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National LGBTQ2+ Advisory Council

Standing up for human rights and fighting discrimination is at the core of CIJA’s work. This is why CIJA works to support and build bridges with the LGBTQ2+ community, whether on Parliament Hill, at Pride festivals, or in communities across Canada.

CIJA’s LGBTQ2+ Advisory Council has been established to provide CIJA with guidance regarding policies and issues of interest to the LGBTQ2+ community, while strengthening CIJA’s capacity to engage local LGBTQ2+ activists and organizations across Canada. The Council consists of fourteen members from seven provinces. The Council includes both Jewish and non-Jewish members with a diverse range of professional and political backgrounds, including experience in law, academia, business, politics, advocacy and Jewish community work.

CIJA has been involved in various LGBTQ2+ advocacy activities. This includes sponsoring outreach events and products at various Pride festivals across Canada.

Thoughts from CIJA leadership:

“Since I was a Member of Parliament, I have worked as an ally to bring about true equity for members of the LGBTQ+ communities in Canada and abroad. I was lucky to be one of the MPs advocating strongly for the rights of same sex couples to get married legally and was proud to stand as an ally with my friends when that Bill passed, and became law. Canada is and must continue to be a champion for LGBTQ+ rights at all levels both domestically and internationally, and we must be able to have NGOs like CIJA, continuing to push governments to do more. We must not stop and wait for the right moment to come; we need to make our opportunities. From advocating on key legislation like the former C-16 gender identity bill to hosting roundtables with Queer community leaders regularly across Canada, CIJA stands with our family, friends, and allies within the LGBTQ2+ communities. Although our organization is known for hosting wonderful Pride Shabbats in major cities across the country, that is just one example of our activities to bring people from diverse communities together.”

– Richard Marceau, General Counsel and Vice President Partnerships

“At CIJA, we have a big tent and are inclusive of every segment of our community. If you are a Zionist – Jewish or not – you are welcome here. This extends to and most certainly includes LGBTQ2+ Jews and non-Jews who we value as brothers, sisters, colleagues, and friends . The rich diversity within our community is something to be celebrated because ultimately it makes us stronger as a people.” 

LGBTQ2+ Advisory Council Members:
Sheba Birhanu, Associate Director Partnerships

Sheba Birhanu (She/Her), Co-Chair, Toronto

A Canadian-Ethiopian Jewish activist, Sheba focuses on human rights, safety, and equity in technology. Her work in Partnerships facilitates cultural, religious, and political collaboration in combating antisemitism and hate.

David Friedland, Director Government Relations

David Friedland (He/Him), Co-Chair, Ottawa

David is a Jewish community advocate who has worked at all three levels of government over the past decade. He focuses on federal government and Alberta and Saskatchewan advocacy. David brings smaller communities’ voices into the national discussion.

Evan Pliz LGBTQ Council

Evan Pilz (He/Him), Former Chair, Toronto

Evan Pilz is the former Chair of CIJA’s LGBTQ2+ Advisory Council. He also serves on CIJA’s Toronto Council, is a former member of the Board of Directors of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and was previously the co-chair of UJA’s Young Leaders division. He has also been active in politics as both a volunteer and professional on several political campaigns and worked briefly on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. 

Michelle Ausfresser LGBTQ Council

Michelle Ausfresser (She/Her), Edmonton

Born and raised in Queens, New York and moved to Canada about 15 years ago. I’m a mom of three children and many furry kids as well. I’ve always been a proud Jew and my dedication to my culture flourished after leading my University Hillel chapter and participating in the first LGBT birth right trip.  The following year I attended an Ulplan in Israel and studied more intensely. Being Jewish is a large part of me and giving back to my community has always been important to me. 

Dan Brotman Adviser LGBTQ Issues

Dan Brotman (He/Him), Windsor

Dan Brotman is the Executive Director of the Windsor Jewish Federation & Community Centre. He was born and raised in Boston but has lived most of his adult life in other countries, including a decade in South Africa. He started his career as Head of Media & Public Affairs at the South African Jewish Board of Deputies in Cape Town, and subsequently led an advocacy organization that took South African political and business leaders to Israel.  

Noa Farage LGBTQ Council

Noa Farage (She/Her), Vancouver

Noa Farage has been involved in Jewish Community life since she was born. She currently lives in Vancouver but will always be a Winnipegger at heart. By day, she is the Assistant Director of Programming and Engagement at the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC), engaging with folks across the country who are interested in getting involved in Canadian politics.  She has worked for both BBYO and for Hillel, in Winnipeg, and Vancouver, respectively. Working on many diverse projects, she has developed an expertise in community programming, building relationships, and connecting with young people. She has been a member of the LGBTQ2+ National Advisory for 3 years. 

