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Winnipeg branch of Canadian Magen David Adom launches fundraising drive in memory of Yoram East

By MYRON LOVE “A force of nature” is a phrase that has long been popular in artistic circles to describe outstanding individuals in that field. Although it is a descriptor that I use sparingly, it certainly applies to the late Yoram East. From his first appearance on the Winnipeg stage, so to speak, he was larger than life.
Two weeks ago, the Winnipeg branch of Canadian Magen David Adom (CMDA) launched an ambitious fundraising drive in memory of East.
For readers who may be unfamiliar with MDA, the organization is Israel’s version of the Red Cross – and much more. It functions as the Jewish state’s ambulance service as well as its blood bank. And it is inarguably the best in the world in delivering the services that it offers.
Incredibly, the CMDA carries out its mission without a shekel of government funding. Most of the work is done by thousands of volunteers scattered throughout the country. Funding for the MDA’s ambulances and other vehicles as well as state-of-the-art lifesaving equipment comes largely from generous overseas donors, such as those of us who contribute to CMDA Winnipeg.
“I first met Yoram about six months before we formed our CMDA chapter,” recalls Ami Bakerman, the Winnipeg chapter’s national board member. “We considered honouring him shortly after he died (on October 13, 2010) not only for his contributions to the State of Israel, but also because of the work he did here raising awareness of social issues and working with a wide range of refugees and other new immigrants to Winnipeg. While we were not in a position to do so at that time, we decided that now is the right time.”
I wrote a story about Yoram East for the Canadian Jewish News at the time of his passing. In that story, I described him as “one of the most colourful characters to have ever made his home in Winnipeg’s Jewish community.”
Born in Jerusalem, Yoram Hamizrachi was a seventh-generation Jerusalemite on his father’s side. He was, by turn, a journalist and author, soldier and counter-terrorism expert, lecturer and community activist, restaurateur, artist and fortune teller. And, in stereotypical Israeli style, he was blunt and direct with his views, letting the chips fall where they may.
At age 17, he joined the Israeli Defence Force and became a paratrooper After his army duty, he studied at the Bezalel Fine Arts School in Jerusalem and then continued his studies in Wiesbaden, Germany. In 1967, as a reservist, he fought in the battle for Jerusalem, and immediately thereafter returned to civilian life.
He worked for many years as a radio and TV journalist for Israeli and foreign media in Israel and abroad. During the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Hamizrachi covered the war for German TV.
In the late 1970s, he rejoined the army as a colonel for what was supposed to be a year to work with the Lebanese Christians on the other side of the border. He stayed for several years and became the first Israeli officer to work with the South Lebanon Army. After that, he returned to journalism and, in the spring of 1982, he immigrated with his young family to Winnipeg. He had several relatives on his mother’s side of the family living here.
In Winnipeg – where he changed his name to Yoram East – he continued to serve as a correspondent for Israeli media. He also began writing a regular column in The Jewish Post & News, commenting on political developments in Israel. To say that his column was not well received is a bit of an understatement. He was highly critical of the then-Likud government that was led by Menachem Begin. He was also an early advocate for a “two-state” solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In his new home, he quickly became involved in community work, becoming the co-ordinator of the International Centre’s multicultural committee. As such, he uncovered a scandal involving forged signatures on application documents for the funding for his position. He pursued the matter through the courts to a successful conclusion.
He subsequently helped found the Manitoba Intercultural Alliance and became the co-director of the Winnipeg-based Counter-Terrorism Centre.
The problem with being a community activist is that it doesn’t pay the bills. In the late 1980s, East’s wife, Beate, went to work as a school principal in a couple of native communities in northern Manitoba. Yoram went with her.
While in the north, he and his wife separated. He returned to Winnipeg and eventually married again. In his later years, until his health began to decline, he was involved in a variety of ventures, ranging from running a restaurant (where he would tell fortunes using a deck of cards he created that combined elements of Tarot and Kabbalah), to lecturing on world affairs at local universities and synagogues, churches, temples and mosques. Later in life, he also resumed painting.
East died of complications from diabetes at the age of 68.
Bakerman reports that the goal of the MDA campaign in memory of East is to buy an ambulance to be based in the northern border community of Kiryat Shemona – a fitting location considering East’s years of service on the other side of the border in Lebanon. The cost of an ambulance, Bakerman notes, is between $140,000 and $150,000.
This ambulance will be the fifth that CMDA has sent from Winnipeg since the chapter was formed in 2011.
Readers who may wish to make a donation can either email Bakerman at, donate online at or call 1-800-731-2848. 

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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 go to or to purchase tickets phone 587-435-5808 or email

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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 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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