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Team Schvesters once again among Cancercare Manitoba Foundation Challenge for Life top fundraisers

By MYRON LOVE With Covid seemingly in the rear view mirror, the 16th annual Cancercare Manitoba Foundation Challenge for Life 20KM walk (or 200-minute workout) is back again at itas pre-Covid time of year – June 3 this year – and location at Assiniboine Park. Once again, teams dominated or led by members of our Jewish community are among the top fundraisers.
Over the years, Benji Harvey, one of the “Greenfeld girls”, has consistently proven herself to be one of the event’s star fundraisers – and this year is no different. Thus far – as of May 8 – the prolific fundraiser has personally raised just over $12,000 – exceeding the amount she raised last year. Only two other participants in the event have raised more so far this year.
And, her “Team Schvesters” – including her sisters, Lesly Katz and Debby Lewis, along with Kim Gray, Jodi van de Visjel and- for the first time, Senior Provincial Court Judge Rocky Pollack – has already reached its goal of $16,000.

The team was founded by the three sisters after two of the sisters had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Team Schvesters has been participating in the Cancercare event since the beginning .
Pollack has participated in the Challenge for Life for the last several years as well. His wife, Sharon, fought cancer for 14 years before her passing in 2012. During the time that she was ill, both Sharon and Rocky came to appreciate the care that she received from CancerCare Manitoba and they both became actively involved in the organization and the foundation. Pollack has served in a number of positions with the organization over the years.

In fifth place among team fundraisers this year is another “Jewish” team, “Nancy’s Nightingales” – consisting of longtime friends Louise Raber, Joanne Katz, Rhonda Youell, Connie Botelho, Susan Lipnowski, Heather Cram and Harriet Lyons. The team had raised just over $5,939 as of May 4..
Nancy’s Nightingales team has consistently been among the top fund-raising teams over the last 16 years, ever since the inception of the “Challenge for Life.”
The Nightingales were named after a nurse , a cancer survivor- who is a friend of Louise Raber. This year the team will participate in the Virtual Walk over 2 days during the week of May 27 to June 3, attending the opening and closing ceremonies on June 3.

Nancy’s Nightingales (2022 photo)
(Back row left-right): Rhonda Youell, Susan Lipnowski, Harriet Lyons, Louise Raber, Heather Cram
(Front left to right): Joanne Katz, Connie Botelho

“Jason’s Journey,” a team led by Jason Gisser, is ranked sixth in monies raised to date –standing at $5,692 as of May 4. “Our goal this year is to raise $11,000,” says the son of David Gisser and Freda Steel.
Gisser himself has already received donations adding up to $4.368 and is aiming to reach $6,000. His team members include Marie-Elyse Badeau, Matthew Maruca, Wendy Martin White and Nora Fien.
The still relatively young lawyer has experienced a more intimate and longer-lasting relationship with cancer than many of the other Challenge for Life participants. He was first diagnosed with cancer when he was 18. The still young lawyer has been fighting cancer for more than half his life now. Happily, an oral chemotherapy pill he has been taking for the past few years has controlled his cancer and allowed him to return to living a normal life.
He first took up the Challenge in 2019 as a way to give back for all the help that he has received over the years from CancerCare Manitoba staff. This year, thus far, he has personally brought in over $5,400 – the fifth most among individual entrants – while his team – has raised over $8,000.
“I personally am aiming to raise $6,000.” He notes.
Gisser will be out of town on June 3 so will not be participating in the main event. He is planning to do the 20km walk a week before on Sunday, May 28 within the Challenge for Life event period of May 27-June 3. The day before, he will be walking 5km accompanied by family members and supporters.

Jason’s Journey
(left-right): Nora Fien, Jason Gisser, Matthew Maruca, Wendy Martin White (Missing: Marie-Elyse Badeau)

Sister Act
(left-right): Brenda Dahle, 89-year-old Pearl Rosenberg, & Cindy Yusim

The oldest participant in the Challenge once again is 89-year-old Pearl Rosenberg who, with her daughters, Cindy Yusim and Brenda Dahle – qnd joined this year by her granddaughter, Lexi Palansky – comprise “Sister Act.”
Rosenberg lost two daughters to cancer within about a year of each other. Naomi Palansky – Lexi’s mother – passed away in 2010 and Michelle Moyer in 2011. Brenda Dahle notes that Naomi walked with her family in the first Challenge For Life Walk.
(And readers may recall that Naomi’s children, Noah and Lexi, started their own team of walkers, “Kids Count”) shortly after their mother received her cancer diagnosis.)
“I started taking part in the Challenge for Life on Team Chai in 2008,” Dahle says. “My mom, my sister Cindy, and I walk in memory of our sisters whose love, strength, and courage continue to inspire us.” Dahle reports that her mother’s walk will be incorporated into her daily walks in Kildonan Park – doing the 20km in increments of 3-5 km a day. Dahle is training at the Wellness Centre while Yusim is working out at the Rady JCC.
“We hope to raise at least $2,500,” Dahle says.

