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Ted and Harriet Lyons
photo by Keith Levit


Michael Nozick


Ted and Harriet Lyons, 45th Wedding Anniversary, Gimli,2002

 
JNF NEGEV GALA ONLINE HONOURING TED LYONS IS A TREMENDOUS SUCCESS

by Rhonda Spivak, June 6, 2021

 

The JNF Negev Gala, which was held on May 31 online, honouring community leader and radiologist with an international reputation,  Ted Lyons O.C. was a resounding success. The program produced, which featured entertainment from iconic Israeli singer David Broza and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra was a high quality online event that flowed beautifully, as friends, family and dignitaries showered Lyons with much deserved praise. 

 

Funds raised from this year’s Negev Gala will go to “The Bervin JNF Canada House of Excellence."  ‘The Bervin' is designed to close the educational achievement gap, foster academic success and empower youth in the periphery. It is being built in Sderot, the Israeli city closest to the border with Gaza, and will serve as an after-school education, empowerment, and enrichment centre for high school students from Sderot and its surroundings, who will be provided with the necessary tools and skills for scholastic and personal success. It will also act as a 3000 square foot bomb shelter.

 

Of course, Sderot was badly pounded with rockets from Hamas in Gaza in the most recent round of violence that began May 10, and thus the choice of "The Bervin JNF Canada House of Excellence" couldn't be a more fitting project worthy of support.  Lyons and his wife Harriet  were the lead sponsors for the event, pledging $100,000 towards the project.

 

The Michael Nozick Family Foundation was the presenting sponsor for the Gala and Michael Nozick, who grew up with Lyons  said: “I’ve known Teddy for more than 70 years. We’ve always been besties... We were classmates.

 

“To me he’s always been Teddy – and he’ll never be Ted."

 

Nozick spoke of  an incident that occurred when he and Lyons were "were 10 and 11" and were on their way to Hebrew Night school at Shaarey Zedek Synagogue  by bus. When they got off the bus they were confronted by "two big guys" with "big knives, who "demanded we turn over all our bus tickets and our money."

 

“Two of us took off like jackrabbits across the Crescent to the Shaarey Zedek ... and Teddy stayed. When he got back to us at class time, I asked him why he stayed and he said, ‘Well, robbery’s wrong and I wanted to explain to them that what they were doing was wrong, and I thought I could talk them out of it’.

 

“In the end Teddy gave them all his bus tickets and all his money – but it was the precursor of Teddy’s resolution –oriented leadership. Even then he was looking to make peace."

 

Nozick continued by saying, "Teddy’s curiosity is insatiable. Gadgets have always fascinated him. But, he’s not to be tinkered with. His dog once bit him – and he bit the dog."

 

Nozick noted that  Teddy's  interest in technology "ultimately led him to the field of ultrasound, where he is a world leader." He added that Teddy is "a people person and a people lover, with incredible interpersonal skills which, together with his peaceful, quiet nature and curiosity about new frontiers make him a natural leader." According to Nozick, Teddy "inherits his 

calm demeanour and comfort with leadership from his father [Reuven]..."

 

Nozick pointed out that that “Teddy’s contributions to the world are so great – and have been achieved with such humility, he will never be able to be truly measured," adding that  "Teddy has not only led major organizations – in both our Jewish community and the general community, but  Teddy has co-authored books and has written an almost uncountable number of articles, and even given many lectures at conferences all over the world...."

 

Nozick concluded that "Teddy and Harriet have a profound love for Israel. They have led missions and returned often. Teddy has said to me: ‘This year’s Bervin JNF Canada House project is special’.”

 

Winnipeg philanthropist and senior community leader Marjorie Blankstein, a leadership sponsor for the event, said to Lyons that "you've made an invaluable contribution to your your profession and also to the community," and that the honour bestowed upon Lyons "was so well deserved."  Blankstein remembers a young Teddy Lyons from  the days of the Gimli summer camp. “You will always be Teddy to me. I remember you as the swimming instructor at a Gimli summer camp – always in your swim suit. "

 

Jacqueline Simkin, also a lead sponsor of the event, had a full page ad in the Gala program booklet which wished Lyons a "Mazel Tov" and said, "I am very proud of Ted Lyons for his community service and in particular his work for the Saul and Claribel Simkin Center."

 

Gail Asper, President and Trustee of the Asper Foundation, which was a Chai sponsor of the event, spoke with the Winnipeg Jewish Review after the event and  said "Thanks to the JNF for all the work they are doing to strengthen Eretz Israel and for having the wisdom to choose Ted Lyons as this year's Negev Gala Honouree. I applaud the local team for putting on an outstanding event. We had a delicious meal delivered and mine was delivered by Karla Berbrayer, a past chair of the JNF Manitoba and Saskatchewan region. I was very impressed with the  commitment of the local volunteers to the organization."

 

Larry and Tova Vickar, of Vickar Automotive Group were Platinum sponsors of the Gala. Larry, a longtime board member of the  local JNF who is also on the National Executive of the JNF summed up this year's Negev Gala, saying "A great honouree. An absolutely worthy project through a terrific organization at the absolutely right time." 

