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Event Chairs Beth and Stefanie Goldberg
Manuel Sousa

CJA Campaign Chair Steve Kroft with Lisa Kroft
Manuel Sousa

Impact Story tellers Jessica Cogan, Lindsay Sawyer Fay and Gail Asper
Manuel Sousa

Morris Henoch, March of the Living committee member, in Flash Mob
Manuel Sousa


by Rhonda Spivak October 24, 2018

Elaine Golstine CEO of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg reports that the CJA campaign is off to a promising start in reaching its goal of $5.75 million dollars (which is the same goal as last year). "We are running at a 4% increase card for card and we are ahead of last year's pace. We have shortened the campaign this year such that it will end by Dec 31, 2018, as opposed to March 31, 2019."

Some 300 people, a capacity crowd, attended the Campaign kick off October 10 event at the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre titled "Footprints: Celebrate the Past, March to the Future.

The main sponsors for the very successful event were the Asper Foundation and the Michael Nozick Family Foundation, with general sponsors Myers LLP and Mark and Sharon Berkowitz.

The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg President Laurel Malkin and Combined Jewish Appeal (CJA) Chair Steve Kroft welcomed everyone to the event. The audience was then treated to live music by the band "Those Guys." Kroft told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that "I am continually inspired by the generosity of the Winnipeg Jewish Community and the dedication of the vollunteers who make our annual campaign possible." 


At the event some members of the community shared stories of how the Federation or one of its beneficiary agencies has positively impacted them.

Evelyn Hecht spoke of  being a volunteer member of the Shoebox brigade. "I raised $365 by the end of the first year. Who knew that would be the start of Women’s Philanthropy." Evelyn later became the Director of Community Relations for the Federation. "That changed my life!...In the late 90’s I worked with the Manitoba Government to pilot the Manitoba Nominee Program, to identify and attract new immigrants to our Jewish community. I traveled to Buenos Aires several times to meet with and encourage those who had expressed the desire to join us here....And come they did… with great courage and determination to succeed…."

Josh Malam spoke of being a Jewish gay man. He went on March of the Living in 2000. "Before I went I felt alone, I felt I didn’t have a place in the community." He spoke of later becoming "a member of the LGBT community helping with charities, raising money for kids who like me needed to feel like they belong."
Josh is one of the Founding members of Anachnu, The Jewish Gay and Lesbian group. "I also volunteer with SOMS a local drag charity that sends young LGBT kids to camp. I am proud to say it is through these programs that I too learned to give back to help my own community..." 

Mira Buchwald said that "Growing up I watched my father work as director for the CJA campaign for many, many years.  It was only natural for me to become involved.  At about age 25 I started volunteering and after more than 50 many projects...sitting on the women's campaign board, co-chairing Super Sunday 3 times and co-chairing women's campaign from 2002-2004...It was so much a part of me and I'm very proud of all the work..."

Carrie Shenkarow spoke about how "My days at camp taught me so much about who I am." Carrie went to Balmoral Hall for High school "so one of my only connections to being Jewish was my summers at camp. I had my first kiss between cabins 9 and 10..." Camp was Carrie's second home.

"The impact it had on me as an adult is huge. As a board member now and a parent I get to step right back into that world where I can feel like that same 12 year old again. The memories flood back. That feeling of being safe, independent, strong are all things that I still feeltoday. It feels great to put my energy back into the community and especially back into know that it will be there for generations to come and I am a part of making sure it stays forever."

Karla Berbrayer spoke about her son Micah, now 28 years old, who lives with autism, is legally blind and has mild cerebral palsy. Micah now lives in a Shalom Residences home in River Heights. "It means so much to our family to know that Micah can live in his own home and be happy." 

Lindsey Sawyer spoke of the impact the Federation and the Rady JCC has had on her. My father started serving on the Rady board and he eventually became president.  She started her Jewish community journey with YAD and served a term on the Federation Board.  "This gave me the building blocks for my Jewish identity and community commitment. I was fortunate to watch my father and many other strong community leaders   before me. It was a great honour when I was asked to serve on the Rady JCC board and learn so much from these dynamic role models.  I often wonder why I am so lucky to belong to our community, but it is my immense privilege to make an impact..."

