Marsha Cowan, born in Winnipeg, the daughter of Celia and Max Lipkin, grew up with her brother on Machray Avenue in the north end. She attended Peretz School, St. John's High and the University of Manitoba. She married Edward Cowan in 1966, taught Junior High School for five years and then stayed home to raise her three children, Benji, Reesa and Michelle, and is now involved in sales in the family business.
Marsha attributes her strong attachment to things Jewish to early childhood influences. Her uncle, Rabbi Samuel Polonsky and his sisters, Sarah Lerman and Beckie Gorsky, spoke Yiddish to her and took her to the synagogue. In her teen years, her uncle, Cantor David Boroditsky and his wife, Elsie (her father's sister), included her family in all holiday celebrations, and she attended the B'Nay Abraham Synagogue with them. In addition to these family experiences, her participation in U.S.Y. at the Rosh Pina (she became Vice President) and B'nai B'rith enhanced her dedication to the Jewish community.
Marsha was the 1997 Negev Dinner honoree, acknowledging her outstanding contribution to and support for local institutions and Israel. She has served as President of Jewish Child and Family Services, Vice-President of National Council of Jewish Women, Campaign Chair for the building of the Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre, Vice-President of the Women's Division, Combined Jewish Appeal, and President of The Jewish Foundation of Manitoba.
Marsha is passionate in her love and concern for the Winnipeg Jewish community as expressed in her own words: "I believe in the Jewish community and the need for my generation to be committed to the continuity and future of Judaism. I believe that because there were Jewish institutions, schools, camps, etc. for my generation, we have an obligation to ensure that these be available to all young people today and in the future.
The community and Eddy and I made certain that our children had all these opportunities, and I hope that my children will continue in this way. I have been a volunteer all of my adult life and hope that in some small way I have made a contribution to the betterment of the Jewish community in Winnipeg."