Congregation Emanu-El Board of Directors
The Board of Directors are volunteers who strive to serve the Congregation Emanu-El community.
Drop us a line—we’d be happy to meet you!
Drop us a line—we’d be happy to meet you!
Ruthi (aka Lesley) hails from the U.K., where she was a managing partner of a nationwide firm of Trades Union solicitors. Since then she has worn any number of hats including mother, sailor, teacher and farmer. She has been an active member of our shul for a number of years, most recently as Vice President and head of our Adult Education and Events team.
As VP, her job included liaison between our congregation and our administration, problem solving and mediation on matters unrelated to pastoral care or religious issues.
She is excited about her new role as President, and is looking forward to getting to know many more of our congregants. Feel free to introduce yourselves if you see her around our shul or contact her by email.
Sam Godfrey became the Vice President of Congregational Emanu-El in 2018, after serving four years as a Member-at-Large, including two as Chair of the Fiscal Programming Committee.
He has a deep love for the Jewish faith and history, and a connection to the Shul dating back to 1980s and Rabbi Victor Reinstein. After his bar-mitzvah and completing high school he moved to the far cold reaches of Toronto throughout the '90s, where he gained an undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto and a Law Degree from Osgoode Hall, York University.
In Toronto he worked for the Law Insurance Corporation of Ontario, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, and Parkdale Community Legal Services.
Sam returned to our Kehilah in the '00s, and was married by Rabbi Harry in 2003 to his partner Pam. He now has two children in our Hebrew School.
Sam currently works as a Senior Ministerial Assistant in the current BC government.
Brought to Victoria in1978 by her parents, Ellen Dragushan has been an active member of Congregation Emanu-El for over 25 years. She has served as a camp counsellor when the synagogue offered a Jewish summer day camp, as the USY/Kadima advisor, and has co-taught a course in Adult Hebrew Literacy. She bakes honey cakes for the USY/Kadima Apples and Honey fundraiser every Rosh Hashanah.
Ellen is a graduate from Camosun College's Culinary Arts Program, and has worked at major hotels in Victoria and Vancouver. Although she found working as a chef to be satisfying, Ellen returned to school and obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree from Camosun in 2012.
Since graduating from Camosun, Ellen has worked for the Province of British Columbia as a PharmaCare Auditor in the Ministry of Health.
Ellen is now in her third year as Board Treasurer.
Tim Hister *
Emanu-El is most special to me because of the incredible warmth and kindness (not to mention singing talents, particularly at Purim) of the members. From the first day I wandered in, people were very friendly and welcoming and immediately made me feel like a member of the group. I still get a warm glowing feeling every time I walk through the doors.
Born in Vancouver, I have resided in Montreal, Nottingham (UK), Pittsburgh, New York before domiciling in Victoria. I joined Congregation Emanu-El in 2016.
My goal as secretary is to one day run as fast as Secretariat; barring that, to summarize minutes and assemble portfolios as efficiently as possible. I've never done anything like this before so I have a lot to learn. I'm also pretty stoked about trying to get a Jewish monthly film night project going. (Who doesn't want another excuse to watch Annie Hall again?)
Gabbai/ Ritual Director
Religious Services Chair
Aaron arranges services on Shabbat and Jewish Festivals. An exciting and major time in the year is the Jewish High Holy Days. He also enjoys organizing special celebrations throughout the year, such as Simchat Torah, the Ḥanukkah public menorah lighting, and the ever-popular Purim party.
For Aaron, it is a kavod (an honour) to be part of a dedicated group of volunteers on the Religious Services Committee. He is grateful for the leadership of Rabbi Harry and the contributions of all volunteers who assist in leading services, chanting Torah and Haftarah.
Bottom line—together we help fashion a kehillat kodesh (a sacred community) on Canada's true West coast. A native of Montreal, Aaron moved to Vancouver Island in January 1993. When he is not at the synagogue, Aaron spends time with his bashert Sue and their cats. His other passions include cooking, hiking and swimming.
Jewish Cemetery Committee Chair
Richard Kool has been involved with the Board of Congregation Emanu-El since 2001, and has served as secretary, vice-president, member at large, and cemetery director.
Rick was very involved in the movement to create the Fisher Building and has the honour of bringing the first powerpoint presentation into the shul as part of the effort to convince the congregation that we could in fact afford to build the new addition to our historic synagogue.
Rick immigrated from Boston to British Columbia in the early 1970s, came to Vancouver Island to work at what was known then as the BC Provincial Museum in 1978, and has lived in James Bay ever since. He is now a professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability at Royal Roads University. Along with his wife Enid Elliot, Rick has four children, five grandchildren, and an aging labradoodle.
