Lucy Samuel, left, and Tori Segal, co-chairs of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver’s Ben Gurion Society. (photos from BGS)
“Both of us were BGS members before becoming co-chairs. We are so grateful for the leadership opportunities that BGS has given us,” said Tori Segal (née Simons), who co-chairs the Ben Gurion Society with Lucy Samuel (née Adirim). “We recognize that the Jewish community of Greater Vancouver made us the leaders we are today, and so we jumped at the chance to give back.
“We were shaped by this community,” Segal continued. “Through BGS, we have connected with like-minded young adults, donated to Jewish Federation in support of our community, and been afforded special opportunities for us all to learn from leaders spanning multiple fields in our community.”
The Ben Gurion Society is Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver’s national donor recognition program for young professionals ages 25-45, who support the community through the Federation’s annual campaign with a gift of $1,000 or more.
BGS offers its members a range of possibilities, from private speaking events and social cocktail hours with donors and community leaders, to professional development and leadership opportunities. Recently, for example, BGS members listened to presentations from David Shore, the executive producer of The Good Doctor and House, and Lillian Boraks-Nemetz, the author of Mouth of Truth and Out of the Dark, among several other titles. Later in the spring, they will hear from Anat Yahalom, an advocate in Israel for those with disabilities, and other local Jewish leaders.
Additionally, BGS offers members a chance to gain a better understanding of community needs from the Jewish Federation’s many partner agencies, which are based both locally and in Israel.
“New members are typically found by word of mouth or through our campaign volunteer canvassers,” Samuel explained. “We invite community members in the BGS age range (25-45) to events we hold for both BGS and non-BGS members, so that they can experience our programming and learn about our philanthropic mission, the types of events we hold and how they can join if they are interested.”
Samuel, who was born and raised in Vancouver, learned the importance of engaging with her Jewish values at a young age – at Vancouver Talmud Torah, King David High School and Camp Hatikvah. She enrolled at McGill University and studied cognitive science. Throughout her time in Montreal, she was involved in both Hillel and Chabad. She was also a long-term chair of Save a Child’s Heart McGill.
After graduating in 2016, Samuel became a realtor and started working with her father at the family business. Upon returning to her hometown, she joined Axis, where she met her husband.
Axis is a network of Jews in their 20s and 30s whose stated aim is to build a vibrant young Jewish community in Metro Vancouver.
“In addition to my time on the Axis board, I recently helped start a new chapter of Canadian Hadassah-WIZO, the BVLGARI chapter,” Samuel said. “I am looking forward to continuing to grow and expand the wealth of opportunities available to young adults in the Vancouver Jewish community.”
Segal, too, is a native Vancouverite and has enjoyed being brought up immersed in the local Jewish community. She also attended VTT and KDHS, where, she said, she “learned about community values and history.”
An alumna of McGill University as well, she, like Samuel, continued her involvement there in the Jewish community through the school’s Chabad and Hillel organizations. She graduated from McGill with a degree in dietetics, and works as a registered dietitian at Vancouver General Hospital in cardiology and cardiac surgery. Alongside that work, Segal is a clinical instructor at the University of British Columbia, supervising and teaching dietetics students in their hospital placements. Further, she is currently completing a postgraduate program in healthcare safety, quality, informatics and leadership through Harvard University.
“I joined the Ben Gurion Society upon its restart at the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and have recently taken on co-chairing the society with Lucy. I married Dylan Segal in August 2022 and am looking forward to building a Jewish home and supporting others in doing the same. I am excited to join the Federation board and support initiatives that help create the Greater Vancouver Jewish community,” Segal told the Independent.
Over their two-year term, both Samuel and Segal said they will continue to seek out new members to help support the community, and engage existing members through a broad range of events.
For more information, visit jewishvancouver.com/bgs.
Sam Margolis has written for the Globe and Mail, the National Post, UPI and MSNBC.