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150 attend special event marking re-opening of Holocaust Education Centre

ByBERNIE BELLAN On January 25 approximately 150 individuals were in attendance at the Asper Campus for the reopening of the Holocaust Education Centre.
As Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada Executive Director Belle Jarniewski noted in her opening remarks to the audience gathered in the Berney Theatre for the event, “the museum’s very existence is thanks to the efforts of Holocaust survivors themselves who contributed to the original Holocaust Education Centre 25 years ago” when the Campus first opened.
Today, Belle noted, “the memory of the Holocaust is under siege…Survivors of the Holocaust,” of whom some 1500 – the vast majority of whom are at least in their nineties now – settled in Winnipeg after the war. (The names of all those Holocaust survivors are displayed on one of the walls of the newly renovated museum, as John Longhurst explains in the adjoining article.)
Another component of the museum, Belle added, are displays focusing on the history of anti-Semitism in Canada, beginning from the 1920s to the present day.
Jewish Federation of Winnipeg President Gutstavo Zentner, while looking out at the audience, remarked that he was “thrilled to see so many young people here tonight. I hope they put to good use the touch screens in the Holocaust Education Centre.”
Special guest speaker Irwin Cotler, Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism, who was in Israel on January 25, had recorded a 20-minute message for audience members, which was played on a large screen.
In noting the significance of the reopening of the HEC this particular week, Cotler observed that January 25, 1945 was a very important date in history for two reasons: It was on that date 78 years ago that Auschwitz was liberated, but it was also on January 25, 1945 that Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg was arrested and disappeared in Budapest – but not before he had helped to save over 100,000 Hungarian Jews from death camps.
Cotler went on to enumerate a number of lessons to be learned from the Holocaust, including that, “the abiding universal lesson to be acted upon, wherever we are, is that we are each the guarantors of each other’s humanity.”
The second lesson, Cotler stated, is that “the Holocaust was a paradigm for radical people and anti-Semitism is a paradigm for radical hate.”
“As we meet on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz,” Cotler said, “let us remember that 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz, but 1.1 million of those were

ews. Jews were murdered at Auschwitz because of anti-Semitism but anti-Semitism did not die at Auschwitz. It remains the bloody canary in the mineshaft of global evil.”
The third lesson is the danger of “state sanctioned incitement to hate and genocide.”
The fourth lesson is “the proliferation of Holocaust denial.” Cotler referred specifically to the trope in recent years of accusing Jews of “manufacturing the Covid virus and profiting from it” as a manifestation of an outgrowth of Holocaust denial.
“Fifth is the danger of silence in the face of evil,” Cotler said. “Silence means coming down on the sound of the oppressor, not on the side of the victim.”
“Number six is the danger of indifference and inaction – as in the example of the Tutsis” (in Rwanda). “What makes the Holocaust and other genocides so unspeakable are not just the atrocities themselves, it is that this could have been prevented. Nobody could say ‘we did not know.’ We knew but we didn’t act.”
What one person, Raoul Wallenberg, did, in saving 100,000 lives, “the whole international community did not,” Cotler observed.
In closing, Cotler suggested that it is not true that “if there had not been a Holocaust there would not have been a State of Israel, but rather it is the other way around: If there had been a State of Israel, there would not have been a Holocaust.”
Other speakers in the Berney Theatre on January 25 included: Mark Kantor, President of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada; Peter Flegel, Executive Director, Government of Canada’s Anti-Racism Secretariat; Andrew Smith, Manitoba Minister of Sport and Cultural Heritage; Janice Lukes, Deputy Mayor, City of Winnipeg; and Candace Hogue, who was the guest curator for the Holocaust Education Centre.
The final remarks were delivered by Holocaust survivor – and longtime educator, Edith Kimelman, who began with a wry nod to the lengthy list of speakers who had preceded her when she said: “You are quite fortunate that I am the last one to speak. I can well remember from my years as an educator the short attention spans of students the last class of the day.”
Edith noted that when she has spoken to many student groups over the years, “I was always trying to convey the perspective of a six-year-old girl and her experiences in the Holocaust.” It was her goal, she said, to explain the Holocaust to groups that are three and four generations removed from the Holocaust – and especially newcomers to Canada,” who would likely have very little knowledge of the Holocaust.
She would tell those students – also to new Canadians who had either very little knowledge of the Holocaust or none at all, that “when I arrived here (in Winnipeg) at age 14, I had nothing. All I had was the baggage of the Holocaust. Indelible trauma, however, did not prevent me from seeking a better future.”
And with that astute observation which can well sum up the experience of almost all Holocaust survivors, the portion of the evening in the Berney Theatre came to a close. At that point, while many who had been in attendance partook of refreshments, various individuals made their way to the HEC itself, where they were able to see firsthand the tremendous amount of work that had gone into its renovation.
The HEC is open during all hours that the Asper Campus is open,

