Lisa Morrison

Reflecting on my life and career in Jewish communal service, I am filled with immense gratitude. I recently celebrated my 40-year work anniversary with UJA Federation, and I feel blessed to have been immersed in such a rich journey of Jewish life.

My path began when I was born in Akron, Ohio, with a few years spent in Madison, New Jersey—where my siblings and I were the only Jewish kids in our school—and then on to Beachwood, Ohio. We always celebrated Shabbat, belonged to a synagogue and the JCC, and travelled back to Akron to be with extended family—especially my Bubbie—for Jewish holidays.

My sister and I went to an Orthodox summer camp one year. Although not orthodox myself, I strongly connected with the values and observance, and subsequently joined NCSY, with my favourite part being Shabbatons.

Jewish life and Zionism have always intrigued me and are a major part of my neshama (soul). In grade 11, when the UN condemned Zionism as racism, I wore a pin to school for days that said, “Zionism is a badge of honour”.

In my first week at University in Florida, I received a knock on my door by a fellow student canvassing for UJA donations. I was so excited to make my first donation in my own name! Becoming active in Hillel, I took my first trip to Israel (love at first sight!), led the student UJA campaign, started a Jewish student newspaper, and became President of the Jewish Student Union.

With a deep sense of being part of a big Jewish family all over the world and a strong connection to Israel, I wondered how I could bridge my passion into a career. That path magically opened when someone promoting careers in Jewish communal service visited my university campus. After two years of grad school, I started my forty-year plus career at UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. What a privilege and joy it has been to partner with so many extraordinary lay leaders, donors, and colleagues.

And my family ... No words can aptly describe my eternal love and gratitude for my loving, beautiful family. My phenomenal husband, Zindel Segal, has been the best partner I could ever have. And our three spectacular children, Ariel, Shira, and Solomon—our greatest joy in life—have supported my career and our family’s Jewish life every step of the way.

Endowing my Lion of Judah gift is my way of saying how highly I value the Talmudic phrase—Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh B’Zeh—All Israel is responsible for each other. It also demonstrates how hopeful and optimistic I am that this powerful, life-giving, Toronto Jewish community is in excellent hands and will continue to flourish for generations to come.