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Moses (Moe) Levy


Gail Asper

 
MOE LEVY'S SPEECH ON RECEIVING THE SOL KANEE AWARD FOR DISTINGUISHED COMMUNITY SERVICE OF JEWISH FEDERATION AND GAIL ASPER'S INTRO

June 9, 2015

 

 

Editor's note: Below is Gail Asper's Introduction of Moe Levy at the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg's Kavod Award Evening at Etz Chayim Synagogue on May 20, 2015, and his speech on accepting the award. I particularly enjoyed Moe Levy's steam room story]:

 

Gail Asper: It is my absolute pleasure to be here with you all tonight to present the Sol Kanee Medal for Distinguished Community Service to my very good friend and colleague, Moe Levy. 

 

Moe arrived in Winnipeg as a teen from his birthplace of India, and pursued a business degree at the University of Manitoba.  His acumen has taken him into the worlds of business and entrepreneurship, education, government, and philanthropy, and his experience in all have made him an invaluable member of the Jewish and general communities here, nationally, and in Israel. 

 

Moe’s creative, entrepreneurial mind cause him to develop programs that are innovative and impactful such as the Stu Clark Centre for Entrepreneurship at the Asper School of Business.  After he joined The Asper Foundation in 1999 as Executive Director he developed the nationally acclaimed Human Rights and Holocaust Education Program.  Beginning with 45 students at the Gray Academy in 1999, the program now sends over a 1,000 students to Washington annually.  This program has been delivered to over 13,000 Jewish and non-Jewish students in over 200 cities across Canada and will be migrating to Winnipeg and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights next year.

 

Moe has developed equally important projects in Israel such as community centres for disadvantaged children, school gardens, and The Asper Centre for Entrepreneurship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 

 

Moe has sat on the Campus Board for many years, and recently served on the Federation Campaign Cabinet.  He has worked with Jewish Child & Family Service to establish a fund that helps address the issues of Jewish poverty in Manitoba.  He manages dozens of local and Israel projects for us and is also, at the same time, sought after on a daily basis for his wise counsel -- for fundraising, government or community relations.  Despite his heavy workload, Moe’s door is always open and his advice results in our community organizations and volunteers being educated and strengthened. 

 

But it’s the development of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights where Moe has gone above and beyond the call of duty.  My father’s unexpected passing in 2003 might have brought about the cancellation of the project.  Instead, Moe worked tirelessly for the next 11 years to secure the land, the funding (from three levels of government plus $150 million from the private sector), develop the content, manage the architectural competition, and do endless outreach to communities, governments, donors and the media resulting in the federal government making this the first national museum ever to be established outside of Ottawa. The Museum opened its doors in 2014, complete with a significant gallery on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism in Canada.  Moe fought fiercely day after day, year after year to protect its existence from those who wanted it removed.

 

For his kind heart, brilliant mind, tireless energy, optimism and commitment to Winnipeg, the Jewish community of Manitoba, Israel and the world Jewish community, and his reach for the stars attitude, it is with great honour that I call upon Moe to receive the Sol Kanee Medal for Distinguished Community Service.

 

 

THANK YOU GAIL FOR THAT WONDERFUL INTRODUCTION; NOW I HAD BETTER DLEIVER ON MY SPEECH.

 

RABBIS, KAVOD AWARD RECEIPIENT, FAMILY AND FRIENDS

 

I WISH TO THANK THE COMMUNITY AND ALL THOSE WHO NOMINATED ME

FOR THE SOL KANEE AWARD.  THERE IS, OF COURSE, GAIL, THE

INCREDIBLE FUNDRAISER AND COMMITTED COMMUNITY NUMBER LIKE

NO OTHER AND WHO WANTS TO ENSURE THAT I GET EVERY AWARD

UNDER THE SUN AND FRIENDS, SUCH AS SID AND ESTHER HALPERN.

