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By BERNIE BELLAN
In 2009 Rhonda Spivak had someone create a website for her. Before she launched that website, however, someone within the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg was able to obtain for Rhonda the complete Jewish Federation e-mail database - something that was supposed to have remained absolutely confidential.


How do I know this? Because two years later the same individual who had created Rhonda Spivak's website approached me with an offer to create an even better website for me. At the time he told me about the Jewish Federation database that Rhonda had been using, that he had a copy of that same database and that  he was willing to use it to send out "e-mail blasts" for me to the thousands of individuals whose names were on that database. While I admit that this was an ethical breach on my part, at no time did I actually have access to those names. Eventually I stopped sending out those e-mail blasts because I thought that, as much as some people didn't seem to mind receiving them, they were "spam" and did annoy a certain proportion of recipients. Later that individual decided to sever ties with me as well, but by then I had built up a substantial e-mail database on my own. I'm not proud that even briefly I was able to make use of the illegally obtained Jewish Federation database, but then again I haven't been holding myself up as an arbiter of what moral standards we should expect from our Federation's CEO.
Why am I bringing this up now? Because yesterday Rhonda Spivak had the gall to post on her website a list of the qualifications that she wanted to see in any new Jewish Federation CEO. Among those qualifications she listed "honesty and integrity".
Well, Ms. Spivak, who is someone who has been making use of an illegally obtained database for almost six years now one to lecture about honesty and integrity? As for the Jewish Federation and its reluctance to come forward and admit that an individual there was complicit in what was, for all intents and purposes, theft, well, individuals in that organization and other Jewish organizations have  been acquiescing to Rhonda Spivak's  bullying tactics for years - tactics that have included threatening members and administrators of various organizations with severe consequences if they didn't advertise on her website - often despite the better judgment of the professionals running those organizations.
As I noted in my earlier opinion piece about the dismissal of Adam Bronstone, Rhonda Spivak has exerted an inordinate amount of power over various aspects of our Jewish community by means of threats and hectoring various individuals over the years. It is about time that members of this community began to stand up to her bullying tactics.
And it is not too late for the Jewish Federation to conduct a thorough investigation how Rhonda Spivak was able to obtain a database that was supposed to have remained absolutely confidential and why she is not forced to hand that database back.