Frequently Asked Questions
What is CIJA?
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, most commonly referred to by our acronym (CIJA), is the advocacy agent of Jewish Federations across Canada.
What is CIJA's Mission?
CIJA’s mission is to protect the quality of Jewish life in Canada through advocacy.
What is CIJA’s Tag Line?
Canadian. Jewish. Advocacy.
What is advocacy?
Advocacy is the process by which a community of common interest builds political and public support for a cause or public policy.
Who does CIJA Represent?
CIJA is the advocacy agent of Jewish Federations across Canada. As a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization, CIJA represents the perspectives of about 150,000 Jewish Canadians affiliated with their local Jewish Federation to elected officials, leaders in civil society, media, and others involved in Canada’s national conversation.
As the Jewish and pro-Israel community is not monolithic, no single 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 enables Canada’s Jewish community to have a direct role in determining CIJA’s positions, priorities, and initiatives.
What does CIJA believe?
- Human rights are worth fighting for.
- The Jewish community contributes significantly to Canada’s continued success.
- Fighting antisemitism and bigotry in all its forms is critical to a healthy society.
- Antisemitism is destructive to Jews and non-Jews alike and, it must be addressed for the benefit of all Canadians.
- Canadian thought-leaders, and policymakers serve all Canadians when they factor the Canadian Jewish perspective into Canadian policies and laws.
- Jewish Canadians have an important role to play in Canadian society.
- Jewish Canadians have an important role to play in Canadian. Jewish. Advocacy.
- A strong Canada-Israel relationship benefits Canadians and Israelis alike.
- Jewish and pro-Israel students should have a welcoming and enriching educational experience on university and college campuses, free from harassment and discrimination.
How are decisions made at CIJA?
CIJA’s staff, National Board, Local Partner Councils (regional lay leaders on local CIJA committees), Members, and Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA all have a direct role in determining CIJA’s long-term strategic goals.
CIJA’s professionals design and implement these programs, advocacy initiatives, and near-term objectives, which are reviewed and approved by CIJA’s Board of Directors.
Advocacy challenges often have an impact on specific local Jewish communities. In these cases, CIJA works closely with the local community to provide strategic advice and resources that will enable local spokespeople to take the lead in addressing the issue.
What are CIJA’s Priorities?
CIJA’s core priorities are:
- CIJA leads the effort to combat antisemitism by advancing policy proposals that protect Canada’s Jewish community.
Strengthening the Canada-Israel Relationship
- CIJA educates Canadians about the central role Israel plays in Jewish life and identity. We monitor issues that affect the Canada-Israel relationship, a friendship that benefits both Canadians and Israelis.
Social Policies that Protect Jewish Life in Canada
- CIJA works with Jewish service delivery agencies and other minority communities to advance social policies aligned with Jewish values that benefit all Canadians.
For a full list of CIJA’s current public policy priorities, please visit: www.cija.ca/priorities.
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 periodic grassroots consultations and surveys.
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 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 policymakers on the organized Jewish community’s position on 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 cover fairly and effectively 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.
- Other Faith and Ethnic Community Relations. CIJA works closely with leaders in other faith and ethnic communities supporting them in times of crisis and adding their voices to ours to advocate on issues of common interest.
- Leaders in Civil Society. CIJA works closely with Canadian leaders and influencers, including with government agencies, such as, among others, the Canadian Human Rights Commission and their provincial counterparts.
- On Campus. CIJA works in partnership with Hillels across Canada supporting advocacy programs that train, inform, and empower students. We maintain collaborative relationships with senior university administrators; support faculty facing challenges related to their Jewish identity; host campus leaders on intensive fact-finding missions to Israel; and build meaningful collaborations between Canadian and Israeli researchers.
- Missions. CIJA hosts intensive fact-finding missions to Israel that enable Canadian leaders to understand first-hand the democratic values shared by Canadians and Israelis and the challenges facing the people of Israel.
- Partnerships. CIJA partners with other minority groups in Canada, working on issues of common cause with the Black, Muslim, and Sikh communities, and with Christian and other faith groups, as well as with Indigenous Nations.
Who works at CIJA?
The CIJA team is diverse. We are Black, white, gay, straight, observant, secular, left, right, male, female, Jewish, and non-Jewish. Our discussions can be lively! 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 a 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 has wide experience in conducting fact-finding missions to Israel for Canadian influencers and decision-makers.
How can I get involved with CIJA?
There are many ways you can get involved with CIJA:
- Sign up to receive email updates.
- Stay informed. Check out our Publications page to learn about issues and policies affecting the Canadian Jewish community.
- Participate in CIJA calls to action and action alerts on emerging issues.
- Be an online activist. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and help us share our content and expand our network.
How does CIJA report progress?
CIJA stays in touch with Canada’s organized Jewish community through its Local Partners and Local Partner Councils or regional committees, through issue-specific email updates, widely read summaries from lay leadership in A Word from our Chair, and with the broader community through CIJA’s online channels and mainstream media.
How is CIJA funded?
As the advocacy agent of Canada’s Jewish Federations, CIJA’s core funding comes from Jewish Federations through Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA (JFC-UIA), which reflects the support of approximately 200,000 Federation-affiliated donors in Jewish communities across the country.
Additional funds are raised from individual Canadian donors through events, meetings, and email campaigns. These generous donations are used to support and enhance programming delivered to Canadians.
