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by Rhonda Spivak Dec 22, 2019

Joel Lazer of Lazer Grant LLP,  the new President of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg,  says that one of the things he would like to accomplish  as President is "to make the community more cohesive." He adds "I think there room for improvement in sharing information, resources and acting  together for the common good of the community, which is living with Jewish values."

Lazer also points out that the another thing he'd like to accomplish "is to raise awareness about the incidents of antisemitism." He notes" I am concerned about antisemitism." He recommends "a very good book , that is easy to read that has recently been published by Bari Weiss called How to Fight Antisemitism."

The leadership of Candice Tenenbein and Laurelle Harris, co-chairs of the newly reformatted Public Affairs and Advocacy Committee will undoubtedly make this task easier.

"I am most excited to facilitate improvement  in the above two areas," he indicates.

When asked by the Winnipeg Jewish Review whether there are changing needs in our community, Lazer replies "Yes, there are changing needs, there always is. The trick is to recognize what change is needed, which isn't always easy as people generally resist change."

Lazer outlines some of the changes that are occurring in our community. "We have  changes with respect to people who are enrolling their kids in Gray Academy. " He emphasizes that "We need to have enrollment in Gray Academy go up. We need to do it, not just hope to do it."

Another change in the Jewish community which Lazer points out is that  "We have more of our Jewish community living in more areas of the city, including Transcona, for example. Before Jews used to live roughly in three areas- Garden City, River Heights and Tuxedo- but that is not the case today. The challenge is to be inclusive and welcoming to everyone."

Lazer also notes that "We have more immigrants coming to the community, which is a positive trend. "The community needs to reach out to them," he emphasizes.

The community plan recently completed and published by a committee led by Carol Duboff provides a plan to go forward in the changing environment and address the needs of a modern Jewish community.

When asked if there are challenges in having more new immigrants coming to the community, Lazer responds "I think we have some challenges with the government which we are addressing."

Lazer speaks very highly of the current CJA Chair Barry McArton, who wants to raise more money than was raised last year. "Barry McCarton is great to work with. He has such energy and enthusiasm , you can't help but be dragged along with him. " Lazer adds that  "It's a real treat to be working with McCarton."

Lazer has been at the board table of the Jewish Federation for about  six years. "I've always been on the executive of the Federation," he notes.

He became  the Chair of Community Relations about 4-5 years ago. "As Chair of  Community Relations I became the local partner Chair for CIJA (The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.)" He explains that he became a member of the CIJA Board two years ago and is still on CIJA's Board. "That's independent of being on the board of the Federation," he notes.

"I think CIJA does good work. We are going to utilize CIJA as much as we can. They are a resource for our benefit."

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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.