The CRC is currently co-chaired by Rabbi Reuben Poupko of Montreal (Orthodox), Rabbi Jonathan Infeld of Vancouver (Conservative), and Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl of Toronto (Conservative). The CRC’s Vice Chair is Debra Landsberg of Toronto (Reform).
What is the Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants (CJHSD)?
The CJHSD is an independent, grassroots organization affiliated with CIJA. The CJHSD was founded in 1999 and is dedicated to advocating on behalf of its members. CJHSD represents Canadian Survivors at the Jewish Material Claims Conference. Learn more about CJHASD at www.cjhsd.ca
Where is CIJA located?
CIJA has offices and staff in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Halifax, and Jerusalem.
Does CIJA work with other Jewish and pro-Israel advocacy organizations?
Yes. CIJA works closely with various Jewish community organizations, typically on a project-by-project basis.
Is there room within CIJA for people who disagree with CIJA’s policies?
Yes. CIJA aims to enhance Jewish unity across Canada but not uniformity of viewpoints, a goal premised on the belief that, when combined with a broad sense of solidarity, a healthy diversity of opinion among Jewish Canadians is a source of community strength and vitality.
With very few exceptions, CIJA strives to be inclusive of a wide range of viewpoints. As a matter of policy, CIJA does not provide a platform for the promotion of boycott-divestment-sanctions measures against Israel.
What is CIJA’s role outside Canada?
CIJA serves as the Canadian affiliate of the World Jewish Congress. In this capacity, CIJA regularly leads delegations of Jewish Canadian lay leaders, activists, and students to participate in the WJC’s plenary sessions and offer a Canadian perspective on global trends and advocacy solutions to key issues.
CIJA also serves as a member of the Jewish Federations of North America’s Israel Action Network as well as the Global Coalition for Israel.
CIJA has worked with a range of Jewish community organizations around the world, among them: the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), NGO Monitor, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), and the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.
CIJA has has established a formal strategic partnership with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. CIJA is the only organization outside the United States to be formally affiliated with the Conference of Presidents.
CIJA also serves as the Canadian representative organization to the Material Claims Conference, with two permanent directors serving on the Claims Conference Board.
CIJA serves as an active member of the Advisory Council of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IRHA), a body of experts and governments from 31 countries dedicated to preserving the memory and lessons of the Shoah.
CIJA maintains an office in Jerusalem to conduct on-the-ground missions and liaise directly with Israeli government officials from across party lines in the Knesset. Through its Jerusalem office, professional leadership, and its Board, CIJA engages directly with key interlocutors in the region. When requested of CIJA, with the consent and endorsement of the governments of both Canada and Israel, this engagement has included meeting with Palestinian and Jordanian officials as well as other actors in the region.
What has CIJA accomplished?
CIJA achieves results for our community. For example, after years of relationship building and extensive advocacy by CIJA…
- the federal government increased investment in security infrastructure, which means that shuls, JCCs, and schools are safer for our children.
- the federal government adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism as part of its anti-racism strategy, which means that authorities have the tools they need to recognize and address antisemitism in all its evolving forms, including anti-Zionism.
- the government of Canada renewed the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, which means deeper and closer economic ties between sister democracies to the benefit of Canadians and Israelis alike.
- the Justice Committee – in response to CIJA’s call to action – launched a major study of online hate and called on the Government of Canada to take concrete measures to tackle this issue, bringing us one step closer to a national strategy to counter this growing problem, which means we have taken a positive step towards preventing online hatred from evolving into real world violence.
- Canadian parliament outlawed discrimination by employers and insurance companies based on genetics, which means that all Canadians – and particularly Jewish Canadians who disproportionately carry genes that predict genetic disease – can benefit from the powerful tool of genetic diagnostic medicine without fear of putting employment or insurance at risk.
Is CIJA a human rights organization?
Yes. CIJA is a human rights organization dedicated to fighting antisemitism and bigotry in all its forms and advancing issues that impact the quality of Canadian life such as palliative care, genetic discrimination, and affordable housing.
Is CIJA pro-Israel?
Yes. CIJA educates Canadians about the important role that the people and land of Israel play in Jewish life with the objective of deepening understanding that Canadians have about the Jewish community and strengthening the ties between Canada and Israel to the benefit of Canadians and Israelis alike.
What does the acronym CIJA stand for?
CIJA is the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. Our tagline is Canadian. Jewish. Advocacy.
What is advocacy?
Advocacy is the process by which a community of interest builds political and public support for a cause or public policy
Who cares what CIJA thinks?
CIJA is one of the most well known, well respected, and active NGOs on Parliament Hill and in legislatures across the country
CIJA works closely with and is very well respected by law enforcement at all levels in Canada
CIJA is often consulted by elected officials and their staff to provide advice on a range of matters that are important to Canada’s Jewish community
CIJA is the most cited Jewish community organization in Canadian media
CIJA has built coalitions with dozens of other faith and minority groups on issues of common cause