Susan Inhaber to become President of Na’amat Canada

Susan Inhaber will begin her term as National President of Na'amat Canada on October 13 at the Na'amat National Convention which is being held for the first time in Calgary.

by Maxine Fischbein

(AJNews) – For the first time ever, a Na’amat National Convention will be held in Alberta as Calgary welcomes local, national and international participants and speakers October 13-15 at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Calgary. That is when Calgarian Susan Inhaber will ascend to the presidency of the organization – formerly known as Pioneer Women – which has deep roots in the Labour Zionist movement.

It will be the first time that an Albertan – or any woman living west of Winnipeg – takes the reins of the national organization, a point of pride for Stephanie Sacks, who currently serves as president of Calgary’s Yachad chapter and as the Calgary convention chair, in tandem with Torontonian Doris Wexler-Charow, the national convention chair.

Sacks, an avid Na’amat volunteer for close to 40 years, says she expects the convention will attract some 60 Na’amat members from across Canada as well as guests from Israel and the United States. It is anticipated that many Calgarians will choose to register for the convention in whole or part, especially the Sunday night banquet where Inhaber will be installed as Na’amat Canada president.

“She is quite amazing,” said Sacks, adding that Inhaber is organized, productive and “great at delegating.”

Susan Inhaber.

Born and raised in Calgary, Inhaber says that the convention (tagline Get Inspired) will offer programs and activities that affirm Na’amat members’ commitment to supporting the women and children of Israel. She is particularly proud to showcase her city and extend time-honoured western hospitality to delegates, guests and interested members of the community at large.

Local speakers of distinction and made-in-Calgary programs and activities will help those coming from a geographical distance to feel the energy, as the City of Calgary’s tagline promises.

Keynote speakers on Saturday, October 14 will be Josie Nepinak who will speak on the history of residential schools and their impact on her own life. Dr. Robbie Babins Wagner, CEO of the Calgary Counselling Centre, will address Mental Health in Uncertain Times. Deborah Yedlin, CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, will speak about Breaking the Glass Ceiling. The president of Na’amat Israel, Hagit Pe’er will bring attendees up to date on What’s new in Israel.

Sunday speakers include outgoing Na’amat National President Sandi Seigel, who will provide her closing report; Director of Overseas Division Shirli Shavit, who will speak about Na’amat projects, updates and stories; and Dignity Forum founder and board member Ron Ghitter, who will address Antisemitism and Human Rights Nationally and Globally.

Convention attendees can also look forward to great entertainment, including drum songs by mother and daughter duo Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes and Chantal Chagnon , a performance by the Chinook Country Line Dancers, Israeli dancing with Edmontonian Robin Marcus, music by Calgary’s Zeev Berger and the Schmoozers, and comedy by local duo Rent a Yenta, AKA Linda Gutman and Joy Feldman.

Activities are also being arranged for men who are planning to join their wives for the convention, Inhaber told AJNews.

“I’m so excited that the convention is happening here,” said Inhaber.  “I’m proud of my city and happy to share our warm western hospitality.”

Inhaber is the daughter of Hungarian Holocaust survivors Charles and Helen Feher, both of blessed memory, who settled in Calgary in 1957. A graduate of the University of Calgary, Inhaber taught elementary school students in a variety of grades for 34 years, until her retirement in 2014.

A  Na’amat member since 2000, it was not long before Inhaber took on a chapter presidency and, a few years later, the presidency of the Yachad chapter, an amalgamation of two previous chapters.  Along the way, Inhaber served in various capacities including stints as bingo, casino, grocery store gift card, and annual fundraising chair.

Inhaber began her rise to national prominence when she joined the Na’amat Canada board of directors as member-at-large, later serving as education chair, national vice president and membership engagement and leadership development chair.

An active congregant at Calgary Beth Tzedec Congregation, Inhaber has served for several years as commissioner of the National Minyan League, helping to ensure a quorum of 10 for twice-daily prayer services. A leader by example, she regularly davens weekday morning services and leins Torah portions.

Susan and her husband David have been married for 37 years and are proud parents to sons Jon and Josh and parents-in-law to Josh’s wife, Yanna. Susan and David recently embraced new job descriptions with the birth of their first grandchild.

An avid traveler, Inhaber enjoys visits to Israel and, in particular, tours of Na’amat institutions and projects, some of which she has played direct roles in supporting.  She enjoys cruising with her husband—they have seen most, if not all, of the seven seas—though she takes her volunteer work with her wherever she goes.

Inhaber’s eyes twinkle when she speaks about Na’amat. She is effusive in her praise of outgoing National President Dr. Sandi Seigel, a pediatrician from Hamilton, Ontario.

“She had the COVID presidency,” recalled Inhaber.  “Her biggest regret was that she didn’t get to meet the people in person. She was just thrilled when even just a few of us were able to get together.”

“Sandi is a people person with a love for the children of Israel. Her favourite thing is to go and talk to the children at the Kanot Youth Village and hear their stories.  She has a real passion for Na’amat’s Pajama to Pajama, or multi-purpose day cares for children at risk,” Inhaber added.

