WINNIPEG — Israel Ludwig (Rael to his friends), the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg’s newly appointed president, says he’s lucky to be leading the community at a time when things are going well.
In his first address as president, at the federation board meeting Dec. 8, Ludwig noted that Winnipeg’s CJA campaign is continuing to grow (the goal is $5.5 million this year) while most other campaigns are either flat or declining, the community is registering consistent population growth (with projections of reaching 20,000 within the next five years from an estimated 17,000 currently), and the kindergarten to Grade 12 Gray Academy and the campus daycare are both bursting at the seams.
“Those [crowded conditions at the school and day care] are good problems to have,” he said.
A lawyer by profession, Ludwig is no stranger to the federation or community leadership. A lifelong Winnipegger who grew up in the north end, Ludwig was chair of the B’nai Brith League for Human Rights’ Midwest region back in the early 1980s.
He was first recruited to the board of the Winnipeg Jewish Community Council (the federation’s predecessor) by Marjorie Blankstein in 1985. In this first community involvement, he served on the board for 13 years. During that time, he also became a member of the executive of Canadian Jewish Congress and served as vice-president and chair of the Manitoba region.
He stepped down from the board in 1998 to concentrate on his legal career. He noted that he was encouraged to rejoin the federation board in 2004 by Neil Duboff, one of his partners at Duboff Edwards Haight & Schachter, who was federation president at that time.
In his first remarks as federation president, Ludwig praised his predecessor, Ben Cohen, as well as Hope and Howard Morry, the CJA campaign co-chairs for the past two years; federation executive director Bob Freedman and the federation’s staff.
Ludwig promised to be an accessible president. “I am available at any time,” he said. “I encourage anyone to call me or send me an e-mail. My door is always open.
“Part of my philosophy is that all members of a board should be engaged,” he added, as he encouraged every federation board member to sign up for a committee.
He said his primary goal as president is to work toward securing the Winnipeg Jewish community institutions’ financial futures.
“There are a number of Jewish agencies and organizations that are not part of the federation,” he noted. “I would like to see all of our community agencies under the federation umbrella, not only as potential beneficiaries, but also so that we can help with problem solving and outreach.”