Selma Linzer, Co-President (External Affairs):
Victoria has been home to Selma and her husband, Jack Mayer, for12 years now. In that time, Selma 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 corp council.
Selma has volunteered with the speakers program and week-end fairs run by the Jewish Community Centre of Victoria , and helped organize two End of Life Symposiums through Jewish Family Services. As an organizational lead, Selma also introduced Jewish Family Service’s Jewish Holiday Food basket program. Selma’s primary goal is to help foster a united community that is inclusive, tolerant and helpful to all.
Jeff Kushner, Co-President (Internal Affairs):
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, along with 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 serves on the House Committee and on the JFVVI Board as Treasurer and more recently as Vice-President-internal. 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.
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 the Cordova Bay Association for Community Affairs and has been on the board of JFVVI since 2011.
Dr. Aaron H. Devor, Past-President:
Dr. Aaron Devor has been serving as the Past-President of the Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island since 2016. He was president of JFVVI from 2012 to 2016. Aaron has also served as the Victoria Board Member of Hillel BC (2007-2017), was the Jewish member on the Greater Victoria Police Diversity Advisory Committee (2005-2010), and has served as President, Past-President, Vice-President, and board member of Congregation Emanuel (1999-2003).
Professionally, he founded and holds the world’s only Chair in Transgender Studies, founded and serves as the Academic Director of the world’s largest Transgender Archives, and founded and hosts the international and interdisciplinary Moving Trans History Forward conferences. He has published three books, many scholarly articles, and delivered more than 30 keynote addresses around the world. Aaron 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.
Peter Freedman, Treasurer
Peter Freedman is a retired IT professional who moved to Victoria with his wife, Leah, in 2011. He operated an independent consulting practice from Toronto specializing in software design and project management of healthcare and health benefits systems with clients worldwide. In Victoria he operated a mobile device game development company with his son through to the end of 2018.
Peter is an avid gardener who volunteers at the Horticultural Centre for the Pacific. He is currently on the Board of Directors of the Jewish Burial Society and has served on the Boards of the Victoria Society for Humanistic Judaism, the Friends of Government House and the Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria.
Mike Roth, Secretary
Michael Roth is dad to two amazing young adults who grew up in the safe loving embrace of the Vancouver Island Jewish community.
Michael is committed to give something back to the same community who helped raise his children and the families and individuals who have yet to experience the support of the JFVVI. Having previously served for a short time on the board of the JFVVI, Michael is looking forward to taking on an active role working with the other members of the Board.
Sharon Fitch, United Jewish Appeal Fundraising Chair
Sharon joined the Board of JFVVI in the fall of 2015. In addition to her role as UJA Campaign Co-Chair, she has served as an Events committee co-chair, and as JFVVI Vice President. Sharon is also the Chabad Light of Shabbat Project co-ordinator (since 2009), a Past President and executive member of Canadian Hadassah WIZO Victoria, a board member of the Jewish Historical Society and has served Congregation Emanu-El in a number of capacities from membership committee member to office volunteer to Bema Theatre production assistant. While no longer on the JFVVI Board, Sharon is continuing as a United Jewish Appeal Fundraising Chair for 2019-2020.
Beyond the Jewish world, Sharon is an active volunteer, including her leadership in the Girl Guides of Canada for 44 years, where she is currently president of 2nd Victoria Trefoil Guild.
Also on the JFVVI Board of Directors…
- Harry Abrams – Harry is the JFVVI Social Action Committee Chair and is an active advocate of Israel and defender of Jewish communities against antisemitism and other forms of discrimination.
- Arlene Ackerman – Arlene is JFVVI’s connection to the upisland Jewish communities, where she serves as the President of the Central Vancouver Island Jewish Community Society.
- 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.
- Jack Shalinsky – Jack is JFVVI’s longest serving board member and the Victoria representative of Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel.
- 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 capaciities 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.
- Ora Stefanic – Ora was born in Even Yehuda, Israel and immigrated to Canada after her service in the IDF Medical Corps. She is currently the Director of the Hillel BC in Victoria and runs the Aleph Bet Jewish Montessori Program in Victoria.
- Michael Tripp: Michael has lived in Victoria since 1989, retiring in 2018 after 24 years as a professor of Geography at Vancouver Island University. Michael serves the board of the Jewish Museum and Archives of B.C. and has co-chaired JFVVI’s United Jewish Appeal.
Click here to download a copy of the JFVVI Constitution and Bylaws.