By MYRON LOVE Elaine Goldstine, our Jewish Federation of Winnipeg CEO for the past seven plus years, is – on the one hand – looking forward to stepping away from the hectic pace of her position – being on call 24-7 – and being able to relax and – as the expression goes – “stop and smell the roses”.
On the other hand, looking back over the course of 30 years serving our community, she feels a sense of satisfaction for a job well done – and gratitude for having had the opportunity.
“Through my work with the Federation, I have met a lot of truly amazing people during my career. I most likely would never have had the opportunity to get to know,” she says. “I have also had the pleasure of working with many long time, dedicated staff members.”
Elaine also has much praise for our community. “It is truly remarkable that our CJA (Combined Jewish Appeal) campaign has been able to raise more and more and more money every year,” she notes. “We have many very generous donors. Our campaign raises more per capita than any other Jewish community in North America. We really do punch above our weight. I have been very fortunate to have worked with such dedicated volunteers throughout the years.”
Then there have been all the missions and visits to Israel that Elaine has participated in over the past 30 years. “I have been to Israel 22 times,” she says.
Her first visit to the Jewish homeland, she notes, was in 1996. “Over the years, I have met people throughout the country and from all walks of life and heard many compelling speakers,” she adds.
The most impactful trip, Elaine recalls, was the mission in 2014 at the height of the Gaza conflict that year. “It was so different from any of our other visit,” she recounts. “There was no one on the beach at Tel Aviv. Our group was taken to Ashdod and Sderot. We visited hospitals. We received a briefing from the mayor of Sderot while in a bomb shelter. “I felt guilty leaving all the people behind. This experience made me really appreciate what the people of Israel go through way to often.”
For Elaine Goldstine, Winnipeg has always been “home.” She was born, the youngest of three daughters – to Ben and Sadie Raber and grew up in River Heights. After graduation from Grant Park High School, Elaine went to work at the University of Manitoba in the Budgets and Grants department. Later, she transferred to the medical mollege where she worked in the purchasing departments for both the medical and dental faculties.
Elaine has been married to Ian Goldstine for 46 year and has two sons Daniel, 41, (Lainie); and Jason, 37, (Genevieve). Elaine says she was a stay-at-home mom when the boys were young.
She notes thoughj, that throughout her life, volunteer work in the community has been a constant – and that didn’t change while she was home with the kids.
“Community involvement has been a way of life for me,” she commented in her entry in the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba’s Endowment Book of Life.. “My father was very active in the community and canvassed for the CJA for over 40 years, and my mother was involved with Histadrut, National Council of Jewish Women, Brandeis Lodge Ladies Auxiliary, as well as Combined Jewish Appeal including a term as chair of Super Sunday.
“As a teen, I was active in USY and was President of the Gabriels Chapter of BBYO. In 1979 I became involved with National Council of Jewish Women, and have served as President of the Sarah Branch, President of the NCJW Winnipeg section, and served as National Treasurer and Vice President. I have served on the PTA of Ramah Hebrew School, the Business and Professional Development Committee of Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University, and on the Board of the Shaarey Zedek Sisterhood.
So, when the boys both reached school age, it is not surprising that Elaine chose to rejoin the workforce in the form of service to the Jewish community. She started working half time for the Winnipeg Jewish Community Council (as the Federation was then called). When the late Gerry Koffman, who was the CJA Director, passed away in 2004, Elaine – who had served as Women’s Campaign Director and Financial Resource Development Associate – was asked to take on the role.
And, in 2015, after the retirement of long time Federation CEO Bob Freedman – and a successor who left after a year – Elaine was tapped to become the new CEO.
Elaine considers her greatest strength throughout her time as CEO has been her ability to listen to people and bring people together. “It is really important to be kind and to listen. We are a small community, and we need to work together,” she observes.
She tells the story of one member of the community who was frequently emailing her. “I contacted him and asked him if he would like to come into my office to talk about his concerns,” she recalls. “He was surprised about the invitation because, he said, it was not like he gave a lot of money to the CJA campaign.
“For me, every community member matters, My door is open to anyone in the community. The Federation is supposed to be the representative for the entire Jewish community and everyone is important.”
One important form of ”listening” for Goldstine has been the focus groups with newcomers to the community, a program that began shortly after she became CEO. “Laurel Malkin was our president at that time, and we thought it was important that we reach out to hear how they were doing. The focus groups were inspiring,” Elaine recalls. “A couple of times a year, we get together with 20-25 people who have come to Winnipeg from different parts of the world and listen to their stories and why they chose Winnipeg. Even though, many come from much larger cities, they all talk about how they love living in Winnipeg and being part of such a warm and welcoming Jewish community.
“It has been gratifying to hear.”
Elaine Goldstine will be retiring at the end of August. While she says that she has no plans yet after retirement, she expects that she will continue to volunteer her time and is looking forward to doing some travelling with Ian (who retired a couple of years ago) and spending time with family – especially baby granddaughter Abby.