 I AM ALWAYS DEEPLY TOUCHED BY SID’S WORDS WHEN WE MEET, ALBEIT BRIEFLY, IN THE MENS LOCKER ROOM AT THE RADY.  HIS ENCOURAGEMENT IN THE DARK DAYS OF THE CANADIAN MUSEUM FOR HUMAN RIGHT’S EVOLUTION TO HIS WORDS, THAT DEEDS ARE THE CRUX OF JEWISH PRINCIPLES AND THAT RESPECT FOR PEOPLE AND COMMUNITY SUPERCEED AND PRECEED THE TORAH.  THERE WAS NO GREATER EXAMPLE OF THESE PRINCIPLES THAN SOL KANEE, WHO SID ADORED.  ALTHOUGH I HAD NEVER MET THE LATE SOL KANEE, I CAN SEE WHY THE WORLD HAS FELT THAT WAY ABOUT HIM.  HE WAS A LAWYER, PRESIDENT OF THE WORLD JEWISH CONGRESS, CHAIRMAN OF THE WORLD JEWISH CONGRESS BOARD OF GOVERNORS, AN OFFICER AND COMPANION OF THE ORDER OF CANADA, AND HIS BUSINESS AND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENTS TOO NUMBEROUS TO MENTION. INDEED HE WAS A MENTOR AND ROLE MODEL FOR GENERATIONS 

 

SPEAKING OF  THE RADY LOCKER ROOM, I WILL SHARE A SECRET WITH

EVERY FUNDRAISER IN THIS ROOM – I WAS ABLE TO GET MORE

PLEDGES FOR THE MUSEUM IN THE STEAM ROOM THAN ANY OTHER

VENUE. UNLIKE WHEN GLOBAL EXECUTIVES WOULD UNLIKE WHEN

CANWEST GLOBAL EXECUTIVES WOULD RUN INTO AN ELEVATOR WHEN

THEY SAW ME COMING, IN A STEAM ROOM THERE IS NO PLACE TO GO !

 

AS MOST OF YOU KNOW, I CAME TO CANADA TO PURSUE MY EDUCATION

AND ENDED UP STAYING IN THIS TERRIFIC CITY AND COMMUNITY.  WHO

CARES THAT IF ON A LONG WEEKEND YOU GET ALL THREE SEASONS!  IT

IS THE WARMTH AND ACCEPTANCE THAT MAKES IT ONE OF THE

GREATEST CITIES AND JEWISH COMMUNITY IN THE WORLD.  JUST ASK

THE MANY PEOPLE FROM ARGENTINA, RUSSIA AND ELSEWHERE WHO

CALL IT HOME.

 

MY INVOLVEMENT IN THE JEWISH COMMUNITY PRE-ASPER FOUNDATION

WAS PRIMARLY THROUGH THE BOARD OF THE HERZILYA SYNOGOGUE

FUNDRAISING FOR YET ANOTHER CRISES.  OR MAKING HOT DOGS FOR

THE KIDS AT THE GRAY ACADEMY OR MY FAVORITE WALKING AROUND

WITH PONIES IN CIRCLES FOR FIVE HOURS DURING THE RAMAH FUN

FARE. 

 

AND THEN CAME ISRAEL ASPER, IN BLESSED MEMORY, WHO CHANGED

MY LIFE IN EVERY WAY.  HE EVEN HIRED ME IN THE MOST UNUSUAL

WAY.  I REMEMBER MY FINAL INTERVIEW WITH HIM, GAIL AND THREE

OTHERS.  ALL THAT I DID WAS TELL ONE RABBI JOKE, HE SPOKE FOR 90

MINUTES AND THE NEXT MORNING I GOT THE JOB. 

 

ISRAEL ASPER WAS MY MENTOR, THE KIND OF PERSON WHO, ONCE HE

BELIEVED IN YOU, MAKES YOU FEEL THAT ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. 

