Debra Viner

Debra Viner and grandchildTemple Israel Fundraising Campaign Testimonial
March 14, 2023

My name is Debra Viner and I had the honour of serving as President of Temple Israel from 2002-2004.

As President, I attended the myriad of events, including Shabbat worship services, B’nai Mitzvahs, School celebrations, Holiday programs, Shabbat Dinner services, and the list goes on. There were countless times when a grandparent of a B’nai Mitzvah child found themselves challenged by the stairs of our Bima. The word “Aliyah” means “going up”, and having an Aliyah at a grandchild’s B’nai Mitzvah is an incredible honour- but with an inaccessible Bima, “going up” to the Bima was not an option. The honour of participating in the service was changed, to accommodate the mobility challenges. The Kiddish, held immediately downstairs after the service was inaccessible to the family members who were elderly, and could not walk down the stairs. Despite best efforts, families are separated by physical barriers, and this is unacceptable.

Temple Israel Religious School (TIRS) has always, since the founding of our synagogue, realized the importance and benefit of fostering a relationship between the “upstairs” (meaning the synagogue), and “downstairs” (meaning the school). When a member of our Temple family, no matter what age, cannot move seamlessly from one level to another because of mobility, it means that a child misses classes, or sometimes, cannot even attend any program at all. It means that a parent might not be able to participate in a school holiday celebration due to mobility challenges.

These examples occurred regularly during my tenure as President, and they remain in our current worship and school spaces over 20 years later.

These are real, urgent challenges that we, as a Temple family, must change. If we believe we are an inclusive community, we all must work together to make the Door to the Future Campaign a success!

Margot Montgomery

Margot Montgomery

“I believe deeply in giving back. When I appreciate something, I want to make it stronger.”

Margot Montgomery, Current President, Temple Israel, who has signed a Letter of Intent for Temple’s Life and Legacy Program. 

Sustain ‘something wonderful’ for Temple Israel through Life & Legacy

Supporting the Life & Legacy program came naturally to Temple president Margot Montgomery.

“I had already put Temple in my will because of its importance in my life,” she says. “And so it was not a big deal when the legacy program came along to file the proper pledge to designate part of what’s in my will. The Life & Legacy program is wonderful.”

Margot and her then husband Peter joined Temple in the early 1990s because their daughter was school age. “My husband was Jewish and secular, and not keen on ritual,” she says. “But Peter’s mom, a Holocaust survivor, was invited back by Aachen, the German city she came from for a week of reconciliation activities. Peter went with his mother to visit the small mediaeval city where she spoke in the school and at other events. When he came back, he wanted to give our daughter more exposure to Judaism in a formal way. What was pretty surprising as that evolved, was that I liked the Judaism and Temple more than he did.”

Margot appreciated the sharing and the ritual, took several Introduction to Judaism courses and “lapped it all up.” In 2005, she went through a conversion even though she and her husband were separated. 

At Temple, she loved celebrating life cycle events with her Temple friends, and appreciated “the variety of people, old, young, all lifestyles, always stimulating.”

“What’s very important to me is my wonderful Jewish mother-in-law who is 96, and my other Jewish relatives, and I cherish them. They came to Israel with Rabbi Garten and my family.” 

A trained librarian, she has worked everywhere from the National Research Council to Parliament and Algonquin College.

She does school visits weekly with Marty, her little Therapy Dog, helping school children practice their reading.

Margot originally joined the Temple board in 2010, took a break and then came back in 2017. “I could see that Temple faced challenges, and I could help…I wasn’t ever going to be president, and here I am.”

Whether it’s leading the Temple board or pledging to Life & Legacy, Margot says she believes “deeply in giving back.”

“When I appreciate something, I want to make it stronger.”

Temple Israel is already committed to the world of legacy giving because of the Temple Israel Foundation, she said, “and with this four-year Life & Legacy initiative we’re going to learn so much and it will lead to support for Temple. You don’t have to be a millionaire; just to have a vision that and your contribution will help sustain something wonderful.”

Lisa Rosenkrantz

Lisa Rosenkrantz

Something tangible to leave for grandchildren to support their Jewish journey should they choose to embark on it

Lisa Rosenkrantz and her husband Michael Walsh joined Temple Israel when they first moved to Ottawa, in July 1981.

“We knew no one,” says Lisa, who grew up in the Reform tradition in Hamilton. “However, within a few weeks, we had a phone call from Debbie and Gary Viner, asking us to Shabbat dinner as new Temple members, and so the adventure with Temple family began.”

