Board of Directors


Jeff Kushner, President

Following a career as a project leader in the resource industry in Alberta and as a volunteer in the homeless sector and at Temple Bnai Tikvah in Calgary, Jeff and his partner Randall retired to Victoria to enjoy all that the west coast has to offer.  He has since begun his new career as a full-time community volunteer.  As a member of Congregation Emanu-El Jeff first served on the Avodah team and the House committee and is now a member of the Cemetery committee.  Jeff has been on the JFVVI Executive for the past 4 years in various roles.   Jeff has also served on several committees at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club and until Covid19 changed the world was 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, outside playing in the yard, or exploring our wonderful community on foot.

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.

Selma Linzer, Past-President

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.

Ellen Dragushan, Treasurer

Ellen is currently an Auditor in the BC Provincial Government, a position she has held, since 2013. Ellen was Treasurer at Congregation Emanu-El from 2016 to 2020. She has a BBA focused in Accounting from Camosun College.

Arlene Ackerman, Secretary

Arlene is JFVVI’s connection to the up Island Jewish communities, where she serves as President of the Central Vancouver Island Jewish Community Society.


  • Aaron Devor – 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.
  • 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.
  • Michael Roth – Michael is dad to two amazing young adults who grew up in the safe loving embrace of the Vancouver Island Jewish community. He 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 he is looking forward to taking on an active role working with the other members of the Board.
  • 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.
  • Ora Stefanic – Ora was born in Even Yehuda, Israel and immigrated to Canada after her service in the IDF Medical Corps. She was the Director of the Hillel BC in Victoria for the past 5 years and runs the Aleph Bet Jewish Montessori Program in Victoria.
  • 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.