By BERNIE BELLAN Over 500 people had registered to attend the memorial for slain peace activist and former Winnipegger Vivian Silver on Thursday evening, December 14, at the Asper Campus. While not every seat was filled, the fact that there were at least 400 people there was testament to the legacy that Vivian left. The memorial was also livestreamed.
Vivian’s two sons, Yonatan and Chen Zeigen, had flown in for the memorial, as did Vivian’s brother, Neil Silver, while her sister Rachel Gamliel is a Winnipeg resident.
Vivian, 74 at the time she was murdered along with 1200 other innocent victims of Hamas on October 7, was a resident of Kibbutz Be’eri, which is located only 9 kilometres from the Gaza Strip.
For weeks after the Hamas attack hope was held out that Vivian was among the more than 240 hostages taken by Hamas, but in the second week of November her sons confirmed that Vivian’s remains had been identified on Kibbutz Be’eri.
During the memorial event, the evening was presided over by Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Herzlia Adas-Yeshurun Congregation. In addition to Rabbi Benarroch, speakers included Chen and Yonatan Zeigen, Rachel Gamliel, and Vivian’s lifelong friend, Cheryl Barish.
Chen Zeigen said: “We have seen our mother transformed into a symbol, but for us she will always remain a loving mother and grandmother.”
Chen noted that no matter what his mother was doing to help others, family was always important to her. “We’ll keep remembering her for the person she was, in all of her political activities and achievements.… They were part of it. But to me they were kind of secondary,” Chen said.
“She would march for her causes at noon and tuck us into bed at night,” he said. “She would orchestrate international peace rallies during the week and bake elaborate cakes for her grandchildren’s birthdays.”
“Winnipeg was a home away from home for our mother,” he added. “We would come here summers to be with our bobe and zaide” (the late Roslyn and Meyer Silver).
“To us, her sons, it didn’t matter what path we chose in life so long as it was meaningful to us. No matter what we did, she always had a hug for us.”
Yonatan Zeigen added: “It is said that the older you get the harder it is to make meaningful friends. That was not the case with our mother….She served as an unending source of energy and enthusiasm…She saw a mission in remaining involved in kibbutz responsibility.
“Her memory reminds us to keep hoping for a peaceful future,” Yonatan said.
In her name, he added, he and his brother are establishing a fund to create a shared society between Jews and Arabs.
At the request of Vivian Silver’s sons in Israel, NIF and NIFC are establishing the Vivian Silver Memorial Fund. The proceeds will go towards projects in Israel selected by her sons that exemplify her activism. A formal announcement will follow later.
Rachel Gamliel said:”She was my sister, my confidante, and my hero…She always believed that the smallest of actions could result in the greatest of achievements.
Silver was one of the founders of Women Wage Peace, a coalition of Jewish and Arab women seeking a negotiated peace in Israel.
But, not only did Vivian dedicate her life to the pursuit of peace between Jews and Arabs, she also firmly believed that women were capable of doing almost anything men could do.
“She was in charge of construction at Kibbutz Gezer,” (where Vivian lived before moving to Kibbutz Be’eri).”She believed a woman could do any job on the kibbutz.”
But, more than anything, Rachel noted, “she loved nothing more than spending time with her four grandchildren….
Her desire for peace was engraved in her very being. Without that hope she could not have carried on.”
Cheryl Barish spoke of the many memories she had of Vivian, going back to their childhood years. When they were both young girls Vivian had given her a book titled “Treasure Chest,” which Cheryl still has -and brought with her to the memorial.
Vivian already exhibited leadership qualities when she was a young teenager, Cheryl observed, and was chosen valedictorian for her graduating class from Edmund Partridge Junior High. Later she became president of her BBG chapter.
“Vivian was destined for greatness,” Cheryl said. “She had an innate flair for leadership and a passion for connecting with others…She had a great thirst for knowledge and a tenacity never to give up on a cause.”
Vivian Silver was also a great letter writer – later an emailer (and speaking personally, I was privileged both to have spent time with Vivian in Israel and to have exchanged emails with her), and Cheryl read from a letter Vivian had written to her way back in 1966.
