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Music ‘N’ Mavens kicks off 22nd season

singer Jennifer Hanson kicked off this year’s edition of Music ‘n Mavens

The Rady JCC’s popular Music ‘N’ Mavens kicked off its 22nd season on Tuesday, January 14, with a bravura performance by the incomparable Jennifer Hanson. Accompanied by Gilles Fournier on base and Murray Pulver on guitar (both of whom are also fixtures on the local music scene) – and still getting over a cold, one of Winnipeg’s leading ladies of song delivered a range of numbers beginning with long ago hits from Cole Porter and encompassing the Turtles, the Beatles, the Pointer Sisters, Linda Ronstadt and more (including a song of her own composition) while between songs chatting comfortably with her audience of nearly 200 who filled the Berney Theatre.





“Jennifer is one of the many wonderful musical talents we have in Manitoba,” says Karla Berbrayer, Music ‘N’ Mavens’ founding producer. “One of the goals of Music ‘N’ Mavens is to showcase that talent. There are always new people coming on the musical scene here. I am constantly on the lookout for new performers we can highlight.”
Hanson’s appearance was the first of 12 musical afternoons that make up the musical portion of Music ‘N’ Mavens. “One of my focuses this season will be showcasing the music of the ‘60s and ‘70s,” Berbrayer says. “There will also be classical music, folk music and Latin American music over the next eight weeks.”
The next show – tomorrow afternoon (January 23) – will feature 2018 Canadian Folk Music award winner violin virtuoso Raine Hamilton (accompanied by Quintin Bart on double bass and Natanielle Felicitas on cello) channeling the Beatles.

Gilles Fournier will be back with his own quintet (which also includes Murray Pulver) on February 27th in a tribute to the music of Aretha Franklin and on February 25th as part of the Onna Lou Quartet for an afternoon of Latin American classics.
Other upcoming performers include the Erin Propp & Larry Roy Quintet with songs of the ‘70s (January 28), The Very Groovy Things – a nine-musician ensemble with a tribute to the Mamas and The Papas (January 30), Nation of Two – featuring Jessee Havey and Nathaniel Good bring you protest songs from the ‘60’s to Today (February 18), the Luminous String Quartet featuring a mix of pop and rock numbers (March 3), the Breeze Quartet with Motown sounds (March 12) and Rosemarie Todaschuk and Ron Paley producing jazz sounds with both a Jewish and Ukrainian flare (February 26 at the Gwen Secter Creative Centre).

Music ‘N’ Mavens will be presenting a second concert at the Gwen Secter featuring Sistema Winnipeg – high school students – composed largely of new immigrants and Indigenous students – from Seven Oaks and Winnipeg One School Divisions who receive intensive musical training under the auspices of the WSO.
Patrons attending Music ‘N’ Mavens programs at the Gwen Secter have the option of purchasing lunch prior to the concerts.
For fans of classical music, Music ‘N’ Mavens is offering an afternoon of Mozart and Tangos (February 11) featuring WSO viola player Elise Lavallee and violinist Jeremy Buzash.

Karla Berbrayer notes that the concert series that she originated over 20 years ago has grown to the point that, for the first time this year, supporters can buy tickets in advance. Individual tickets are $7 for Rady JCC members, $11 for non-members. Berbrayer points out though that you can save money by buying packages – either the mini concert pass – six concerts for the price of five ($35 for members, $55 for non-members – or the full concert pass of $49 for members, $77 for non-members – a saving of $21 for members and $33 for non-members.

Mavens are the other part of the Music ‘N’ Mavens series– speakers on a variety of topics including Indigenous health in Manitoba (February 4), heritage conservation (February 6), water conservation (February 13), the future of capitalism (February 20), a presentation on the iconography of the Birds’ Head Haggadah by Dr. Phyllis Portnoy (March 5) and an overview of the career of Ludwig van Beethoven on the 250th anniversary of his birth (March 10) as presented by Jim Manishen.
Berbrayer notes that there is no charge to hear the speakers. “There will be a silver collection at the door,” she says.
For tickets or further information, phone the Rady JCC at 204 477-7510 or go to

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Did Israel make a mistake by invading Gaza?