 

The MC for the evening was Rabbi Matthew Leibl, who noted he first met Ted Lyons at his bar mitzvah on the Shaarey Zedek bimah. Ted was there in his capacity as a member of the board and the executive, who was tasked with presenting Leibl gifts. 

 

“I remember standing there looking up at this tall, dark goateed figure who had both a calm and booming voice, telling me what a remarkable job I had done – one of the best he had seen, how I was an asset to the community and how I had a bright future.

 

 “It seemed like it was a big morning for him and for me. Years later we were sitting together on that bimah; I had started my work as a Torah reader and a bar mitzvah teacher, and Ted was again there in his capacity as a past president probably – and I said to him: ‘Ted, we were here together not that long ago for my bar mitzvah and you said such amazing, inspirational things. Do you remember that?’ “And he looked at me with that same calm, yet booming voice and said: ‘Matt, I did a lot of those.’ "

 

At the Gala, the Honouree Ted Lyons, in outlining why he and his wife Harriet found the Bervin project to be so important, opened with a story:

 

“Twenty years ago I was lecturing in Korea and I was at the airport with a young Korean associate... I asked him about his family.

 

“He said he was married and had two children. I asked him, ‘Do they go to school? and he said ‘yes, they actually go to two schools. They go to a regular school Monday to Friday and they actually go to a second school two evenings and one weekend day a week’.’

 

“I said, ‘Why would you do that?’ and he said, ‘Well, there’s a lot of competition out there and I want to give my kids an extra advantage.’ I thought that made a lot of sense and wondered why we don’t do that in Canada.”

 

Ted, who has visited Israel eight times "mostly with the Jewish Federation," said that in December 2019 when he and Harriet last  visited Israel, JNF hosted them on a visit to the Upper Galilee and Sderot. In the Upper Galilee, they visited an after hours school for 14-18 year-olds called Nof Hagalil .

 

“We learned how the young people were being given extra training – in math, in physics, computers, and English," Ted stated.“These subjects are critical to be successful in industry, particularly in Israel, a ‘start-up nation’.

 

“The thinking is that urban children have access to extra education, but rural children do not. This school was an opportunity to give students additional training, to help them get into elite units in the army – and into university. In order to get those placements you need high marks. It made me think of my Korean colleague.

 

“In Sderot, a rural settlement, the JNF is going to build a facility like the one we saw in the Upper Galilee." 

 

 

“Out of necessity this new facility will also act as a bomb shelter – given the almost daily rocket attacks," he said, adding that he and Harriet had met with Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi when they were in Israel.

 

Ted went on to say that “Harriet and I have had the opportunity to serve the community for many years." He spoke of how "Harriet has taught tallis-weaving at the Shaarey Zedek for over 30 years and has helped many people – at home and in Israel, celebrate b’nai mitzvah, with a hand made tallis...She is also an established potter who has designed and crafted porcelain mezzuzot for rooms in the Simkin Centre and at Gray Academy. She is a staunch supporter of the Cancercare Challenge for Life, walking the 20 k every year since its inception 14 years ago.

 

 

He added that Harriet "has always been there for our children and our five grandchildren."

 

“I’ve had the honour to serve our synagogue, Jewish and radiology communities over the years. It’s been a real thrill to serve as president of many of the local and national organizations, and to have been honoured [in 2007] by Governor General Michaelle Jean as an Officer of the Order of Canada .

 

“I served as Shaarey Zedek President 30 years after my late father, Reuven. It was a real honour and an opportunity I cherished.

 

“Israel is the gold standard in technology and innovation and has been an example to the rest of the world in handling the Covid crisis and vaccinating the population in the most efficient manner." 

 

 

Winnipegger Patrick Elazar received the Bloomfield Award from the JNF.  As JNF Manitoba Saskatchewan President Nola Lazar explained, “The Bernard M. Bloomfield Award is presented annually to a deserving volunteer for JNF. This year’s award is being given to Patrick Elazar. Patrick served in the IDF and helped establish Kibbutz  Gezer. He has degrees in Middle East Economics and Agricultural Studies. Together with his family Patrick came to Winnipeg in 1988.

 

“Patrick is passionate about Israel. He volunteers regularly at Shalom Square, Limmud Winnipeg, and JNF Winnipeg.”

 

David Greaves, who is JNF Executive Director, noted that “our community is in great hands. The leadership of all the organizations and institutions that are the foundation of our community and supported by our generous community, provide us with a bright vision for tomorrow”.

 

The MC for the evening was Rabbi Matthew Leibl, who noted he first met Ted Lyon at his bar mitzvah on the Shaarey Zedek. bimah. Ted was there in his capacity as a member of the board and the executive, who was tasked with presenting Leibl gifts. 

 

“I remember standing there looking up at this tall, dark goateed figure who had both a calm and booming voice, telling me what a remarkable job I had done – one of the best he had seen, how I was an asset to the community and how I had a bright future.

 

“ “It seemed like it was a big morning for him and for me. Years later we were sitting together on that bimah; I had started my work as a Torah reader and a bar mitzvah teacher, and Ted was again there in his capacity as a past president probably – and I said to him: ‘Ted, we were here together not that long ago for my bar mitzvah and you said such amazing, inspirational things. Do you remember that?’ “And he looked at me with that same calm, yet booming voice and said: ‘Matt, I did a lot of those.’ "

 
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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.