By BERNIE BELLAN In the October 27 issue of the JP&N, within our preview of Tarbut, we had a blurb about a film that will be shown Sunday evening, November 14, at 7:30 pm in the Berney Theatre.
Here is what the blurb said:
“Ma Nishma Manitoba”
Hot off a highly successful premiere at Gimli Film Festival 2021 – this, playful, funny, and evocative documentary by two local Jewish filmmakers explores the history of Jews in Winnipeg –
the complex, diverse, and dynamic experience of the current Jewish community and what exactly it means to be ‘Jewish enough’.
Through interviews with a Rabbi, a politician, a musician, a student, and others; combined with joyful graphics, archival footage, and animation; the film explores questions of identity, spirituality, family, inclusivity, creativity, and a range of perspectives on Israel.
Q & A following the film with the filmmakers Sara Bulloch and Johanna Reimer – Henteleff
We had the opportunity to view the film prior to Tarbut. It was interesting seeing a film about what it means to be Jewish in Winnipeg in 2021 presented from the perspectives of various individuals, each of whom had quite a different contribution to make.
I asked the two women filmmakers to give me some information about their backgrounds. Here is what they wrote me:
From Johanna Reimer-Henteleff: “I started making films with my friends in late high school, which ended up being really fun and I wanted to pursue it further! So, I attended OCADU in Toronto and during my time there I mainly focused on video art, installations, and documentary filmmaking. Since I’ve been back in Winnipeg my main focus has been freelance videography and production assistance. I’ve also gotten more into animation and illustration work since working on Ma Nishma, which has been super cool to experiment with, and I’m hoping to work on more independent film projects in the future! “
From Sara Bulloch: “I have a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Manitoba, and a Creative Communications diploma majoring in media production with Red River College. Have also taken several workshops related to film production here and there. Lot of my filmmaking skills are self taught though. I currently work as an editor with Farpoint Films, while also working on independent film projects.”
Using some fast paced editing techniques that kept the film from turning into a series of long excerpts from different interviews – which would have bogged the film down (as so many documentaries used to do until such well known filmmakers as Ken Burns and Michael Moore radically changed documentary filmmaking), Ma Nishma Manitoba is quite delightful – but not without its share of controversy.
One of the subjects in the film, Lasha Mowchun, is someone about whom I wrote back in 2016 when I encountered her outside the Negev Gala that year when she part of a group protesting the Jewish National Fund. Having Lasha offer her rather critical views on Israel during this film is something that may offend some members of our community, but I applaud Sara and Joahnna for wanting to show viewers of the film different facets of the community.
What the film also does quite nicely is explore the family histories of the film’s subjects, using old photographs and some excellent archival footage. Historian Dan Stone gives a good overview of how Eastern European Jews ended up coming to Winnipeg in droves, while Rabbi Allan Finkel delves into his own family’s history, including his mother’s experience during the Holocaust. As well, Allan explains how his own departure from Judaism, followed by a more recent reawakening, is something that resonates with many Winnipeg Jews.
Also interviewed in the film is Yude Hentelef. Having representatives of different generations talk about their respective understandings of what it means to be Jewish in Winnipeg certainly lends a proper balance to the film.
I have to admit though that I was rather surprised to see how much time is devoted to interviewing Leah Gazan, who is the NDP Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre. I’ve written about Leah several times myself, but each time I was careful to point out that, although Leah had a Jewish father, her mother was Lacotah-Chinese, and Leah identifies as an Indigenous woman.
In fact, this film would fit in well with the ongoing discussion we’ve had within the pages of this newspaper about how difficult it is to establish a clear Jewish identity for so many individuals nowadays. A good portion of the film deals with questions about what are the essential characteristics of Jewish identity – especially for young people.
And, of course, what would a film about Jewish identity be without a healthy portion devoted to a discussion of the pivotal role that food plays in so much of Jewish life? Ma Nishma Manitoba certainly does that, yet it’s hard to accept that Jewish identity can be preserved if its principal characteristics are certain foods, having a sense of humor, and believing in “tikkun olam”.
Still, with its clever use of graphics and lighthearted approach to much of its subject matter, Ma Nishma Manitoba is thoroughly enjoyable – and enlightening.
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 (https://jewishpostandnews.ca/rss/congregation-etz-chayim-in-winnipeg-says-a-bittersweet-farewell-to-their-old-building-as-they-prepare-to-move/) along with our earlier story about the sale of the building to an Eritrean Church (https://jewishpostandnews.ca/faqs/rokmicronews-fp-1/former-congregation-etz-chayim-synagogue-building-to-become-eritrean-orthodox-church/), but here are some pictures from the final service.
(Photos courtesy of Keith Levit)
Israel report by former Winnipegger 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.
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.
Click here to watch Ben Carr’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crfREGNRKfg
Click here to watch a video of Marty Morantz’s remarks: https://studio.youtube.com/video/zHzC-iaqivg/ed
Click here to watch a video of Gustavo Zentner’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3M_cCYuLgs