Tag Archives: Mt. Sinai Hospital

Jew of the Week: Heather Reisman

Heather Reisman, CEO of Chapters and Indigo Books

Heather Reisman (b. 1948) was born in Montreal and studied at McGill University to become a social worker. Looking for a fresh start after getting divorced, Reisman moved to Toronto and switched careers, entering the world of business. In 1979 she co-founded a consulting company which she directed for seventeen years. That experience led her to become the president of Cott Beverages in 1992 (a private Canadian soft-drink company that makes RC Cola, among others). Several years later, Reisman noticed an opportunity to expand Canada’s book retail market. In 1996 she founded Indigo Books & Music, with help from her husband Gerry Schwartz, who is listed by Forbes among the richest Canadians. In 2001, Indigo acquired its top competitor Chapters (and its subsidiaries Coles and SmithBooks) to become Canada’s largest book retailer. Reisman is still the CEO of the socially-responsible company, praised for its green initiatives, progressive policies, and for being among Canada’s top 100 employers. Indigo also produced Kobo, Canada’s most popular eReader. Reisman herself is a noted philanthropist, donating generously to the University of Toronto and Harvard, Mt. Sinai Hospital, the UJA and a host of other institutions, many of which are pro-Israel, such as the Heseg Foundation which assists Israeli lone soldiers, as well as Israeli Ethiopian and Druze soldiers. Indigo also commits $1.5 million every year to schools across Canada through its Love of Reading Foundation. For all of her efforts, Reisman has been listed among the world’s 50 top businesswomen. She has been awarded several honorary degrees, and has even served as the governor of the Toronto Stock Exchange and McGill University.


Words of the Week

When one eats and drinks, one must also feed the stranger, the orphan, the widow, and the other unfortunate paupers. But one who locks the doors of his courtyard, and feasts and drinks with his children and wife but does not feed the poor and the embittered – this is not the joy of mitzvah but the joy of his stomach.

– Maimonides (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Festivals 6:18)

Jew of the Week: Mordechai Emmanuel Noah

Israel in Buffalo?

Noah had the rank of Major

Mordecai Manuel Noah (1785-1851) is considered by many to be America’s first famous Jew. Coming from a blended family of Sephardic-Portuguese and German-Ashkenazi Jews, Noah’s father was one of the main financiers of the American Revolution. Mordecai began his career in trade, then moved into law while living in South Carolina. He made a name for himself as a journalist, writing passionately to drive the American cause and boosting the nation’s morale in the face of war with the British Empire. For his wisdom and eloquence, President Madison appointed him consul to Imperial Russia in 1811, then consul to Tunis in 1813. There he worked to fight against marauding pirates and saved countless Americans captured and enslaved in Morocco. However, in 1815 the anti-Semitic President Monroe repealed Noah’s position. This stirred a massive controversy. Former presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison all joined Noah’s side, championing equality for all. Nonetheless, Noah left politics, returning to New York where he founded a variety of newspapers (including the Enquirer). He wrote several popular plays (including the famous She Would be a Soldier), as well as three books. He is a founder of New York University and Mt. Sinai Hospital, and also served as a judge and sheriff of New York. But most intriguing of all is that in 1825 Mordechai Noah bought a massive piece of land near Buffalo to be established as a Jewish state called “Ararat”. Surprisingly, thousands of Christians came out in support to lay the first cornerstone, along with Masons, the New York militia and St. Paul’s Church! Unfortunately, the project failed, and Noah realized a Jewish state could only be established in the Holy Land. To this he dedicated the last years of his life, spearheading the return to Israel long before Herzl and the Zionists.


Words of the Week

The progeny of Abraham are likened to the dust of the earth (Genesis 13:16), and to the stars of the heavens (Genesis 15:5). For when they fall, they fall as low as dust; when they rise, they rise as high as the stars.
– Midrash

The original marker for the refuge of Ararat