Alexandre Cunow Wicks
Alexandre Cunow Wicks*
I joined Emanu-El around 2000. I had felt a strong desire to follow my paternal ancestors and become Jewish. As a pre-teen, I wanted a place where I was accepted for who I was. This wonderful community took me in with arms wide open enabling me to flourish and grow emotionally and intellectually. This began my exciting adventure, not only exploring Judaism, but also becoming part of this loving community/extended family.
Wanting a chance to give back, I accepted a position on the Board this year. I feel that my efforts would best be focused on fundraising efforts as my background in hospitality management and my love of people would be beneficial in this area. Also, I appreciate our synagogueís physical needs as I have previously been on the House Committee.
I hope to team up with other congregants to generate a myriad of fundraising ideas/events. Not only do I believe that as a whole community, we MUST find creative ways to bring in the necessary funds to maintain our building, fund our programs, pay our staff and have a comfortable contingency fund, but I truly think these pursuits are an opportunity for members to connect with each other.
Director-at-Large (2018– )
Contemplating retirement from the Canadian Armed Forces, Ed moved to Victoria in 2006 when he joined Congregation Emanu-El. Ed is especially drawn to Emanu-Elís 1863 sanctuary and the wonderful history of the pioneer Jews who first came to Victoria in 1858. He is particularly interested in the conservation and security of the building. Since his arrival in Victoria Ed has actively supported the Jewish community and the community at large. He has served on various volunteer Boards of Directors of not-for-profit organizations and been a Board Member of the Jewish Historical Society of BC.
Ed returns to the 2018/19 Board of Directors having served for ten years previously, initially as Treasurer and subsequently as the Chair of the House Committee. Ed was a co-leader of the many-faceted, year-long celebration of Congregation Emanu-Elís sesquicentennial. As a 43-year member of the Canadian Armed Forces and as a retired civil engineer, Ed offers Emanu-El his training and experience in building preservation, security, and policy development. Currently he aims to assist the Board develop the best possible policies for Congregation Emanu-El. Ed was born in Montreal and Victoria is his 14th home.
House Committee Chair (2014– )
Todd grew up on the prairies but has participated in small Jewish congregations from Melfort, Saskatchewan to Queen Charlotte, BC and a few places in between. With his wife Patty and kids Emily and Isaac, Todd moved to Victoria from Haida Gwaii in 2003 when he joined Congregation Emanu-El. In his professional life, Todd is a conservation biologist and protected areas planner which suits his love of being outdoors. However, from the first day he and his family entered our sanctuary, Todd knew that this was a special place where he could also enjoy spending time. As his family grew up, Todd has spent much quality time at the shul and celebrating day to day Jewish life and many family events with parents, siblings, cousins and friends.
Being a fix-it guy, Todd recognizes the work needed to keep things running smoothly and the great number of volunteers that contribute to that purpose. Now that the kids are grown and life is a little less hectic, Todd has a little more time to attend to the physical needs of the synagogue buildings. Todd has been involved with the House Committee since 2011 and has chaired the committee since January 2017. He reminds us that while it is important to have all the experts on speed dial for important maintenance and repairs to our building infrastructure, it is even more important that everyone, as members of this community show respect for these wonderful buildings by keeping things in "ship shape". If there are any concerns about the building don't hesitate to contact the House Committee at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hebrew School Liaison (2018– )
Originally from Toronto, and having tried a few other cities, Jennifer moved to Victoria in 2014 and became an Emanu-El member in 2015. This is her first year on the Board where her specific role is Hebrew School Liaison. Jennifer works for the BC Environmental Assessment Office currently having worked for about 15 years in British Columbia in the field of environment, lands and resources. She has served on various boards in the past and in her present job she routinely collaborates and problem solves with large and diverse groups of people.
Jennifer hopes the Emanu-El Board will find her organizational and teamwork experience useful. Jennifer is married and has three sons, two of whom are in the Emanu-El Hebrew School program and the youngest is in the Daycare at our synagogue.
She looks forward to serving as a link between the young families in our Hebrew School program and the larger Emanu-El community. A few other things about Jennifer: she loves riding her bike everywhere; she speaks French, and is working on her Spanish; and she likes listening to CBC podcasts while cooking.
Membership (2018– )
Lyndsey first attended Emanu-El in 2013, and became a member in 2014. She is so grateful for the love, camaraderie, support, education, and spiritual experience that being a member of the kehillah has provided her. Lindsey, whose Hebrew name is Liora Esther, is excited about joining the Board this year as the Membership Committee Chair.