HE TAUGHT ME THAT THE JEWISH COMMUNITY AND ITS SURVIVAL WAS

MORE THAN AN ANNUAL CONTRIBUTION TO THE FEDERATION OR A GIFT

TO THE CAPITAL CAMPAIGN.  I WILL NEVER FORGET THE DAY I WAS

HIRED, SITTING IN HIS BACK YARD, AND HE GIVES ME BOOKS BY BEGIN,

JOBOTINSKY & HERZL TELLING ME THAT THIS WHAT I NEEDED TO READ

IN ORDER TO KNOW HIM, OR MONTHS LATER STANDING WITH HIM  IN

ISRAEL AS HE OPENLY  WEPT AT THE YOM HASHOAH EVENT IN

JERUSALEM.  WE WERE BOTH IN PAIN AT THE MEMORY OF LOST JEWISH

WORLDS BUT ONLY LATER CHARTERED A WHOLE NEW WAY

IN WHICH WE WOULD TEACH THE WORLD ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS AND

ANTI-SEMITISM, AND LATER, UNDER THE GUIDANCE OF BABS ASPER, IN

BLESSED MEMORY, CONTINUING ON HIS AND HER VISION AND THE

GROUND BREAKING PROGRAMS  IN ISRAEL.

 

I ALSO REFLECT BACK ON ANOTHER MENTOR, MY MOTHER SARAH, WHO

TAUGHT ME BY DOING.  I CAN RECALL NIGHT AFTER NIGHT UNTIL 2:00AM,

her HELPING TO SEND THOUSANDS OF JEWS FROM BOMBAY TO ISRAEL.

IT IS HEARTENING WHEN I SEE SOME OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL

PEOPLE IN ISRAEL AND IN THE UK THANKING ME FOR HER CHANGING

THEIR LIVES, AND IN MANY CASES, IT DID NOT TAKE MUCH.

 

SO I ASK EACH OF YOU TO BECOME THE NEXT SOL KANEE OF YOUR

COMMUNITY.  LOOK AT OUR RECIPIENTS TODAY AND THE LIST OF KANEE

WARD WINNERS SINCE IT WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1994 AND YOU SEE,

LEADERSHIP, MENTORSHIP AND COMMITMENT.

 

LIGHT A SPARK, GIVE OF YOUR TIME, MAKE A PERSON FEEL GREAT

ESPECIALLY WHEN TIMES ARE NOT THE BEST.  THOSE FIVE MINUTES

 MAY MEAN MORE THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE.  AND I KNOW IT CAN DO

WONDERS. I KNOW FROM EXPERIENCE WHETHER IT IS THE ARAB

WAITER AT THE KING DAVID HOTEL IN JERUSALEM WHO NEEDED ADVICE

OVER THE YEARS ABOUT HIS KIDS EDUCTION, WHO ARE TODAY

LAWYERS AND TEACHERS, OR HELPING THE SECRUITY GUARD AT THE

ASPER CAMPUS WRITE HIS COVERING LETTER AND HIS RESUME.  YOU

DON’T HAVE TO WRITE A CHECK TO INSPIRE AND CREATE CHANGE. 

 

jUST AS SOL KANEE DID FOR HIS GENERATION, AND ISRAEL ASPER AND

SARAH LEVY DID FOR THEIRS, IT IS INCUMBENT ON US TO SEE THE

STRENGHT IN OTHERS THAT THEY MAY NOT SEE IN THEMSELVES, GIVE

THEM THE CONFIDENcE AND HELP THEM ACHIEVE HEIGHTS THAT THEY

NEVER DREAMED POSSIBLE.  IN CLOSING, I AM DEEPLY HONORED AND

HUMBLED TO RECEIVE THIS AWARD.  I WISH TO THANK THE COMMUNITY,

TRUSTEES OF THE ASPER FOUNDATION, WHO ARE TOLERANT OF

SEEMINGLY UNATTAINABLE DREAMS AND IDEAS, TO THE SMALL TEAM OF

GAIL ASPER, JEFF MORRY AND TRACY PASCAL, MY DEEP APPRECIATION

TO MY WIFE BARBARA, CHILDREN ADAM AND HIS WIFE TANYA, SAM AND

SARAH AND MY FOUR LEGGED FRIEND MAC FOR ALWAYS BEING THERE

FOR ME.

 

I LEAVE YOU WITH A MOST BEAUTIFUL QUOTE: BENJAMIN FRANKLIN SAID ‘TELL ME AND I FORGET; TEACH ME AND I MAY REMEMBER, INVOLVE

 ME AND I LEARN’.

 

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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