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SZBy GERRY POSNER
Recently, my wife and I were privileged to be in Winnipeg to attend the induction (or, as the ceremony was called, the “installation”) of two new rabbis at Shaarey Zedek Synagogue: Rabbi Anibal Mass and Rabbi Matthew Leibl.

The two  co-rabbis  will share their duties with the soon-to-be retiring Rabbi Alan Green until he leaves Winnipeg permanently in March  2018.
 It was a special time for the approximately 400 people in attendance that blustery November 4 Shabbat morning in Winnipeg. The weather outside was frightful, but the service inside was delightful. Aside from all else, it was a special time in Winnipeg Jewish history to see two rabbis formally enter the rabbinate at the same time - a scene never before witnessed in Winnipeg.


Rabbis Mass and Leibl were welcomed to the club by  guest scholar Rabbi Steven Blane of New York, under what appeared to be a massive Chupah. And then to hear the two rabbis speak about their respective paths to the rabbinate was pure joy. Rabbi Mass is no stranger to the clergy world, as he has been the cantor at Shaarey Zedek for many years already, but joining the rabbinate was a change of course. He jumped at the opportunity and has made the most of it. His mother flew in from Argentina and her nachos and the nachos of all those who knew Rabbi Mass was clearly evident.


For Rabbi Leibl, a home-grown product of Shaarey Zedek, son of Stewart and Ellen Leibl, this day was the culmination of a career that seems to have begun as far back as his Bar Mitzvah in the very same building. Over the years, Rabbi Leibl has held various positions in the synagogue and now has reached the top where he and Rabbi Mass will share rabbinical duties. For anyone who has come in contact with Rabbi Leibl, it was a moment to savour. My conclusion at the end of the day was that the longer I sat in the sanctuary, the more certain I was that we had made a good move to attend this big event in Winnipeg.
But, the weekend for me was far more than the induction of the new rabbis. My grandson Zachary, recently a Bar Mitzvah, had not really seen Winnipeg at an age where he might have a grasp of the city and what it offered. We only had a limited time in the city, but we tried to take him to  places of our family past in Winnipeg, including our home until five years ago when we moved to Toronto. Our stops included the Shaarey Zedek Cemetery, where a large part of the family remains, and to the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada to explore the archival history of the community and indeed our own particular Posner family file. However, what interested him the most were two Winnipeg landmarks: as the Zoo and the Mint.


Although Toronto has a spectacular zoo, it is not easily accessible. The zoo at Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg, covered with an abundance of snow, was so simple to reach. Not to be overlooked, as I pointed out to Zac, was the fact that there was free parking, a feature so rare anywhere in Toronto. Even with the cold day that we faced Zac loved the zoo, particularly the polar bears and seals. As well, the Mint lit up Zac’s eyes as he marvelled at the coins presented, so much so that we bought him a coin set as a Bar Mitzvah gift. These two popular Winnipeg tourist attractions were but just a part of the highlights for Zac and his enjoyment made me so pleased we took this trip with him.


With all of that said, surely my favourite memory of the Winnipeg visit is the two times I played Pickleball with Zac as my partner at the Rady JCC. Zac had only played once before, but he picked up the game as if he were a veteran. After a couple games with Zac, he boldly said to me (and I have played Pickleball often), “ Zaida, I am carrying you.” I did not know whether I was angry or proud. How dare he tell me he is carrying me. And yet, was it not terrific that he could tell me that (even if he was wrong)?
With a major snowfall and cold weather, both of which completed the authentic Winnipeg experience for Zac, he has already asked me when we can return. My conclusion regarding our four days in Winnipeg: the induction was terrific, the introduction perhaps even better.

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