Congregation Emanu-El Board of Directors
The Board of Directors consists of 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!
(2014 - )
Sam Godfrey became the Vice President of Congregational Emanu-El in 2018, after serving four years as a Director, 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 the 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 kehillah in 2000, and was married to his partner by Rabbi Harry in 2003. Sam's son had his Bar Mitzvah at our shul last year, and his daughter is in our Hebrew school.
Sam currently works as a Senior Ministerial Assistant in the BC government.
As President, Sam wants to help Congregation Emanu-el continue to thrive: he cherishes the tradition, spirit and energy of the community and believes that he can best contribute by using his experience and skills to advance our good governance.
Ilana joined the board in 2020 and soon after assumed the role of Vice President. At the same time, she represented the Hebrew School and Youth Group, co-founded the Anti-Racism and Equity Working Group, and served on the COVID-19 Committee. llana's first introduction to Emanu-EI was through a toddler group that Rabbi Harry led when her older daughter, Eva, was just about a year old. In the years that followed, Emanu El's warm and wise community continued to play a central role in her family's life; Eva is now a Hebrew School teacher, llana's second child, Tillie, is a Hebrew School TA, and her youngest child, Avi, is a student in Kitah Gimel. As President, she looks forward to continuing to sustain and strengthen our shul, and to foster a community that provides for a true sense of belonging to a diverse membership. Ilana works full-time as a Registered Midwife. She co-founded The Midwives Collective, a downtown midwifery clinic, eleven years ago. Ilana serves on the Inquiry Committee of the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives and is a Clinical Faculty member in the Division of Midwifery, UBC. She is also the author of two books, a novel, and a book of advice for pregnant people.
(2018 - )
Lee teaches creative writing at the University of Victoria. He has published three books with Penguin Canada—the story collection, The Broken Record Technique; the novel, The Man Game; and the novel, The Road Narrows As You Go. In 2021, he published a novella about Kurt Schwitters in exile in the book Disintegration in Four Parts, featuring three other authors, published by Coach House press. He won the BC Book Prize and the Vancouver Book Prize in 2009. His essay on language extinction and corporate English was published in the anthology, Finding the Words, edited by Jared Bland. Lee's fiction and art writing is regularly published in The Walrus and Border Crossings magazines, and other short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and journals. He has curated exhibitions of contemporary art and experimental music and is honoured to be a member of the Board at Emanu-EI.
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 Simḥat 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.
(2021 - )
Jean Dragushan and her family have lived in Victoria for many years. In the early 1980’s, the family joined Congregation Emanu-El and have been members ever since. After a career in the private and public sectors, Jean retired in 2010, and decided to explore more active involvement in the synagogue. She joined the Board as Fundraising Chair, a position she held for several years.
In 2020 during COVID-19, despite no longer a Board member, Jean organized several “virtual” fundraisers. That experience motivated Jean to rejoin the Board and address the challenge of connecting our members with each other and the synagogue during the pandemic and beyond.
Jean is married to Graham, and together they have two grown children (Aaron and Ellen) and three grandchildren.
Avishai came from Israel to Canada with his family in 2012 to pursue a career in architecture. After finishing school in Vancouver, the family had moved to Victoria where Avishai found work, and joined Congregation Emanu El, with the children attending the Hebrew School and his partner, Noa, teaching. Currently, Noa is the Co-Director of the Hebrew School. The family has found a home at Congregation Emanu El and is honored to serve and give back to the community.
For the past few years, Avishai has been a member of the House committee in which he strives to put his professional expertise to good use in the ongoing process of maintaining the shul and designing new and useful spaces for the congregation.
Lincoln Z. Shlensky
Lincoln Z. Shlensky
(2020 - )
First Vice-President (Communications)
Lincoln joined Congregation Emanu-EI with his family in 2011. As a volunteer, he designed and built an updated Congregation Emanu-EI website in 2013, which he administered for the next four years. He has served in various capacities related to communications and technology for the congregation; he is currently the Communications Committee chair and was the temporary Finance Committee chair during the initial months of the pandemic. Lincoln has contributed to Emanu-EI programming and served on the Hebrew School & Youth Committee. Among a variety of community service activities, Lincoln was the programmer (2014-16) and director (2016-18) of the Victoria International Jewish Film Festival. He is a juror for the Vancouver Jewish Film Festival, and he is the Middle East/North Africa section programmer for the Victoria Film Festival. He has served on several voluntary organizational boards over the years, including Berkeley Hillel, the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, and the James Bay Child Care Society.
