By BERNIE BELLAN
A story about which we have been reporting since December 2018 has been the lawsuit brought by the Winnipeg Board of Jewish Education against Ido and Rochelle Raam for unpaid tuition relating to the 2017-18 school year.
In a judgment delivered by Justice Shawn Greenberg on December 17, 2019, Justice Greenberg found in favour of the plaintiff (the WBJE) in the amount of “$7,450 plus pre-judgment interest and post-judgment interest at the agreed rate.”
The lawsuit attracted considerable interest for a number of reasons: It is only the second time in its history that the WBJE has gone so far as to sue anyone for unpaid tuition; the lawsuit was filed in Court of Queen’s Bench rather than Small Claims Court – which is the usual venue for lawsuits claiming less than $10,000.
In a 20–page decision Justice Greenberg repeatedly indicated that she accepted evidence given on behalf of the WBJE that the Raams were in default of tuition payments owed for three children who had been attending Gray Academy in the 2017-18 school year.
Justice Greenberg wrote: “In my view, the evidence is clear. The Raams were provided bursary assistance that decreased the tuition payable for their three children to $14,950. Their request for further financial assistance was not considered because they did not provide the financial disclosure necessary to support their application. To date, the Raams have only paid $7,500 towards tuition leaving $7,450 payable.”
However, Justice Greenberg went on to suggest that the costs that will be awarded to the WBJE will only amount to $100. She noted that “Plaintiff’s counsel indicates that, although the plaintiff’s full legal costs to date are $12,000, it is only seeking costs of $10,000.” Yet, Justice Greenberg added, “the costs sought must be reasonable. A plaintiff cannot…seek re-imbursement for a costly procedure when a less expensive procedure would suffice” (emphasis mine).
“Plaintiff’s counsel argued that the legal costs to her client would be the same whether this matter proceeded in this court or Small Claims Court. I find it hard to believe that she would have billed the plaintiff $12,000 for a small claims hearing. But, in any event, the issue in assessing costs is not what is reasonable for the lawyer to bill the plaintiff, but what is reasonable for the defendant to pay.”
Justice Greenberg noted at the end of her judgment, however, that she will defer final “consideration of the costs issue” until the lawyer for the plaintiff (Alyssa Mariani) has an opportunity to make an argument that she is entitled to higher costs because the defendants were given the opportunity to settle the lawsuit.
As it is, the WBJE may end up paying more in legal costs than it would stand to recoup from the actual judgment.
As we noted in a story published in July 2019, the original statement of claim filed by the Winnipeg Board of Jewish Education back in 2018 against the Raams was for $9,383.93 (which included interest accrued to that point). As we noted in our Dec. 26 issue, we wondered why that statement of claim had been filed in Court of Queen’s Bench rather than Small Claims Court (which can deal with claims up to $10,000). We sent an email in December 2018 to David Borzykowski who, at the time, was Director of Marketing & Communications for Gray Academy, asking that question. The response we received was: “As this matter is private, we have no comment, and we will have no further comment.”
Subsequently, however, as we noted in that July 2019 issue, on March 5, 2019 a new statement of claim was filed by the WBJE against the Raams, this time for $11,307.78. At the time that the new statement of claim was filed, we sent an email to Borzykowski, asking why the amount being sought in March was so much higher that what was being sought in the statement of claim filed in December. (It couldn’t have been because of further interest accumulated since the rate of interest for unpaid tuition was set at 1.5% per month.)
We further asked whether there was any limit as to how much the WBJE was prepared to spend in contesting this lawsuit. No response was received.
We contacted Ido Raam to see whether he will appeal the court’s decision. Ido says he is considering it, but he feels sorry for Gray Academy and how much they’ve spent on legal fees already.
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