In his Vaad Report in the March 1, 2004 edition of the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, then-Vaad president Arnie Vered wrote:
“Imagine how powerful our community would be if we all challenged ourselves to contribute what little precious time we could for the benefit and growth of our community.”
It is the credo by which he lives.
In recognition of his longtime dedication to the community, Arnie has been named the 2008 recipient of the Gilbert Greenberg Distinguished Service Award. The award is the highest honour the Ottawa Jewish Community bestows on an individual for exceptional service over a period of many years.
The award was created in 1980 and bears the name of the late Gilbert Greenberg, president of the Vaad from 1977 to 1979, who exemplified the qualities of leadership which the award seeks to recognize each year. It will be presented to Arnie at the annual general meeting of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa on June 11.
Even before Arnie and Liz Vered had their first child, he served as his synagogue’s representative on the Hillel Academy board. Three decades and six children later, he has served with distinction in almost every senior position in the Ottawa Jewish Community and in an impressive number in the general community, as well.
“It’s always been a pleasure to see what I have participated in, come to fruition,” he says. “It makes it all worthwhile.” Happily for the beneficiaries of his efforts, in his capable hands, a great deal has come to fruition.
The handwriting was already well-etched onto the wall in 1991 as Arnie was approaching 40. That year, the Ottawa Jewish Community recognized his extraordinary commitment by naming him recipient of the Freiman Family Young Leadership Award. That same year, the Ontario Ministry of Culture and Communications presented him with its Volunteer Service Award.
“The reason I participate is that I had good examples at home,” he says. “Watching my parents being active in the community made an impression on me. And I’ve always enjoyed community work because I always meet the nicest people.
“I’m honoured to be chosen as part of a group whose contribution to the community was recognized with the Gilbert Greenberg Award, and honoured to be joining the select few who are the second generation to receive it.”
Arnie’s parents, Zeev and Sara Vered, were the recipients of the Gilbert Greenberg Distinguished Service Award in 2002.
The depth of Arnie’s commitment is awe-inspiring and, like cream, he always rises to the top. He is past president of the Jewish Community Council of Ottawa/Vaad Ha’Ir, past president of the Soloway Jewish Community Centre, past president of the Jewish Community Campus of Ottawa, past president of the Jewish Community Property Management Board, and past president of the Ottawa Talmud Torah Board/Hillel Academy. He is also a past chair of the Ottawa United Jewish Appeal Campaign, past chair of the Ottawa State of Israel Bonds Campaign, and sat as a member of the Machzikei Hadas Synagogue board.
In the general community, Arnie served as treasurer of the board of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), and chaired the CHEO Foundation’s highly successful capital campaign. He is currently a member of the board of Ashbury College.
“I appreciate that I was able to participate in community affairs at a young age,” he says. “And I’m very happy to see that the younger people, the next generation, are coming forward to take their places in this regard.
“The Jewish Community is a wonderful training ground,” he says. “By being involved in the Jewish Community you learn the principles that make it easy to go outside the Jewish Community. And when you do, you find that the Ottawa Jewish Community is held in high esteem and that the expertise you learned through your Jewish communal involvement is highly regarded, and serves you very well.
“When you go outside the community you realize how well we are doing,” he adds. “We really are an unbelievable community and we should be very proud of that.”
Arnie credits Liz, his “remarkable, understanding wife,” and the support of his family, both at home and at work, for enabling to him take up the challenge of making a difference.
Arnie and Liz’s six children are Ariel, 24, Danya, 22, Jordana, 20, Alexandra, 18, Michael, 14, and Tori, 12.
This spring the Vered family has much to celebrate. In addition to Arnie winning the Gilbert Greenberg Award, four of the children – Ariel, Danya, Alexandra and Michael – have successfully completed their courses of study and are graduating from their respective schools.