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Jewish Federation reports extraordinary response to call for donations for Israel emergency campaign

The following email was sent out by Gustavo Zentner, President, Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, and Jeff Lieberman, CEO of the JFW, Friday afternoon, October 27:

Dear Friends,

In the past 20 days, the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg has been working tirelessly to mobilize our community, raise funds, and deploy financial aid as swiftly as possible to address immediate needs in Israel.

During these challenging times, our community has come together, offering comfort and support to one another, through small and large acts of kindness and solidarity. We’ve reached out to friends who have family in Israel, and we’ve united at a rally attended by over 2,000 Winnipeggers.

As we approach the three-week mark in our response, we’re grateful for the ongoing generosity that continues to flow in from our community. We’re excited to announce that our Israel Emergency Fund has reached an incredible milestone, raising an astonishing $3,494,363 from 855 donors. This is a remarkable testament to our community’s unwavering commitment to the people of Israel during this crisis.

We’d like to highlight some new and significant developments that have contributed to our success and will help us build on our achievements: the Asper family has generously pledged to match donations up to $1 million. Richard and Sheree Morantz have made an extraordinary donation of $1 million, showcasing their deep commitment to the people of Israel. An anonymous donor has made an incredible commitment to our cause: for every $2 donated, this donor will match with an additional dollar.

These recent developments highlight the extraordinary collective effort of our community, demonstrating our commitment to bringing immediate aid and vital services to those affected by the crisis. If you have not yet donated, please click here.

Since October 7, when Hamas attacked Israel, we made the decision to temporarily suspend our calls to our valued donors as our primary focus shifted towards the Emergency Israel Campaign. The situation demanded our immediate attention and resources. After careful deliberation with our community leaders, we have resumed our outreach efforts for the Combined Jewish Appeal (CJA) Campaign as of October 23.

While we remain committed to supporting the Israel Emergency Relief Fund, we also recognize the ongoing needs of our community here in Winnipeg. Our ability to address these needs is equally important, especially during these challenging times. By reinitiating our CJA Campaign, we aim to ensure the continued well-being and growth of our community.

Since the beginning of the conflict, we have been working with the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) on a daily basis to ensure the safety of our community institutions, and we thank the WPS for their steadfast support. Yesterday, the WPS reported that several hate-motivated incidents have taken place against our community members in Winnipeg, predominantly in River Heights. The news of these hate-motivated incidents is deeply troubling and completely unacceptable.

Hate, in any form, has no place in our society. We must stand united against discrimination and prejudice, no matter who it is directed at. We are working closely with local authorities, community leaders, and elected officials at all levels of government to address these incidents to ensure the safety and well-being of our community members. Please read the statement from Winnipeg South Centre MP Ben Carr regarding these recent incidents. We thank him for his ongoing support and partnership in addressing this.

It is crucial that we remain vigilant and look out for one another during these challenging times – if you see something, say something – and report it immediately to the Winnipeg Police Service, and to the Federation. We will not allow these hateful acts to define who we are or how we live our lives. Instead, let us be united and continue to support one another, standing firm in the face of hatred.

We recognize that the coming days and weeks will bring challenges. Hate crimes are on the rise, and the Israel narrative in the news and on social media is concerning. However, we will face these challenges together and emerge stronger than ever, as we have throughout our history.

Am Yisrael Chai. The nation of Israel lives, and it lives within each of us.

Local News

Congregation Etz Chayim says good bye to 123 Matheson Ave.

By BERNIE BELLAN After 71 years of serving as the home for first the Rosh Pina Synagogue, then for the past 21 years as the home for what was the merger of three different congregations – Rosh Pina’s, along with the Bnay Abraham and Beth Israel, the Etz Chayim Congregation held its final service on Wednesday, November 29.
You can read the story by CJN writer John Longhurst elsewhere on this site ( along with our earlier story about the sale of the building to an Eritrean Church (, but here are some pictures from the final service.

