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David Asper (left) presented with the Sol Kanee Distinguished Community Service Medal by Richard Kroft

By MYRON LOVE
They come from various walks of life. They include lawyers and financial planners, teachers, homemakers, a hotelier, a long time camp director and an immigration consultant.
What all those who shared the stage at the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue on Thursday, May 17, at the annual Jewish Federation of Winnipeg/Combined Jewish Appeal Kavod Evening is a willingness to give of their time for the betterment of our community.

 

In accepting the community’s highest honour, The Sol Kanee Distinguished Community Service Medal, honoree David Asper noted that he has never been one for the limelight.
“I have never sought attention,” says the lawyer, businessman and chair of the Asper Foundation. “When I see situations, I quietly set out to do what has to be done.”
Asper first gained acclaim for his successful efforts (in collaboration with the late Hersh Wolch) to prove David Milgaard innocent of a violent rape and murder for which he spent many years in jail. Richard Kroft, who introduced Asper and presented him with the award, also pointed out other contributions that Asper has made to the greater community. There is, for example, the David and Ruth Asper Research Centre at the Pan Am Clinic – as well as the Rady JCC’s’s new David and Ruth Asper Early Learning Centre and the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights at the University of Toronto.
And the huge impact that the Asper Foundation has had locally, nationally and internationally goes without saying.
In his acceptance speech, Asper acknowledged his role models growing up – his parents, Israel and Babs Asper – and their friends and associates - such as the Krofts, the Nathansons and the Buchwalds.

He spoke about the trigger that motivated him to fight for the Jewish community as well as the underdog. His father became leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party while David was in junior high school. At the time, Sid Spivak was the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.
“The premier at the time (Ed Schreyer) described my father as a shyster lawyer and dad and Sid Spivak as the Gold Dust Twins from River Heights,” he recalled. “I was shocked that no one spoke out against that rank anti-Semitism.”
Asper paid a personal price at the time – having to take anti-Semitic abuse from one of his teachers and bullying from classmates.
Much has changed, he noted, citing negative reaction to the premier of British Columbia’s praise of an openly anti-Semitic Imam who has been disowned by his own congregation and to Prime Minister Trudeau’s condemnation of Israel for defending itself against an attack on its southern border by Hamas.
“The difference now,” he said, “is that our Jewish community is much more fully integrated into the society as a whole so that we have more support among our fellow citizens.”

Serky Goldberg, the recipient of the Max and Mollie Shore Memorial Award – our community’s other major award – is a third generation community volunteer who has been a community leader and volunteer for 60 years and more. The award was presented by the Shores’ great granddaughters, Stephanie and Emily Kalo.
“It is a privilege and an honour to receive this award,” Goldberg said. “I have known the Shore family my entire life. I played with their daughter when I was a child.”
Goldberg recalled as a youngster helping her baba, Faigie Soudack, and mother, Lily Mozersky Dozar  – both philanthropic pioneers, in their philanthropic/volunteer work on behalf of Palestine/Israel and the Jewish community.

Her resumé includes serving as only the CJA’s second  female Campaign Chair (1985-86), following in the footsteps of Nora Kaufman (1984-85). She also served as co-chair of the CJA’s Women’s Philanthropy Division with Sharon Wolchock in 1981-82, and continues to canvass tirelessly on behalf of the annual campaign.
One of the highlights of her life, she said, was being in Hungary in 1990, en route to Israel. “We were part of a community mission to Hungary and Israel,” she recalled. “There were 12 of us from Winnipeg. An Israeli official approached us at the airport and told us to ignore everyone while boarding the plane. On our flight were 100 Soviet Jews being taken to Israel. We were greeted on the tarmac in Israel by a large crowd singing and dancing.
“That was a powerful reminder about why I have worked on behalf of Israel over the past 50 years.”
She noted that her sons, Howard and Martin, are active in their communities and that her daughter, Elana, and her granddaughters, Liat, Abbie and Dafna, in Winnipeg are also active in our community.
Emily Shane, the former executive director of the Jewish Child and Family Service received the Larry Hurtig Memorial Jewish Communal Professional Award. Jack Hurtig (Larry Hurtig’s son), who presented the award, praised Shane, who was the JCFS executive director from 1997 to 2014, as a visionary and role model who exhibited strong leadership and high standards.
“Emily was always accessible to anyone in the community in need of support,” Hurtig noted. “And she has served on numerous community boards.”
In her response, Shane commented that “being a Jewish community civil servant is daunting. It is both a profession and a calling,” she said.
She credits her late parents, Abe and Zahava Baum, both Holocaust survivors, as being her role models, as well as the Jewish and egalitarian values she learned at Peretz School for the path she chose for her life’s work.


Our community’s Young Leadership Award winners for 2018 were Lindsey Leipsic and Josh Blatt. A CA by profession, Blatt was the recipient of the Max Nathanson Young Leadership Award in recognition of his contributions to the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg in a number of different leadership roles over the past five years.
Gray Academy elementary teacher Leipsic was awarded the Harry Silverberg Young Leadership Award for her leadership role as co-chair of the Federation’s Young Adult Division. She is also a member of the Board of the Federation’s Grow Winnipeg initiative and the Jewish National Fund.


The Shem Tov Awards are also an important part of the Kavod Evening. Every year, each of the Federation’s beneficiary agencies is encouraged to nominate one of its long time volunteers for special recognition.
This year’s Shem Tov recipients include Arieh Kravets (Aleph Bet Child Life Enrichment Program), Michael Weinstein (B’nai Brith Jewish Community Camp), Michael Ritter (Camp Massad), the late Ike Permut (Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre), Jeffrey Gilbert (Jewish Child and Family Service), Daniela Jacobsohn (Jewish Federation of Winnipeg), Marc Schaeffer (Irma Penn School of Jewish Learning), Eka Mednikov (Rose and Max Rady Jewish Community Centre), Brenda Tessler Donen (Winnipeg Board of Jewish Education), Robert Paul (Shalom Residences Inc.), Barbara Hyman (Saul and Claribel Simkin Centre) and Mark Kantor (Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada).

Every year as well, another outstanding member of the staff of Gray Academy receives the Grinspoon Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. The awards celebrate educators in the US and Canada who teach with distinction. Community awards are made to one recipient in each participating community. The award this year went to Silvina Mohadeb.

In introducing the evening, JFW President Laurel Malkin reported on a busy year just passed in for the Federation.
The Federation’s “Leave More than Memories Endowment Fund”, she noted, is now over $4-million. “In celebration of our 80th anniversary,” she said, “we have initiated our ’80 for 80’ Challenge. We are encouraging members of our community to open new funds or add to existing funds by increments of $80.”
Malkin  praised the Federation’s many volunteers as well as board members and paid staff.
She noted that the most recent CJA campaign raised a record $5.77 million. “We had 241 new donors,” she added.

Malkin reported that the PJ Library program is up to 800 subscriptions, that programs geared to Jewish university students and young adults are thriving – and that a new initiative for adults aged 27-32 - a new Birthright trip for younger Jewish professionals who have never been to Israel – left on June 6 with four younger Winnipeggers – with two more going in September. She added that 40 participants have signed up for the Federation Mission to Israel in November.

Malkin also noted that Operation Ezra, our community’s effort to rescue endangered Yazidis, has raised over $600,000 and brought ten Yazidi refugee families to Winnipeg.
And she praised her predecessor, Adam Levene, who completed his term near the end of last year. “Adam has been a mentor to me and a role model,” Malkin said. “He was an outstanding president.”

Kavod