sharon zalik margaret shuckettBy BERNIE BELLAN
The Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University will be undergoing a major reorganization of its Winnipeg operations in the near future. According to various sources, the office which the CFHU has had in the Corydon Village Mall will be closed as part of a cost-cutting measure.

At the same time though, a new “shaliach” (emissary) or perhaps two “shlichim” will be coming to Winnipeg to handle affairs for the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University here. (A final decision as to who it is who will be coming has not yet been made, according to Rami Kleinmann, President & CEO of CFHU, although the number of candidates has been narrowed to very few.)
Kleinmann says that he is quite excited about the changes that are afoot for Winnipeg. There are similar changes planned for Ottawa, he says, where the long-time executive director of CFHU in that city has announced her retirement.
“By bringing in one or two young people from Israel” who have a background at the Hebrew University, it is anticipated that they will infuse the entire community with a new energy and will be especially successful in relating the Hebrew University experience to young people here”, Kleinmann said.
In a statement released by CFHU on Wednesday, January 13, the CFHU stated:
“The Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University (CFHU) is committed to continuing its role in the Winnipeg Jewish community. Over the past year CFHU has adapted its traditional chapter model across Canada and is in the position of reorganizing its local presence in Winnipeg.
“Jewish philanthropic leadership in North America is currently undergoing major changes in dealing with the needs of the next generation of philanthropists as well as changing technology.   
“In CFHU’s efforts to lower administrative costs, improve efficiency and maximize the reach of philanthropic gifts, we have moved to a home office concept in some communities as has become a trend in the business and philanthropic world.  
“The success of the Winnipeg chapter can be attributed to a very devoted community of leadership and donors who also have prominent presence within our national organization.  CFHU is looking to strengthen its local presence by reintroducing the concept of “shlichim”, ambassadors from Israel with graduate or post graduate degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  These shlichim will enhance the Israel/Diaspora partnership; they will educate our dedicated chapter leadership and donor base; identify and cultivate new leadership; they will also serve as a Hebrew University resource for the community at large. What better ambassadors for the Hebrew University than its own young and dynamic students bringing the achievements of the top ranked university in Israel to a new generation of Canadians.
“Winnipeg and Ottawa communities were selected for the launch of this pilot project that will begin in the late spring or early fall.”

In discussing the plan to bring in one or two “shlichim” from Israel, Murray Palay, National Chair of the Board of CFHU said that, while the Winnipeg chapter has been very successful in its ongoing efforts, both in raising funds for the Hebrew University, and in raising the profile of the university here, there was a clear need to change with the times.
While there have been several major gala events conducted by the CFHU in Winnipeg, most recently the gala honouring Asper Foundation Executive Director Moe Levy at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in 2014 (which raised a record amount of money for any CFHU event held in Winnipeg, Palay noted), in order to attract new and younger supporters, not just in Winnipeg but in other Canadian cities as well, it was felt that having a physical office in some cities no longer made sense.
At the same time, Palay noted, there has been such enthusiastic response among CFHU supporters to the planned reorganization here that not only does he expect there to be cost savings in terms of administration, various individuals have offered help in finding suitable accommodation for the new “shaliach” or “shlichim”, along with other supports.
In the meantime – and even after the new Hebrew University representatives here, long-time executive director of the Winnipeg branch of CFHU, Sharon Zalik, has agreed to stay on in an advisory capacity. Zalik has played a prominent role in many CFHU endeavours here over the years,

CFHU has held many successful events in recent years
The Winnipeg branch of CFHU has sbeen involved in many successful events in the past few years, including:
2014 - a gala at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights at which Moe Levy of the Asper Foundation was honoured with the Scopus Award;
2013 - Dr. Brent Schacter, then-president of Winnipeg CFHU, was honoured with an  IMRIC award at a cocktail reception at the Fairmont Hotel;
2012 - Yude Henteleff, longtime supporter of the Hebrew University, was honoured with the Bronfman Medal for Meritorious Service at a cocktail reception  at the Fort Garry Hotel;
2011 - Businessman Joe Bova was presented with the Scopus Award at a Convention Centre dinner that was attended by over 1,000 individuals.
Looking back over the history of CFHU in Winnipeg, the Winnipeg branch of Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University has been a going concern since 1951. According to the CFHU’s own website,  “From it’s (sic) founding in 1925, the Hebrew University and Winnipeg have been linked, when Winnipeg’s own Max Steinkopf attended the official opening in Israel. In 1948, the Winnipeg Chapter of the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University was formed and has been thriving ever since. Over 100 Winnipeg students have attended the Rothberg International School describing it as ‘being the experience of a lifetime’.”

Yet, with the soon-to-be-closed office of CFHU here, that organization joins a growing list of Israel-based organizations that once either had offices here or if not offices, local representatives and chapters. For instance, not too long ago State of Israel Bonds decided to close its office here entirely. As well, the Canadian Technion Society no longer has a Winnipeg office, nor does the Canadian Zionist Federation. Other Israeli institutions also used to rely upon local volunteers here to canvass donors without operating offices per se. Those institutions included Shaare Zedek and Hadassah Hospitals.
Tel Aviv and Bar Ilan universities have not had local chapters here but have engaged in fund raising, either through personal solicitations or, in the past, through direct mailings.
None of those organizations continues to maintain a direct presence in Winnipeg.
In the case of CFHU, however, Palay went on to say that not only does the Winnipeg chapter have a major event in the works, the very successful “Mishpatim” program that was founded by University of Manitoba Law Professor Brian Schwartz, and which sees law students from various universities across Canada attend a special six-week summer program in Israel where they learn about the Israeli legal system at the Hebrew University, is continually growing. It is programs such as “Mishpatim”, which began as a joint venture between the University of Manitoba and the Hebrew University, and which has now expanded to include students from the law faculty of the University of Saskatchewan, that have injected a new vibrancy into the role of CFHU.

With this new approach to philanthropy, Palay says, it is anticipated that new members will be brought into the fold of CFHU, just as he himself was recruited by the Yude Hentleff several years ago. Palay notes that the then-Winnipeg Executive Director of CFHU, Amikam Shuv-Ami, “was a major force in helping develop the Professional and Business Division of CFHU (which attracted many of the our leaders of today).”

 Palay adds that the Winnipeg members of CFHU are quite excited about the new changes that are in store here and are very much looking forward to whoever it is that will be brought in as “shaliach” or “shlichim” for the Hebrew University. It is those members’ hopes that the new shaliach or shlichim will infuse the CFHU here with the same energy as Shuv-Ami  did in his five years here, from 1985-90.