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Winnipeg-born Elliot Lazar to star as Paul Simon in “The Simon & Garfunkel Story” at Centennial Concert Hall

By BERNIE BELLAN Elliot Lazar’s career has long been chronicled in the pages of The Jewish Post & News. Do a search for his name in our “Search Archives” button and you will find a multitude of stories about Elliot from the time he was five years old.
A talented singer, musician, and musical arranger, also a graduate of Gray Academy, the University of Manitoba’s Desautels Faculty of Music, and the Boston Conservatory, Elliot has appeared many times in Winnipeg, including most recently last summer in Rainbow Stage’s production of “Rent.”
He’s been constantly busy – as a review of some of his past acting credits reveals. Last season alone, in addition to his performing in “Rent,” Elliot also appeared in the National Tour of “Fiddler on the Roof,” and “The Band’s Visit” (Huntington/Speakeasy Stage).
We’re excited to announce that Elliot will be appearing in Winnipeg for one night only, May 21, starring as Paul Simon in “The Simon & Garfunkel Story.”

Here’s Elliot’s own story about his growing up in Winnipeg:
“I grew up in Garden City, attended Gray Academy (K-12) and majored in vocal performance at the University of Manitoba’s Desautels Faculty of Music. I lived in Winnipeg until I was 22, so I’m pretty connected with the arts scene there still. The venue we’re playing, the Centennial Concert Hall, I was last seen in Guys and Dolls in concert with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Rainbow Stage (2019), and before that I sang with the Manitoba Opera Chorus in 3 productions there. My last performance in Winnipeg was in Rent with Rainbow Stage this past summer. Other local performing arts companies I have a history with there are Winnipeg Jewish Theatre, Winnipeg Studio Theatre, Dry Cold Productions, Manitoba Theatre for Young People, Manitoba Underground Opera, Little Opera Company, and the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. I grew up going to see shows at the Concert Hall, so it’s a wonderful full circle moment for me.”

Elliot Lazar (second from left bottom row) as Paul Simon

About “The Simon & Garfunkel Story”:
Nostalgia-inducing unforgettable hits! The internationally-acclaimed hit theater show The Simon & Garfunkel Story ( returns to the road in 2024 with a North American tour to more than 25 cities. Kicking off in Richmond, Kentucky on January 28, 2024, the immersive concert-style tribute show will recreate the magic and authenticity of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel on stage and chronicles the amazing journey shared by the iconic, GRAMMY-award winning folk-rock duo. It tells the story from their humble beginnings as Tom & Jerry, to their incredible success as one of the best-selling music groups of the ‘60s, and to their dramatic split in 1970. The Simon & Garfunkel Story culminates with the pair’s famous “The Concert in Central Park” reunion in 1981 which had more than half a million fans in attendance. Tickets are on sale now.
The show features a set list of nearly 30 songs and uses state-of-the-art video projection, photos and original film footage. A full live band will perform all of the hits including “Mrs. Robinson,” “Cecilia,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Homeward Bound” and many more complete with the unmistakably perfect harmonies that will transport audiences down memory lane.
With more than 100 million album sales since 1965, Simon & Garfunkel’s unforgettable songs and poetic lyrics poignantly captured the times made them one of the most successful folk-rock duos of all time. Over the years, they won 10 GRAMMY Awards and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1977, the Brit Awards honored their “Bridge Over Troubled Water” album with Best International Album. In 2003, Simon & Garfunkel were awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the following year saw their “The Sound of Silence” awarded a Grammy Hall of Fame Award.

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Ida and the late Saul Alpern have donated 2 ambulances and a scooter to Magen David Adom in past 4 years

Saul z"l and Ida Alpern

By BERNIE BELLAN Saul Alpern passed away in 2022, but before he died he and his wife Ida had decided to make Magen David Adom a major recipient of their generosity.