Perennial fundraising dynamo Cathy Moser is also back for her 16thy campaign. The founder of “Serratus Superstars” says she started accepting the Challenge for Life when it was 60 km over two days – in honor of her mother, who passed away from Pancreatic Cancer.
“I saw the ‘good’ that the Cancercare Foundation did when I took my mother there in 2006.” she says. “The Cancercare Foundation does make a difference in our lives – and we have all been ‘touched’ by cancer. The Foundation ameliorates the trauma by providing coffee, cookies and entertainment to people anxiously awaiting blood test results in the Foundation Waiting Room. It cuts down our waiting time for some procedures by purchasing equipment, and it keeps us in the loop of new research and drug trials.”

Serratus Superstars

Over the years, Moser and her teammates have raised over $450,000.00.  Moser is still looking to recruit more team members. Interested readers can email her at
Readers can make donations to their preferred team by going online to Challenge for Life.

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Tom Traves: From the north end to the presidency of several Canadian universities

Tom Traves

By GERRY POSNER There haven’t been lot of Jewish presidents of Canadian universities.
To be clear, there have been some, but not as many as one might expect – given how many Jewish academics we’ve had in Canada over the years.
One person who made the short list of Jewish university presidents in this country has been none other than a former Winnipegger – right out of the north end of Winnipeg: Tom Traves. Now retired, Traves had a long and distinguished career in the university setting as President of Dalhousie University in Halifax, serving for 18 years in that position.
Traves’s tenure as Dalhousie president followed a four-year term as Vice- President of the University of New Brunswick. But, if you read the CV of Tom Traves, you can understand how this came to be.
Tom was a graduate of the University of Manitoba with a B.A. ( Hons.) in 1970, followed by an M.A. from York in 1973, and a Ph.D., also from York, in 1976.
Tom began his teaching career at York (where he spent many years) in 1974 as a lecturer, then as an associate professor, from 1976 to 1991. From 1981 to 1983, Tom was the Chairman of the Division of Social Science at York. He was soon appointed, in 1983, as Dean of the Faculty of Arts, where he served until 1991. From York Tom moved to the University of New Brunswick, where he became both Vice President (Academic) and a Professor of History, from 1991 to 1995.
Then, in 1995, Traves was invited to be the President and Vice- Chancellor of Dalhousie University for a six year term. When that term ended, Tom was appointed again for another six year term. And still later, in 2007 – for yet a third term of three years. When that ended, he was renewed for another three year term. Would you not agree that Tom Traves and Dalhousie had a strong connection, to put it mildly? Just to lend credence to this statement, it was during the Tom Traves tenure that enrolment at Dalhousie grew by over forty percent and external research grants and contract income increased by over three hundred percent. Now, those are impressive statistics. Perhaps the most telling assessment of Traves during his time at Dalhousie is a comment made by a former member of the University’s Board of Governors, who noted that Traves had been at the centre of a fund raising campaign which raised over $250 million during his time at Dalhousie, the highest total in the history of the province. When asked about Traves and his successor, Richard Florizone, this board member called them both remarkable individuals: “I would hire them for my company in a minute, and they would make me money.”
To read through the list of books, articles and other credits of Tom Traves is more than the Jewish Post & News could put on its website, as it might overload the system. But for sure some of the highlights of his career (aside from all the boards he has sat on across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia), would be the awards and honours that have come his way. He was the recipient of an award not commonly given to Canadians: the Filosofie Hedersdocktor Honoris Causa, from Umea University in Sweden in 1997, and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Commemorative Medal in 2000. Not to be forgotten was Tom’s inclusion on the list as one of the top 50 CEOs in Atlantic Canada in 2005, 2006 and 2007. There were so many other major awards, culminating in 2014 when he was appointed to the Order of Canada.
With all of that, Traves was still in demand when he retired and moved back to Toronto in 2016. He was asked to be the Interim President of Brock University in 2016 while that university sought out a long term person to fill that position. Once he completed that role, he semi-retired, taking on consulting activities over the last number of years.
How did a quiet unassuming boy, son of Sam and Marjorie Traves (Kay), brother to the late Nancy Traves, a product of West Kildonan, advance so far and so fast? Did he show signs of this kind of superior level of scholarship and leadership in his early days? Some might answer that it was his time spent at West Kildonan Collegiate that spurred him on to greater heights. Was it perhaps his days as an undergraduate at the University of Manitoba (from 1966-1970?) No one can say for sure, but the truth is that Traves had a speedy trajectory upward and even in retirement he has moved along at a decent clip. He is quite active these days, playing Bridge, golf, and now Pickleball. In large part, he and his wife Karen (Posner), my first cousin, (and that connection to the Posner family might be the real reason for his great success) have focused time and attention on their grandson Ben, son of his daughter Julie. There are also trips to the Washington D. C area, where his son Will and his wife live, along with his oldest grandson, Daniel.
In short, the Tom Traves story is just another Winnipeg success story – if the city wishes to lay claim to it: North End Jewish boy makes good in the east. The best part of the whole story is that, if you know Tom, or just met him, you would never have an inkling of his accomplishments, so unassuming is he. That is Tom Traves.

