A distinguished community volunteer at the local, national, and international levels, Reitman is a life-long resident of Montreal, the daughter of Joseph Salomon, a native of Montreal, and Sara (née Hochberg) Salomon, who was born in Odessa and brought to Canada by her parents as an infant. Reitman’s father was a men’s clothing manufacturer and her mother a school teacher. Reitman herself attended McGill University and in 1952 married Cyril Reitman (b. 1928), a member of a prominent Montreal retailing family. The first member of the Reitman family to become active in public affairs, she has played a growing and increasingly important role in the civic work of the Jewish and general communities of the city and beyond.
Reitman’s communal concerns are both particular and universal and her involvements have been correspondingly many and varied. She was a founding member of the Portage Program for Drug Dependency, the Match International Centre, the Council of Canadian Unity, and Auberge Shalom for Battered Women, and she was instrumental in establishing Kosher Meals on Wheels in Montreal. The Match Centre was established as a response to the first UN conference on women in 1975 and serves to enable women from Canada to share their experience and expertise with women from developing countries. Reitman’s own work with the center has focused on Kenya. At the Centre’s 1985 conference, she was part of the Jewish coalition fighting the UN declaration on Zionism as racism.
Reitman has served as honorary chair of the McGill University Centre for Research and Teaching for Women, co-chair of the Canadian Conference of Christians and Jews, chair of the Commonwealth Jewish Foundation of Canada, vice-president of the Commonwealth Jewish Council, and trustee of the Commonwealth Jewish Trust. She was president of the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada (1975–1977) and the first woman to be elected president (1986–1989) of the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), the country’s representative Jewish organization at the time.
There has been wide recognition of Reitman’s contributions. She received the Montreal Jewish Community Young Leadership Award in 1965, the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 1967, the Commonwealth Jewish Council Annual Award in 1989, and the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case in 1992. The citation for the last of these highlighted her advocacy of women’s equality and empowerment, her work on behalf of self-help programs for women, her support of political action to further social causes, her service as president of the CJC, and her promotion of “dialogue and trust among women of different cultures in Quebec.” In 1997, she was named a member of the Order of Canada. Reitman’s endeavors have also been recognized by B’nai Brith, Israel Bonds, and the Women’s League of Conservative Judaism.
Reitman has one brother, Allan Salomon (b. 1939), a lawyer, and she and her husband have one son, Joel (b. 1956), a Toronto dotcom executive. Together with Joel and his wife, she and her husband fund the Dorothy and Cyril and Joel and Jill Reitman Foundation. They are members of Montreal’s patrician traditional synagogue, Shaar Hashomayim.
How to cite this page
Brown, Michael. "Dorothy Reitman." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on March 29, 2015) <http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/reitman-dorothy>.