Distinguished Service Award
The Distinguished Service Award, established in 1994, is the highest honour bestowed by the Jewish General Hospital. It is presented annually to an outstanding individual whose extraordinary efforts have had a profound impact on the growth and development of the JGH.
Henri Elbaz (2009)
Throughout his life, Henri Elbaz has been passionate about the health and well-being of those in need of medical care—and never more so than after stepping down as Executive Director of the Jewish General Hospital in early 2008. Since then, he has served in a volunteer capacity as a valued advisor to the JGH; in so doing, he has merited the hospital’s highest honour, the Distinguished Service Award.
Of particular importance is the crucial assistance that Mr. Elbaz has been providing in placing the proposed Pavilion K on the path to success. In addition, the insights that he has imparted to the hospital’s Executive Director, Dr. Hartley Stern, and to the JGH Foundation are enabling the hospital to continue to be of benefit to patients from across Montreal and throughout Quebec.
Mr. Elbaz began his JGH career in 1976 and rose to become Executive Director in 1992. Until his retirement, he oversaw a period of enormous growth and great diversification of patient services, including construction of the Segal Cancer Centre and the acquisition of neighbouring property that permitted the development of Pavilion H and the proposal to build Pavilion K. On his retirement, Mr. Elbaz was praised by Premier Jean Charest as “a man of vision and action, an esteemed administrator, a team player, and a man of values and conviction.”
As an additional gesture to acknowledge Mr. Elbaz’s extraordinary contribution, a plaque in his honour has been mounted in the hospital’s extensively renovated and newly reopened lobby. The inscription summarizes Mr. Elbaz’s integral role in the hospital’s modern development:
“The Jewish General Hospital is proud to recognize Henri Elbaz in this, its central lobby, for his exemplary leadership, vision and professional expertise as the Executive Director of the Jewish General Hospital from 1992 to 2008. His dynamic qualities and passionate dedication were instrumental in forging the dramatic growth and development of the Jewish General Hospital as a vibrant institution that serves the healthcare needs of individuals of all backgrounds, from across Montreal and throughout Quebec.”
James Alexander (2008)
Though grateful for having been chosen to receive the Distinguished Service Award, Past President James Alexander has no doubt who is most deserving of that honour: the JGH itself. “Seeing the hospital from the special vantage point of President made me realize that the phrase ‘distinguished service’ most accurately describes the work that this hospital does every day,” Mr. Alexander says. “I’m thrilled to receive the award, but the real honour was the opportunity to serve amid such an illustrious group of high-achievers.”<o:p></o:p>
Dynamism and growth at the Jewish General Hospital, all for the sake of improving patients’ service, characterized Mr. Alexander’s Presidential term from 2005 to 2007. During this period, the JGH launched the Segal Cancer Centre, a beacon of life-saving treatment, research and prevention for patients across Montreal and throughout Quebec. Crucial funds to help support the Centre’s programs have been raised by the enormously successful Weekend to End Breast Cancer, which was launched during Mr. Alexander’s term.<o:p></o:p>
Among the other JGH landmarks of this era were the acquisition of a PET/CT scanner and the development of Pavilion H, including the inauguration of the Cardiovascular Prevention Centre. The hospital also earned great praise during the 2006 accreditation, with examiners noting that the cancer care team and the Living Will program, in particular, deserved to be emulated by other healthcare institutions.<o:p></o:p>
In becoming President, Mr. Alexander continued a family tradition that saw his grandfather, Sam Steinberg, serve in that position from 1966 to 1969. By the mid-1990s, Mr. Alexander began to take an active role in most major hospital committees, as well as joining the Board of the JGH Foundation, where he served as President from 1999 to 2001 and Chair from 2001 to 2003. During this time, he oversaw the Foundation’s dramatic and extensive re-organization. <o:p></o:p>
In private business, Mr. Alexander spent 10 years at Steinberg Inc. and managed an importing company before becoming a partner in a personal investment firm. Since completing his Presidency in 2007, he has maintained his involvement in the investment firm and has purchased Base Concept, a Montreal-based manufacturer and marketer of premium energy drinks. Mr. Alexander also continues to contribute his expertise to the Foundation, and to the hospital as a member of the President’s Advisory Committee.
