Bill Ornstein grew up in Cabano, QC. His parents kept a kosher home, and were the only Jewish family in the town at the time. In order to receive Jewish education in preparation for his Bar Mitzvah, the family relocated to Montreal, QC in 1936. Ornstein received a BA from McGill University in 1946 and an MA in Health Planning from the University of British Columbia in 1981. He moved to Vancouver to serve as Western Manager for the Ciba Geigy Company in 1957. He served as Chairman of the Religious Services Committee at Congregation Schara Tzedeck in the 1980s and as President of the Synagogue in 1997.