Gail Asper spoke of how the Jewish Federation and its beneficiaries have impacted her life for many decades.  "I can’t imagine how sterile and devoid of Jewish activities my life would be without organizations like the Gray Academy, where both my sons, Stephen & Jonathan, spent 12 years, JCFS, where I volunteered and where my husband, Mike, became the first non-Jew to Chair the Board, and the Rady Centre with its magnificent programming including the Izzy Asper Jazz Series, which was created by my dad 17 years ago as well as the Jewish Film Festival.  I strongly believe if you benefit from something, you have to work hard to support it, which is why I chaired the CJA campaign for 2 years and still make calls to ensure I am a fair share giver.Our community’s strength comes from our support for each other and I can’t think of a more important organization for Jewish continuity than the Winnipeg Jewish Federation."

Elissa Abrams spoke of how PJ library and Grey Academy have impacted her family in so many ways. "Connecting us to education, Jewish values, traditions and holidays. The teachers care about our children as if they were their own. "Our children (6 year old twins and a 3 year old) come home from school excited about being Jewish. Now the twins are both budding Philanthropists. We are so fortunate. Now, I am on the PJ library committee, and I helped bring the Shabbat project to Winnipeg." 

Jessica Cogan spoke of how March of the Living impacted her. "My father came from India to Canada in 1968 and we had no direct connection to the Holocaust. But Cogan saw it as her "sacred responsibility" to go on the March of the Living. "It took years to process the enormity. Especially significant was the Majdanek Concentration Camp and the piles of ashes. I have carried that horrible memory with me for 30 years. I left that place with a promise...a promise to myself and to the pile of ashes in front of where I stood - never forget.  I promised them and myself that I will work, I will build, I will commit, and I will participate. I will raise a Jewish family and one day, when I have children of my own, I will teach them the importance of doing the same."In May 2016, Cogan watched her daughter, Rachel board a plane to Poland to bear witness and march from Auschwitz to Birkenau."March of the Living is recognized as one of the most influential programs that is funded in part by our Jewish Federation.  It was the start of my involvement in community and is at the core of every “yes” that I have ever given and will continue to give. Over 400 Winnipeg students have made this journey since 1988.Let’s make sure 400 more carry the torch."

Carli Rossall spoke about the impact of the Jewish Child and Family Services (JCFS) on her life.She was addicted to drugs and alcohol. "In the process of exploring my own recovery, I soon discovered that were many people like me; Jewish and drug addicted, but just too ashamed to seek help. In November of 2017, Carli starte working as the Addiction Services Counsellor at JCFS. Although my job is very much about helping others address their addictions, it's also about helping them conquer and overcome their shame." She described herself as "a a woman who has personally benefited from the very service I am now offering." She said that "The stories I hear, they follow me home, and stick with me, not only because they are powerful, important stories, but also because they are so much like my story. I get just as much out of this work as I give." She added, I look at what I’m doing with JCFS as an opportunity to be a small part of something much bigger than myself." 

Following the "impact stories" there was a vignette about March of the Living. It consisted of a grandfather who was a survivor, his son who went on March of the Living 30 years ago, and his grandson who went on the March of the Living today.

The beautiful song "The April Wind" composed by Vadim Dreyzin was performed by Josh Bellan. 

The evening ended with a final song and flashmob.Beth and Stefanie Goldberg thanked everyone for attending and participating in the event

Golstine said the event was "absolutely amazing." Kroft added the event was "outstanding and served to remind all of us why we do what we do for our community, both as donors and as volunteers. It was a snapshot of what is important and of the impact CJA and all of our agencies and programs have." 

Prior to the event there was a Sponsor and Donor Reception at which new Lions of Judah and Lions of Judah who endowed their gifts were welcomed.

This year the Women's Philanthropy Chairs are Ellen Kroft and Paula Parks, The Young Adult Division Chairs are Jason Gisser and Lindsey Leipsic, the Lion of Judah Chair is Daniela Jacobsohn, the Top Donor Chair is Murray Palay, and the Ben Gurion Society Chairs are Jared and Leanne Akman and David and Sarah Carr.



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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.