But Vivian Silver’s impact was often noted unexpectedly. Rabbi Kliel Rose told the audience that one year, when he was living in Israel, he had volunteered to work with Arab youth in Jerusalem. When the mother of one of the boys with whom he was working asked where he was from and he told her “Canada,” she replied, “Then you must know Vivian” (as if all Canadians know one another).
Rabbi Yosef Benarroch added this final note: “The Jewish nation never chooses war; war chooses us.”
Schmoozer’s now under management of Shaarey Zedek Catering
By BERNIE BELLAN Schmoozer’s restaurant at the Asper Campus is now under the management of the Shaarey Zedek catering department.
Apparently, according to Curtis Martin, Executive Director of the Asper Jewish Community Campus, the Shaarey Zedek has actually been operating Schmoozer’s since December 1, except for the time it was closed over the winter break.
The Shaarey Zedek officially took over Schmoozer’s as of Monday, January 8. Shaarey Zedek Catering has actually been located in the Schmoozer’s kitchen for some time now – since the Shaarey Zedek closed for renovations in the summer of 2022.
While Shaarey Zedek Executive Chef Joel Lafond is continuing to work at the Asper Campus location, the day to day management of Schmoozer’s is in the hands of Sous Chef Jennifer Middleton. Once the Shaarey Zedek’s renovations are complete, Lafond will move back there, while Middleton will remain at the campus. In addition to managing Schmoozer’s, Curtis Martin says that Middleton will also to continue to provide catering services for “on-site Campus agencies and events.”
One of the main differences now that Shaarey Zedek is operating Schmoozer’s is the expanded hours. Rather than opening at 10 am, which was when Schmoozer’s opened under its previous management, Schmoozer’s will now be open at 8 am, Monday – Friday. It will also be open until 6 pm Monday- Thursday, and until 3 pm on Fridays.
According to Joel Lafond, plans are to have Schmoozer’s open on Sundays as well, beginning in February.
As for the menu, it now features a number of breakfast items, such as bagels and breakfast platters, in addition to the usual lunch items, such as tuna salad, egg salad, grilled cheese, quinoa bowl, pizza, a variety of salads, soup, fries, pasta, and “Beyond Burgers.”
Lafond said that plans are also in the works to expand the menu. He mentioned falafel as an example of something new that will be available at Schmoozer’s in the not too distant future.
While it’s nice to see Schmoozer’s the fact that there have been so many different managers of that particular facility speaks to the difficulty inherent in trying to offer kosher food without running into huge financial problems.
I’m not privy to the financial exigencies that Schmoozer’s has faced over the years – ever since it first opened under the operation of Omnitsky’s – then run by Eppy Rappaport, in 1997. At first, just like everything else associated with the Campus in its early years, Schmoozer’s was teeming with customers. Eventually though, Eppy Rappaport moved to Vancouver. I don’t recall every single manager of Schmoozer’s since, but I know that Barb and Lisa Reiss managed it for quite some time, as did Maxine Shuster – for a very long time, until it was placed under the management of Beth Jacob in 2021.
I certainly wish Joel Lafond and Jennifer Middleton of Shaarey Zedek Catering well, but I’m sure they’re aware how difficult a challenge operating Schmoozer’s in the black presents.
At the same time we haven’t had a really good kosher restaurant in Winnipeg for years, not since the closing of Desserts Plus, maybe Bermax Caffé as well.
You can still eat kosher food at the Gwen Secter Centre, also the Garden Café in the Simkin Centre, but neither of them is the kind of place where you can simply drop in and enjoy a kosher meal (although the Garden Café is open for lunch Monday to Friday).
Is the high cost of kosher food affecting the quality of food served at the Simkin Centre?
By BERNIE BELLAN From time to time I lead a discussion group at the Simkin Centre with residents there. It was when I was doing that recently that I was told something by one of the residents that quite shocked me. We were talking about the food at the Simkin Centre and I asked the residents how they liked it?
I asked residents how often they get served chicken and I was told “We get chicken, but only dark meat.” According to that resident all that the Simkin Centre serves residents are thighs and drumsticks.