By BERNIE BELLAN While the war in Gaza remains top of mind for almost everyone within the Jewish community, there is a disconnect between what is happening in Israel and how many in our community are reacting.
The impression I have is that much of the established Jewish community is in a constant defensive posture – continually reacting to what is perceived to be an unfair piling-on on Israel. Thus, when the House of Commons debated a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza several weeks ago and a restoration of funding to UNWRA (along with a call to recognize a Palestinian state – which was removed from the resolution), voices from within the usual Jewish establishment circles, including CIJA and B’nai Brith, along with Jewish federations across the country, were quick to react negatively toward that resolution (which, by the way, had no practical effect).
And then, there has been the continued exchange of letters to the editor of the Winnipeg Free Press, with individuals ostensibly representing our community writing in response to other letters that are deemed to constitute unfair criticism of Israel. (My advice is not to react to letters to the editor by writing letters in response to something with which you disagree. It just leads to more letters from the other side.)
This past week, however, we witnessed what, to this point, is the worst blow to Israel’s image that has happened during what are now the five months of war in Gaza, when an Israeli missile (or a projective fired from a drone – it’s not clear what happened) killed seven workers who had been delivering food aid to Palestinians.
Is that the tipping point in this war? It might be too soon to know, but President Biden has to be wondering what can he possibly do to force Israel into accepting a cease fire? I know that many would argue that a cease fire will only give Hamas a victory, but the alternative is for Israel to be engaged in a prolonged and ever more dangerous war, not only with Hamas, but Hezbollah as well.
As I scour media around the world for insights into what is likely to happen in the coming days, the consensus is that Bibi Netanyahu wants the war to continue for his own selfish reasons: It will allow him to remain in power in Israel. A major part of his strategy is to point to his defiance of the US and say to Israelis that “we won’t be bullied by anyone.”
I had written shortly after October 7 that Israel was entering into a prolonged war similar to what the Iraqis, along with their Kurdish and American allies, had entered into during a nine-month campaign to remove ISIS from Mosul in 2017. I quoted from various military experts at the time who warned of the dangers of a total ground invasion of Gaza – how it would bog Israel down and inevitably lead to Israel having to reoccupy Gaza, but without achieving its ultimate goal of eradicating Hamas.
Those warnings have proven true. What Israel should do is withdraw from Gaza, yet continue to target Hamas’s leadership. It’s quite interesting that, in any talk of a ceasefire Hamas has apparently backed down on demands for the release of large numbers of Palestinian prisoners held within Israeli prisons, but has held firm on its demand that Israel promise not to target its leaders. That, more than anything, says what Hamas is really all about.
In the meantime, back here in Winnipeg, there isn’t any sort of open discussion within the organized Jewish community about how badly Israel’s image has suffered. Instead we’re called upon to show full support for Israel. Yet, as much as we might want to distinguish between support for the people of Israel, which most of us want to give, and support for what Israel is doing in Gaza, many of us are torn.
If only there were some way for our established Jewish organizations, especially the Jewish Federation, to allow for an open airing of the critical views of Israel that many of us hold – which may not be palatable to many others to hear. The alternative is to pretend that our Jewish community is unified (which it isn’t) and alienate even further, members of the community who feel disaffected by the entrenched preoccupation within established Jewish circles to defend Israel against what is perceived to be unfair criticism.

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How walking into the wrong synagogue service led to my rekindling memories of the Stall family on McAdam Avenue

Gerry Posner

By GERRY POSNER I often attend synagogue on Shabbat, though I do miss from time to time. Recently, I was back from a trip and was just not ready to return to my regular synagogue services. I planned to miss it. Then, an email surfaced on the Friday before that particular Shabbat. The sender, who was a good friend of mine, invited me to come to my shul where he was not a member, but there was to be a person speaking that day at the synagogue on a topic dear to him, relating to a tour he had taken not that long ago to Morocco. The speaker was his leader from that tour. So, I changed my mind and, sure enough, there I was at synagogue again – after a three week absence.

The service had two unexpected occurrences, at least for me. First, as I scanned the handout that was given to attendees prior to the service, i realized that nowhere was there any reference to a speaker. When I met my friend he was as perplexed as I was, so we set out into other areas of the Beth Tzedec Synagogue (and there are many there). As it turned out, there was another service going on at the same time upstairs in the gymnasium. Sure enough, there was the man who was going to be speaking.

However, that moment presented a definite dilemma for me. When I was in the chapel at the regular service, there on the handout was a notice that there was to be an “Oifruf “that morning for a Benjamin Stall – to a Rachel Calmas. The Calmas name meant little to me, but I was quite familiar with the Stall name. For anyone who has lived in Winnipeg at any time, the name Stall is almost immediately recognizable. There was once Stall and Son, well known to many in the business world and there members of the Stall family that lived on McAdam Avenue whom I knew from my Winnipeg days as a student about to enter university. Thus, I decided to return to the regular service.

Many readers may recall a tragedy that came upon three Jewish Winnipeg families in June of 1963 when a car accident in Alberta killed Samuel Corman and Morton Stall, also severely injuring Arnold Popeski, as well as ending the lives of three other young men, also from Winnipeg. Many in the Winnipeg Jewish community and indeed beyond were affected. I was for sure. As it turned out, arising from that tragedy was a relationship with the Stall family that had a major impact on my life thereafter.

