Editor's note: As the Foundation celebrates its 40th anniversary, it is fitting to honour those visionaries who contributed to the creation of the JCF. Boris Levine C.M, FCA z"l was one of them. By the time he joined founding president Arthur Pascal, he had already lived a lifetime of service and leadership to his community. At our 40th Annual Meeting we remembered him. And it was at our 30th, when we honoured him as 2001 Man of the Year.
"If you build it, they will come."
June 2001...To borrow a line from a famous movie, Boris Levine built it and people came - to his Federation sukkah, Cummings House, his fledgling new community Foundation and numerous CJA campaigns. On September 13, people will come to honour him as the Foundation’s Man of the Year.
Boris Levine C.M., FCA
“How appropriate, in this our 30th year, that we honour one of our founders,” says Stanley Hyman, JCF President.
“Boris has been an active member of the Foundation since our inception in 1971. He has set standards for future leaders to follow.”
Bois Levine has devoted his entire adult life to community work. He was President of Allied Jewish Community Services (FEDERATION CJA) and CJA Chair, for which he received the President of Israel Award for long and exceptional service to the Jewish people. He is also the recipient of the Samuel Bronfman Medal, the highest honour in Jewish communal service in Canada.
It was while Boris was AJCS president that he and other community legends – Arthur Pascal, Milly Lande, Joe Ain and Gordon Brown – realized that while Montreal was a dynamic fundraising community, there was no mechanism in place to help secure the future of the community. Visits to other North American communities opened their eyes to the enormous potential in raising endowment funds. In 1971 the small band of visionaries, together with the JCF’s first Executive Director, Harry Berger, launched the Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal. Thirty years later, the Foundation’s capital fund exceeds $120 million.
“I’m absolutely fascinated with where we are today – beyond any of our dreams,” says Boris.
“As a community, we are still raising substantial amounts of money despite political and economic uncertainty and I am encouraged by the number of young people who have stepped into leadership roles.”
In a lifetime of accomplishment, Boris is especially proud of his role in putting the “Cummings” in Cummings House. When it became necessary for AJCS to move from its Sherbrooke Street location, he went to Maxwell Cummings to underwrite the project. Years later Max told him that the new Federation headquarters site was the best real estate deal Boris had ever sold him.
Boris has a very simple philosophy of giving:
“If you make your fortune in community and don’t leave a gift in your Will, you’re a scoundrel; if you leave a gift in your Will, you’re foolish; but if you make your fortune in community and make a gift while you’re alive, you’re brilliant. You get to see the benefits of your philanthropy and have fun doing it!”
Boris knows about the satisfaction of giving during one’s lifetime. For the past several years Boris has allocated the income from his and wife Gertie’s endowment fund at the JCF to underwrite the installation of Federation CJA’s Annual Sukkah. The fund, established to honour the memory of their daughter, Gail, also supports other community organizations in Montreal and Israel.
A native Montrealer, Boris initially wanted to be a doctor but financial constraints steered him towards accounting. In 1943 he opened his own firm with partner Sam Stein. Twenty years later they merged to become one of the largest Jewish firms: Zittrer Siblin Stein Levine and Co. The merge with Ernst & Young followed in 1966. Now a retired partner, he still goes into the office every day.
A Fellow of the Ordre des comptables agrées du Québec, Boris has served as its president and was a governor in the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants.
Community leadership roles include President of Camp B.nai Brith, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the YM-YWHA and Honourary President of the JCF. He has served on the boards of the Jewish General Hospital Corporation and the Herzl Health Centre. He is President of Elmridge Golf and Country Club and a member of Mount Royal Lodge of B’nai Brith, Congregation Shaar Hashomayim and the Montefiore Club.
Boris Levine and his wife Gertrude have 2 sons – Paul, married to Sharon, and Brahm, married to Carole-Ann. They have six grandchildren and recently became great-grandparents.
When asked what he hopes his legacy will be, Boris says, “I hope that I have contributed something towards the strength of our community and where it proudly finds itself today.”