As Myron Love noted in an October 2020 article the Alperns had been contributing small amounts to the Canadian Magen David Adom for some time, but it was in that year they decided to donate $160,000 for the purchase of a Mobile Intensive Care Unit for Israel’s Magen David Adom.

As Myron wrote in that 2020 article, an MICUA (which is larger than an ambulance, is staffed by paramedics, and responds only to the most medically serious cases) was donated “to the people of Israel in memory of Saul Alpern’s parents and siblings who perished in the Holocaust.

“It is an expression of my love for my family and my love of Israel,” Saul Alpern said at the time.

In early 2022 the Alperns donated yet another $170,000 for the purchase of a second MICU for Magen David Adom.

The scooter recently donated by Ida Alpern in memory of her late husband and parents/plaque imprinted on the front of the scooter carrier box

Saul Alpern passed away in November 2022, but Ida Alpern has now continued the legacy of giving to Canadian Magen David Adom that she and Saul had begun several years before. Just recently Ida contributed $39,000 toward the purchase of an emergency medical scooter. According to the CMDA website, “the scooter, which is driven by a paramedic, can get through traffic faster than the Standard Ambulance or MICU and provide pre-hospital care. It contains life-saving equipment, including a defibrillator, an oxygen tank, and other essential medical equipment.”

I asked Ida whether she wanted to say anything about the motivation for her and her late husband’s support for CMDA. She wrote, “Having survived the Holocaust, and being a Zionist, Saul felt that supporting Israel was of the utmost importance.”

On May 7, CMDA will be honouring Ida and Saul z”l Alpern at a dinner and show at the Centro Caboto Centre. Another highlight that evening will be the announcement of the purchase of an ambulance for CMDA by another Winnipegger, Ruth Ann Borenstein. That ambulance will be in honour of Ruth’s late parents, Gertrude and Harry Mitchell. The evening will also commemorate the late Yoram East (aka Hamizrachi), who was a well-known figure both in Israel and here in Winnipeg.

For more information about the May 7 event or to purchase tickets phone 587-435-5808 or email

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Simkin Centre looking for volunteers

A scene from last year's Simkin Stroll

We received the following email from Heather Blackman, Simkin Centre Director of Volunteers & Resident Experience:

Happy Spring Everyone! Hope you all are well. We have a number of upcoming volunteer opportunities that I wanted to share with you. Please take a look at what we have listed here and let me know if you are available for any of the following. I can be reached at or 204-589-9008.
Save the date! The Simkin Stroll is on June 25th this year and we need tons of volunteers to assist. This is our annual fundraiser and there is something for everyone to help with from walking with Residents in the Stroll to manning booths and tables, event set up and take down and much more. Volunteers will be needed from 3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on this day. Come and help for the full event or for any period within that timeframe that works for you.
Resident Store – This tuck shop style cart will be up for business shortly. Residents will be assisting to stock and run the store for 2 hours 2- 3 times per week in the afternoons. Volunteer support is needed to assist residents with restocking items and monetary transactions.
Passover Volunteers
Volunteers are needed to assist with plating Seder plates for Residents (date to be determined for plating)
Volunteers are needed to assist Residents to and from Passover Services and Come and Go Teas.
Times volunteers are needed for services/teas:
April 22cnd – First Seder 1:30-3:30 p.m.
April 23rd – Passover Service Day 1 – 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
April 23rd – Second Seder – 1:30-3:30 p.m.
April 24th – Passover Service – Day 2 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
April 29th – Passover Service – 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
April 29th- Passover Tea – 1:30-3:30 p.m.
April 30th – Passover Service – 9:30 -11:30 a.m.
April 30th – Passover Tea – 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Admin/Paperwork Volunteers – Volunteers are needed to assist with filing and other administrative duties. A monthly volunteering job is also available to input information on programming into Recreation activity calendars. Support would be provided for this.
Adult Day Program – A volunteer is needed to assist with the Mondays Adult Day Program Group. A regular ongoing weekly commitment on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Assist with Recreation programming and lunch supervision for our Adult Day Program participants that come in from the community for the day.
Biking Volunteers – Take our residents out for a spin on one of our specialty mobility bicycles. Training is provided and volunteers will be needed throughout the Spring, Summer and early Fall.

With summer coming there is also opportunity to assist with outings and other outdoor programming! Please let me know if you are interested!

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