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Nathaniel Lisak is the complete package: brawn and brain

Nathaniel Lisak

By BERNIE BELLAN Recently we published a story about nominees for Jewish Athlete of the Year. One of those nominees is Nathaniel Lisak, an outstanding football player from Grant Park High School. The picture we ran of Nathaniel, however, was not Nathaniel. We apologize for that error. A correct picture of Nathaniel appears with this story.

We admit though, that impressive a background as Nathaniel has as an athlete, of all the six nominees for Jewish Athlete of the Year, Nathaniel is the only one about whom we hadn’t published a story in this paper – until now.

We were contacted by Nathaniel’s father, Roman, after that issue came out. Roman informed us that the picture we had of Nathaniel was not Nathaniel. I responded contritely, apologizing as best I could, and asked Roman whether Nathaniel might be amenable to being interviewed so that we could do a fuller account of his accomplishments. In short order Nathaniel texted me, saying that he’d be glad to talk about his football career.

When we connected later that day I asked Nathaniel about his family’s background. Nathaniel explained that his parents, Roman and Maria, came to Manitoba from Israel in 2004. They both had originally come from Ukraine, he noted. Nathaniel also has a sister, Priel, who is six years older than him and who was born in Israel.
Upon arriving here Roman began working for Manitoba Hydro in Gillam as a Certified Engineering Technologist, Nathaniel said – and that was where he was born and lived until he was nine. In 2014 the family moved to Winnipeg when his father was offered a job in Winnipeg. (His mother Marina, by the way, works in the Rady JCC day care.)

Nathaniel began attending Brock Corydon School when the family moved to Winnipeg – in the English program. I asked him whether he was “a big kid” back then, given how big he is now.
“No,” he answered, “I was average as a kid.”
But somewhere between Grade Six and Grade Nine, Nathaniel said, he began to grow…and grow. In those three short years, he told me, he grew an astounding 11 inches – going from 5’ 3” to 6’ 2”, and gained an impressive 100 pounds. (If you look at his picture you’ll see that those 100 pounds turned mostly into muscle.)

It wasn’t until he was in Grade 8 that Nathaniel even strapped on pads and began playing tackle football, he noted. Prior to that the sport he played the most was basketball. He had also become a shot putter as he started to grow.
Now, if you consider how quickly Nathaniel grew, you might wonder how he adjusted to that sudden growth spurt. He said that it wasn’t easy and that at times it was quite uncomfortable given how rapidly he grew in height and added weight but, given his success on the football field, it’s clear that he’s adapted himself to his increased size with flying colours.

As the blurb that was sent to us by the Rady JCC in describing the nominees for Jewish Athlete of the Year noted, “Lisak excelled at the defensive tackle position for the Grant Park Pirates Football team this past season. After helping his team compile a 5-1 regular season record and a spot in the championship final, Lisak was honoured with numerous personal accolades. He was named to the CFC (Canada Football Chat) All-Canadian First Team and was the recipient of the Winnipeg High School Football League (WHSFL) Kas Vidruk Lineman of the Year. At the school level he was named the Grant Park Football Most Valuable Player and was awarded the school’s Football Captain Award. He was runner up for the 2021 WHSFL Defensive MVP & 2021 Harry Hood Citizenship Award. In grade 10 he became a known player in Manitoba and was named a Nationally ranked top 100 player in Canada, being a top 5 Manitoban and top three defensive tackle in the 2022 graduating class.”

I wondered whether there are any particular professional football players that Nathaniel has tried to emulate since he started playing football?
“I remember watching J.J. Watt (an extremely mobile, although quite large defensive end) play,” Nathaniel observed. “I was amazed how someone that big could move that fast.”
Yet Nathaniel now says that his role model is Aaron Donald, the huge defensive tackle for the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, who is legendary for his quickness despite weighing 280 pounds. (Donald, by the way, stands 6’1”, so in terms of comparison, he and Nathaniel are roughly the same height and weight.)

As the blurb about Nathaniel in our last edition also noted, he received numerous scholarship offers from universities across Canada. He said though that he’s chosen to go to McMaster University in Hamilton. Not only does McMaster have a great football program, it also has an excellent business school. Nathaniel told me that his plan is to enter that school. Given that he’s also been an honour roll student at Grant Park and that his favourite subject is math, he told me, it should be a good fit.

In addition to his studies and his athletic pursuits, for the past year Nathaniel has been serving as the Regional B’nai Brith Youth Organization president. (He’s a member of “Alaphim,” he noted.) His term will end this June.

Quite the package: An outstanding athlete, a terrific student, and an active member of BBYO. He was also quite forgiving of my running the wrong picture of him. On the other hand I interviewed Nathaniel over the phone. I’m not sure I would have been prepared if it turned out that he wanted to practice a bull rush on me to retaliate for my faux pas.


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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 go to 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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