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Newly-arrived Health Sciences Centre surgeon Dr. Lev Bubis has deep roots in Winnipeg Jewish community

Dr. Lev Bubis

By MYRON LOVE Dr. Lev Bubis, the Health Sciences Centre’s new hepato-pancreato-biliary (HPB) surgeon, says that he and his family –wife, Amy, and four-year-old daughter, Ada, – are settling in quite nicely in their new home.
“We are really enjoying being here,” notes Bubis who arrived here in early October. “We have a house in south River Heights and we enjoyed being with the family for the High Holidays and Chanukah.”
Bubis is the grandson of the late Morris and Mae Bubis. And, although the young Bubis grew up in Ottawa – family members here include his aunts, Carol Arenson, Adrienne Katz and Harriet Rodin, and their families.
Bubis’s father, Mordy Bubis, left Winnipeg for Ottawa after university and the nation’s capital is where the young Bubis grew up.
He notes that he was interested in pursuing a career in medicine from an early age – although he first earned a B.A. in Philosophy at Kings College in Halifax. He did his medical training at Columbia University.
“I decided to specialize in liver and pancreatic medicine in third year when I got the opportunity to work with Dr. John Chabot, one of America’s leading pancreatic cancer specialist,” Bubis says.
After Columbia, Bubis relocated (in 2014) to Toronto, where he honed his surgical skills in liver and pancreatic surgery at the University of Toronto and St. Joseph’s Hospital. He did a six-year residency at the university, followed by two years of research and two more years training in surgical oncology.
Bubis (and family) arrived in our community in early October to begin his position at HSC. In an interview on the Health Sciences Centre Foundation website “Tell Your Story” section, which was published on December 21, Bubis noted that there were several factors that led him to come to HSC – in particular, the hospital’s commitment to minimally invasive surgery.
“I was attracted by the exceptional team that’s in place at HSC and by the fact that the hospital is really pushing things forward with minimally invasive surgery,” said Bubis in the HSCF interview. “This is where the HPB field is going and it is a real interest of mine. It’s exciting to me that the HSC Foundation is supporting this direction in surgery with capital investments.”
He explained that minimally invasive surgery is “an approach to surgery that typically relies on smaller incisions and instruments. Very small cameras allow surgeons to see their work on video monitors in high definition. Minimally invasive surgery means less pain for a patient, a quicker recovery, and a shorter hospital stay. Among other benefits, shorter hospital stays free up beds more quickly, which reduces the amount of time patients need to wait in the Emergency Department.”
Bubis has also had extensive training in treating neuroendocrine tumors, which can occur throughout the gastrointestinal tract, as well as elsewhere in the body. One of his specialties is the Whipple procedure, an operation to remove tumors and treat other conditions in the pancreas, small intestine and bile ducts. The complex procedure involves removing the head of the pancreas, the first part of the small intestine, the gall bladder and bile duct.
Bubis points out that, at HSC, he is a member of a team that treats patients from throughout Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. He reports that he sees patients at the clinic two days a week, does surgeries one or two days a week and does some endoscopes and teaching.
He is looking forward to a lengthy stay here.

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‘Put a Yid on It!’ Festival of New Yiddish Culture!

