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Elaine Goldstine, the 2023 JNF Negev Dinner Honouree, Looks Back at her 30 year plus Career in the Jewish Community

by Rhonda Spivak, April 18, 2023

Elaine Goldstine has had a long and distinguished career working for the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg,  including eight years as CEO, and is this year’s honouree at the Jewish National Fund’s Negev dinner. She is retiring in August.


Elaine, who is 68 this year, first started working in fundraising for what was then known as Winnipeg’s Jewish Community Council (which later became the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg) , at the old YMHA building on Hargrave. “I began working from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. when my two sons were in school,  and look what eventually happened,” she says with a smile. In fact, she is the first female to become a Federation CEO.

Within about a year  after Elaine first took a part time position, she began working full time, and  served as the director of the Women’s  Division of the Combined Jewish Appeal (CJA) for a decade. She became the CJA director in 1984, and served in that role until becoming CEO of the Federation, after a short stint as interim CEO.


Elaine is proud to have helped fundraise for the creation of the Asper Jewish Community Campus, which she says ‘ helped revived Jewish life in Winnipeg,” and is the centre of activity in the community.

Having been to Israel 22 times, Elaine has a strong connection to the country, and notes that proceeds from this year’s JNF dinner will go towards an “important” project, the Hadar School for  children and young adults with special needs  in Sderot Israel. “ I have an older sister with special needs.When  she was born, there were no such facilities for children with special needs,” Elaine says. The Hadar School for Special Needs will be expanded such that it will be able to accommodate 80 students, in 10 fully equipped classrooms, more than doubling the current school's student capacity, with a large greenhouse and garden, multi-sensory room, life skills department, VR room for sensory therapy, science room, library and bicycle track. Every two classrooms will share a small rocket-proof courtyard. The entire facility will also serve as a shelter from incoming rockets from Gaza. “Ian and I hope to go to Israel and to see the school once it’s completed,” Elaine adds.


Elaine says “I am very honoured that I was asked to be this year’s honouree for the JNF Negev Dinner this year,” noting that “I don’t like to be in the limelight. I am generally a ‘behind the scenes’ kind of person.” The JNF Negev Dinner is sold out.


On the subject of fundraising Elaine states “It’s about building relationships and connecting with people to see what they are interested in. It’s about building trust . When you make your ask, sometimes a donor responds right away and other times they take time to mull things over.”


Elaine finds fundraising fulfilling “because I am helping others,” and “you are doing a mitzvah.” She adds that “It’s difficult to fundraise since there is a lot of competition out there. You have to work hard and be persistent.” She notes with pride that “Winnipeg’s Jewish community raises more money per capital than any other Jewish community in North America… This is significant as we want all our  12 beneficiary organizations plus our programs in Israel to be healthy and sustainable in the future.”


Looking back Elaine says “I’m fortunate to have met and worked with incredible and dedicated volunteers, as well as some amazing Jewish professionals. No one can do anything alone. It takes a lot of people working together to make our community be as welcoming and vibrant as it is…I’m proud to be a member of Winnipeg’s Jewish community. ”


Looking into the future, Elaine states that “It’s really important to me that we find a model for sustainability for our Jewish community.We want living a Jewish life to be affordable, and yet it seems to be getting more costly.”

On the subject of new immigrants to Winnipeg, Elaine feels that those who have settled here from Israel, South America, and Mexico have helped shore up our community’s Jewish population and “have changed the face of the community.” She adds, “I really like hearing English, Hebrew and Spanish as I walk down the Main Street of the Asper Campus.”


Regarding the recent decision by Prime Minister Netanyahu to suspend proposed judicial reforms until after Yom Ha’atzmaut, Elaine and Federation President Gustavo Zentner applauded that decision in a message to the Jewish community, indicating it “demonstrated the power of democracy, through civil discourse, debate and peaceful protest.” Elaine notes that people in our Jewish community have “diverse views” in regard to the proposed reforms, and it’s important that we listen to, and hear each other, as Israel is the homeland for the Jewish people.

Prior to working in the Jewish community, Elaine was an active and involved volunteer. She served as President of the National Council of Jewish Women, Winnipeg section, and was involved in the Business and Professional Division of the Canadian Friends of Hebrew University. ‘As well I was involved in the Sisterhood of the Shaarey Zedek synagogue and volunteered in the general community as well,” she says.


When she retires, Elaine wants to spend time with her family, including  ‘lots of time with my grand daughter, who just turned one.” She will also spend more time at her cottage in Gimli, and hopes to do a little travelling.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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