Sharon Fitch, President
Sharon (Paul) Fitch was born in Belleville, Ontario and grew up in Montreal, Quebec. She graduated from the Jewish General Hospital School of Nursing in 1971 as a registered nurse. Sharon married Ed Fitch in October 1971. Ed’s 43 years of military career had them move 14 times, living in Québec, Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, and Germany. Sharon worked as a nurse in hospitals and community health. She also managed a second-hand fundraising store. In the 15 years Sharon has lived in Victoria, her accomplishments include: Board member and Vice President of Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island, UJA Campaign Co-Chair, Federation Events committee co-chair; co-ordinator for the Chabad Light of Shabbat Project (since 2009); President and executive member of Canadian Hadassah WIZO Victoria; board member for 7 years of the Jewish Historical Society of British Columbia; Congregation Emanu-El membership committee member, office volunteer, Bema Theatre production assistant; Chevrah Kaddishah member. Beyond the Jewish world, Sharon is an active volunteer, including her leadership in the Girl Guides of Canada for 48 years, as president of 2nd Victoria Trefoil Guild. Sharon has delivered Meals on Wheels, volunteered in school libraries, been a visitor to home bound people, served on the social committee for the Corp of Commissionaires annual meeting in Victoria in 2017, been an active member of synagogue sisterhoods in various cities, among other community volunteer endeavours. Sharon and Ed are the proud parents of 2 daughters, 2 sons-in-law, and 4 grandchildren, all living in Ottawa.
Larry Gontovnick, Vice-President
Larry was born and grew up in Montreal. He has a BSc degree in chemistry from McGill University and a PhD degree in pharmacology from UBC. He was a Medical Research Council of Canada postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin’s McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research. He ran the clinical trials departments for the Canadian affiliates of two major pharmaceutical companies and then headed drug development for a couple of start-up biotechnology companies in Vancouver. Larry moved to Victoria in 2006 and retired at the end of 2010. Since his retirement, Larry has served on the boards of several community organizations. He is currently President of the Jewish Community Centre of Victoria and has been on the board of JFVVI since 2011.
Jeff Kushner, Past-President
Following a career as a project leader in the resource industry, and as a volunteer in the homeless sector and at Temple Bnai Tikvah in Calgary, Jeff and his partner Randall retired to Victoria about 5 years ago to enjoy all that the west coast has to offer. Jeff immediately began his new career as a community volunteer. As a member of Congregation Emanu-El he served on the House Committee and on the Avodah team. Jeff is also an active Crew member of the Oak Bay Offshore Search and Rescue squadron. While not serving in the community, Jeff enjoys being out on the water in any type of boat and outside doing house and yard work.
Morris Bleviss, Treasurer
Prior to moving to Victoria in 2011, Morris was resident in Calgary. During the period 1990-2010, he served on the Board of Community Council (Federation), has been Executive Director of the Jewish Community Foundation of Calgary as well as Treasurer, and also served on the Board of Temple B’nai Tikvah as Treasurer, Chairman and President.
In Victoria, together with his wife Janna Ginsberg they were co-chairs of the UJA Campaign for three years, and this is his third stint on the Board of JFVVI as Treasurer.
Currently, he is a Trustee of the Jewish Cemetery Trust Fund and Treasurer of Kolot Mayim Reform Temple.
Aaron Devor, Secretary
Aaron served as the Past-President of the Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island from 2016-2020. He was President of JFVVI 2012-2016. He was the Victoria Board Member of Hillel BC 2007-2017 and the Jewish member on the Greater Victoria Police Diversity Advisory Committee (2005-2010). He was a President, Past-President, VP, and board member of Congregation Emanuel 1999-2003. He founded and holds the world’s only Chair in Transgender Studies, founded and serve as the Subject matter Expert of the world’s largest Transgender Archives, and founded and hosts the international and interdisciplinary Moving Trans History Forward conferences. He has published five books, many scholarly articles, and delivered more than 35 keynote addresses around the world. He is a national-award-winning teacher, a Fellow of two scholarly societies, a former Dean of Graduate Studies (2002-2012), and a professor of Sociology, at the University of Victoria.
- Arlene Ackerman – Arlene was born and raised in Toronto. In her youth, she volunteered for organizations such as the United Appeal, Crossroads International, and Girl Guides of Canada. She also taught Sunday school to adolescents. She has her B.A. and B.S.W. from McMaster University, an M.S.W. from Dalhousie University and a B.Ed. from the University of Toronto. When she married her husband, Phil Lipsey, they traveled out west and established new roots on Vancouver Island. Realizing the need for a Jewish community connection for themselves, their twin daughters and for other Jews in the region, Arlene and Phil founded the Central Vancouver Island Jewish Community in 1985. She continues in her role as the President of the CVIJCS, and has sat on the Board of the JFVVI since 2014. Arlene is an avid quilter, knitter, baker and joke teller.
- Sara Brickett – Sarah was born in Kingston, Ontario, and as a child of a military family lived in several places in Canada and an overseas posting. Her career was in general insurance, and upon retirement as the Director of Insurance for the Law Society of Alberta, in 2003 she and her late husband Barry Vogel moved from Calgary to Victoria to enjoy the west coast environment. Sarah served on the board of Jewish Family Service Calgary, and in Victoria as a member of the Employment and Assistance Appeal Tribunal, volunteered at Swan Lake Nature Centre, and is currently vice president of her strata council.
- Sharon Kobrinsky – Sharon is a registered social worker who has lived in Victoria since 1992. She has served as the Ceremonial Leader and Board Member for the Victoria Society for Humanistic Judaism since 1998, is a board member of the Victoria Multifaith Society, and served as Jewish Chaplain at the University of Victoria for four years.
- Selma Linzer – Victoria has been home to Selma and her husband Jack Mayer for 13 years now. Selma’s career was in Property Management, GM of West Edmonton Mall for 12 years and VP of operations for Triple 5 Corp. for 4 years. Later, Shopping Centre development in China for Li Ka Shing for 5 years. Since moving to Victoria, she has served on the boards of Jewish Family Services, The Jewish Burial Society, The Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island, CHW Victoria (Hadassah WIZO), and her home-based strata council. It has also been her honour to volunteer at the Jewish Community Centre of Victoria with their speaker’s program and the week-end fairs. She has, with small committees, created and organized two End of Life Symposiums within the Jewish community and with Jewish Family Services, she introduced the Jewish Holiday Food basket program.
- Lindy Shortt – Lindy has lived in Victoria for over 35 years, is actively involved with Chabad of Vancouver Island, but has also served in many capacities on the Board and committees of Congregation Emanu-El and volunteered extensively for other Jewish organizations represented in Victoria. Her husband Stan was a founding member of JFVVI and served on the board for several years.
- Jeff Wollach – Jeff was born Cape Town South Africa, educated at the University of Cape Town and graduated with MD degree in 1973. He emigrated to Canada in 1977, completed specialist training at Dalhousie University in Halifax N.S. and qualified as an anesthesiologist in 1982. He moved to Victoria 1983 and practiced at the Royal Jubilee Hospital for 37 years. He retired as of March 2020. He is married to Yael. They have three children and four grandchildren. His hobbies are wood working, cycling, photography and travel.