Beyond the Pale - Feb. 8 at the Berney Theatre

By SHIRA NEWMAN – Festival Director I am thrilled to announce the inaugural year of ‘Put a Yid on It’ Festival of New Yiddish Culture, running from February 7 to 11th. I have had the great good fortune of being the producer of this event with the guidance and support of the committee which previously brought us the wonderful festival Mamaloshen.
Like a lot of Gen X-ers, I grew up hearing a smattering of Yiddish as a child, mostly in the words of my Baba. I could not speak a word of it, but when I made my first film 10 years ago, I was for some reason drawn to include Yiddish in it and I started to dive into the history of Yiddish Cinema.
A linguist I know, hearing me wondering where this desire came from, explained to me that an ancestral language will remain ‘written in our bones’ (or unconscious memory, or genes, however we may wish to see it). This resonated with me and started me down a voyage of discovery of this 1000-year-old language and culture.
It is hard to imagine that only 80 years ago eleven million people spoke, wrote, sang, and dreamt in Yiddish. It spanned throughout all of Eastern Europe and spread wherever our people travelled. Never the majority language of a nation state but the language of a pan national community of Ashkenazi Jews ‘scattered among the nations’ enriched by and enriching so many other languages and cultures while still carrying its uniqueness with it.
Since the Second World War, Yiddish has become less common but as any Yiddishist will tell you, the idea that it is dying is wrong (if not complete heresy!). And they are very right. It is spoken by many (largely in the Hassidic community) and is continually being reclaimed by more – as can be seen by talented artists of every generation who make beautiful work inspired by the Yiddish language.
Today there is a lively re-emergence of the warm, funny, poetic language – some call it a new Yiddish Renaissance in the arts, cinema, and music. There are popular films, TV shows, successful web-series, and festivals springing up everywhere. In the world of music, you can find an amazing array of bands putting their own modern spin on classical Klezmer, and others using Yiddish in everything from Punk to Metal, to Psychedelic Rock, to Hip-Hop! Put a Yid on It! Is a celebration of this trend!
On February 7th, at 7:30 pm we will be opening with a free book launch, talk, and reception at The Handsome Daughter (61 Sherbrook Street) for a brand-new book called “Yiddish Cinema: The Drama of Troubled Communication,” featuring authors Jonah Corne and Monika Vrečar. This book offers a bold new reading of Yiddish cinema by exploring the early diasporic cinema’s fascination with media and communication. Jonah and Monika will discuss their book and the history of Yiddish cinema. (Snacks and drinks will be provided).
We have some amazing bands coming! On February 8th, Canadian Folk Music Award Winners, Beyond the Pale will be here from Toronto and will be playing at the Berney Theatre. They are a tremendous fun and lively Klezmer and Balkan Band who are known for their genius musicianship, experimentation, and playfulness. This is not your traditional Klezmer Band – they bring in a world of musical styles including reggae, jazz, bluegrass. Watching them play is truly a tour of world music. They will be bringing Yiddish classics and so much more!

Socalled – Feb. 10

On February 10th, we are partnering with the West End Cultural Centre to bring the brilliant and one-of-a-kind Yiddish (and English), Montreal Hip-Hop artist Josh ‘Socalled’ Dolgin. He will be performing with his band, which includes the mesmerizing vocalist Katie Moore, Balkan trumpet ‘God’ Nizo Alimov, and Michale Felber on bass. This is going to be an incredibly special show. His music is as evocative and moving as it is fun (and danceable).
Socalled is the star of an award-winning feature length documentary (NFB) called ‘The Socalled Movie.’ The video for his song ‘You Are Never Alone’ has been viewed more than three million times. He is truly a cultural phenomenon (and his parents are from Winnipeg!).
From February 7th to 11th, we will be presenting a series of some of the greatest Yiddish films of all time – all restored to beautiful quality. I am extremely excited to see these on a big screen for the first time! This series includes films from the 1930s, which is considered The Golden Age of Yiddish Cinema such as “Yiddle with His Fiddle” (a joyful romp of a musical comedy) on February 7th, “The Light Ahead” (a poignant social commentary) on February 8th, and “The Dybbuk” (a gorgeous Yiddish ghost story) on February 10th. It will also include “Hester Street,” from 1974, (with a Yiddish speaking Carol Kane) on February 11th. All these screenings take place at 2:00 p.m. in the Berney Theatre.
On Sunday, February 11th, we will have some fun closing events! At 10 am come and join us at the Rady JCC for a bagel breakfast and a ‘Bisl’ Yiddish with Professor Itay Zutra. We will be learning some of the MOST expressive Yiddish sayings. At 3:30 pm there will be a reunion for I.L. Peretz Folk School alumni. There will be snacks and time to reminisce!
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or feel free to give me a call at 204.477.7534.

There is a quiet humor in Yiddish and a gratitude for every day of life, every crumb of success, each encounter of love… In a figurative way, Yiddish is the wise and humble language of us all, the idiom of a frightened and hopeful humanity.

  • Issac Bashevis Singer
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