Lt.-Gov. Anita Neville will present the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for the Advancement of Interreligious Understanding to Bill L. Weissmann at a ceremony at Government House on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 5 p.m.
A member of the Jewish community, Weissmann has had a long career as a bridge builder and goodwill ambassador. In his decades-long vocation as lay clergy, Weissmann greeted countless visitors from different faiths to the Congregation Shaarey Zedek — always with the warmest of welcomes. He guided daily prayer services for many years and helped navigate congregants through life’s passages. With his quiet and gentle manner, Weissmann explained Judaism to religious studies classes at Manitoba colleges and universities. His professional expertise, passion for his own faith tradition and community, and personal warmth and openness became the embodiment of Judaism to the rich and varied spiritual and religious traditions of Winnipeg and Manitoba. At ceremonial and civil events, across the city, Weissmann’s sounding of the shofar (ram’s horn) became synonymous with a call to friendship, joy, and hope for people of all faiths and no faiths.
The Lieutenant Governor’s Award for the Advancement of Interreligious Understanding is presented yearly at a ceremony at Government House, most often to an individual who best embodies understanding between all religious groups.
Past recipients include:
- Rev. Bill Millar – a collaborative leader who during his many years as pastor at Knox United Church, united communities across cultures and beliefs;
- John Longhurst – nationally respected advocate and chronicler in the fields of Christian ecumenism and interreligious dialogue and understanding. Founder and reporter of the Winnipeg Free Press project to increase religion coverage;
- Michel Aziza – the driving force behind the Operation Ezra project to rescue, sponsor and resettle Yazidi refugees since its inception;
- Manju Lohda and Ray Dirks – collaborators on numerous educational multi-faith initiatives including the In the Spirit of Humanity project and Leap of Faith DVD;
- Devon Clunis – former chief of the Winnipeg Police Service;
- Rev. Karen Toole – former provincial spiritual care co-ordinator, radio host and newspaper columnist;
- Rabbi Doctor Neal and Carol Rose – Rabbi Doctor Neal has been a professor of religion at the University of Manitoba for more than 30 years and Carol is a writer, poet and spiritual teacher;
- Lloyd Axworthy – former minister of foreign affairs and president of the University of Winnipeg and lifelong active lay member of the United Church of Canada;
- the late Dr. Redwan Moqbel – former head of immunology, faculty of medicine at the University of Manitoba and a member of the Baha’i faith;
- Dr. Atish Chandra Maniar – a Hindu priest;
- Mae Louise Campbell – an Ojibway Métis elder; and
- Zane Zalis – a composer and musician.
For further information on this award and others given to worthy individuals by the lieutenant- governor of Manitoba, visit the lieutenant-governor’s website at www.manitobalg.ca .