Over 40 years, she has appreciated how the Temple community has “lived up to the Jewish commitment to the covenant.”

“‘We will do and we will understand’,” she quotes Parashat Mishpatim. “Through the birth of our children, their education, supporting Michael in becoming a Jew by choice, Jewish wedding, bar mitzvahs, support while learning about being a mohelet… Through it all I have met some amazing people and opened the door to my spiritual life.”

Lisa Rosenkrantz became involved with Temple life “because I was asked – and then I got excited and kept saying yes.” “I was the ritual chair, chair of the music committee, and the prayer book committee. I have sat on the board and taught specific topics in the religious school. Michael and I participated in the Temple trip to Israel.”

Dr. Rosenkrantz is among the Temple members who have signed a Letter of Intent for Temple’s Life and Legacy program. She says she did so because a number of years ago, “there was a conference asking the question ‘will our grandchildren be Jewish?’ With that in mind, knowing that we have no control over our children’s choices, we wanted something tangible to leave for our grandchildren, that would support their Jewish journey, should they choose to embark on it.”

“This is a program that is simply asking for a commitment, no money at the moment,” she explains. “There is money involved of course. This program has been leveraged by a well-established philanthropic organization, that is putting action into the words. They are giving money to organizations who are able to reach out and secure commitments, as Temple meets certain thresholds. And they are giving money, now. So generous, and so I feel that we can be generous with our commitments.

Fran klodawsky and Aaron Spector

Fran Klodawsky and Aron Spector

“There is a real effort to be welcoming and inclusive. It’s precious and something we shouldn’t take for granted.”

Helping Temple Israel thrive for the next generation

Fran Klodawsky and Aron Spector joined Temple Israel in the early 1980s, after they moved to Ottawa from Kingston, Ontario.

They were leaning towards Reform when they arrived, says Aron. “We were part of a small Reform chavurah in Kingston, Congregation Iyr Ha’Melech, and it was very participatory. We had to do a lot.”

“Because we’d been introduced to Reform in Kingston, that felt more comfortable than any of the alternatives,” says Fran. “When we arrived in Ottawa, I asked around a bit. I remember a conversation with Margaret Delicate, and what she described sounded good. On that basis, we came to Temple and were immediately welcomed by Irving Singer.”

At Temple Israel, the family often went to Friday night dinner services and their children went through the religious school. Noah Spector graduated and attended Camp George, the Reform summer camp. They particularly appreciate “the warm feeling of community and the social justice orientation of Temple.”

Fran and Aron are among the Temple members who have signed a Letter of Intent for Temple’s Life & Legacy program.

The couple decided to support Life & Legacy because “Temple Israel is a very important part of our lives in Ottawa,” says Fran.

“It’s an important community for us, and we’ve taken advantage of many different opportunities to become involved – choir, Torah study, adult education, social action. It makes sense to contribute to Temple’s long term viability, with the hope that our kids will also stay connected.

“Temple Israel is really a very special congregation and community. There is a real effort to be welcoming and inclusive. It’s precious and something we shouldn’t take for granted.”


Margo Rosen

Ensuring the Temple experience for future generations.

As the daughter of founding members of Temple Israel, Life & Legacy committee chair Margo Rosen has experienced every facet and life cycle event at Temple.

“Temple Israel is in my bones, my heart and soul,” says Margo, who has a signed a Letter of Intent for Temple’s Life & Legacy program. “My daughter Lisa is a member, and my grandkids Levi and Lila attend the Temple school. That is four generations of my family!”

Margo delivered a D’var Torah on March 17, 2018, almost 50 years since her Bat Mitzvah, and during Temple’s 50th Anniversary celebrations.

When Margo’s parents Irv and Elaine Singer and family arrived in Ottawa in 1964, the synagogues were either orthodox or conservative. “As a 4th generation HBTer, I attended Holy Blossom Temple services and religious school where I was consecrated. My folks were committed to the tenants of Reform Judaism and met with Rabbi Plaut before heading east. He told them to join a synagogue – but not to wait too long to start a Reform congregation.”

“Wherever Irv and Elaine went, we kids were in tow. If you read about the history of Temple Israel, you can easily insert ‘Margo’ into most of it.

Temple Israel came to be in December 1966 with just five families. Rabbi Powell became the rabbi in the summer of 1967 and within the year membership grew to over 50.

