Annette Oliel

Women's Federation President, 1988-1990

Sepharade Women's Campaign Chair, 1985-1986

1) How did you get involved in the Federation CJA – and why?

I had just finished a Master’s in business management when my friend Aline Malka suggested that I participate in a mission in Israel with the AJCS in order to relax a bit.

I came back with volunteer fever. I wasn’t at all relaxed. I was full of energy, bursting with information on Israel, full of enthusiasm and surrounded by friends who I was always doing stuff with.

I had just learned what the Montreal Jewish community was. It was in this context, and in the context of the 80’s, that I had to work to create a culture inclusive of Sephardim.

2) What is the fondest memory you have today of your time working with the Federation CJA?

I’m proud to say that I was the first female Sephardi to be named President of the Women’s Federation of the AJCS, today called Women’s Philanthropy. I continue to serve my community and I base my actions in values such as respect, collaboration, responsibility and tzedakah in order to make Montreal better.

And, God willing, I will be the first Sephardi President of the Cummings Centre.

3) Do you remember a moment or an event in particular that deeply impacted you?

My first general assembly of the Jewish Federations, which took place in Miami, was an eye-opener for me. Hundreds of Jews, professionals and volunteers, had come from all over the world to talk about one single subject: the Jewish people in the diaspora and in Israel. It was one of the moments of my life that had the deepest impact on me. From time to time, it’s where I’ve revitalized myself, since the assembly takes place every year.

4 ) What advice would you give to a young woman who wants to follow in your footsteps in the field of philanthropy?

Volunteer work is the greatest source of satisfaction there is. No salary, however high it may be, can ever bring you such satisfaction. Experience has taught me that the more you work, the more time you find to work. I worked full time, with three teenagers at home, and found time to volunteer. Now my three daughters are adults and I’m retired. Volunteering is one of my greatest joys in life.

If I might allow myself to give one piece of advice to a young woman, I would tell her at first to get involved a little or a lot, depending on her availability, and then to dive right in and go for the philanthropic field that will make her happy.

5) What legacy would you like to pass on?

I hope that my children, my grandchildren and their many cousins one day follow in my footsteps (some have already started) for the well-being of our world.

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