By BERNIE BELLAN
(Originally posted Jan. 5; updated Jan. 29) It started with three former schoolmates who attended Talmud Torah (Winnipeg Hebrew School) and Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate deciding to form a Facebook group back in July of this year known as “1950s Winnipeg Talmud Torah and Peretz School students (and others)”.
Here’s how Zev Cohen, who now lives in Israel, describes what happened:
“It all started a few months ago with FB (Facebook) banter between Avrum Rosner, Cyril Kesten and myself. Then Avrum and Cyril set up the closed group FB page on which more and more people began exchanging memories, pictures and souvenirs. The next step was when I proposed that we leverage the renewed contact into an actual reunion. I also suggested that we check with Gray Academy to see if and what they could do for us. When I was in Winnipeg in September-October I met Lori Binder, the Head of School at Gray Academy, and got a positive reaction, including use of their facility and suggested dates when that facility might be most conveniently available. We are inviting former students of all Winnipeg Jewish schools in the fifties and sixties (TT/JWC, Herzlia Academy, Peretz, Ramah, etc - day and night school). No need to have graduated since many (like me) attended and then left for one reason or another.”
I was invited into the group early on and, although it seemed to me that most of the others who were already in the group were a few years older than me, seeing posts of photos from over 50 years ago brought back a lot of memories.
It was when Zev Cohen, together with Avrum Rosner and local JWC alumni Eileen Margulius Curtis and Bert Schaffer formulated an actual plan to hold a reunion which, as Zev explained, came subsequent to his visit here in September, that things really began to take off.
Dates for holding the reunion were set: Oct. 6-8, 2017 – which happens to be Thanksgiving weekend and, with the Gray Academy offering to host reunion participants, plans have been falling into place.
As word of the reunion has begun to spread, more and more former students have been asking to join the group.
It occurred to me though that what was beginning to take shape was a reunion of former Talmud Torah and Joseph Wolinsky students, more so than Peretz School or Herzlia or Ramah students.
I noted that in a post to the Facebook group. I also referred to the extremely successful reunion of former Peretz School students, which was held in 2003, when over 700 individuals attended that reunion here.
Avrum Rosner responded this way:
“Given that the impetus came from TT/JWC students and that Peretz has already had a reunion, it’s understandable that the initial excitement and word-of-mouth has been primarily focused on the Hebrew schools, which have never had a reunion of those years. But we’re reaching out to everyone and hoping it expands.”
But, as it turns out, a fair number of Peretz School students have been expressing an interest in the reunion and, as word spreads, it is likely that students from the south end schools are also going to want to participate getting involved.
Each day the number of individuals joining the Facebook group has been growing by leaps and bounds.
And, just like almost any other phenomenon that catches fire on the Internet, each newcomer to the group seems to have a list of others who might want to join as well.
As of Wednesday, December 21st, according to Zev Cohen, 64 former students (not including spouses) had already put themselves into the “going” category, of whom 24 are from Winnipeg and 40 are out of towners. Of the 65 “maybes”, 13 are from Winnipeg and 52 are from out of town.
(It should be noted that on December 21st there were 209 members in the Facebook group, but only two days later, the number had grown to 266. By December 30, the number had grown to 354. Updated Jan. 29: The number is now up to 525.)
Aside from the reunion aspect of the Facebook group, what is sure to be fascinating for a huge number of people are the pictures that have been posted and are continuing to be posted on an ongoing basis.
In time there will be complete yearbooks from 1959-1970 available for viewing, although it seems to be the case, according to Avrum Rosner, that there was no yearbook in 1960.
Also, so far no one has been able to come up with a yearbook from 1968. (I used to have one, but it disappeared somewhere along the way. If anyone has one, Danial Sprintz at Camp Massad would love to get a hold of it so that he can scan it for the group.)
So – after reading all this you think that you’d like to join this group; there are several ways you can do that.
Either have a friend who’s already in the group invite you in or do the following (according to Avrum Rosner): Start typing the following in the Facebook search bar:
“1950s Winnipeg Talmud Torah and Peretz School students (and others)”
The group will should show up before you finish typing the second word. Then just click on the group name, and you will see a couple of “Join Group” boxes. Click on one of those, and wait to be approved by one of the administrators. It won’t take long!”