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Chesed Shel Emes unveils new art installation honouring major donors to recent fundraising campaign

By MYRON LOVE The Chesed Shel Emes, our community’s non-profit burial society/funeral chapel, has recently unveiled a new piece of art in recognition of the major donors who contributed to the recent construction of the new administration building that is attached to the south side of the 75-year-old chapel.
“We wanted to commission a unique piece of art in celebration of our generous donors and create a permanent reminder of their connection to the community and our chapel,” says Chesed Shel Emes President Hillel Kravetsky.
The 7’ tall by 5’ wide sculptured wall hanging in the shape of the Hebrew letter “shin” contains the names of 330 families and individuals who contributed more than $1,000 a piece to the construction of the new administration building which officially opened just over a year ago. The new building replaces a more than 100-year-old house which the Chesed Shel Emes board purchased shortly after its formation in 1929.
Rena Boroditsky, the Chesed Shel Emes’ long time executive director, notes that the plaque in the shape of a “shin” is based on the organization’s logo which is on display on the front of the building and in the chapel itself. She explains that the letter, “shin”, is significant in our end of life rituals. The Shechinah – or feminine aspect of God – is with us in the tahara room as we lovingly prepare the body for burial.
She reports that nearly 1,000 donors contributed toward the campaign in total, raising $3.7 million to completely cover the cost of construction.
Boroditsky notes that fundraising continues – and that there is still a $165,000 bill to cover to replace the roof on the historic chapel.
“We knew that our roof needed work,” she says, “but we didn’t initially realize the extent of it.”
Readers who may want to support the Chesed Shel Emes can also contribute to the Building Fund or to one of organization‘s endowment funds being administered by the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba.
The interest from both the general fund and the Jeff Morgan ZL Memorial Fund goes toward fulfilling Chesed’s mandate of making sure that everyone is cared for regardless of financial constraints. (Morgan was a dedicated volunteer as well as a staff member who passed away suddenly two years ago.)
Boroditsky would also like to let the community know that the new facility – with its kosher kitchen – has meeting space for community organizations.
“Everyone is welcome to come by for a tour of our new building,” the executive director says.
For further information readers can contact Rena at

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Shaarey Zedek renovation update

Shaarey Zedek renovations are now well underway. Here’s a video posted by Shaarey Zedek about the renovations:

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Winnipeg Council of Rabbis criticizes suggestion that Simkin Centre ought to offer non-kosher meals – as well as kosher meals

Rabbi Yosef Benarroch

We received the following letter from the Winnipeg Council of Rabbis in response to the suggestion that the Simkin Centre ought to offer non-kosher meals (Read story at🙂

Dear Bernie
We read your opinion piece on kashrut at the Simkin Centre with a certain amount of shock, as you advocated that the Simkin Centre not be a kosher facility. After a long discussion we had with food services at Simkin, it is clear that your statements about the quality of food are simply wrong. Residents at Simkin receive meals that are on par with all other similar facilities in Manitoba. The menu includes chicken both dark and white, meats including roast beef, ground meat, and much more. The only item not offered at Simkin that is offered at other similar homes is pork, which we hope you are not advocating for. 

In addition, every major Jewish organization in Winnipeg has a Kashrut policy in place. The reason for this is simple. Kashrut is a Jewish value — and for many, a core Jewish value —  and it is the responsibility of Jewish organizations to uphold Jewish values. How odd is it that Winnipeg’s “Jewish” newspaper would be advocating for treif food, and in your words  will “never give up the fight” to make sure it happens. A Jewish newspaper should be advocating for Jewish values, period. 

Finally, Kashrut allows the Simkin Centre to be an inclusive Jewish institution that accommodates the needs of the entire Jewish community. There are many residents and families that consider kashrut as an integral element in how they express their Judaism. They would have no other place to send their loved ones if the Simkin Centre was not Kosher.

The vast majority of Jews in Winnipeg want to see the Simkin Centre continue to be Kosher, and we hope you will either reconsider your position or not press a minority position onto the majority. We, as the rabbis of the Winnipeg Council of Rabbis, all endorse and fully support this position.

Winnipeg Council of Rabbis

  • Rabbi Yosef Benarroch, Adas Yeshurun Herzlia
  • Rabbi Allan Finkel, Temple Shalom
  • Rabbi Matthew Leibl, Simkin Center
  • Rabbi Anibal Mass, Shaarey Tzedek
  • Rabbi Kliel Rose, Eitz Chayim

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Bernie Bellan asks: If kashrut is so intrinsic to Jewish organizations in Winnipeg, why was the Rady JCC allowed to make its annual sports dinner non-kosher?

Bernie Bellan

Here’s a question for the Council of Rabbis – whose letter tearing a strip off me for daring to question the necessity of serving fully kosher meals to every resident of the Simkin Centre appears on this website: Have you ever considered the total hypocrisy inherent in your insisting that kashrut is vital to the Simkin Centre, while the Rady JCC some years ago abandoned the requisite that its annual sports dinner be kosher?
The sports dinner asks anyone attending whether they’d like a kosher meal (which is what I suggested the Simkin Centre could also do) and, from what I’ve been told, the number of individuals who respond in the affirmative can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
I don’t recall the council of rabbis kicking up a huge fuss over that change. But, to be consistent guys, (and by the way, only one of the five rabbis on that council is actually a subscriber to The Jewish Post, butI’m glad you’re all such vociferous readers), I expect you to demand that the Rady JCC sports dinner revert to being fully kosher.
After all, as Rabbi Benarroch so succinctly puts it in his letter: “Kashrut is a Jewish value — and for many, a core Jewish value —  and it is the responsibility of Jewish organizations to uphold Jewish values.”
I won’t hold my breath waiting for you to publicly demand that the sports dinner revert to being fully kosher. As I recall, the reason that kashrut was abandoned as a prerequisite for the dinner was because of the cost. So, when Simkin Centre CEO Laurie Cerqueti wrote me in an email,  “I know for this year as of the end of October we are over budget on food by $150,000. We must continue to fund any costs on food from our existing annual budget or through fundraised dollars,” I fully expect the council of rabbis – and anyone else who is adamant that the Simkin Centre remain absolutely kosher to join in a campaign to raise that $150,000 so that Simkin can remain kosher without cutting into other areas of operation. How about it, guys?
My point in advocating for Simkin to modify its kashrut policy was to be as realistic as the people behind the sports dinner were in recognizing that the cost of a full adherence to kashrut can be prohibitively expensive. But, the sports dinner still allows anyone who wants a kosher meal to have one. That’s all that I was advocating for the Simkin Centre. So, tell me rabbis: Where do you draw the line from one Jewish institution to another? Or, does the slippery slope that you’re on also have an off ramp that allows you to abandon principles when it’s expedient to do so?

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