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Jewish Federation of Winnipeg reports a surplus for the 2022-23 fiscal year

At the Jewish Federation AGM December 6 (l-r) Winnipeg Police Service Chief Danny Smyth, Jewish Federation CEO Jeff Lieberman; WPS Superintendent Dave Dalal, Jewish Federation outgoing President Gustav Zentner

By BERNIE BELLAN At its Annual General Meeting, held December 6, the Jewish Federation reported a surplus of $110,916 for the 2022-23 fiscal year (which ended August 31). That compares with a deficit of $257,145 for the previous fiscal year.
However, a major factor in the Federation’s showing a surplus was a major reduction in the total amount allocated to the Federation’s beneficiary agencies – down almost $300,000 from 2021-22 to 2022-23.
A second major factor in the Federation’s showing a healthy surplus this past fiscal year was the much higher return received on investments – up from $98,253 in 2021-22 to $193,265 in 2022-23.
According to outgoing JFW President Gustavo Zentner, the surplus money will be used to offset some of the costs resulting from the recent emergency funding campaign for Israel (which is still ongoing).

In his remarks to the audience, Zentner noted specific areas in which the Federation had accomplished a great deal, including:

  • • increased relationships with government agencies and other communities in Winnipeg
  • • a better definition of our community’s relationship with Israel
  • • more support for youth
  • • a strengthening of relationships from within – including beneficiary agencies and Federation staff
  • • the development of a strategic planning initiative under the stewardship of Carol Duboff, which began in 2022, and which has given the Federation a framework for the next 6 years
  • • rededication of efforts to strengthen the Jewish community
  • • a new vision for the Federation
  • • streamlining of the allocations process (to beneficiary agencies)
  • • the creation by the Province of Jewish Heritage Month

In addition to those accomplishments, Zenter also noted that the total cost of the Federation’s Combined Jewish Appeal’2022-23 campaign came to only 11% of the total amount raised – which was well below the industry average of 20%.
Further accomplishments

• PJ Library delivered its one hundred thousandth book in Winnipeg to a reader in 2023.
• March of the Living was back – after a three-year hiatus. Thirty-one students from Winnipeg participated, as well as Winnipeg Police Services Chief Danny Smyth (who later told me that not only did he participate in this year’s March of the Living, he took along several other Chiefs of Police from other cities in Canada as well). The Federation subvented the cost for each student by $2,000US.
• The CJA raised more than $200,000 for Ukraine in 2022-23.

In his own remarks, Federation CEO Jeff Lieberman acknowledged the presence of WPS Chief Smyth, along with Superintendent Dave Dalal, who were in attendance at the AGM.
Lieberman said: “We extend our gratitude to Danny Smyth and Dave Dalal for their dedication and support and for insuring the safety of our community. Your officers have been here at the building (the Asper Campus) day and night.”
Chief Smyth said: “We don’t get into places where people want us to be there…It’s been a very difficult time…I was taken aback by the amount of antisemitism I’ve observed – in the world and right here…The challenge for us is we really saw a lot of hateful things, but our hate crime laws are not sufficient; they’re just too narrowly focused…One of the things we try to do is just be there…We recognize the real fear and anxiety that’s going on in the (Jewish) community…We’ve always had a strong relationship with the Jewish community. We’re here to serve and protect you.
“I had the opportunity this year to participate in the March of the Living. I happened to be in Tel Aviv when Israel celebrated its 75th anniversary. We’re here for you now and in the future.”

Two final pieces of business included the recognition of Federation staff who had achieved milestones in terms of years of service and the installation of Paula Parks as incoming president for the Federation.

Incoming Federation President Paula Parks and Gustavo Zentner
The Zentner family (l-r): Fanny, Gustavo, Abby, and Emma

Local News

Shaarey Zedek renovation update

Shaarey Zedek renovations are now well underway. Here’s a video posted by Shaarey Zedek about the renovations:

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Winnipeg Council of Rabbis criticizes suggestion that Simkin Centre ought to offer non-kosher meals – as well as kosher meals

Rabbi Yosef Benarroch

We received the following letter from the Winnipeg Council of Rabbis in response to the suggestion that the Simkin Centre ought to offer non-kosher meals (Read story at🙂

Dear Bernie
We read your opinion piece on kashrut at the Simkin Centre with a certain amount of shock, as you advocated that the Simkin Centre not be a kosher facility. After a long discussion we had with food services at Simkin, it is clear that your statements about the quality of food are simply wrong. Residents at Simkin receive meals that are on par with all other similar facilities in Manitoba. The menu includes chicken both dark and white, meats including roast beef, ground meat, and much more. The only item not offered at Simkin that is offered at other similar homes is pork, which we hope you are not advocating for. 

