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Melnick signing Sister Marshes agreement with Efi Stenzler World chairman of KKL-JNF.

Premier Greg Selinger appoints Mel Lazareck to the new position of special representative for Manitoba to Israel for economic and community relations.
Government of Manitoba

Jaqueline Freedman, Mel Lazareck and Erez Rotem


Premier Selinger is Honourary Chair, Marjorie and Morley Blankstein are Co-Chairs

by Rhonda Spivak, Feb 23, 2011

Preparations for the Jewish National Fund’s upcoming Negev Gala honouring  Christine  Melnick are in full gear, as JNF has confirmed  that Honourary  co-chair of the event is Premier Greg Selinger and  pillars of the Jewish community here, Marjorie and Morley Blankstein are the co-chairs. The JNF has also confirmed that the Israeli “Read Rock Band,” with a diverse musical repertoire of Hebrew and English songs, will be the evening's entertainment.

Melnick is well known as being a real pioneer and innovator regarding Manitoba’s special ongoing partnership with the State of Israel, where she has initiated and cemented a strong bond between Israel and Manitoba in the areas of water technology, stewardship, and management.

The Manitoba-Israel relationship has thus far included partnerships relating to agriculture, water technology and stewardship, birding, eco-tourism and the environment, as well as partnerships between Manitoba-Israel institutions of higher learning regarding medical research and business innovation. 

As Marjorie and Morley Blankstein told the Winnipeg Jewish Review, "We are greatly impressed with the partnership relationship that has developed between our province and the State of Israel due to the leadership of Christine Melnick."

As Erez Rotem, JNF emissary for the Prairie Region said, "Minister Melnick's involvement and activity inspires us all. Her dedication and leadership has made so many projects in Manitoba and Israel happen. She has encouraged us to continue to achieve amazing co-operation between Manitoba, the JNF and Israel. For this we thank her and honour her." 

Rotem's sentiments were echoed by Mel Lazareck, President of JNF for Manitoba-Saskatchewan and Manitoba’s Special Representative to Israel. “It is an honour for me to have the priviledge of working with the Minister."

Melnick, who  has been to Israel five times, and was an instrumental figure in  bringing about the  first ever Manitoba-Israel Water Symposium hosted by Manitoba in Winnipeg in August 2008.

As Melnick told the Winnipeg Jewish Review, “I knew that Israel was very advanced in issues relating to water management and thought it would be very worthwhile to have leading scientists from Manitoba and Israel meet to brainstorm to grapple with common challenges …It was a natural partnership which would benefit everyone involved.”

Melnick understood that although Lake Winnipeg is bigger than all of Israel in geographical size, there are a lot of “issues of mutual concern” such as “wetlands reclamation and waste water management.” The symposium was an outstanding success, in no small part due to Melnick’s innovative ideas, initiative and commitment to this unprecedented project.

It brought eleven of the “best scientific minds” from Israel and Manitoba together to exchange information and ideas around three main themes: 1) the role of wetlands and forests in carbon sequestration in relation to global climate change 2) wastewater treatment to meet high health and environmental standards and 3) stewardship of  scarce water resources.

During the third day of the Symposium, which then Israeli Minister of  Agriculture Shalom Simhon attended, the Manitoba and Israeli scientists were joined “by about 125 water practitioners from the community.”

At the Symposium’s conclusion, Minister Melnick announced the availability of grant of $100,000 to support research on a project arising from the collaboration between the Manitoban and Israeli scientists.

The grant was awarded to a joint project between the International Institute for Sustainable Development (Dr. Henry Venema) and the Migal Galilee Technology Centre (Professor Moshe Gophen) to establish an internet based network on agricultural wetlands and watershed science research.

As a result, “the Agricultural Wetlands Network has been launched at the International Institute for Sustainable Development in Winnipeg and the network continues to be developed,” Melnick said.

Melnick also established a 10-year annual $25,000 scholarship at the University of Manitoba in 2008 for a graduate student in either a Masters or PhD program to study in Israel for up to two years at an institution of higher learning of their choice  to pursue water related studies. For more on this, click here.

“We are extremely fortunate to have such a scholarship in  Manitoba that is unparalleled anywhere else in Canada and probably in all of  North  America,” noted Rotem.

A second Manitoba-Israel water symposium  was held in Israel in early January 2010 hosted by the JNF, and involved 10 scientists from Manitoba and 10 from Israel.  For more on this, click here.  The scientists that participated in the second symposium in 2010 in Israel are now collaborating on a variety of important projects. 

“ There are now at least 30  projects  that are ongoing between the  scientists in at least  eight different areas ranging from nutrient management, wastewater recycling, education, plus many others,” Melnick told the Winnipeg Jewish Review. “The projects are all at differing stages,” she noted, and are a manifestation of the success of the symposium which “show that the [Symposiums] were a very good investment.’

Manitoba’s delegation to the second Symposium included Minister Melnick and a number of business and community leaders including Mel Lazareck, named in October 2010 as Manitoba’s Special Representative to Israel.

“Mel has been a key partner” in fostering and nourishing the Manitoba –Israel relationship, and Melnick noted that she could not have thought of a better person to be able to work with. 

Arising from the January 2010 water experts’ symposium in Israel, Melnick also announced that Manitoba’s Oak Hammock Marsh would be “twinned” with Israel’s Hula Valley Marsh, in a similar way that the City of Winnipeg is twinned with the City of Be’er Sheva in Israel.

The Hula Valley Marsh lies in a key migratory pathway used by large numbers of birds on annual migrations between southern Africa and Europe in a similar way that Oak Hammock is part of the central North American flyway.

“There are many benefits to be derived from 'twinning' such as, for example, offering visitors complementary information on both marshes,  and enabling scientists to work together to solve similar wetlands issues,” Melnick explained. For more on the twinning, click here.

Melnick was also a driving force behind the creation of the Manitoba-Israel Shared Values Roundtable, which emphasizes the shared values in both societies, including democracy, freedom of speech, diversity of opinion, high literacy rates, committment  to family, and  public services, among others.

As the founder and leader of the Manitoba-Israel Shared Values Roundtable [MISVR], Melnick was also instrumental in the Playground for Peace project which fosters peaceful coexistence between Arab and Jewish children in Jaffa’s Ajami neighborhood, in partnership with the JNF and the Tel-Aviv Foundation and Jaqueline Simkin. For more on this, click here and here.

With Melnick at the healm, the MISVR put on two successful Multi-Cultural celebrations for Israel at the Pantages Theatre in Winnipeg. For more on this, click here.

Melnick has also been involved in the historic unprecedented agreement signed in October 2010 in Jerusalem between Manitoba and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel relating to birding, eco-tourism, and environmental issues. For more on this, click here.

As well she has been involved in the partnership agreements signed in October 2010 last week between Manitoba and Israel in the areas of water technology,water stewardship, and agriculture research. For more on this, click here.

As Lazareck said, "I trust that fro the benefit of her Manitoba and Israeli friends and supporters that  the Minister will continue her important work . As the old saying oges, You ain't seen nothing yet.'

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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.