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Serky GoldbergBy HOLLY HARRIS
Ever since her earliest days growing up in Winnipeg’s fabled North End, Serky Goldberg has blazed a trail of visionary leadership and steadfast service - born the same year as the founding of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, including its Combined Jewish Appeal Campaign, now celebrating its 80th anniversary.

The inspiring octogenarian with boundless zest remarkably served as the CJA’s second only female Campaign Chair between 1985-86, following its first Chair, Nora Kaufman who led 1984-85, at a time when boardrooms still teemed with men. She also served as co-chair of the CJA’s Women’s Philanthropy Division with Sharon Wolchock from 1981-82, and continues to canvass tirelessly on behalf of the Campaign that launched in September, now wrapping up its annual fundraising drive in support of 18 local, national, and international Jewish agencies.

“I always saw myself as an individual who had strong convictions,” the self-described feminist states at the Garden City home she has shared with retired dentist husband Ben for 48 years. “I wasn’t trying to make a point about women, but felt I was just a human being that could stand up and make a difference,” she says. Goldberg also credits her own mother, Lillian (Mozersky) Dozar, and maternal grandmother, Faiga Soudack – both philanthropic pioneers, with deep roots in Winnipeg’s Jewish community for over a century - as empowered role models, with a strong commitment to Jewish education, the community-at-large, and to the creation of an Israeli State. While their husbands were busy being breadwinners, the women not only raised children, but also ran study groups and honed their skills with local Zionist organizations, forging strong bonds and organizing fundraising committees dedicated to establishing basic Jewish services that ultimately led to the creation of what was the foreruner of the JFW in 1938.
As a past Campaign Chair, one of Goldberg’s proudest achievements has been bringing “Super Sunday,” to Winnipeg, which she was to do after  attending the General Assembly for the Jewish Federations of North America in Detroit in the early 1980s, and modeled on Washington, D.C.’s prototype originally held on Super Bowl Sunday.
The CJA Campaign’s first Super Sunday Telethon held at the old “Y” on Hargrave Street raised an unprecedented $400,000 that first year – still to be topped – with this year’s event held September 10th raising over $120,020.

As a devoted mother, Goldberg is especially proud that her three children are following in her philanthropic footsteps, including sons Harold and Martin, and daughter Elana Schultz, who successfully chaired the Women’s Philanthropy Division from 2015-16.
Similarly, her nine grandchildren - and  now a new baby great-granddaughter Bella Lily - are also involved in philanthropy, speaking to the continuity of generations and importance of setting an example for younger family members to follow.
“My mom has been a mentor to me when it comes to being a volunteer in the Jewish community,” now inspiring her own daughters to serve, Schultz affirms via email.
“Whenever I have questions related to the Jewish community…my first and usually only phone call is to my mom. She has been a great support to me over the years.”
Another highlight has been participating in two Federation mission trips to Israel in 1990 and 2004. Goldberg feels they are important for offering unique opportunities that a tourist would likely never get to experience. During the 1990 mission led by her husband Ben, the 30-member group opened a community centre in Gan Yavne in partnership with Project Renewal, with Morley and Marjorie Blankstein, as well as Mira and Martin Buchwald, who also played a pivotal role.

As well, they travelled to Poland and Hungary, where they were able to observe life in Jewish Budapest at the very end of the Communist dictatorship there. During their flight back to Israel, Goldberg remembers a Russian Jewish refugee woman who was fleeing the Soviet Union, via Hungary, asking her to recite the Hebrew prayer for travellers.
“It was quite a moment, and very powerful,” she recalls. “That was really the gathering of the exiles, and we got to see first-hand what our money was doing for new immigrants.”

Goldberg feels two changes made by the Jewish Federation in recent years have resulted in a stronger infrastructure for the local community. The first change, she says, is the stipulation that beneficiary agencies not run potentially crippling deficit budgets, with the federation’s former executive director Izzy Peltz negotiating a loan through the National United Israel Appeal of Canada that created greater stability for the local agencies.
Another involved removing the line designating that a certain percentage of each gift would automatically be forwarded to Israel on the donor cards. Federation now makes that determination - roughly 10% of its total allocations – thus allowing the lion’s share of funds to remain in Winnipeg - something Goldberg says helps to build a stronger base for outreach.

“I think Federation is doing a magnificent job, but it has to stay strong. It has to adapt to the times because our local Jewish community has changed,” Goldberg states of the Jewish Federation, now beginning its next “80 years of impact.”
“We have to encourage everyone to be participants but it takes a long time, and you have to build slowly,” she advises.

“You have to hope, and you have to keep hoping so that people can be achievers in whatever they want to do,” she adds.
“It’s important in life to embrace the future with optimism, and that is what Federation is doing as it continues to build on the successes of the past.”
To find out more about the 2017 CJA Campaign that ensures a better collective future tomorrow, please contact us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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