In addition, every major Jewish organization in Winnipeg has a Kashrut policy in place. The reason for this is simple. Kashrut is a Jewish value — and for many, a core Jewish value —  and it is the responsibility of Jewish organizations to uphold Jewish values. How odd is it that Winnipeg’s “Jewish” newspaper would be advocating for treif food, and in your words  will “never give up the fight” to make sure it happens. A Jewish newspaper should be advocating for Jewish values, period. 

Finally, Kashrut allows the Simkin Centre to be an inclusive Jewish institution that accommodates the needs of the entire Jewish community. There are many residents and families that consider kashrut as an integral element in how they express their Judaism. They would have no other place to send their loved ones if the Simkin Centre was not Kosher.

The vast majority of Jews in Winnipeg want to see the Simkin Centre continue to be Kosher, and we hope you will either reconsider your position or not press a minority position onto the majority. We, as the rabbis of the Winnipeg Council of Rabbis, all endorse and fully support this position.

Winnipeg Council of Rabbis

  • Rabbi Yosef Benarroch, Adas Yeshurun Herzlia
  • Rabbi Allan Finkel, Temple Shalom
  • Rabbi Matthew Leibl, Simkin Center
  • Rabbi Anibal Mass, Shaarey Tzedek
  • Rabbi Kliel Rose, Eitz Chayim

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Bernie Bellan asks: If kashrut is so intrinsic to Jewish organizations in Winnipeg, why was the Rady JCC allowed to make its annual sports dinner non-kosher?

Bernie Bellan

Here’s a question for the Council of Rabbis – whose letter tearing a strip off me for daring to question the necessity of serving fully kosher meals to every resident of the Simkin Centre appears on this website: Have you ever considered the total hypocrisy inherent in your insisting that kashrut is vital to the Simkin Centre, while the Rady JCC some years ago abandoned the requisite that its annual sports dinner be kosher?
The sports dinner asks anyone attending whether they’d like a kosher meal (which is what I suggested the Simkin Centre could also do) and, from what I’ve been told, the number of individuals who respond in the affirmative can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
I don’t recall the council of rabbis kicking up a huge fuss over that change. But, to be consistent guys, (and by the way, only one of the five rabbis on that council is actually a subscriber to The Jewish Post, butI’m glad you’re all such vociferous readers), I expect you to demand that the Rady JCC sports dinner revert to being fully kosher.
After all, as Rabbi Benarroch so succinctly puts it in his letter: “Kashrut is a Jewish value — and for many, a core Jewish value —  and it is the responsibility of Jewish organizations to uphold Jewish values.”
I won’t hold my breath waiting for you to publicly demand that the sports dinner revert to being fully kosher. As I recall, the reason that kashrut was abandoned as a prerequisite for the dinner was because of the cost. So, when Simkin Centre CEO Laurie Cerqueti wrote me in an email,  “I know for this year as of the end of October we are over budget on food by $150,000. We must continue to fund any costs on food from our existing annual budget or through fundraised dollars,” I fully expect the council of rabbis – and anyone else who is adamant that the Simkin Centre remain absolutely kosher to join in a campaign to raise that $150,000 so that Simkin can remain kosher without cutting into other areas of operation. How about it, guys?
My point in advocating for Simkin to modify its kashrut policy was to be as realistic as the people behind the sports dinner were in recognizing that the cost of a full adherence to kashrut can be prohibitively expensive. But, the sports dinner still allows anyone who wants a kosher meal to have one. That’s all that I was advocating for the Simkin Centre. So, tell me rabbis: Where do you draw the line from one Jewish institution to another? Or, does the slippery slope that you’re on also have an off ramp that allows you to abandon principles when it’s expedient to do so?

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