(Photos courtesy of Keith Levit)

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Local News

Israel report by former Winnipegger Bruce Brown

Bruce Brown

By BRUCE BROWN (posted Nov. 28/23) Was driving home from work the other day.  Pre-ceasefire.  Left the office early to reduce driving time in the evening hours.  Hamas likes their 6PM missile barrage and I’m honing my missile-avoidance routine.
Was listening to talk-radio… but kind of had enough of the news.  Too much war talk and its getting a bit overwhelming.  So switched to Spotify and up popped Supertramp – the Logical Song.  For sure how ‘wonderful, beautiful, magical’ life once felt.  Before Oct 7th.  Before Hamas. 
Then, as if on cue.  I gaze towards the sky.  And saw missiles flying overhead.  At first it didn’t really click. And then.  Yikes!  I quickly switched back to the news.  Where, in a very calming voice, they were announcing areas under missile attack.  Which is another reason to listen to the radio while driving during war – real-time information.  Lesson learned.
Suddenly my smartphone’s flashlight started flashing.  Which was pretty darn cool!  And there I was, on Star Trek.  Standing on the bridge.  Even recalled the vessel number – NCC-1701. There I was with Captain Kirk.  No!  I was Captain Kirk.  Dr. McCoy by my side.  Sulu and Chekov at the controls.  The Klingons were attacking.  And Mr. Spock -standing to the side- was calmy advising the attack coordinates.  No Wait!  That was the radio announcer.  Seriously.  This all took place within a split second in my over-active imagination.
The flashing continued.  Then I realized my cellphone was communicating with me.  Warning of danger.  I have the Home Front Command application which sounds an amazingly loud alarm during a missile attack in my area.  But changing between the radio and Spotify prevented the siren from going off.  So instead, the phone activated my flashlight.  Sending out an S.O.S.  Now how neat is that!  In a geeky sort of way.  Like for someone who imagines himself on Star Trek during a real-life missile attack.
Then.  Reality set in.  There were Home Front Command instructions to follow.  Momentary-panic set in.  Where was my wife.  To tell me what to do.  Like she always does…but that’s another story.  This time I wanted her there, instructing me. 
All these thoughts racing through my mind in milliseconds.  As I calmly slowed the car and veered to the shoulder.  Like other cars around me.  I put on the blinkers.  More flashing lights but the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise now a distant thought.  Looking both ways I left the car and hopped over the road- barrier.  Moving away from the car.  Although probably not far enough.  Because there was a steep decline just below.  It was getting dark and, suffering from poor night vision, I didn’t want to trip and hurt myself.  I heard my son laughing at me. “Nerd!” he called out.  But that was just my imagination.
I should have laid flat.  Prostrating myself for maximum protection.  But it rained earlier that day, the ground was wet and I didn’t want to get muddy.  ‘”Nerd!”  This time it was my daughter in my mind’s eye.  “Okay,” I said to no one in particular.  “I’ll squat.”  Good enough…but not really.
The family in the car ahead were huddling together but too close to their vehicle.  I shouted for them to move further away.  But they didn’t react.  Probably didn’t understand me, especially given my still heavily accented Canadian Hebrew.  This time I heard both my kids.  Teasing me – thirty years and still talk like an immigrant!  “Hey, they just don’t hear me.”  I said to the darkness.  Otherwise it was very moving seeing the father crouching down on top of his brood, in a protective sort of way.  “Isn’t that touching.” I said to my wife.  “For sure.” She said somewhat sarcastically in the back of my mind, “I know you’d do the same.”  
Then it was over.  The sky went quiet.  People returned to their cars.  The nestled family broke apart and entered theirs.  We should have stayed in place several more minutes.  Ten minutes is the recommended time.  But it was dark.  Getting late.  Also a bit cold.  I just wanted to get home.  Back to the real chiding of my kids and to my wife… somehow longing for her ordering me about.
A few minutes later my wife called.  Making sure I was safe.  And then routine set in.  “Don’t forget to pick up some milk and bread from the corner store.”  She instructed me.
Um Israel Chai
Bruce Brown.  A Canadian. And an Israeli.  Bruce made Aliyah…a long time ago.  He works in Israel’s hi-tech sector by day and, in spurts, is a somewhat inspired writer by night.  Bruce is the winner of the 2019 American Jewish Press Association Simon Rockower Award for excellence in writing.  And wrote the 1998 satire, An Israeli is….  Bruce’s reflects on life in Israel – political, social, economic and personal.  With lots of biting, contrarian, sardonic and irreverent insight.

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Local News

Jewish community holds solidarity rally November 25

The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg held a rally in support of Israel on Saturday evening, November 25.

A number of speakers addressed the crowd of 800, including Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun-Herzlia Congregation; Members of Parliament Ben Carr & Marty Morantz; Yolanda Papini-Pollock of Winnipeg Friends of Israel; Paula McPherson, former Brock Corydon teacher; and Gustavo Zentner, President of the Jewish Federation.

Ben Carr

Click here to watch Ben Carr’s remarks:

Marty Morantz

Click here to watch a video of Marty Morantz’s remarks:

Gustavo Zentner

Click here to watch a video of Gustavo Zentner’s remarks:

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