Lincoln is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Victoria, where he conducts research, supervises graduate students, and teaches in the fields of Postcolonial Literature, Jewish and Diaspora Studies, and Media Studies. He received his PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2003.
(2022 - )
Director (Adult Education)
Ramm feels humbled to join the Board of Congregation Emanu-EI, a shul that has become his family's second home over the last number of years. Upon arriving in Victoria in 2005, his close friend Leah Levi immediately pulled his family in to the Hebrew school and the wider CEE community. Over the last seven years, the shul has been an increasing part of their lives and their primary connection to Jewish community in Victoria. Their four children all attend the Hebrew School and Ramm’s partner, Carolyn Blum, has taken on the role of Hebrew School Co-director this past year. Ramm feels blessed to have the opportunity to give back to the Congregation Emanu-EI by joining the Board and is excited about opportunities for growth in the coming years.
Ramm currently works as an addiction medicine physician in Victoria and have various clinical and medical leadership roles within Island Health.
(2022 - )
Director (Hebrew School)
Walking in our neighbourhood shortly after we arrived in 2016, I learned from a friendly neighbour, Leah Levi, that she runs a Hebrew School at Congregation Emanu-EI. Since that chance meeting, my two kids have attended the Hebrew School and our family has developed a strong bond with the Emanu-EI community. Serving as the volunteer coordinator for and assisting with the Pesach Market since 2018 has been a fun challenge. I have also enjoyed participating on the Parents Advisory Committee for Hebrew School.
In Ontario, I worked as an Investment Representative at BMO Nesbitt Burns. After our move to Victoria, I transitioned into managing my husband's medical practice. It was a steep learning curve, but I enjoy the daily variety of challenges as well as the relationships with our patients and colleagues. Outside of work, we enjoy spending time with our kids and taking them to their various activities: hiking, biking, and skiing. Last fall, we finally completed our family unit when we adopted our kitten, Apollo (she doesn't ski). I am truly grateful for the close friends and strong connections we have made in this community. This has made me committed to giving back to Emanu-EI, and I look forward to joining the Board of Directors.
(2021 - )
For a decade or so, Zelda Dean was the Congregation Emanu-El Office Manager. Following retirement in 2021, Zelda was eager to continue serving Emanu-El and agreed to join the Board of Directors. She serves on the Membership committee and looks forward to working with the other dedicated volunteers.
Since a teen, Zelda volunteered for synagogues, Federations and Jewish theatre. She has engaged in a lifelong quest of fighting racism, antisemitism, and hate. Zelda founded Congregation Emanu-El’s Bēma Productions which is the third Jewish theatre company she launched. When she saw a recent rise in hate and antisemitism, Zelda asked the Victoria Shoah Project to join her in offering the eye-opening Holocaust Education play, Survivors, to Vancouver Island schools—an initiative that has received widespread support.
(2022 - )
Frances is a retired physician, Jew by choice and a Congregation Emanu-El member since 2012. In 2015, Frances began producing our periodic bulletin, Koleinu. Later that year she joined the newsletter team and was the online editor from August 2017 to November 2021. In her deep, dark distant past, she produced newsletters for the National Council of Jewish Women and the Federation of Medical Women—bringing both newsletters from paste-up to desktop publication. Deeper still, Frances is a biochemist with a great respect for procedure. For the past four years, she has been a member of the Communications Committee and with a focus for the past two years on assisting the office staff with the implementation of ShulCloud, our synagogue information system. Frances has served on the COVID-19 Committee for the past two years. She has an aging blind dog whom she says loves her but never tells her so!”
(2022 - )
Director (Social Action)
After many years as a member of the congregation, Gypsy is honoured to join the Emanu-El Board of Directors and represent the Social Action committees. Gypsy and her husband Jordan joined the congregation in 2005 just before Rabbi Harry married them. They are now proud parents to two children who attend the Hebrew school. She is thankful to be a part of the Emanu-El community where she has made many great friends over the years.
In her professional life Gypsy is a consultant specializing in Water Resource Management, which serves as an outlet for her passion for water and the environment. She is looking forward to becoming more involved supporting the local Social Action opportunities and Emanu-El community.