“Our religious school opened in September 1967, and I was one-month shy of turning 13. Since I hadn’t had formal Jewish education for a couple of years, my Bat Mitzvah was delayed until March 1968 to coincide with my grandparents’ 40th wedding anniversary.”

Over more than 50 years of Temple life, Margo attended religious school and was confirmed, taught grade 5 in the school, had a great time as a NFTYite, and married her much loved husband Frank in the sanctuary. They had baby naming ceremonies at Temple for their daughters, Lisa and Natalie, and the girls followed their mother’s footsteps through TIRS and NELFTY.

“We have enjoyed hundreds of Shabbat family dinners and holiday celebrations with friends and family both at Temple and at our home and said goodbye to my parents in this sanctuary.”

As the fourth generation of the Rosen family attends Temple Israel, “my commitment is for Reform Judaism to continue in Ottawa for future generations” she pledges. “Please join me!”

Garten family

Jessica Walker and Micah Garten

Starting young to plan for future generations

Jessica Walker and Micah Garten decided to make a legacy gift to Temple Israel “because it was an easy way for us to support the temple perpetually.”

Micah, Director of Development for the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, and his wife, a nurse practitioner, are among the Temple members who have signed a Letter of Intent for Temple’s Life and Legacy program.

“We are young – 37 and 35,” he says, “and while we can only afford to do so much annually, by leaving a portion of our estate in our wills we hope that our assets will have grown so that it is much more than we could ever do during our lifetime.”

While Micah has been a member of Temple Israel through his family since he was 12, he and his wife “actively became members because of how welcoming the temple community was to Jess.”

“Her parents are ministers, and while that meant she was actively involved at church growing up, they moved often. When her father passed away, people from Temple went above and beyond to reach out and offer condolences and kind words,” said. “There were times at the wake when it felt like it was a shiva because of how many Jews were there.” 

Afterwards when Micah and Jess decided to get married, they had a conversation about wanting to belong to Temple more actively and raising their children to be part of the community. “It seemed like a great way to help shape their values,” he explains, “and to ensure that they had the same kind of experiences we had but that we never fully appreciated as kids.” 

The busy couple has two children, Winn, 5, and Izzy, 2.
“Bringing them to Temple, having them sing the songs, getting to share in celebrations with people I have grown up with, is an incredibly special feeling. At times it feels like they have dozens of Bubbies and Zaidies and that is extraordinary.

“It is also fun going to children’s programming, sharing those moments with people I went to religious school with and knowing that our kids will grow up together.” 

Because the couple’s Life & Legacy pledge is a percentage, it fluctuates, “and so we don’t have to worry about outliving our wealth; we know that our children will still be taken care of with the majority of our estate.” 

“Jess and I recognize how much time, effort and money the generations before us contributed to ensuring we have the kind of incredible community we have been blessed with. It is our duty to do that for future generations, and I believe that by funding an endowment, we are providing that building block.” 

Maslove family

Marsha and Allan Maslove

Helping ‘warm and friendly’ Temple Israel to continue.

Soon after joining Temple Israel in 1976, Marsha and Allan Maslove became actively involved in Temple activities.

“Firstly, it was difficult to say no to Elaine and Irving!” explains Marsha, speaking of longtime volunteers extraordinaire and legends of Temple, the late Elaine and Irving Singer.

Marsha started out as a member of the School Committee. Shortly after, along with Harriet Schneider and Shayla Mindell, she assisted in establishing the Temple Library. For many years Marsha organized and set up the Break the Fast at Yom Kippur. Allan similarly has had many roles at Temple, spending many years on the Board and Executive and serving as Temple President from 1996 to 1998. He is currently Treasurer of the Temple Israel Foundation.

And among their valuable contributions to Temple – “Big bonus,” says Marsha, “Allan and I introduced fellow Winnipegger Heather Cohen to the Temple.” In May 2019, Executive Director Heather Cohen celebrated 30 years of service to our Temple community, and her years of dedication continue.

The Masloves are among the Temple members who have signed a Letter of Intent for Temple’s Life and Legacy program.

“We chose Temple Israel because we were attracted to the Reform Movement,” says Marsha. “When we attended services on James Street before formally joining, we were made to feel very welcome…Our first priority was egalitarian services, and we also appreciated the warm and friendly aspect of Temple.”

