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Dr. Ted Lyons receiving the award from Marjorie Blankstein

Dr. Ted Lyons's Speech on Receiving the Sol Kanee medal for distinguished community service at Kavod Awards

by Dr. Ted Lyons, delivered May 21, 2014 posted here September 2, 2014

[Delivered May 21, 2014]


Rabbis, Kavod award recipients and friends,


I want to thank the community and the Jewish Federation for this honor.  The Sol Kanee award is a major recognition by the community. I find it hard to believe that I am being counted amongst all of those wonderful people who have received this honor.


I also want to thank Marjorie, the first recipient of the Sol Kanee award and of many others, for presenting this award to me and for being an important part of my life for over 60 years.  It all started at the Gimli summer club in the 50’s when Marjorie was president and I was hired as a councilor and then as camp director. She was a wonderful role model as were all of our parents from that era.  It seems like it was just yesterday.


The late Sol Kanee was a lawyer, President of Canadian Jewish Congress, Chairman of the World Jewish Congress Board of Governors, on the board of the Bank of Canada, and chairman of the Federal Business Development Bank. He was an Officer and then Companion of the Order of Canada. He was also Board chair of the Western Cdn Jewish old folks home or Sharon Home where he followed in the footsteps of his father Sam and his brother Abe.


He was respected and honored for all of his achievements and for his commitment to his community and to his fellow man.


Sol Kanee fully embraced his father's principle that the good that is taken from the community must be paid back in kind. Sol repaid his city, his country, and the world far in excess of his fair share.


The Winnipeg Jewish Community Council in turn created the Sol Kanee Distinguished Service Medal in 1994, his long-time friend Arthur Mauro founded the Sol Kanee Lecture on International Peace and Justice in 2002, and the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada created the Sol & Florence Kanee Distinguished Lecture Series in 2004.


Nelson Mandela said at his acceptance Speech as President


"There is no passion to be found playing small - in SETTLING for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."


Sol Kanee did not settle! He gave life his all.


It has oft been said that the more you give, the more you receive. It is even more true when you give to your community.   I PERSONALLY have loved every minute of the opportunities that I've had to serve and have received 10 fold in return. Frankly, I was saddened when each of my terms of office ended.

My community service opportunities were all done with the full support and love of my family and the unending support of my radiology partners. 


Why is it important to be a volunteer for the community?

Being a volunteer is something that you learn from your parents and pass on to your children. It is a chain that must not be broken. This is also true to being a contributor to the community. Being a contributor means giving of your time, of your talents and of your money. 

Many of us have been volunteers and contributors to our professional organizations but it is equally or even more important to be volunteers and contributors to our community and specifically to our Jewish community

In my own case I have received Much more than I have given and I am better for it.

In my family, my parents, in-laws, my wife and I, my children and their spouses are all volunteers and contributors. And we are all better for it.

I wanted to be the president of SZ because 30 years prior to my presidency my father had shared the same position.


It was Ghandi who said  “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” 

When I was asked to join the Board of the Simkin center and later became Board Chair, it was in the midst of a difficult time. I was excited with the opportunity to work with the new board. We have come out of the darkness into the light of a new era. We have embarked on a strategic plan so that the Center can be a beacon for how to treat our most vulnerable members. Our parents, babas and zaida who find themselves at the Center are at an advanced age usually over 90, with memory loss and often dementia as well as numerous other medical illnesses. They are older and sicker and require more care than ever before. That is our challenge.


As an aside, I later learned that almost 70 years ago, in 1945 and 48 my maternal and paternal grandfathers had been Chairman of the Board. 


It was being president of the Jewish Federation that I learned most about running an organization by serving at the foot of CEO Bob Freedman and alongside his team of Jodi Novak, Faye Rosenberg-Cohen, Shelley Faintuch, Elaine Goldstine, Judi Price-Rosen and Jack Cipilinski. 

Federation unfortunately still remains the best kept secret in Winnipeg.


I was also fortunate and learned so much from serving with many friends and associates on the executive and boards of all of the various organizations.

I gained much more than I gave.

But serving the community comes at a price. The price is your time and energy but also time spent away from family and friends. Trying to keep it in balance is always a challenge.

I am grateful to my wife Harriet and our children Mara & Sheldon and Sam & Rose, for helping me to achieve this balance. 

I am also fortunate to see the many contributions and volunteering effors of my wife and children as well.


I am truly grateful for the opportunities that this community has given to me and my family and hope that OUR contributions to this community have in some way also have made a difference. 


Maya Angelou said,


"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."


My hope is that my efforts personally and the efforts of the organizations with whom I have been privileged to be involved, have made a difference and most importantly have made the lives of people we touched, better and that they will remember fondly how it made them feel.



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