Adam Levene Elaine GoldstineBy MYRON LOVE
The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg’s annual general meeting, which was held at the Campus on Tuesday, December 1, marked the official debut of Elaine Goldstine as the Federation’s new CEO – following an announcement of the appointment in a brief press release on November 26.

The CJA campaign director for the past 11 years had been appointed to the position on an interim basis last spring after her predecessor, Adam Bronstone, tendered his resignation after less than nine months in the position. Bronstone had been hired as the CEO as of September 1, 2014, succeeding Bob Freedman who had served as the leader of the Jewish community for 28 years.
The initial plan was to have Goldstine serve as interim CEO through the current CJA campaign period –with a search committee to be established early in the new year to find a permanent replacement for Bronstone.
In her inaugural state of the community report reflecting on the past year, Goldstine described a community that is in a in strong position despite some challenges.
She began her presentation by stating how excited she was to be able to address those in attendance at the AGM as the new CEO. “I want to express my gratitude to the Board for appointing me to this position,” she said. “I have received many emails and phone calls. It’s nice to know that so many people have such confidence in me.
Goldstine began her report with an update on the 2015-2016 CJA campaign. Last year, for the first time in more than a decade, the campaign not only finished short of its target but also raised less money than the year before. The 2015-16 campaign, Goldstine pointed out, is trending upwardly again.
“To this point, we have raised just under $5 million,” she said. “We are up almost $600,000 from where we were at the same time last year. We are up 6.2% card for card and have enlisted 77 new donors.”
As well as funds raised from the campaign, she reported that the Words and Deeds Leadership Awards dinner in September in honour of the Asper Family and the Asper Foundation was attended by 850 people and raised $450,000, of which half the money was put into our community’s endowment fund and the remainder going to the Canadian Institute for Jewish Affairs – the dinner’s co-sponsor – for a project of the Asper Family’s choosing.
“Our “Leave More Than Memories” endowment fund is at $3.7 million,” she said. “We are working closely with the Jewish Foundation to develop short and long term strategies to increase the endowment.”
In other good news, Goldstine spoke of the record attendance at the most recent Kristallnacht program and growing support for a number of other Federation programs such as YAD (The Young Adult Division), the PJ Library program which provides books to over 740 children in the community, the Passover hamper program (with over 150 delivered last Pesach) and Operation Ezra – the community’s campaign to rescue endangered Yazidi Families in the Middle East.
She noted that Jewish interest in immigration to Winnipeg remains strong. “So far this year, we have welcomed over 100 new families to our community and received inquiries and visitors from Brazil and Argentina, Russia, Turkey, South Africa and Israel,” she said. “I am blown away by the large number of people who are calling our offices from different places who are considering moving to Winnipeg. Our city and our community have become destinations.”
She also reported on the Federation’s most recent Mission to Israel in October. “We saw the real Israel and heard from many knowledgeable speakers about the situation there,” she said.
Goldstine spoke of the need for good communications between the Federation and its beneficiary agencies. “Our focus has to be on helping our partner agencies to succeed,” she says.
The other major change emanating from the AGM was the changeover in the presidency of the Federation from David Kroft to Adam Levene. Community leaders occupy the position of pjresident generally for a two-year term.
In his farewell address, Kroft spoke of his joy at having been able to serve in the role for the past two years. He noted that he has been a member of the Board for more than 20 years – staring when the Board was still meeting at the old YMHA building on Hargrave and the governing body was still the Winnipeg Jewish Community Council.
“One of my goals over the past two years,” Kroft said, “was to engage in regular and productive dialogue with our stakeholders. I am happy to report that all of our beneficiary agencies bought in and, as a result, we are all on the same page and share similar objectives.”
One successful example of Kroft’s approach, he noted, was the successful resolution of the Gwen Secter issue in October. The popular north end Jewish seniors drop-in centre was facing having to find a location or close next spring when the National Council of Jewish Women – the owners of the building – had given notice of the intention to sell the building.
“The Gwen Sector Creative Living Centre is an important part of our community,” he said. “We put in a lot of hard work to keep it open. (The Federation had been paying the NCJW a monthly rent for the past two years on the building – in the form of a repayable loan – is an effort to keep the seniors centre open until a solution could be found.) There was a lot of dialogue that took place (between the Federation, National Council and the Gwen Secter). Fortunately, a donor came through in the end and bought the building for the Gwen Secter.”
Kroft also noted the Federation provided bridge financing to B’nai Brith Camp to allow the organization to buy its island in the Lake of the Woods.
“In a world of change, our community is a model of stability,” He said. “Our programs are regularly held up as models for other Jewish communities throughout North America.”
Kroft also had words of praise for the Federation staff, new CEO Elaine Goldstine and her predecessors, Bob Freedman and Adam Bronstone. Of Bronstone, he said: “Adam had some tremendous ideas. I learned a lot from him.”
He also had praise for his successor as president, Adam Levene. Levene has been a board member for more than ten years.
“When I was first asked to take on this responsibility, I was a little hesitant,” the new president acknowledged. My wife (Marla) and I both have thriving law practices and we have two young children. But we decided that this is the right time. We want to make sure that our children will be able to be part of a vibrant Jewish community for many years to come.”
Levene observed that while our community is doing very well in many areas, there is no room for complacency. “We know that the community is spreading out into different neighbourhoods,” he said. “We also know that living a Jewish life can be costly and that for some people, it is difficult. We have to find ways to help people participate in our community organizations and events and become more engaged in the community.”
To that end, he spoke of using social media and new technology to enhance the annual CJA campaign and make fundraising more effective.
He also reported that over the next couple of months, the Federation executive will be reflecting on where the community is and where it wants to go and engaging in some strategic planning.
“I am always willing to listen to constructive feedback,” Levene said. “My door will always be open.”