Of the three boys – Corman, Stall, and Popeski, my most significant connection was with Samuel Corman, as my family and his family were tight and I was a good friend of his. I also was closely connected with Arnold from AZA, where we were both active. I was friendly with Morton, but I knew him the least, as he was in the north end and I was a south ender and, though we crossed paths,I didn’t really know the Stall family, that is – until the summer of 1963.
As it turned out, that summer I had a job as a Fuller Brush salesman. My territory included a good chunk of the north end, particularly in the area where the Stalls lived: 160 McAdam Avenue. Back in those days, women were usually at home during the day and not at work – at least that was my experience then as a door to door salesman. I could work at my own time and pace. Thus, I often had the time and desire to visit the Stalls that summer, even after the shiva. It was at the shiva where I first met a younger brother to Morton, Richard, who was well under ten years of age. I knew his sister Phyllis (hard for a teenage boy not to recognize a girl so pretty) and I knew of an older sister, Shelley (later Shelley Rusen).
But the people I really came to know were Nathan and Gert Stall, the parents of those four Stall children. I would pop into their home unannounced and, if it bothered them, they never mentioned it. I sensed that they welcomed those visits. I often interacted with Phyllis and Richard.

But then, in the fall of 1963, off I was off to the University of Toronto law school. Nate Stall had told me that he had occasion to come to Toronto on business from time to time and he would be happy to take me out for dinner if I wanted.
Well, that meant little to me at first, but as I settled in at my sister’s apartment for my first year away, I was more than happy to take up the offer to go with Mr. Stall for supper. When he called me in October 1963, I was delighted to go out with him. Now, not only did he take me for dinner, he took me to what was then the premier restaurant in the c -ity of Toronto and for years going forward: the Carmen Club. You could smell the steaks and garlic for blocks around. What a joy that was for me to eat so well and with a man whom I had come to know. I suppose, on reflection, I might have served as a kind of relief from the grind of a business trip and perhaps he connected me to Morton.
That dinner was followed by many other Carman Club dinners over the four and a half years I remained in Toronto. I loved our times together and he always gave my parents a first hand report on me. I saw him and indeed his wife Gert later when I returned to live in Winnipeg and we always had a bond. I never saw Richard after 1963, or if I did, it just does not make my memory pool. I did see Phyllis of course, after her marriage to Marvin Shenkarow. Also, from time to time I connected with Shelley and her husband, Aubie Rusen.

So there I was at synagogue and who was sponsoring the kiddush for the Oifruf for his son but Richard Stall and his wife Lisa Berger, another former Winnipege – related to the Berger family of doctors. It was quite the moment for me. I waited until after the service ended before going up to Richard and Lisa. It was hard to focus on the service as all those memories of the Stall family came flooding back to me.
Given that Richard is the last surviving member of the family, it was all the more significant. We had a good chat, including remembering that same day, March 23, was his late sister Phyllis’s birthday some 77 years ago.
I was so immersed in conversation that by the time I made it to the kiddush table, the lunch I had expected would be waiting there for me was gone. There are worse things, I suppose. I also met another son of Richard and Lisa’s, Dr. Nathan (for his grandfather) Morton (for his uncle) Stall. That name, Nathan Stall might well be familiar to readers as he was the go-to guy in the media for expert commentary on the impact of Covid on the elderly. He was on TV frequently. And now, Nathan Stall is already, at a young age, a prominent geriatrician. As well, not that long ago, he was a candidate for the Liberal Party in Ontario in the 2022 election. Although he did not win, he did very well, losing by only 1,000 votes.

As it turned out, the Shabbat that day was Shabbat Zahkor or “remembrance.”
Well, I certainly was into that Shabbat as I did a whole lot of remembering. And yet, the opportunity to remember and indeed engage in the past so meaningfully for me all came about when because I was supposed to go to another event that day – which I missed entirely. Strange how it all played out.

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Young Jewish Winnipeggers reap multiple awards at this year’s annual Winnipeg Music Festival

Gregory Hyman - finished first in Vocal Solo, 16 & under, Popular Category; first in Popular/Contemporary; and tied for second in Folk Songs; and, on guitar , he won gold in the Grade/Level 6 Own Choice category.  

By MYRON LOVE Jewish participants in this year’s 106th annual Winnipeg Music Festival (March February 26-March 17) reaped a bountiful harvest of awards.