Born in Hamilton, Ontario, raised in the Ottawa Valley, Lindsey attended Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario for nine happy years where she finished a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Medical Degree. While in Kingston she enjoyed volunteering as the alumni and social director for the Queen's Student Medical House, one of the oldest fraternity/sorority clubs in Canada. Desiring a change of location, Lindsey moved to Victoria in 2012, and has never looked back! She completed a Residency in Family Medicine through the University of British Columbia Victoria training site, and served as Co-Chief Resident in her final year. Following graduation, she worked as a locum in Victoria, Campbell River, Vancouver, Whitehorse, and Prince Edward Island, before finally setting up practice in Victoria last year.
Lindsey's hope is that she can ensure every member a sense of spiritual and social connection through our shul and find a way through Emanu-El to integrate anyone (member or non-member) looking for a more social Jewish connection. Stay tuned for events like 'Jews and Brews' for the under-40 crowds, neighbourhood Shabbat dinners, movie nights, and more!
If you are considering becoming a member, please feel free to contact her. If you are a member and want to feel more connected to your shul, please contact her by e-mail or find her in synagogue! She would be happy to find ways to get you feeling more involved and connected in Jewish life through Emanu-El.
Communications (2018– )
Frances is a retired physician, Jew by choice and a Congregation Emanu-El member since 2012.
Having converted in a Reform synagogue and attended a Reform synagogue for 30 years, joining a Conservative synagogue was not on my horizon. However, encouraged by an Emanu-EL member I met through a secular choir, I attended services and was made feel very welcome by Rabbi Louis. The rest is history!
I have produced Koleinu since 2015, worked with the eNewsletter team since 2015, and been the online editor for the eNewsletter since August 2017.
In my deep, dark distant past, I produced newsletters for the National Council of Jewish Women and the Federation of Medical Women - bringing both newsletters from paste-up to desktop publication. In my professional life, I was a front-line user during many and varied information systems implementations. I am a veteran of DOS and Wang calculators (the less senior members of the congregation may not appreciate what that means)! I have a blind dog that loves me and never tells me so!
Adult Education (2018– )
Ruth moved to Victoria in 2015 and joined Congregation Emanu-El in 2016 where she was captivated by this "warm, caring community with its interesting events and outstanding Rabbi with a commitment to social justice."
Ruth grew up in Vancouver, belonged to Habonim and spent a year on a kibbutz.
She graduated from UBC with a BA in Fine Arts and elementary school teaching certificate and subsequently received a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education following which she taught preschool through second grade.
Ruth has lived in Haifa, been married to a Jewish Federation Director which lead to her living in Sioux City Iowa, Fort Worth Texas, and West Hartford CT. Three years before moving to Victoria she worked in New York City for a Jewish organization called Hidden Sparks as an external coach supporting teachers in Orthodox day schools with children flagged with learning issues.
As Emanu-El's Adult Education Chair, Ruth wants to continue offering an interesting and thoughtful program of Jewish topics supported by the expertise of people in our local community and to pursue funding for support for outside presenters. Ruth has two sons, Daniel and Aron who live elsewhere. Ruth prefers telephone or face to face communication as she is afraid that given the opportunity robots may take over our communications and render us obsolete!
Past President (2018– )
Aharon was born, bris'd and bar-mitzvah'd at Congregation Emanu-El. His parents have, over the course of their lives, volunteered hundreds of hours in volunteer services and leadership for Emanu-El. One can say it runs in the family. Aharon feels at home within the walls of this amazing shul in which he grew up. He is fixated on Emanu-El as a values driven, progressive organization that provides space for everyone, honours diversity and is egalitarian. Aharon believes that Emanu-El is a model synagogue that is ahead of the curve in adapting to the changing world, while honouring its heritage and Jewish traditions.
Aharon was called to the bar of British Columbia in 2012 and practices in his own law firm in the areas of residential and commercial real estate, lender financing, wills, estates, corporate and commercial law. Aharon is a single father of a lovely young lady named Lily. He lives in Rockland in Victoria and has no hobbies (he's looking for some).
Volunteerism plays a major role in Aharon's life (maybe that's his hobby). He is the past president of Congregation Emanu-El where he has been a member of the Board since 2008 (president from 2014 to 2018). Aharon is also a director of Restorative Justice Victoria. Additionally, he performs random acts of legal kindness to worthy recipients who need a bit of guidance and support.
* New member