Looking back, Mr. Alexander says that while he would have liked to forge stronger ties with McGill University, he is satisfied with what was accomplished during those two hectic years. “The pace was sometimes tough,” he adds, “but now I can honestly say I miss it. Henri Elbaz, our former Executive Director, was a great source of advice and insight, and he helped me deal with the pressure.”<o:p></o:p>
Mr. Alexander says he still gets a kick out of seeing his picture on the wall in the hospital boardroom, “just a few over from my grandfather’s. But the real satisfaction is in having participated in charting the direction of such an enormously important organization. Being President of the Jewish General Hospital is not something you do for yourself. It’s something you do for the community.”
Stanley K. Plotnick (2007)
In spring 2005, when Stanley K. Plotnick stepped down after a busy two‑year term as President of the Jewish General Hospital, he could have made a conventional choice by pursuing his personal and business interests at a more leisurely pace. However, Mr. Plotnick is anything but conventional.
While maintaining close ties to the JGH, Mr. Plotnick been more active than ever on the global stage. At the Jewish Agency for Israel (the world body of Jewish organizations, primarily dedicated to rescuing Jews, bringing them to Israel and helping them adjust), he sits on the Board of Directors and co‑chairs the Communications Committee.
He is also on the Executive of Keren Hayesod, which represents all of the world’s Jewish communities except the United States.
In addition, Mr. Plotnick is on the Board of the Joint Distribution Committee, which provides social services in Israel and supports Jewish communities in distressed or depressed circumstances.
From 2005 to 2007, Mr. Plotnick was President of UIA Federations Canada, the national address for Jewish Canada (approximately 360,000 people in 36 cities), in partnership with Israel and world Jewry.
This is consistent with Mr. Plotnick’s decades of work as a volunteer, including previous positions as President of the Montreal Jewish Federation, President of the Jewish Educational Council of Montreal, and President of the Solomon Schecter Academy. He is semi‑retired from business, having sold his Montreal company, AVS Technologies Inc., in 2005.
It was this same unflagging energy that helped spark many of the successes that came to fruition at the JGH during Mr. Plotnick’s term—development of the Segal Cancer Centre; the initial Weekend to End Breast Cancer; finalizing the purchase of property that is now Pavilion H; acquisition of the PET/CT scanner; top marks in the 2003 accreditation; and recruitment of many outstanding researchers and clinicians.
However, in discussing his term’s milestones, Mr. Plotnick declines to refer to them as his accomplishments, preferring instead to give credit to others. To be a successful President, one must be a strong link in a chain, he says—ensuring smooth progress for projects that began before one’s appointment, as well as initiating important projects that will be completed long after the term has ended.
Mildred Lande, C.M. (2006)
Mildred Lande, C.M., has witnessed every step in the establishment, growth and flowering of the Jewish General Hospital. While working toward her B.A. at McGill University, 21-year-old Milly decided to step forward as a volunteer in 1934 and put her interest in medicine and nursing to good use. In 1936, within weeks of graduating from McGill, Mrs. Lande was married and became a homemaker. But as often as possible over the coming years, she set aside time to be of service to The Auxiliary, including serving as President from 1961 to 1964. More recently, whenever the JGH has needed the guidance and support of a veteran fund-raiser, Milly Lande has stepped in to help.
A long-time supporter of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, Mrs. Lande was President from 1984 to ’87, the first woman to be elected President of a Montreal congregation with an Orthodox charter. In addition, she has held positions as Chairman of the Combined Jewish Appeal and the Israel Emergency Fund. In recognition of her efforts, Mrs. Lande was named to the Order of Canada in 1981.
Stephen Kaplan (2005)
Cummings Pavilion E took a major leap forward in 2004-05, as eight new floors for clinical and research activities—including the Segal Cancer Centre—were added to the top of the existing structure. Keeping this project on its ambitious, fast-tracked timetable was the responsibility of Stephen Kaplan, Chairman of the hospital’s Building Expansion Committee. Mr. Kaplan, President of Reliance Construction, was appointed to the Board’s Executive Committee in 2003 and has volunteered his expertise for a variety of key projects, notably the development of the property purchased from Les Soeurs de Sainte-Croix. He will also oversee renovation of the main entrance and the lobby, as well as the Radio-Oncology project.
