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St. John’s High School class of ’73 holds 5oth anniversary reunion

By MYRON LOVE St. John’s High School has a rich and storied history in the annals of our Jewish community. The North End institution is one of Winnipeg’s oldest schools and, when I was a student there in the mid-1960s, it was the city’s largest high school. For three generations of Jewish youth, the school was their gateway to success in the wider world.
In my student days there, the school’s student population was approximately 40% Jewish (although the real percentage may have been a little lower) – and while the school’s reputation as the “Jewish” high school was somewhat changed by the mid-60s, when that pride of place was becoming increasingly challenged by the still relatively new Garden City Collegiate and Grant Park High School in River Heights.
As the Jewish population continued to move either farther north into Garden City or south to River Heights, the numbers of Jewish students enrolled in the school continued to decline. Nonetheless, the 1973 graduating class still boasted about 20 Jewish students, most of whom were among the 70 former students who participated in the 50th anniversary reunion of that graduating class over the June 23-25 weekend.
The idea for the reunion originated with Ed Zwingerman. “I got the ball rolling in February of last year,” recalls the north Winnipeg physiotherapist. “I was at a retreat and, during a period of meditation, I got to thinking about all the changes in my life and all the friends from high school who I had lost touch with over the years. It occurred to me that a class reunion might be a nice way to reconnect with people.”
Zwingerman recruited fellow Class of ’73 graduate Donna Kormylo to co-chair a reunion committee.
“The response exceeded all of our expectations,” he reports. “We had good turnouts for all of our events.”
The weekend began on Friday afternoon with a meet-and-greet in the school library. The event included a slide show, refreshments and tours of the school led by current students. There was also time for the former students to share memories and pore over school memorabilia.
In the evening, the graduates gathered at the Four Crowns Restaurant in the former Lincoln Hotel on McPhillips Street to socialize informally.
Saturday afternoon featured a barbecue at Kildonan Park (with kosher hot dogs, Zwingerman points out). Then there was the grand finale – supper (including Jeanne’s Cake) at the legion hall on Henderson Highway and a band comprised of ’73 graduates(including musician Karen Dana and vocals by Richard Yaffe) featuring music from the ‘60s
“To that end, we were able to get a grant of $350 from the local city councillor,” Zwingerman says.

Four members of the St. John’s class of ‘73 – whose picture appears at the top of this story -and how they looked 50 years ago (l-r, in the same order as the photo at the top):  Sam Steinfeld, Susan Israel, Richard Yaffe, Sondra Kraitberg


Among the Jewish former ’73 graduates who came to the reunion, according to Zwingerman. were the aforementioned Karen Dana and Richard Yaffe, Sam Steinfeld, Susan Israel and, from out of town, Sandra Kraitberg and Vicki Mowchun.
Susan Israel recalls that she didn’t remember a lot of people from high school outside of her own class. “I was always one of the band students,” she says. “We tended to stick together.”
One of the highlights for her at the reunion was reacquainting herself with Brian Burdy, her former Biology teacher. “I am not a science person,” she says. “Mr. Burdy made biology interesting for me.”
She also enjoyed the concert. She notes that she was unable to be part of the band because she was away at a family simchah and unable to practice with the other band members.
For Karen Dana, as well as seeing so many familiar faces, a highlight was being able to perform with Richard Yaffe and getting to know him again. “We grew up a block apart near the Talmud Torah and we used to walk to school together,” she recounts.
“And Susan and I go back a long way. Her aunt was my piano teacher.”
Both Dana and Zwingerman also commented on the number of former teachers who put in an appearance at the reunion. A number of the teachers at the school in ’60s and ‘70s were also Jewish.
Zwingerman was particularly happy to see former teacher Marty Billinkoff, who flew in from Vancouver. “Mr. Billinkoff was gregarious and personable and a lot of fun. It was great to see him again.”
The reunion co-organizer also expresses appreciation for the support from the St. John’s Alumni Committee and the school’s principal, Doug Taylor.
“Doug is a great leader,” Zwingerman notes. “A lot of the current students continue on to post-secondary institutions.”
He adds that the reunion committee has contributed leftover funds to the school to be divided between the band and football programs.

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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 (www.thesimonandgarfunkelstory.com) 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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Local News

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 https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/canadian-magen-david-adom-for-israel/events/cmda-winnipeg-an-evening-of-appreciation/ or to purchase tickets phone 587-435-5808 or email sfraiman@cmdai.org

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Local News

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 heather.blackman@simkincentre.ca 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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