By BERNIE BELLAN In the seven short years since Regina Teplitsky came to Winnipeg with her husband, Evgeni, and daughter, Alissya (a son, Benjamin, was born after the Teplitskys moved here), she has carved a considerable reputation, both within the Jewish and non-Jewish communities.
Take a look at Regina Teplitsky’s resumé since her arrival in Winnipeg seven years ago: sponsored executive with the United Way of Winnipeg; executive director, Camp Massad (for one year, followed by maternity leave upon the birth of her son); singer and organizer of community singing events for the Russian-Jewish community here; worked at Manitoba Start, helping newcomers to find employment here; employer engagement consultant with the Alliance of Manitoba Sector Council; treasurer for her daughter’s daycare in Charleswood; canvasser for the Women’s Philanthropy Division of the Combined Jewish Appeal; member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg (three years); a member of the Engagement Committee of the Federation, and now: campaign director for the CJA.
Regina (pronounced with a hard “g”, by the way, as in “good”) was first profiled in the pages of this paper by Rebeca Kuropatwa in February 2010. Here is what Rebeca wrote back then (upon the news that Regina was going to become Massad’s new executive director): “Regina Teplitsky (32) will be next to take up the role of ‘Massad Ima’. Originally from Russia, she immigrated to Israel with her family when she was 13. For over a decade, Teplitsky worked in community-based programs and resource development in Israel. She is fluent in English, Hebrew, and Russian, and holds a B.A. in Sociology and Education, and an M.A. in Public Policy (from Tel Aviv University).
“Deciding to move to Winnipeg from Israel because of security concerns was a hard, but important decision for Teplitsky. ‘We were living in Ashkelon, a place in Israel that has been bombed a lot the last few years. We just decided we didn’t want our child to be raised with bombs and sirens all around. Still, it was hard. My husband and I really love Israel and consider ourselves Israelis in our hearts and souls.’ ”
I ask Regina how many Russian Israelis she thinks there are in Winnipeg now?
She answers, “4,230” (according to Immigration Facts –Jewish Federation of Winnipeg 2015)
I say, “Really?” (If that’s true, it would mean that Russian Israelis comprise over one-third of Winnipeg’s Jewish community, going by statistics available from the National Household Survey of 2011 and the Jewish Federation’s own published figure of 13,690 as the size of Winnipeg’s Jewish population in 2014.)
I ask Regina if her being of Russian background played a role in her being hired as the new CJA campaign director.
Regina says that her background is in not-for-profit organizations, both in Israel where, she says, she was involved in fundraising, and here in Winnipeg. She notes that her first job upon coming to Winnipeg was working as a sponsored executive for the United Way.
“As part of my job in all the non-profit positions I held,” Regina notes, “whether I was the executive director or a project manager or program manager, I was always involved in some type of fundraising. It was either planning a fundraising event or writing grant proposals from the government. So, it’s always been a natural part of my job.”
As far as the CJA campaign goes though, Regina acknowledges the path already paved for her by Elaine Goldstine, who is now the CEO of the Jewish Federation, but who was herself the campaign director for many years (and actually wore both hats for over a year until Regina’s appointment).
“I joined a great team – great volunteers,” Regina adds. “I’m enjoying very much working with Bryan Klein (chair of this year’s campaign, as he was last year as well) and Elana Schultz” (Women’s Philanthropy chair) and other volunteers.
“Serving in the past three years on of the Board of Directors, I appreciate Adam Levene’s leadership and the dedication of all the members of the Jewish Federation Board of Directors. We have a very good team of volunteers. I know that I joined a winning team,” she says.
In terms of specific goals for this year’s campaign, I ask Regina what the target is.
“Last year the campaign raised $5.86 million,” she points out – which was a record amount. The goal again this year, Regina says, is the same: “5.8 million”.
“So far, after one month, I can tell you,” she notes, “we already have around an 11% increase” over the same time last year.
I ask Regina how she’s enjoying herself so far.
“I enjoy mostly meeting with the volunteers and interacting with community members, learning about the history of our community.”
Having a campaign director who is a recent immigrant to Canada is “a breath of fresh air”, I suggest to Regina, and is indicative of the massive changes that our Jewish community is undergoing. I wonder whether the campaign has continued to attract new volunteers from within the ranks of newcomers in the same way that Regina herself was so quick to involve herself in the campaign when she and her husband first arrived here.
“We have eight new canvassers and new gifts coming this year from new Canadians,” she notes. “We have a lot of social media initiatives that we do to explain the importance of the CJA Campaign. We do some podcasts in Russian. Continuous outreach is part of our long-term strategy.”
“I have a canvasser who arrived here two weeks ago from Israel,” Regina goes on to say, “and she got involved right away. She made her gift right away, without even being asked.”
There are a total of 162 canvassers volunteering for this year’s campaign, Regina says. “We have people who have been canvassing for 50 years –and some who just arrived two weeks ago (as she had noted). “We even have this year an 18-year-old canvasser. She came here from Israel.”
One of the things that the campaign does, Regina notes, is demonstrate to people how interconnected the community is. “Look at Super Sunday,” she says. “You could see each of the partner agencies there, showcasing their services. This is the ‘ruach’ – the spirit of the community. I can see that when we met with the partner agencies. On each board I could see new members of our community being represented. The campaign is here to serve the community – providing both umbrella and trampoline for everyone.”