Mr. Kaplan studied Commerce at McGill University and in 1971, at the age of 22, he joined his father’s business, Reliance Construction. Over the years, he transformed this modestly-sized company into one of Quebec’s largest general contractors in the commercial and institutional sectors, with headquarters in Montreal and offices in Ottawa and New Jersey.
Jonathan Wener (2004)
As President of the JGH from 2000 to 2003, Jonathan Wener was instrumental in laying a solid foundation for the hospital's growth and vitality in the new century. Of key importance was Mr. Wener's role in arranging to have the JGH acquire the neighbouring property of Les Soeurs de Sainte-Croix, a deal finalized in 2005. He also made a strong commitment to establishing a comprehensive cancer centre, a plan that achieved fruition with the launch of the Segal Cancer Centre in 2006. Prior to his term as President, Mr. Wener served as Treasurer of the JGH Foundation and Chairman of a strategic planning process to chart the hospital's vision and direction.
Mr. Wener, a recipient of the Order of Canada, is a real estate professional with extensive experience in all sectors of the industry. He is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Candarel Group of Companies, as well as founding President of the Urban Development Institute of Quebec. Mr. Wener has been a member of many community, business and charitable boards, including Concordia University, the Foundation of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Fondation du maire de Montréal.
Senator E. Leo Kolber (2003)
Senator E. Leo Kolber was President of the Centre Board of the Jewish General Hospital from 1997 to 1999. He also served as President of the JGH Corporation from 1983 to 1985 and as Vice-President of the Centre Board from 1995 to 1997.
During his presidency, Senator E. Leo Kolber was faced with many challenges due to turmoil in the health care system. In the face of hospital closures and downsizing, he was firm in his defense of the JGH and considered quality access to health care services to be a non-negotiable issue. He also contributed greatly to strengthening ties with McGill University and ensuring that issues raised by the medical staff were addressed.
Appointed to the Senate of Canada in 1983, Sen. Kolber was Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce from 1999 to 2003. He is a Past Chairman of the Liberal Party of Canada's National Revenue Committee.
A graduate of the McGill University Faculty of Law, Sen. Kolber was called to the Quebec Bar in 1952 and received a Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa from Concordia University in 1996.
Sen. Kolber founded the Cadillac Fairview Corporation, one of the world's leading real estate developers, responsible for such landmark buildings such as the Eaton Centre and Vancouver's Pacific Centre. Until 1993, he was also Chairman of Claridge Inc, a Montreal-based private management company.
For almost 30 years, he was President of CEMP Investments, the business arm of the trusts established by the late Sam Bronfman for his children and grandchildren. CEMP Investments concentrated on the development of real estate in Canada, the United States and Europe.
Sen. Kolber has served on the boards of numerous corporations, including MGM and Supersol; as Chairman and director of the Cineplex Odeon Corporation; director of The Seagram Company Ltd.; and director of the Toronto Dominion Bank.
Active in many social, cultural and philanthropic organizations, Sen. Kolber has served in a variety of leadership roles for, among others, Combined Jewish Appeal, State of Israel Bonds and the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital.
Stephen A. Vineberg (2002)
Since the 1960s, Stephen A. Vineberg has been closely involved with many community organizations, including the Young Adult Division of Federation CJA, the Baron de Hirsch Institute and the Herzl Health Centre. He has also been instrumental in developing the Research Foundation for the Department of Oncology at McGill University and its related hospitals.
Mr. Vineberg's work for the JGH has been extensive – President of the Board from 1991 to 1993, President of the Foundation in 1994, and Chairman of the Building Committee in 1984. In these roles, Mr. Vineberg has made valuable and significant contributions in ensuring excellence in patient care, research and funding.
In addition, Mr. Vineberg is co-founder of the Tolerance Foundation, a non-profit and non-partisan organization whose mission is to prevent and make the public aware of the negative impact of intolerance, prejudice, racism, exclusion and discrimination in our society.
