By BERNIE BELLAN I have continued to discuss the matter of the huge numbers of Israelis who have come and are continuing to come to Winnipeg with many others – including Israelis themselves.
We published a very interesting article in our Dec. 7 issue – both in Hebrew and in English – by Eka Mednikov, who is an immigration consultant here, about the reasons that so many Israelis have sought to come here.
I also posted both versions of that article on to our website – and have been astounded at the number of views that the Hebrew version has received. It was the very first time that I ever attempted to post an article written in Hebrew on to our website and actually thought that it wouldn’t get viewed much at all. After all, I thought: The website is aimed at an English-speaking audience. How likely was it that people for whom Hebrew is a principal language would want to look at the website?
It turns out though, that by whatever means word got out that there was an interesting article about why Israelis come to Winnipeg – written in Hebrew, Israelis and former Israelis were very interested in reading that article. It confirms my belief that Israelis (and for the most part the Israelis who have been coming here are Russian Israelis) are very interested in reading about our Jewish community – and appreciate attention given to them as a group.
That being said, nonetheless I continue to question the degree to which our Jewish Federation is continuing to invest resources in helping Israelis to come here. For that reason I sent the following email recently to Elaine Goldstine, CEO of our Jewish Federation:
I note that in your most recent message to the community, once again you draw attention to the Federation’s helping yet another Israeli family to move to Winnipeg. While I’ve already told you that I find it strange that the Federation is still being so overt in its wanting to provide help to Israelis who want to move here, I know how difficult it is for the Federation to move away from what has become an established program of helping newcomers from any country to come here that has boomeranged into a program being taken advantage of mostly by Israelis.
But - has anyone ever thought of channeling some of the money that you’ve been spending on helping Israelis come here into marketing to Canadians from other cities to come here?
For instance, why not run a campaign in the Canadian Jewish News aimed at younger Torontonians, extolling the advantages of living in Winnipeg? You could run banner ads focused on the lower cost of housing, the short commute times, the excellent and lower cost Jewish education. You could also do the same thing for Torontonians that you offer Israelis - a chance to visit here, explore the city, find out about housing and most important - job opportunities.
Or, would the Federation continue to prefer to help Israelis leave Israel rather than attempt to lure other Canadians here?
P.S. I personally know of a young Toronto family that was prepared to move here two years ago to buy my newspaper until another member of the Jewish media here scared them off. That family loved Winnipeg, had made arrangements to have their kids go to the Gray Academy and had found a house they wanted to buy.
To be honest, I didn’t expect an answer from Elaine. I would hope though that she, along with other members of the Federation, might take seriously my suggestion that they channel some resources into trying to lure other Jewish Canadians into coming to Winnipeg.
Joanne Seiff, for instance, has written several times in this paper about the attractions that Winnipeg had to offer individuals such as her husband and her – two talented and well-educated American professionals. It seems that it’s almost always the weather that people use as an excuse for not coming here but, what the heck, if Israelis can move here – despite the slight difference in average temperatures between say, Ashkelon and Transcona, surely Torntonians can be lured here as well.