Co-Chair, Annual Campaign
Gary Viner is an Ottawa native and University of Toronto Medical School graduate. He is an extremely active leader in the community, particularly with Temple Israel, Tamir and Jewish Federation of Ottawa and has been an incredible fundraiser for many Jewish organizations including Federation, Temple Israel and the Bess and Moe Greenberg Family Hillel Lodge. He also raises funds for the Ottawa Hospital’s “Run for a Reason” during May Race Weekend annually.
“I feel honoured and privileged to be asked to lead the Annual Campaign. I’ve been involved with fundraising for Federation for close to 40 years. I’ve always had a commitment to the community and I’m very proud to be a Jew and support our institutions.”
Gary’s family is one of the largest interconnected families in Ottawa, with his great-grandfather immigrating here in 1913 to join other family. This large family life has helped him recognize the importance of community and community service.
Over the years, Gary has sat as a Vaad Ha’ir board member (precursor to Federation) and has had multiple roles at Temple Israel from youth advisor, and ritual chair, to board and executive member. He is also an annual participant in the Bess and Moe Greenberg Family Hillel Lodge’s “Biking for Bubbies” fundraiser. He retired from his family medicine practice in June 2021, though continues to provide some clinical replacement work at the academic teaching centre.
“Our diverse Jewish heritage is important to me. When our ancestors immigrated, many assimilated, diminishing our collective memory. I try to counter this with family genealogy and membership in the Ottawa Jewish Historical society. I have canvassed for Federation for decades because I believe that we need well-resourced social institutions to maintain an inclusive, knowledgeable, and integrated Jewish community. To me, it’s a responsibility to help support the community. If we don’t support our own, no one else will.”
Gary and his wife, Debra Sadowski Viner just celebrated their 50th anniversary in May 2023. Their three married daughters, Alisa, Sara and Lauren were all born at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. They are a family of teachers, with all having teaching degrees (including Gary’s Master of Education). Debra, previously with the Ganon Preschool at the SJCC, is now retired. Alisa and Sara are in Ottawa and Lauren in Toronto, affiliated with public school boards. Gary and Debra are so very proud of their five grandchildren.
Co-Chair, Annual Campaign
Evelyn Silverman is a Montreal native, who like her predecessor Dr. Karen Palayew, grew up as an active member of Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue. She was raised in a family that revered education, hard work and care and respect for the elderly, and was herself always actively engaged in youth programming and leadership. Given her love of children, she achieved her Bachelor’s and Master's degrees in education from McGill University.
Evelyn then moved to Toronto and where she worked as a teacher in the tough inner-city school system, and subsequently relocated to Connecticut to accompany her husband Howard as he further pursued his education. Evelyn continued her work as an educator there, where she taught in an Orthodox Hebrew day school. Two of her children, Alyssa and Jacob, were born there before the family moved to Albany, New York, where Howard completed his education and Matthew and Max were born.
Evelyn and her family then returned to Ottawa, where Howard, also a Montreal native, had grown up. Evelyn quickly became integrated into the incredibly welcoming Jewish community and continued her teaching career at the Ottawa Jewish Community School, where she taught for over 10 years. This enabled her to meet much of the community at a grassroots level, encountering both the children and their families through her work, growing with the community as her students grew as well.
Evelyn is an active member of Congregation Machzikei Hadas synagogue and has served on its executive committee for two years. As her children have grown and left the nest, she has become increasingly involved in Federation, and is very excited to take on her new role as Women’s chair. She is excited to bring her love of family and community to her work, and she believes deeply in the Federation’s mandate and importance in everyday Jewish life here in Ottawa. Evelyn is most honoured to accept this leadership role and to walk in the footsteps of the many dedicated people who have gone before her. She is particularly grateful for Dr. Karen Palayew’s mentorship and friendship, and looks forward to working with Gary Viner, her co-chair, in the coming year.