Sophie Hershfield LGBTQ Council

Sophie Hershfield (She/Her), Toronto

Sophie Hershfield (she/her) is a Masters student at the University of Toronto studying English Literature with a specialization in Jewish studies. Sophie grew up in Winnipeg and graduated from the University of Winnipeg after studying English and Philosophy. Sophie cares deeply about the Jewish community and social activism. Through her work and volunteering in the Jewish community in Winnipeg, she strived to always make Jewish spaces safer and more inclusive 

Sheri Krell LGBTQ Council

Sheri Krell (She/Her), Toronto

Sheri Krell is the former Executive Director of Kulanu Toronto (formerly Toronto’s LGBTQ+ Jewish organization). Throughout her university career she was extensively involved with the Kingston and Queen’s University Jewish communities, including serving as Queen’s Hillel President and as the Kingston Jewish Council’s UJA staff person. 

Sheri is also an active member of the LGBTQ2S+ community.

Jono LGBTQ Adviser

Jonathan Lerner (He/Him), Lantzville, BC

Jonathan is Director of Business Development at the Regional Animal Protection Society. Jonathan graduated with honours from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Philosophy, and also completed a certification in Non-Profit Management at BCIT. Over nearly two decades he has worked for numerous non-profit organizations, particularly in the Jewish community. Recently, Jonathan worked for Jewish Family Services in Vancouver, for Hillel BC Society, and then the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre

Rabbi Lithwick Advisory Council

Rabbi Dara Lithwick (She/Her), Ottawa

Dara Lithwick is passionate about all things Jewish – the religion, the culture, the food, and the people. She is an advocate for LGBTQIA+ inclusion within diverse Jewish spaces and is currently serving as a Union for Reform Judaism JewV’Nation fellow as part of its LGBTQIA+ leadership cohort. Dara also serves on the Diversity Council of the House of Commons Administration, where she works as a lawyer in Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs.

Anna Murphey LGBTQ+ Council

Anna Murphy (She/Her), Calgary

Advocate for 2SLGBTQ+ and Women’s Issues, Leader on Diversity and Inclusion. Murphy has previously volunteered as Director of Fund Development, Youth Mentor, and Program Manager for Skipping Stone, Director of Business Development for Calgary Pride, and Volunteer Coordinator for the Canadian Rockies Gay Rodeo Association.

Currently, Murphy is serving as Treasurer for her NDP EDA, while sitting as Vice-Chair of the Gender Equity Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee of the City of Calgary Social Well-Being Advisory Committee, along with being the representative for Calgary on the Holt Renfrew Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council.  

Brandon Purcell LGBTQ+ Council

Brandon Purcell (He/Him), Ottawa

Brandon is an Executive Assistant working for a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.  In the current mandate, he and his team have focused on bettering supports and services for persons with developmental disabilities. Brandon has a decade of experience in the parliamentary sphere working with both Ontario and federal conservatives.  

 A native of Ohio, Brandon moved to Ottawa in 2012 to pursue his BA in Political Science at Carleton University. He later obtained a Certificate in Public Policy Analysis from the London School of Economics and Political Science.  

Justin Toblin LGBTQ Council

Justin Tobin (He/They), St. John's

Justin Tobin is completing an undergraduate degree, Bachelor of Arts (Folklore). Originally from Bishop’s Falls (NL; also known as Kjipa’Tila’Sewey), he grew up largely assimilated from both the Jewish and Mi’kmaq worlds. Justin has served the Jewish Community Havura of NL as an ongoing board member since 2017, was a Madrich for Birthright-Taglit, founder and former student president of Hillel – Jewish Student Life at Memorial University.  Other accolades include: being a former Emerson fellow (Stand With Us), Ambassador of Hope (We Matter), and first ever Non-Status Youth Representative to Qalipu First Nation in 2020-2021. Identifying as a 2-spirit & Jewish man, Justin’s activism largely focuses on empowering his local Jewish & Mi’kmaq community, bridging the gap between cultural assimilation and restoration. 

 

Boban Stojanovic LGBTQ Council

Boban Stojanovic (He/Him), Calgary

Before he moved to Canada, Boban was the founder of the Belgrade Pride Parade. After Pride was banned, Boban and his colleagues won the historic battle for the LGBTQ+ community in Serbia – the first Pride with no organized violence. 

 He has addressed prominent institutions such as the European Parliament and Pride Parades in cities across Europe.

As an internationally recognized LGBT activist, Stojanovic was the Grand Marshal at Montreal (2014). He was awarded the David Kato Vision and Voice Award as one of the five most prominent activists in the World (2015).  

Currently, Boban works as an LGBTQ+ Program manager at the Centre for Newcomers. He was the founder of the LGBTQ+ Refugee Centre at the End of the Rainbow Foundation.  

 

Laura Wolfson lGBTQ Council

Laura Wolfson (She/Her), Hamilton

aura Wolfson (she/her) is a member of the Board of Directors of Hamilton Jewish Federation, and is the chair of its LGBTQ+ Pride Committee, as well as the Grow Hamilton Committee. She is a Cantorial Soloist at Shaarei Beth El Congregation in Oakville.  

Laura is also a Jewish educator; she graduated from Hebrew Union College with an Executive Master’s degree in Jewish Education. She is a Faculty member at URJ Camp George, and has been active in its You Belong initiative, making sure that ALL campers feel a sense of belonging and safety in the camp community.  

Laura and her wife live in Hamilton, ON and have 2 children and 2 grandchildren.