Gary Averbach – His parents Louis and Betty (nee Omansky), Averbach came to Canada as children in the early 1920’s. Gary was among the first students of Talmud Torah Day school, starting grade one at the school’s opening on 27th & Oak in 1947 and being part of the 1st grade six graduating class in 1954. As a pre-teen he was active in Habonim and as a teenager in AZA and while at UBC belonged to Zeta Beta Tau, the predominantly Jewish Fraternity on Campus. He graduated from Sir Winston Churchill High School, received his BA at UBC and a Dip. Tech in business at BCIT.
Gary has extensively contributed to the Jewish community of his hometown of Vancouver as a leader in various organizations throughout his lifetime. In particular, he has been on the boards of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver (JCCGV), the Jewish Federations of Greater Vancouver, the Jewish Community Foundation, and Congregation Beth Israel (CBI). He has served as president of JNF Pacific Region, the JCCGV, the Jewish Historical Society of BC, the Canadian Council of JCCs and currently is the Vice President of Congregation Beth Israel.
Connection with the Jewish community both locally and with Israel have been of importance throughout Gary’s life, with his first trip to Israel being in 1966 as part of the Grand Europe Trek with his friend Joel Wener. Since then he has been back more times than he can count. His middle son Blake spends half the year there living in Ashkelon and served in the IDF in the early ’90’s. Locally, he has chaired and co-chaired campaigns for the massive renovation of the JCCGV rebuilding during the late 80’s and 90’s, participated in every Federation Annual Campaign since 1988 and chairing the campaign in 2001, Gary also co-chaired the Beth Israel rebuilding campaign with Hershey Porte z’l and Lorne Cristall z’l.
Family is and has always been a significant aspect of Gary’s life. After completing his schooling, he joined his family’s business, Belmont Properties. In 1967, Gary married Diane Mann and started his own family. Today, he is the proud father of Shannon, Blake and Michael, and grandfather to Justin, Devin, Cameron, Isabella, Ayla and Benjamin.
Shannon Gorski, née Averbach, was born and raised in Vancouver and is the eldest child of Gary and Diane Averbach. She graduated from Eric Hamber Secondary and UBC where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts and a post graduate degree. Presently she is the managing director of The Betty Averbach Foundation.
From an early age, Shannon’s motivation for helping others was ever present. To this end, she has dedicated her life to working with marginalized people and at-risk youth from Richmond to the Downtown Eastside. In particular, she has been a recreation outreach worker for people affected by mental illness, developed resource centres for at-risk youth, assisted with providing a safe haven for those living with life threatening illness at the Diamond Centre, has worked on the Crisis Centre phone line and has given numerous workshops on suicide prevention to young people.
An active part of the local Jewish community, Shannon has passionately worked and volunteered within various organizations. She has been on the boards of the Jewish Community Centre (JCC), Hillel BC and Richmond Jewish Day School (RJDS). In addition, Shannon has chaired galas and events such as the JCC’s Israel at 60, Beth Tikvah’s 40th and RJDS 18th Gala. Her commitment to community collaboration has led her to sitting on the committees of the Vancouver Jewish Foundation, King David High School’s Parents Advisory and the Richmond Bayit.
Shannon prides herself on being an active member of the Jewish community and a positive role model for her two sons, Devin and Cameron. Guiding words that capture her drive are those of author Emily Esfani Smith, “It doesn’t matter who we are, what we are doing and what our station in life is, we all have the ability to contribute to something beyond ourselves and (to find) purpose in doing so.” (The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters)
Michael Averbach was born and raised in Vancouver and is the youngest child of Gary and Diane Averbach. He graduated from Maimonides Secondary (now King David High School) and went on to pursue a Bachelor of Human Kinetics degree from UBC and eventually his certificate in Mortgage Underwriting from the Sauder School of Business. Michael started his own mortgage brokerage called Averbach Mortgages in 2004 and by 2008 he would partner up with his father’s company Belmont Properties where he would begin his career in commercial mortgage underwriting.
Michael learned the true meaning of tzedakah through watching his father reap the many rewards of his hard work on the second phase of the Jewish Community Centre (JCC) remodeling project in the mid-90’s and how much joy it brought to him. Giving back to the community meant so much more than just writing a cheque to his father, putting in the hours in kind and encouraging others to give back is perhaps the greatest mitzvah of all.
Michael currently serves as co-chair of the JCC Sports Dinner which he chaired independently from 2013 to present. As well, he is an active member of the O’hel Yaakov Community Kollel executive board. Michael has also served as the Young Leadership Development Chair for the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and continues to be an active canvasser and team captain. Recently, Michael helped to co-chair the Vancouver Talmud Torah Gentleman’s Dinner to raise an unprecedented amount for technology needs within the school. There is really nothing Michael can say no to when it comes to his community, the word just is not in his vocabulary.
A father of four, Michael and Lisa, his beautiful wife of 12 years, welcomed their newest member of the family, Benjamin Jack on December 31st, 2016. In Michael’s own words, his motivation is, “If I can show my children how important giving back is through my own example just as I learned from my father, then I have accomplished the greatest lesson of all!”
Tzofei Tzamid: The Inclusion of Children and Youth with Disabilities
“Reflecting our belief in equality between people, equal rights and equal opportunities, we work towards tolerance and respect for all and extend our reach to as many young people as possible.” ~ Tzofei Tzamid
JNF Canada, Pacific Region is working with Tzofei Tzamid to renovate the infrastructure of the Israeli Scout’s facilities in the city of Raanana. These renovations will ensure that the facilities are more accessible for children and youth with disabilities. The Israeli Scouts run programing for youth aged 9-21 throughout Israel. They bring together children and youth from across the spectrum of Israeli society, regardless of political, religious, or ethnic background. In addition, the Israeli Scouts promote the inclusion of children and youth with disabilities. Through the Israeli Scouts programs, children and youth in Israel are working side by side, learning leadership skills, the value of inclusive community and are developing an enhanced sense of self-image.
The Israeli Scouts have over 80,000 members throughout Israel which includes over 2,500 children and youth with disabilities. Scouts with disabilities are included in activities held within the local clubs. These activities includes attending camps, field trips and being a part of delegations which travel abroad. In addition, the Israeli Scouts have specialized groups that bring together youth with the same disabilities and online activities are made available for those with significant mobility disabilities.
Date: June 4, 2017
Time: Cocktails at 5:15 PM
Dinner at 6:00 PM
Location: Four Seasons Hotel, Vancouver, BC
791 W Georgia St, Vancouver