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12 new signers sign the Book of Life

Anita Wortzman

Rob Berkowits

David Chochinov

Ruth Carol Feldman

David Cohen

Rainbow Stage dazzles the audience with 'L'Chaim-To Life' performance


by Rhonda Spivak, October 27, 2016


Twelve new signers signed the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba’s 2016 Endowment Book of Life [EBOL] at the lovely EBOL Donor Recognition event  held at Shaarey Zedek Synagogue on Sept 20th.  


Rob Berkowits, JFM Director of Development & gift Planning was the MC for the event.


 Anita Wortzman, the Chair of the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba welcomed everyone, noting that "  We are here tonight to celebrate and to acknowledge the new signers of the Endowment Book of Life, the Foundation’s flagship development program."


She  explained that "The Endowment Book of Life was launched in 1998 to inspire people to leave bequests to the Jewish Foundation by naming the Foundation as a beneficiary in their wills. When someone makes that commitment, as our signers tonight have done, they earn the opportunity to tell their personal or family story through the Jewish Foundation. The story is published on the Foundation’s website, it is bound in a physical volume located near the entrance of the Asper Jewish Community Campus, and a special hard copy of the story is produced for the signer."



Wortzman added that  since the program was launched the JFM has published roughly 770 stories.  "And we have realized nearly $12 million in estate gifts. By every measure, the program is a tremendous success for our community and it bodes well for the sustainability of our community’s institutions into the future. This year, we welcome 12 new signers of the Endowment Book of Life, including four signers under the age of 40. We are grateful beyond words to all of our signers, and proud that the program has been resonating with younger adults more than ever before."


Wortzman continued, "My own siblings, my parents, and I made the decision to participate together last year. I can tell you from personal experience, it is a profoundly meaningful way to contribute to the community. The program compels you to express what’s important to you, to reflect on your life, and to act according to your values. I encourage those of you who have not yet signed the book, but would like to know more, to speak to other signers about their experiences."


Wortzman also pointed out that  in  the evening's program there was a listing of individuals on the  Honour Roll,  whom the Foundation has realized bequests since June 2015. "We honour the memory of these people. They were generous, they were visionary, and they have set an important example for all of us."


This year’s Signers were : Dr. Solly Dreman ( who attended from Israel),  General Monash Branch 115 – Royal Canadian Legion, Aaron Ingram; Evelyn Katz, David Mahussier, John Plantz, Karen Richter in memory of Sue & Robert Feldman, Al Shell, Danial Sprintz, Paula Sturrey,Estelle Sures signing on behalf of herself and her late husband Richard.


Chair of the Endowment Book of Life Committee, Ruth Carol Feldman spoke, and invited  Dave Chochinov to share the story of General Monash Branch 115 of the Royal Canadian Legion. “In 2015, the few remaining members of this legion sold their building on Main Street, and decided to use proceeds from the sale to establish an endowment fund at the Jewish Foundation. Income earned by this fund will support the Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre, Shalom Residences, Gray Academy of Jewish Education, West Kildonan Collegiate, and the Salvation Army,” Feldman said.


Feldman noted that the the Jewish community of Winnipeg owes the Legion members, our deepest gratitude. As she said “In your early days, you challenged emerging fascism; you defended Canada and put your lives at risk as soldiers; you returned home and honoured the memories of your fallen comrades of all faiths; and you provided service to the entire community. And you did it all while wearing your Jewish identity with pride. Today, as an institutional signer of the Endowment Book of Life, you are ensuring that the General Monash Branch’s spirit of community service endures in perpetuity. Dave, on behalf of the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba and everyone gathered heretonight, I thank you for all that you and your comrades have done for the community for the last 83 years.”


Feldman then  led  a toast to this year’s signers, as members of the audience filled their  wine glasses. As she noted, " Wine is a symbol of joy and celebration.  By signing the Endowment Book of Life, you have become a link between our community’s past and our community’s future.”


Feldman then paid special tribute to David Cohen , the former CEO of the Jewish Foundation for bringing the Endowment Book of Life Program to Winnipeg .  As she said, "This program began in 1998 – exactly 18 years ago. Chai, as we all know, is represented by the number 18. This makes this year’s celebration extremely significant. The reason why I am able to stand up here, 18 years after our first group of Signers made their promises and documented their stories, is because of one person’s vision. And this person is here with us tonight. He is the person who brought the Endowment Book of Life program to Manitoba 18 years ago. This person is David Cohen. I ask, David, that you stand and be recognized for your foresight on the importance of this program for our community and our history."


Feldman next introduced the evening's entertainment, Rainbow Stage, noting that the company "read through dozens of already published  Endowment Book of Life stories, and matched some of them to popular Broadway selections." Collectively, these inspirational stories and songs  were called "L'Chaim-To Life."'


The medley by Rainbow Stage ended movingly with the song “Tradition” – a song that celebrates a certain place and time in the story of our people. As Feldman said, “Today in Winnipeg, we build on our own traditions. We celebrate and honour all places on the spectrum of Jewish practice. We take care of each other. We reach out to other communities. We welcome newcomers to Canada. We embrace and enrich our Jewish community through exceptional programs and services. And I am proud to say that the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba is at the centre of our community’s development. And the Endowment Book of Life program is at the centre of how we move forward.”


Berkowits thanked Feldman, her committee, the JFM staff and Board for supporting the EBOL program  as well as the  “ who have stepped forward with pride in their community and generosity in their hearts.”


He concluded by noting that “The ongoing development of the Endowment Book of Life program is one of our community’s success stories. Every time a donor says “yes” to participating, it is another vote of confidence in the community’s future. It’s another endorsement of the traditions that strengthen us all”



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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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