Yale Rayburn-Vander Hout

Of the Jewish young people who excelled this year, Yale Rayburn-Vander Hout stands out.  The 17-year-old son of Samantha and Peter was awarded the prestigious Gilbert and Sullivan Society Trophy – awarded for the most outstanding performance in a competition of winners of Gilbert & Sullivan classes.
Yale finished first in the Gilbert and Sullivan vocal solo, 18 and under category, also in the vocal duet, 18 and under musical theatre category.
This was the third Winnipeg Musical Festival performance for the former Gray academy student who is currently in Grade 12 at the University of Winnipeg Collegiate. Next year, he reports, he will be enrolling in the Desautels Faculty of Music at the University of Manitoba.
Yale notes that he has been studying voice with voice coach Kelly Robinson for the past eight years.   This upcoming weekend (April 12-14) he will be co-starring in The Manitoba Theatre for young People’s production of “Something Rotten”  – a story, he says, about a pair of brothers in the 1590s – aspiring playwrights struggling to get out from under the shadow of Shakespeare – who come up with the idea of writing the world’s first musical theatre production.

Hannah Schaeffer

Kelly Robinson is also the voice coach for WMF Jewish standouts Greg Hyman and siblings Hannah and Alex Schaeffer (the children of Marc Schaeffer and Kae Sasake).
For elder sibling Hannah, this was the fifth time that she has participated in the annual competition. This year, the Grade 11 Grant Park Student finished first in her age group (16 years and younger) in two musical theatre categories – musicals 2000 to present – up tempo – and musicals 1965 to 1999 – up tempo.
Alex, who is also a Grant Park student,  achieved gold distinction in the 14 years and younger musicals 2000 to present – ballad category.

Alex Schaeffer

Alex was most recently highlighted in the Jewish Post & News earlier this year after making his big stage debut as one of the Von Trapp children in MTC’s production of  “The Sound of Music”. This month he will be on stage in the Manitoba Opera production of “Carmen” as a member of the children’s chorus.
Both siblings also advanced to the Rainbow Stage trophy class – and they have also both been cast in Grant Park’s production this month of “the Addams Family.” Hannah plays Uncle Fester, while Alex plays Puritan.
In July, Hannah will be appearing at the Fringe Festival  in Rem Lezar Theatre’s production of “Butterfly Dreams.” Rem Lezar Theatre, Hannah notes.  is associated with Indifferently Reformed, a local Shakespeare company.

For 16-year-old Gregory Hyman, this was his sixth time competing in the annual  festival.  Initially, the son of Hartley and Rishona Hyman focused solely on classical guitar, an instrument that he took up when he was five. He added voice lessons to his repertoire seven years ago – studying – as did Hannah, Alex and Yale – with Kelly Robinson.  And this year, once again, he authored gold level performances in both of his artistic disciplines.
In the category of Vocal Solo, 16 and under, he finished first in Popular/Contemporary and tied for second in Folk Songs and, on guitar , he won gold in the Grade/Level 6 Own Choice category.  
The Ravenscourt student doesn’t restrict his music making just to the yearly festival though.  Over the past four years, he has b been building a solo career as a singer/songwriter/musician. Recording and performing under the stage name, GMH, Gregory last October was on stage at Club Regent as the opening act for the Winnipeg-originated band “The Watchmen” (including Jewish members Daniel Greaves, Joey Serlin and Sammy Kohn, who are all living in Toronto now).
And this past March, Gregory was on stage in a performance at The Rec Room on   Sterling Lyon Parkway.
He reports that he is currently working on his third album – with all of the songs his own compositions.  “This will be my first professionally produced album,” he says. “I hope to have it out by the fall.”
He also continues to host his own podcast – “Talk and Rock with GMH” – now in its fourth season – in which he interviews various people in the music business across Canada.
Readers can check out Gregory’s music on any of the music streaming platforms as well as his own social media (thegmh) on Instagram.

Juliet Eskin

Kelly Robinson’s own daughter (with husband Josh Eskin, also a  musician and music teacher), Juliet Eskin, 14, also stood out, in this –  her third go-round at the festival,  where she had first place finishes – viola solo, level 7, Romantic composers and Popular Contemporary  categories, as well as part of a string chamber group quartet that also included Elazar Schwartz, the son of Dr. Leonard Schwartz.
Juliet originally took up violin – adding the viola last year. 

Noah (left) and Nathan Kravetsky

Rounding out this year’s Jewish WMF stars were the Kravetsky brothers.  Both sons of  Dr. Azriel Kravetsky and Dr. Carrie Palatnick play piano. 
Both 13-year-old Noah and 10-year-old Nathan attend Gray Academy in Grades 8 and 5 respectively – and have been taking lessons from Erica Schultz since they were five years old.
Noah competed in two Grade 6 classes in the Winnipeg Music Festival. He won gold in his Baroque class and silver in his Own Choice Class. Nathan won gold in three classes: Baroque, Sonatina and Canadian Composer.
We look forward to the continued musical success Noah and Nate, Juliet and Gregory and whatever new talent may be unveiled at next year’s Winnipeg Music Festival.

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