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Karen and Peter Leipsic
All photos by Keith Levit

Peter Leipsic

From right to left: Jessica Cogan (JNF MB/SK Vice-President), Gail Asper (2016 Negev Gala Honourary Patron), Karen Leipsic, Peter Leipsic, Marjorie Blankstein (2016 Negev Gala Honourary Patron), Ruth Rasnic (Founder and Chairperson of No 2 Violence Against Women

Peter Liepsic and Ruth Rasnic


by Rhonda Spivak with files from the Jewish National Fund, April 17, 2016




About 90 people attended the successful 2016 Negev Gala Kick-off on Thursday, April 7th at the RBC Convention Centre. Members of the local Jewish Community, friends and sponsors joined the celebration to launch the Jewish National Fund's most important fundraising event of the year, which will be held on Tuesday May 31, at the Centennial Concert Hall.


Jessica Cogan, JNF’s Vice President, gave a warm welcome to all the attendees and introduced the main speakers: Peter Leipsic, JNF’s 2016 Negev Gala Honouree, and Ruth Rasnic, founder and chairperson of “No 2 Violence Against Women” in Israel.


Peter Leipsic’s commitment to protecting others, both as a professional in the insurance business and as a philanthropist, inspired him to choose a unique project in which JNF and “No 2 Violence Against Women”  have joined forces.


“Domestic violence is a serious problem worldwide and in Israel as well. When JNF presented this opportunity to help women and children have a fresh start, it really touched my heart and it was a no brainer for me to become interested in it. Karen and I decided to support it,” said Peter Leipsic.


Peter also told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that he and Karen were so touched by this cause that they have decided to fund a local shelter, (Alpha House) in Winnipeg for women and children escaping domestic abuse by directing interest from their endowment fund at the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba to go to the  Jewish Child and Family services, for support of  Alpha House. This way the Leipsic family can support victims of domestic violence both in Israel and Winnipeg.Shortly after the kick-off the Leipsic family was setting off to Israel to see the No 2 Violence Against Women 's shelter that this year's funds from the Negev Gala will be supporting. Liepsic also noted that the 2016 JNF honourees in Vancouver are also supporting this shelter. He also noted that he was especially humbled to be a  JNF Honouree since "past JNF Honourees have been the movers and shakers of the community and I am honoured to be included in this list."


Richard Liepsic, one of five co-chairs of the Negev Gala (along with his wife Kerrie Halprin, Michael Liepsic Keith Jordan and Mel Lazareck ), said of his brother Peter: "Peter has a long history of volunteerism and a deep commitment to this community; his extensive record of national and local community service includes leadership positions with many organizations, Jewish and non-Jewish alike.  Mostly however he works quietly behind the scenes, often taking on the tasks no one else will. 


"I can’t tell you on how many occasions I’ve been in a meeting and there’s a situation, a difficult call that needs to be made or an issue arises that’s hard to crack and nobody is volunteering. That’s when they call on Peter.  He’s the fixer and somehow, we don’t know how, but not waterboarding, he breathes life into the most recalcitrant donor and gets the pledge paid.  Something that many others don’t know but which sums up his sense of community obligation and, typical Peter goes mostly unspoken, is that Peter is a monthly Red Cross blood donor.  I’m not surprised that the building of a women’s shelter would resonate with Peter. He’s been in the protection business all his life."


‘NO 2 Violence Against Women’, which was established in 1978 by  Ruth Rasnic, has been helping victims of domestic violence by providing emergency housing, running a 24 hour helpline and advocating for the rights of women. ‘NO to Violence Against Women’ currently runs three shelters in Israel. The Hadera and Herzliya shelters have recently been rebuilt and with your help, the shelter in the city of Rishon Le Zion (South of Tel-Aviv) will be rebuilt in 2016.  


Rasnic noted at the Kick-off event that in all of Israel "there are only 14 shelters for victims of domestic abuse," for a population of over 8 million. (This can be compared to Manitoba where there are 10 shelters). The 83 year old Rasnic, who in 2009 received the Israel prize for her life's work helping victims of domestic, added that Israel really needs 40 shelters, and has a long way to go in properly caring for victims of domestic abuse, who come from a multitude of backgrounds. Rasnic explained that of the 14 shelters, two are strictly for Haredi women, and two are for Arab women, while others have dealt with new immigrants from Russia and Ethiopia. More recently these shelters have had the challenge of helping Russian and Ukrainian women who have been smuggled into Israel as sex slaves.


“Domestic violence is a community issue. Every woman must have a safe place for herself and her children. Thirty-five percent of the women worldwide have experience either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime”, Ruth Rasnic pointed out.


Rasnic stressed that at present, 65-70% of women and children fleeing abuse cannot get into shelters as there are not enough emergency shelter beds in Israel. The project will have a life altering impact on women and children that desperately need this facility. The shelter will provide safe housing, emotional and social contention for families, enabling them to rebuild their lives and have a real chance to start over in the wake of family shattering abuse.


The special entertainer for this year's JNF Gala will be the talented reggae vocalist Matisyahu, who will deliver a special musical performance.


For tickets, tribute and sponsorship opportunities for this year's Negev Gala honouring Peter Leipsic at the Centennial Concert Hall on May 31, 2016call the JNF office at 204-947-0207 or visit our webpage:


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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.