Their children attended Temple Israel Religious School from grade one to Confirmation, and both celebrated their Bar and Bat Mitzvah at Temple as well. Their daughter now lives in Guelph with her husband and two sons, and their son lives in Kingston with his wife and two daughters.

Allan is a retired professor, and Marsha, a retired librarian who currently volunteers at the Queensway Carleton Hospital as well as the Malca Pass library.

While the Masloves feel “fortunate to be in a position to be able to help support the future of Temple Israel” and felt that it was important to do so, every Life & Legacy gift, no matter the amount, is welcome and appreciated.

Fran Russell

Fran Russell

For Fran Russell z”l, Life and Legacy Initiative ‘felt right’ to help future generations
Just months before she died, Temple Israel member Fran Russell chose to donate the funds in her RRIF to the Life and Legacy program, signing a Letter of Intent.

Fran Ariel Russell passed away on May 5, 2021.

Temple Israel was a very important part of Fran’s life, and after converting to Judaism with Rabbi Steven Garten in 1998, she embraced her Judaism in many ways.

As an active member, Fran was a regular Shabbat worshipper and attended Torah study and Talmud classes weekly. A long-time member of the liturgical choir, Fran was a regular at Friday night services where her voice rang out from her usual seat. She loved children, watching the Temple children fondly, with a grandmother’s heart.

Fran shared her opinions freely and was always interested in having a conversation. She and Margo Rosen, chair of the Life and Legacy Committee, had many conversations via telephone and e-mail. “Fran attended the first parlor meeting held in February,” recalled Margo, “She said that she had been trying to figure out how to support Temple – and that the Life and Legacy initiative ‘felt right.'”

“The Temple choir was her spiritual home,” said Rabbi Daniel Mikelberg. “When word spread that she was notwell, the choir rushed to complete their recent virtual piece, Yevarechecha. They hoped that it would give Fran peace in this difficult time. It was no easy feat to prepare, but every effort was made. When presented to her, she was overwhelmed. She described it as a ‘beautiful hug in a desperate time.’ Fran has provided us with so much love over the years, how blessed that we could provide this blessing to her.”

“I am so glad I will have the opportunity to do this,” Fran continued in her e-mail. “It is with much gratitude that I do this, for Rabbi Garten in particular, who has been my kind of rock since the beginning.”

Fran hoped others would “come knocking on our (Temple’s) door and find this treasure too.” She wanted them to experience “this religious practice in all its beauty and in such a great community filled with so many inspiring people.”

Thank you to Fran and all the individuals and couples who, during the past year wrote Temple Israel into their “Book of Life” with a designated gift to the Temple Israel Life and Legacy Fund.

Rachlis family

Louise and Lorne Rachlis

Lorne and Louise Rachlis joined Temple Israel congregation after arriving back in Ottawa in 1983 after 15 years in Toronto.

“We had been members of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto,” says Lorne, “and we wanted to continue to have a synagogue that accepted women and men as equals with a Jewish feeling but modern approach to Judaism.”

Lorne and Louise are among Temple members who have signed a Letter of Intent for Temple’s Life & Legacy program.

Over the years at Temple, the Rachlises have enjoyed “the friendliness and involvement of the congregants,” he says, “and the choice from a large variety of activities, and the social outreach tikkun olam.”

Both Louise and Lorne have been active in Temple; he has been on the board and is a past president; she has written frequently about Temple activities in the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin. “I always wanted to be more involved than simply attending events,” explains Lorne. “I thought I could make a contribution – other than paying dues – by helping the other volunteers who were organizing and making decisions.”

Their three children, Joshua, Diana, and Naomi all attended TIRS and had B’nai mitzvoth at Temple.

Diana and her husband Dan Harvey were married by Rabbi Steven Garten in the sanctuary in April 2013, the first interfaith wedding ceremony to take place at Temple.

Temple Israel established a task force on interfaith marriage in 2011; the task force concluded the practice would provide the opportunity that might otherwise be lost for a mixed faith couple to maintain Jewish values in their home and for their children to be given a Jewish identity and education.

“Temple Israel has been important in our lives, and we want to help its continued growth and influence by being part of Life & Legacy,” says Lorne. “There are a variety of ways in helping Temple sustain itself and to grow and everyone should be able to find a way to support it that is comfortable and convenient for them. It feels good to have made the commitment now.”

Ranit Braun and family

Ranit Braun

Ranit Braun discusses being part of the Temple since childhood, and planning for the future.

