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Shaarey Zedek about to embark on $14 million reconstruction of existing building

Artist’s rendering of proposed
seating in revamped sanctuary area

By BERNIE BELLAN Shaarey Zedek Congregation is about to embark on the first major renovation of its building since the 1970s.
We’ve reproduced renderings that were drawn up by representatives of Number TEN Architectural Group, which is the firm that has been engaged to develop plans for the soon-to-be totally renovated Shaarey Zedek building.

Where we are at now is that, after a long process of planning and consultation which began several years ago, Shaarey Zedek Congregation will now embark upon the next stage of the process, which will involve, in the first phase: asbestos remediation, repair/replacement of the roof, and HVAC replacement, followed by the renovation and modernization of the interior of the building.
In a message to congregation members, which was signed by President Gary Hyman and Executive Director Ran Ukashi, and which was a prelude to a Zoom session on Wednesday, Oct. 14, the following background information was given:
“Several years ago, Shaarey Zedek senior leadership began discussions regarding the undertaking of a capital campaign to address building-related issues including asbestos remediation, roof repair/replacement, and HVAC replacement. Given the nature of the work required, consideration was also given to renovating and modernizing the interior space as it had not seen much in the way of a refresh since its opening in 1949.
“In 2018, the leadership consulted with an architectural firm regarding the project and conducted a limited feasibility study to determine the appetite among the membership to support a capital campaign to cover the cost of the project. Number TEN Architectural Group was engaged to develop a preliminary design concept based on the feedback received from a small committee that was formed at the time. In the years that followed there would be matters and circumstances that delayed further action on the project, but the issues regarding the building did not disappear and the project remained at the forefront of the agenda.
“At its meeting on September 1 of this year, the Shaarey Zedek Board of Directors moved to proceed with the L’Dor Va Dor (From Generation to Generation) Capital Campaign to support the project and approved a budget of $14 million in this regard.”

proposed new dining area

At the meeting on Oct. 14, which was attended by some members of the congregation in person, while others joined in via Zoom, three members of Number TEN Architectural Group: Architects Dave Lalama and Brent Bellamy, along with interior designer Ivy Bricker, showed a number of artists’ renderings that gave various options for how the sanctuary and adjoining areas might look. They also showed drawings of the lower level, including a proposed coffee bar – something that elicited a number of critical reactions from congregation members.
Prior to the visual presentation by the representatives of Number TEN Architectural Group, Chair of L’Dor Va Dor committee Neil Duboff, outlined the guiding principles that lie behind the proposed reconstruction of the synagogue.
Included among those principles is the goal to “attract new opportunities and ventures for Shaarey Zedek”. While there was no specific mention of the loss of major life cycle events, including weddings and B’nai Mitzvahs, to other venues in recent years, the proposed renovations would certainly bring the Shaarey Zedek up to a much modern level when it comes to offering a venue for social occasions.
During the Number TEN presentation, the representatives of that firm made the following observations about major concerns that members have with the existing building:
• Lack of multifunctionality
• Lack of flexibility
• 85% of the space is used 15% of the time – the existing space can be used more efficiently
They then noted the following priorities:
• Creating a space that is appealing to the next generation (l’dor va dor) through the creation of a modern, comfortable, inviting interior refresh
• Providing opportunities for joint use between the event space and sanctuary
• Creating more flexibility and functionality by providing greater connection between spaces
• Creating a solarium space that takes advantage of the natural light and river access to create a welcoming opportunity space
• Improvements to the health and quality of the building through HAZMAT (Hazardous Material Abatement Program) and improvements to the mechanical, electrical, lighting and AV systems
• Integrating suspendibility into the design

proposed new downstairs lounge

During his remarks, architect Brent Bellamy referred to the longstanding place the Shaarey Zedek has had in the annals of Winnipeg architecture, saying that it is “a masterpiece of modernist architectural design”.
However, some of the most beautiful features of the sanctuary have long been hidden as a result of renovations to the building that were undertaken in the 1970s. Architect Dave Lalama explained that “some beautiful windows (in the sanctuary) are hidden by walls. We want to have them visible.”
The reason those windows became hidden, Lalama went on to note, is that the ventilation system that was installed on the roof was “so heavy – the ceiling had to be dropped” in order to be able to build up the roof to support the added weight.
Making use of existing sunlight is one of their key goals, the architects said, along with offering views of the river from inside the building.
As far as seating goes, there will be a number of options for congregation members to consider, including having armchair seats – as opposed to the current benches, also opening up the chapel area so that there is no barrier between the chapel and the main sanctuary. (During the question and answer session, however, more than a few participants voiced objections to removing the barrier between the chapel and the sanctuary, saying that the close-knit atmosphere in the chapel is what makes it so attractive.)
Following the presentation by Number TEN, two representatives of Akman Construction, Jared Akman and Marshall Weinstein, spoke about the remediation and renovation of the building which Akman will undertake. The remediation process is about to begin sometime in the spring of 2022, Akman said. (Akman Construction has been involved in the planning process for four years, according to Weinstein, who is the project manager.)
Weinstein explained that the renovation in the 1970s “covered up asbestos”. As a result, he said, “the whole ceiling has to come out”.
During the remediation process, “everyone will have to come out of the building,” Weinstein added.
The components of the remediation process will include:
• Removal of the interior ceiling and replacement of the entire roof
• Removal of tiles
• Replacement of mechanical systems. As Marshall Weinstein explained, “All piping has asbestos that will have to be removed.”
Following the remediation process, which Weinstein said will last from six to seven months, the renovation and construction process, which is expected to last another 20-22 months, will commence.
During the period of remediation and renovation the Shaarey Zedek is planning on making its temporary home in the Masonic Lounge, which is situated at Confusion Corner, Neil Duboff said.


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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 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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