Brahm Gelfand (2001)
Brahm Gelfand first joined the Board of the JGH in 1987 and quickly rose through the ranks, holding many influential positions, including President of the Centre Board (1993 to 1995) and President of the Foundation (1995 to 1998). Committed to volunteerism and community service, he has lent his expertise to numerous community organizations and agencies.
Steven Cummings (2000)
Steven Cummings, a recipient of the Order of Canada, began his involvement with the JGH as a member of the Foundation Board, followed by an invitation to join the Centre Board. In addition to co-chairing the Foundation’s Capital Campaign, he headed the Foundation from 1991 to 1993 and the Centre Board from 1995 to 1997.
Mr. Cummings has also served as President of Federation CJA, Co-chair of the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy, founding Chair of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, founding Co-chair of ProMontreal, and an executive committee member of the Musée des Beaux Arts.
A native of Montreal, Mr. Cummings is President and Chief Executive Officer of Maxwell Cummings & Sons Holdings Ltd., a major real estate and investment company. His dedication to philanthropy is part of a family tradition, with his grandfather, the late Maxwell Cummings, and his father, the late Jack Cummings, deeply involved in supporting a wide array of cultural, religious, educational and healthcare institutions.
Charles Larente (1999)
Charles Larente became involved with the hospital in 1994 as a member of the organizing committee of the JGH Golf Classic, which provides significant financial support to the JGH. Later, as Chairman of the Golf Classic and Chairman of the Corporate Sponsors Committee, he was been instrumental in the success of fundraising for the annual event.
Mr. Larente is a Vice-President and Director of ScotiaMcLeod, and a past director of the Cancer Research Society. He has also been active in raising funds for the Montreal Children's Hospital and Hôpital Ste-Justine.
Morton Brownstein (1998)
Morton Brownstein, a recipient of the Order of Canada, began his association with the JGH in 1979 as a member of the Budget and Finance Committee. He went on to become President of the Board in 1988, as well as serving as Chairman of the 1984 Capital Funds Campaign and Co-Chair of the 1998 Campaign.
As owner of Brown's Shoes, a leader in the footwear industry, Mr. Brownstein has won numerous honours, including the McGill University Management Achievement Award. He has also been active in fundraising activities for the Montreal Association for the Blind, and his company regularly donates an exceptionally generous percentage of its profits to various community organizations.
Leo Goldfarb (1997)
Leo Goldfarb (1925-2004) was President of the JGH from 1985 to 1987, as well as serving as President of the JGH Foundation, Chairman of the Audit and Budget Control Committees, and a member of the President's Advisory Committee.
Mr. Goldfarb rose to the highest corporate levels at Steinberg's and Trizec during the 1960s and '70s, and later held positions as President and CEO of Place Bonaventure.
Leonard Ellen (1996)
Leonard Ellen, an honorary President of the JGH, served as President of the hospital from 1989 to 1991. He has held numerous senior positions, including Chairman of the Strategic Planning Committee (1988 to '89), President of the JGH Foundation (1982 to '86), and Chairman of the Mirabel Conference (1981) which helped chart the hospital's future direction.
Sheila Kussner, O.C. (1995)
Sheila Kussner, a recipient of the Order of Canada, is the founder and Chairman of JGH Hope & Cope, which provides support and counselling to cancer patients and their families.
In 1946, at the age of 14, Mrs. Kussner had her left leg amputated above the knee due to cancer. This shattering experience, as well as the cancer that later affected her husband, made Mrs. Kussner realize how few services were available to provide information and practical advice to cancer patients. To remedy this situation, she established Hope & Cope in 1981 under the auspices of the JGH Auxiliary. By 1989, Hope & Cope had matured into a key adjunct of the care provide by the Oncology and, as a result, it became an independent organization.
Samuel Cohen (1994)
Samuel S. Cohen (1900-2000) was the JGH's founding Executive Director, serving from the hospital's incorporation in 1933 until 1967. It was Mr. Cohen who recruited and retained the original team of highly skilled medical and nursing staff, set high standards of clinical care, and established the values that the hospital follows to this day.
Under his visionary leadership, what began as a small community hospital blossomed into a major university teaching hospital renowned for excellence in patient care, medical innovation, teaching and research.