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UJC 2005 General Assembly Leadership Biographies

Joseph Kanfer, North American Chair
Ofra Strauss, Co-Chair, Israel
Peter Ekstein, Host Community Co-Chair
Debbie Kimel, Host Community Co-Chair
Julia Koschitzky, International Chair

Joseph Kanfer, United Jewish Communities 2005 General Assembly North American Chair
Joseph Kanfer is chair of UJC's Nominating Committee, and is former campaign chair for Young Leadership of UJA and chair of Community Services for UJC’s predecessor organization the Council of Jewish Federations. He is a past president of the Akron Jewish Community Federation and a past officer of the Jewish Community Center. With a special interest in education, Kanfer is past chair of the Jewish Education Service of North America and past president of the Jerome Lippman Jewish Community Day School. He is also active in the Akron and Ohio communities, including Akron Tomorrow and the Greater Akron Chamber and past vice chair of the University of Akron Board of Trustees.

Kanfer is CEO of GOJO Industries in Akron, Ohio. GOJO is a supplier of hand hygiene and skin care products for healthcare, institutional and consumer markets.

Ofra Strauss, United Jewish Communities 2005 General Assembly Co-Chair, Israel
Since 2002, Ofra Strauss has been actively involved with the Jewish Agency for Israel, serving as co-chair of the Educational Engagement Subcommittee and member of both the Board of Governors and the Executive Committee.  She previously served at the "Adopt a Soldier" Foundation where she was chairperson. Ms. Strauss is chairperson of the Board of the Strauss-Elite Group. Born in Israel, she trained at Estee Lauder in New York after receiving her LLB from Tel Aviv University. She is regarded as one of the most powerful women in Israel, and was ranked number 48 in Fortune's annual list of the 50 most powerful women in business. 

Peter Ekstein, United Jewish Communities 2005 General Assembly Host Community Co-Chair
Peter Ekstein sits on the board of directors for the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, and has held numerous leadership roles there including Campaign Cabinet, the Real Estate Division, Volunteer Relations, Walk for Israel, and telethons. Ekstein is the CEO of the Weston Forest Group of Companies, which he owns together with his brother.  The company is a wholesaler, distributor, and re-manufacturer of forest products to more than 45 countries around the world. He is a past recipient of the annual Phil Granovsky Award for Campaign Excellence.

Debbie Kimel, United Jewish Communities 2005 General Assembly Host Community Co-Chair
Debbie Kimel is a member of the Jewish Toronto Tomorrow Leadership Campaign Committee.
She is a past chair of Women's Campaign and Advocacy Committee and was the first chair of the Lion of Judah Endowment in Toronto. She was awarded the Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award at the 2004 International Lion of Judah conference and is also the recipient of the Phil Granovsky Award for Campaign Excellence, 2001 and the Golda Meir Award, State of Israel Bonds, 2003. Kimel also serves on the boards of Baycrest Hospital, Jewish National Fund, and Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation.

Julia Koschitzky, United Jewish Communities 2005 General Assembly International Chair
Julia Koschitzky serves as a vice chair of UJC’s Board of Trustees, is a member of its officers team and the Israel and Overseas Pillar. She served as chair of the Toronto UJA Women’s Division Campaign and co-chair of the Toronto UJA campaign. Koschitzky serves as an officer of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, chair of the Israel Now Consortium, and chair of the Israel Advocacy Committee. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Canadian Jewish News and was president of the United Israel Appeal of Canada. In addition to her involvement in the Jewish community, Koschitzky is a member of the Board of Trustees of the York University Foundation and is chair of the Advisory Committee, Centre for Jewish Studies at York University. Mrs. Koschitzky served as chair of the Keren Hayesod World Board of Trustees and has been actively involved with the Jewish Agency for Israel, serving as a member of the Board of Governors, a member of the Executive, and is co-chair of the Jewish Agency’s Education Department. Koschitzky is the recipient of many awards in recognition of her distinguished career of service.