CIJA is a non-profit organization that receives 100% of its funding from the Canadian Jewish and pro-Israel community. CIJA is funded by and accountable to Canadians.
How do I donate to CIJA?
Donations by credit card may be made online here.
Donations by cheque should be made out to Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA with CIJA in the memo line and sent to:
81 Metcalf Street, 6th floor
Ottawa ON K1P 6K7
Tax receipts for donations to CIJA will come from JFC-UIA.
What is CIJA’s Budgeting Process?
CIJA’s Members and Board of Directors review and approve programs and budgets developed by CIJA staff.
What Are LPCs?
While core messages and initiatives are generally consistent with a national advocacy strategy, every community is unique. Therefore, joint Federation-CIJA bodies of community volunteers, or Local Partner Councils (LPCs), empower local grassroots individuals or groups, with the support and resources of CIJA and the local Federation, to take the lead in addressing local challenges. LPCs are also responsible for implementing national initiatives at the local level.
LPCs both support local advocacy and contribute to the development of CIJA national policy.
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 speaks publicly on 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)?
Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants (CJHSD) is an independent, grassroots organization affiliated with CIJA. Founded in 1999, it is dedicated to advocating on behalf of its members. CJHSD represents Canadian Survivors at the Jewish Material Claims Conference. Learn more about CJHSD at www.cjhsd.ca.
Where is CIJA located?
CIJA has staff in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Jerusalem.
Does CIJA work with other Jewish and pro-Israel advocacy organizations?
Yes. Community cooperation and mutual support is important to CIJA, which works closely on individual projects and campaigns with various Jewish community organizations.
Is there room within CIJA for people who disagree with CIJA’s policies?
Yes. 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 (BDS) measures against Israel.
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.
What is CIJA’s role outside Canada?
Serving as the Canadian affiliate of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), CIJA regularly leads delegations of Jewish Canadian lay leaders, activists, and students in the WJC’s plenary sessions and offers a Canadian perspective on global trends and advocacy approaches 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 many 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, the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France (CRIF), UK’s Board of Deputies, and the US Anti-Defamation League.
CIJA is the only organization outside the US that has established a formal strategic partnership with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. CIJA partners with the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) and 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 35 (and growing) countries dedicated to preserving the memory and lessons of the Holocaust (Shoah).
CIJA maintains an office in Jerusalem to conduct on-the-ground fact-finding missions and liaise directly with Israeli government officials and Members of the Knesset from across party lines. Through its Jerusalem office, Board members, and professional leadership, 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 leaders and influencers 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…
- With the help of thousands of community members who answered CIJA’s call to action, the Board of Trustees at the Toronto District School Board determined that Trustee Lulka did not breach the code of conduct in speaking out against antisemitism and rejected the Integrity Commissioner’s recommendation that she be censured.
- CIJA staff ensured that Jewish Federations and their agencies benefited from various COVID-related government benefits, generating well over $1M and alleviating the financial stress on Jewish Federations.
- CIJA has been actively engaged with the federal government on issues pertaining to online hate. After consultation with our community and others, it appears that the government will propose a policy in 2022, which we anticipate will include the many of CIJA’s recommendations concerning social media platforms. CIJA led the Coalition to End Online Hate, a broad-based alliance of 40+ organizations representing a diverse array of communities working with the Government to implement a national government strategy to curb the spread of hate online.
- The federal government increased investment in security infrastructure, making shuls, JCCs, and schools safer for our children.
- The federal government, the Provinces of Ontario and New Brunswick, and several municipalities and agencies have adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism as part of their anti-racism strategies, an effective tool 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.
- Canadian parliament outlawed discrimination based on genetics by employers and insurance companies, 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.
- CIJA is a steering committee member of the Canadian Blood Ban Coalition to end the gbMSM blood ban, a human rights issue that impacts many Canadians. As a result of the Coalition’s advocacy, the Canadian government has recently announced the repeal of the blood ban. Due to our track record of effective advocacy, CIJA was invited as the only non-LGBTQ2+ or HIV-AIDS organization to act as a steering committee member.
- CIJA is home to a National LGBTQ2+ Advisory Committee that advises on issues of concern to the gender and sexually diverse community. Over the past five+ years, CIJA has maintained a meaningful presence at Pride Festival and Society offerings nationwide. CIJA presented an online forum featuring queer Jewish individuals, comprising Rabbis, researchers, Indigenous Canadians and more, highlighting the diversity of the Jewish community.
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, such as palliative care, genetic discrimination, and affordable housing, that impact the quality of life for all Canadians.
Is CIJA a Zionist organization?
Yes. CIJA is Zionist organization that believes strongly that the Jewish people have the right to self-determination in their ancestral homeland. CIJA believes that Israel is a vibrant democracy that must manage its own internal affairs. While Israel-Diaspora relations are important, we do not presume to know what is best for Israeli citizens and therefore we rarely comment on the domestic political situation in Israel. Rather, CIJA educates Canadians about the important role that the people and land of Israel play in Jewish life and identity with the objectives of deepening Canadians’ understanding about the Jewish community and, to the benefit of Canadians and Israelis alike, strengthening ties between Canada and Israel.
Who listens to what CIJA says?
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 well respected by Canadian law enforcement at all levels.
CIJA is often consulted by elected officials and their staff to provide advice and expertise on matters 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.