by the Edmonton UJA Campaign leadership team
(Edmonton) – Each year since 2019, the Jewish Federation of Edmonton has presented the Dianne and Irving Kipnes Kavod Award to an individual or organization who has demonstrated exceptional generosity and commitment to the Edmonton Jewish community. This year’s award recipient is Arliss Miller.
“Arliss exemplifies all of the things this award is intended to recognize,” said Edmonton UJA co-chair Farrel Shadlyn at the UJA launch event held last month at the Citadel Theatre. “Her commitments to the Jewish community and to the greater Edmonton community are boundless. She has a very deep understanding of what it means to be a philanthropist.”
Arliss has touched every facet of Jewish Edmonton through her generosity, he added. She has been a lead donor to the United Jewish Appeal Campaign for many decades and has been recognized as a Lion of Judah for her outstanding support of UJA. Not only does Arliss make very significant annual gifts to UJA, in 2018, she made a transformative gift to the Edmonton Jewish Community Charitable Foundation, establishing one of the Foundation’s largest endowments, to date. Income from this endowment is designated to United Jewish Appeal and will fund her annual UJA gift in perpetuity. In making this gift, she not only provides continuity and stability to our Edmonton Jewish Community, she inspires others to make endowment gifts to provide permanent support for Jewish Edmonton.
“Arliss is a totally committed volunteer who understands that philanthropy means giving of your time and talents, as well as your dollars. She has served in dozens of leadership roles both in the Jewish community and the greater Edmonton community,” explained Shadlyn. In Jewish Edmonton, she served as President of the Edmonton Section of the National Council of Jewish Woman, a Member of the National Board of the National Council for Jewish Women and Chair of the Youth Aliyah Campaign of Edmonton Hadassah WIZO.
“Arliss has been described as a ‘stunningly successful’ fundraiser,” continued Shadlyn. “She has had a profound impact on many of our city’s greatest cultural institutions. At the Winspear, she initiated and led an extremely successful ‘seat naming’ campaign that raised $1 million – $1000 per seat for 1000 seats purchased by 1,000 people.
“For the Citadel theatre, along with her dear friend, the late Kayla Shoctor z’l, she created and led tremendously popular fundraising theatre tours to great stages around the world – The Shaw Festival, Broadway and London’s Westend, giving Edmonton’s theatre lovers a great time, while also raising a substantial amount of money to fund world-class theatre here in Edmonton.”
Her roles in the sphere of arts and culture include – President of the Board of the Citadel Theatre, Member of the Board of Governors of the Citadel Theatre, Governor of the National Theatre School, Trustee of the National Arts Centre and member of the Board of the Shaw Festival at Niagara on the Lake. She has received provincial, national and international recognition for her accomplishments. In 1992, Arliss was honoured jointly with her husband Tevie Miller of blessed memory with the Torch of Learning Award by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1999, she was awarded the Order of Canada for her outstanding volunteer contributions. In 2012, she received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work on the Board of Governors at the Citadel Theatre.
“Arliss’ contributions do not stop at the world of arts and culture,” added Shadlyn. “She also cares deeply about the health and welfare of Canadians.” She has served in volunteer roles and gives generously to organizations such as United Way, Canadian National Institute for the Blind, and the White Cane Foundation. She has also supported research in medicine and bioethics.
“Among her many tremendous gifts to our community is the perfect philanthropic example she, and her late husband Tevie, set for their children,” noted Shadlyn. “Catherine, Josh and Lisa have all followed in their parents’ footsteps, serving in leadership roles in Jewish Edmonton and providing generous support to UJA and many other important causes. L’dor v’dor.”
“In preparing for this evening’s presentation I read an article where Arliss was quoted as having said that whenever she walks into the Winspear Centre or the Citadel Theatre, a feeling of happiness wells up inside her,” said Shadlyn.
“So, now Arliss, in this very fitting setting here at the Citadel Theatre, it is the community’s turn to thank you for enriching our lives. We are so proud of what you have achieved for Jewish Edmonton, for Cultural Edmonton and for Canada. On behalf of the Board of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton, your family and friends and our entire community, Kol ha kavod for a lifetime of incredible service and generosity.
“And now,” concluded Shadlyn, “I will break with protocol and hug the Kavod Award recipient, who also happens to be my mother-in-law.”
This article was excerpted from UJA campaign co-chair Farrel Shadlyn’s speech at the 2023 Edmonton UJA Campaign launch held last month.