Inhaber shares Seigel’s passion for these and other Na’amat institutions in Israel, including the Glickman Centre for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, legal counselling centres, and technological high schools, many of which serve Arab villages. She has worked shoulder to shoulder with Seigel for years, especially in the lead-up to the upcoming leadership transition.

“I call myself her barnacle,” quips Inhaber, adding that she “attached” herself to Seigel—even rooming with her on trips to visit Na’amat projects in Israel—as she learned the organizational ropes.

A proud Zionist, Inhaber has traveled to Israel some 10 times, five of them with Na’amat.  She looks forward to returning in March 2024 when she will lead the Na’amat Canada Leadership Seminar. The program was deferred by a year in lieu of last year’s 125th anniversary of the first Zionist Congress s in Basel, Switzerland (where Inhaber was among the Canadian delegates who later participated in an adjunct solidarity trip to Israel in celebration of the 75th anniversary of independence).

Inhaber’s plans for her presidency include the engagement of Na’amat Canada’s members (currently numbering approximately 400), outreach to potential members across the country, expansion of the organization’s donor base, and increasing awareness about Na’amat and its projects in Israel, especially those supporting at-risk youth and women and children fleeing domestic violence.

We try to mirror the work that we do in Israel here in our local communities,” Inhaber told AJNews.

One notable example is Na’amat Canada Calgary’s highly-successful School Supplies for Kids program, initiated by Stephanie Sacks more than 25 years ago. Since then, some 24,000 kids living in domestic violence shelters have received backpacks filled with school supplies lovingly assembled by caring volunteers and generously supported by local businesses and donors. The project has been emulated by Na’amat in Edmonton and other Canadian centres.

In Edmonton, Na’amat members have raised funds to support educational scholarships at Olds College, MacEwan University and NAIT Polytechnic.  In Calgary, Na’amat volunteers and donors support bursaries for second-year students in the Early Childhood Care Program at Bow Valley College.

Sacks is encouraging Na’amat faithful and other interested members of the Jewish community at large to register for the 20th Triennial Na’amat National Convention as soon as possible and no later than the August 28 deadline.  There are a number of options including full-weekend in-person participation, virtual participation (pending a minimum of 25 online registrants) and an array of daily or individual events, including the Sunday evening banquet and installation.

It will be quite a celebration for Jewish Alberta, says Maya Feldman, who has served as president of the Tikvah chapter in Edmonton for approximately 15 years and a member of the national convention committee.

While Edmonton and Calgary are well known for their sports rivalries, the Na’amat National Convention is no battle of Alberta. Feldman is devoted to bringing as many Edmonton women as possible to celebrate Inhaber’s presidency.

“It is so important to support our western president,” said Feldman, who predicted that Inhaber’s capable leadership will give the organization a significant boost, especially in the west.

“This is an opportunity for us to grow,” Feldman said.

“It’s so important for Edmonton to support Calgary.  You know, we aren’t that big, but us Susan always says, we are mighty.”

Feldman can’t say enough good things about Inhaber.

“She is a humble, caring person, which I think is so rare today,” said Feldman, who has personally experienced Inhaber’s kindness during times of illness in the Feldman family.

“She just goes about doing good deeds quietly, without an announcement,” added Feldman, who is pumping up enthusiasm for the convention.

“We have to go,” says Feldman.  “This is our time. This is our opportunity… this is going to be a new start for us.”

For more information about Na’amat Canada, or to register for the 20th Triennial National Convention, go to

Did you know?

Na’amat – previously known as Pioneer Women – has deep roots in this province. The first Alberta chapter was established in Edmonton in 1931. A Calgary chapter followed in 1935.

Histadrut (Labour Zionist) leader Goldie Myerson visited Edmonton and Calgary during the 1930s and spoke at a “Mass Meeting” at the Edmonton Talmud Torah Hall on Sunday, May 29, 1936. Myerson, who inspired and motivated Pioneer Women in both Edmonton and Calgary, served as secretary general of Pioneer Women in Palestine and later became Israel’s first (and so-far only) woman prime minister. By then she was known the world over as Golda Meir.

Pioneer Women Canada opened a national office in Montreal in 1951, elected its first Canadian executive in 1956, and became fully independent in 1965.

The international organization was rebranded as Na’amat in 1976. The name comes from the Hebrew acronym for “Movement of Working Women and Volunteers.” Today Na’amat is instead known as the “Movement of Zionist Women.”

In 1975, Winnipegger Eva Natch became the first Western Canadian to serve as Na’amat Canada president.

At the 125th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress, held in Basel, Switzerland in August 2022, Na’amat Israel President Hagit Pe’er referred to Na’amat as distinct among women’s Zionist organizations active in the diaspora, because it is the only one that originated in Israel, says Susan Inhaber, who will be installed as Na’amat Canada president in Calgary on October 15, 2023.

Maxine Fischbein is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter.

1 Comment on "Susan Inhaber to become President of Na’amat Canada"

  1. Bess Direnfeld Plosker | Aug 13, 2023 at 3:39 pm | Reply

    Mazel tov Susan. Wishing you the very best. May we go from strength to strength under your capable leadership. Just a point of interest. When my sister Eva Natch was National President I was National Vice President. She lived in Winnipeg and I lived in Toronto.

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