I asked Simkin Centre CEO Laurie Cerqueti about that and she said she’d have to get back to me after checking with the food services manager. I also asked Laurie what the daily allowance is on a per capita basis for all meals? (By way of comparison, when I did a story about kosher food in 2018 I reported that daily allowance for Simkin Centre residents – for 3 meals, snacks, and special dietary needs, was only $8.75 per day per resident.)
Here’s what Laurie wrote back to me, in response to my question: : “The last official number I have for food is from the 21/22 fiscal year and it was $9.64 per day. 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. We have not had any increases from government for any operational expenses in 15 years.”
Insofar as the issue of residents being served only dark meat from chickens was concerned, in a subsequent email I received from Laurie she wrote that white chicken meat is used in chicken schnitzel served to residents.
I know I’m beating my head against the wall when I suggest that the Simkin Centre ought to allow nonkosher food to be served. When I last checked with Laurie Cerqueti, 60% of the residents at Simkin weren’t even Jewish. As for the Jewish residents, for those who would want kosher food, it could be brought in from the Gwen Secter Centre. (By the way, that idea isn’t mine. It comes from a former CEO of the Simkin Centre who also thought it was ridiculous enforcing kashrut rules at Simkin when it mattered to only a tiny fraction of its total residents.)
For that matter, residents are already allowed to bring nonkosher food into the facility, but it has to be eaten either in their rooms or in the family visiting room, so the precedent is there – it’s only a matter of taking it to the next logical level.
But I know: Kashrut is a sacrosanct element of the Simkin Centre, isn’t it? So, even if the Simkin Centre is running a huge budget deficit on food –and that money must be taken out of other operations, it’s absolutely fundamental to the Simkin Centre that it continue to serve only kosher food – even if that means residents only get white chicken meat when it’s served in schnitzel.
Winnipegger Shayna Wiwierski building up large following as beauty and lifestyle influencer
By MYRON LOVE “Growing up [in River Heights], I was always a girlie girl,” recalls social influencer Shayna Wiwierski. “I loved dressing up and doing my hair, and reading lifestyle and glamour magazines.”
In my experience, childhood interests are a good indicator of adult careers. In Wiwierski’s case, she has parlayed that passion for style and beauty into a position as a social influencer through her online blog, “A Pop of Colour.”
The daughter of Susan Engel-Wiwierski and the late David Wiwierski established A Pop of Colour in 201. Currently she has approximately 30,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram, and another 4,000 on TikTok.
Scrolling through Wiwierski’s Instagram, you will find photos and videos from her most recent vacations, her bridal shower (she is getting married in the summer of 2024), and regular daily leisure activities accompanied by beautiful photography and partnerships with various companies.
“When I started my blog, I was only offering beauty tips,” she recalls. “I have since added content focusing on lifestyle, travel, and fitness.”
In an interview she did with CTV five years ago, Wiwierski noted that, in the beginning, the costs for the beauty products that she promoted through her blog she paid for herself. Over the years though, she, as with sister social influencers, have established working relationships with companies which send her products to promote on her various social accounts.
Wiwierski points out that to be a successful social influencer requires a lot of time for setting up photo shoots, editing and posting of content, as well as monitoring the likes, comments, and overall feedback on the posts.
“I know a lot of people think social media is a super easy job to do, but it really does take a lot of time,” says Wiwierski. “From creating the content, planning the posts, and then seeing what does well and what doesn’t, there is a lot of time and effort involved if you want to be successful at it.”
Content creation isn’t Wiwierski’s full-time job. She says it’s her “5 to 9 after her 9 to 5”, as she is also the editorial director at DEL Communications Inc., a Winnipeg-based trade publication company. The company is a publisher of mostly annual industry and association magazines covering topics in a variety of niche industries.
“Although in high school [Grant Park High School], I originally wanted to be on TV, after I graduated from university in 2010, I had the opportunity to join DEL and I’ve been there ever since,” she says, adding that she has a Bachelor of Communications and Rhetoric from the University of Winnipeg and a diploma in Creative Communications from Red River Polytechnic (formerly Red River College).
For the past few years, Wiwierski has been dividing her time between Winnipeg and Montreal. She met her fiancée – who is originally from Ontario – when he was doing his residency in Winnipeg.
“Montreal is a great city,” she says. “People always ask me which one I love living in more, but I really do love both; they’re so different.”