A life-long Montreal resident, Dorothy Reitman is a distinguished community volunteer involved with organizations dedicated to women and Canadian Jews. In 1975 she was a founding member of the Match International Centre, which helps Canadian women share their expertise with women in developing countries; her own work with the Match Centre is focused on Kenya. Reitman has subsequently received numerous awards honoring her as an advocate for women’s equality and empowerment. She was president of the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada from 1975 to 1977, and in 1986 Reitman became the first woman to be elected president of the Canadian Jewish Congress. In 1997, she was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada, and in 2012 she received Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
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 (1928-2014), 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 KosherMeals 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.
Awards & Family
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 appointed a Member of the Order of Canada. In 2002 Reitman received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, and in 2012 she received Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. She also received the YWCA Montreal Woman of Distinction award in 2008 and the Samuel Bronfman Medal in 2009. Reitman’s endeavors have 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. She and her husband have one son, Joel (b. 1956), a Toronto dotcom executive. Together with Joel and his wife, Reitman funds the Dorothy and Cyril and Joel and Jill Reitman Foundation. In 2014 Reitman’s husband Cyril died of Alzheimer’s. She subsequently initiated the creation of Montreal Alzheimer Research for a Cure (MARC). The Reitman family belongs to Montreal’s patrician traditional synagogue, Shaar Hashomayim.