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Photo of Ben Cohen by Jon Waldman

Jonathon Kroft, outgoing President of the Jewish Federation presenting a hammer to Ben Cohen. Photo by Jon Waldman

Jonathon Kroft handing Ben Cohen a hammer. photo by Jon Waldman



by Rhonda Spivak

Ben Cohen became the new President of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg on December 9, succeeding Jonathan Kroft, who served in that position for the past two years. (Note that Kroft is the father of popular teen journalist, Daniel Kroft who is a regular columnist for the Winnipeg Jewish Review)

In a farewell gesture, Jonathon Kroft, who said that Cohen's fundraising skills were well-known handed Cohen a hammer, teasing Cohen that he might find the hammer a useful tool in his new position. After handing Cohen the hammer, Kroft said, "Can I make him President now, my car is running," a remark which set off a spontaneous round of laughter.

The minute after becoming President, Cohen made an announcement which generated further laughter: "We will be renewing [Federation CEO] Bob Freedman's contract for 20 years.  We will be retiring him in 2030."

Cohen, 46, has a history of involvement in the Jewish community here. In 2006, he held the position of Combined Jewish Appeal [CJA] Campaign Chair and was elected vice-president in 2007.  Ben has also served on the boards of Jewish Child and Family Service and Herzlia Adas Yeshurun Synagogue. His outstanding dedication to the Winnipeg Jewish community was recognized in 2007, when he was named the winner of the Harry Silverberg Leadership Development Award.

Cohen is a graduate of Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate and attended McGill University, London School of Economics and is completing the Executive MBA program at Harvard University. Cohen is CEO of Arbaco Ltd a consumer products distributor, is married to Simone and has three children attending the Gray Academy of Jewish Education.


At the Federation's General Annual meeting Dec 9, Israel Ludwig, the Chair of the CJA Campaign announced that the 2009 campaign stands at $4,665,481, and "We are projecting an increase over last year.  "We have seen a 1.3% increase on a card for card basis," Ludwig said.

"We hope to reach our goal of $5.4 million by the time of the campaign closing," he said.

Ludwig noted that Winnipeg's campaign figures are very solid, especially in comparison to "other campaigns across the country, such as Montreal, and Vancouver, which are coming in flat or 10% down."

Ludwig also said "The Women's division outperformed all other divisions in our campaign."

Marsha Cosman, Chair of the Women's Division, said that the division is undergoing "a rebranding."  She noted, "We are going to be called 'Women's philanthropy,' not the Women's Campaign…A campaign implies a certain deadline, but philanthropy should be an ongoing value."

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.