Ranit Braun’s Temple Israel journey began when her mother, religious school principal Sheli Braun, “schlepped”
10-year-old Ranit to work with her. She then “graduated” to helping in the office, to TA’ing, to teaching to where we are today.

Ranit is among the Temple members who have signed a Letter of Intent for Temple’s Life and Legacy program. She has decided to support Life and Legacy because “I want my child to be able to have a thriving community in the future, so that he can one day bring his partner and children too.”

Ranit cannot pinpoint exactly the year that she and then her husband and son became members, but Temple Israel has been a constant draw on her “slightly complicated Jewish journey.”

“For anybody, it’s complicated in general to find your community,” she says, “but with the complications of a convert – albeit when I was an infant – and someone whose skin color doesn’t quite match the ‘norm’, on top of that the ‘wild spirit,’ and finding somewhere for me to feel welcomed, included and accepted, was often a challenge.”

At Temple, she says, she “never felt ‘othered’ or judged, and while it took me some time to formalize my commitment to Temple through membership, I feel like Temple and myself were always B’Sheret. I often found comfort and guidance from members as I was growing up and who stuck with me all those years. Temple offers people the opportunity to really engage in shul life and to help shape our shul’s future. I think Temple and I chose each other.”

She loves the bond that congregants have with each other. “I love reading the comments during services, I love seeing people smile when they see each other and that is genuine and real. You can really feel the history and joy when people gather, and I really like that.”

While she has been involved in Temple in some capacity for two decades, she says that this past year has been the most memorable as she has helped Temple move programming online. Despite the challenges, “it has been the most incredible journey to bring Temple directly into people’s homes. I love working with other Temple members and getting to know people better, I feel like I have been given such a cool opportunity to help Temple move online. We have such a great group of people working to make this happen!”

Braun works full time at Jewish Family Services, but she also fi nds time to teach grade 2, to be JYG and FROSTY adviser, and to volunteer for Jbaby. Ranit Braun is one of five siblings. “We mostly grew up in Ottawa; my father, Eli Braun, was the Rabbi at Beth Shalom and my mother was the Principal at Temple School. My siblings and myself are all adopted from different parts of the world, and we are all Jews of color. I take a great amount of pride in my family and I have an enormous amount of gratitude for the bonds that we share. My parents and sister and her husband and four kids all live in Israel, while myself and my older sister and two brothers are still here in Canada.”

She is married to Jason Demorest, and the couple have a son named Gideon. But everyone knows him as ‘Gibby’. You may have seen him pop into some Zoom meetings.

Initially it can all seem overwhelming to consider Life and Legacy, she says. “It may seem daunting at first to commit to something like this, wills, estates, lawyers…But when you give it some thought and get past the ‘scary’ paperwork, it all makes logical sense.

“On Tu B’shevat we speak about Honi and the lesson of leaving behind for future generations,” she explains. “This is why we plant; this is why we plan. By making this commitment you are not just leaving money, but you are giving life to your community. You are giving life to our Jewish values and our future. And we can think from time to time that ‘well, I give my membership fees, what more do you want from me?’ But I think that what the question should be is: ‘What more do I want for my children and my friends’ and families’ children?’ The answer is everything… but I give what I can, and what’s within my power. The Legacy program offers that opportunity.”

Margaret and David Delicate

Margaret and David Delicate

Supporting Temple Israel for the next generation for many years, Temple Israel has been “an integral part” of family life for Temple members Margaret and David Delicate.

The family joined Temple in 1979 when their daughter Eliyanah was six. “We felt it was time to join a Jewish community,” says Margaret. “We liked Temple’s open minded, egalitarian approach to Judaism.”

The couple soon felt a part of the Temple community – “and participation was a natural extension of that.”

Both David and Margaret have served on the Temple Board of directors. David was chair of the House Committee for many years and served on other committees as well. He also was a long-time member of the choir.

Over the years, Margaret has served as secretary to the board of directors, and participated in Membership, School and Caring Committees.

Their daughters Eliyanah and Jordana both went to Temple Religious School and were active in the youth group. “Both were Bat Mitzvah-ed, confirmed and married through Temple,” she says. “Jordana’s wedding was the first multi-faith marriage performed under Temple’s auspices.”

They now have four grandchildren, two of whom are registered at Temple Israel Religious School.

By signing a Letter of Intent, the Delicates’ are joining other Temple members supporting Life & Legacy, “We want to support the continuation of Reform Judaism in Ottawa as practiced at Temple Israel.”