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Winnipeg Jewish community organizations take steps in reaction to spread of Coronavirus


(Posted March 13, 5:00 pm, updated March 14, 15, 16, 17) As governments, businesses, and organizations throughout the world assess just what steps are necessary to take in order to halt the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Jewish organizations in Winnipeg have also begun to adopt new measures in reaction to the extraordinarily swift spread of the pandemic.

 Posted Tuesday, March 17

2020 JFM Luncheon in support of the Women’s Endowment Fund cancelled

The following statement was issued by the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba this afternoon:

It is with profound disappointment that we announce the cancellation of the 2020 Jewish Foundation of Manitoba Luncheon in support of the Women’s Endowment Fund.

Due to an abundance of caution concerning the COVID-19 virus, the Foundation feels it is our responsibility to be proactive, and conscious of the safety and well being of our community during this unprecedented time.

We would like to thank all of our generous sponsors and ticket holders for your gracious support! In the coming days, JFM staff will be reaching out to everyone who has purchased tickets or given sponsorship.


48th Annual Rady JCC Ken Kronson Sports Dinner Cancelled Due to Ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic

In an effort to mitigate any potential spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) illness, the 48th Annual Rady JCC Ken Kronson Sports Dinner has been cancelled. It was scheduled to take place Tuesday, May 12, 2020, at the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg.

“The health and safety of our supporters and our community is paramount,” said Al Greenberg, 2020 Rady JCC Sports Dinner Committee Chair. “While we are all extremely disappointed, this was a simple decision to make. We must do our part in the global fight of curbing this pandemic.”

This will mark the first time in its 48 year history the annual fundraiser will not be held.

“We will be directly contacting all of our ticket purchasers and sponsors in the coming days to let them know what their options are going forward,” said Greenberg. “For now, we ask everyone to stay safe and maintain social distancing.”

The event was to feature NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman as its keynote speaker with Carol and Neil Duboff as this year’s Sports Dinner Honourees. Title Sponsors were Paul Winestock and Brendan Rodgers of RBC Wealth Management Dominion Securities.

The annual event – the largest of its kind in Manitoba – raises funds to enable the Rady JCC to provide scholarships, camperships, and community service programs for those in the community who need them most regardless of financial situation, ability, age, or cultural background.


Posted Monday, March 16 4:30 pm:

In the latest developments the Rady JCC and the Shaarey Zedek have now shut down operations completely – except for the day care operations run by the Rady JCC. Here are emails received from Rob Berkowits, Executive Director of the Rady JCC and from the Shaarey Zedek:

I am sharing information about the ongoing status of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as it relates to all Rady JCC operations going forward. Please remember the health and safety of our Rady JCC members, stakeholders, and staff must be our top priority with every decision our Board of Directors make.

Over the last 72 hours, multiple new cases of COVID-19 have been identified throughout Canada including here in Winnipeg. The Manitoba Health Minister is suggesting that citizens do not partake in large public gatherings where the risk of COVID-19 spread can increase. We are also anticipating the provincial and federal governments to make announcements shortly calling for the closure of all non-essential services.

As of 3:00 p.m. Monday, March 16, 2020, we have shut down all Rady JCC operations for the foreseeable future. All off-site Rady JCC programming is cancelled/postponed until further notice as well.


From the Shaarey Zedek:

In consultation with staff and our Board Executive, it has been decided that as a precautionary measure we will be Closing Congregation Shaarey Zedek effective immediately for all Services and Programs scheduled to be held in our synagogue.

The building itself will remain open but operating on a limited staff basis. The reduced operating hours for the building will be 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Our Rabbis and Lay Clergy will be here for consultation and can be reached as follows:


Posted Friday, March 13:

On Thursday, March 12 the Jewish Learning Institute (of Chabad Winnipeg) issued an email announcing that an event that was to take place on Wednesday, March 18, a “Challah Bake”, was now being taken “online” instead.

The email stated that “In light of the recent developments regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and following recommendations from guidance documents, we have decided to take the Challah Bake online.

“The event will be streamed live at the original date and time, at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, March 18. Now everyone can participate from the comfort and safety of their homes. All ticket holders will receive an email on Wednesday morning with a link to the live feed.”

On Friday, March 13, the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada announced that the Kanee Lecture, which was to delivered by Daniel Gordis on May 13, has been postponed until the fall. JHCWC Executive Director Belle Jarniewski explained that Gordis is currently in Israel and, as flights from Israel have been drastically curtailed for the time being, the decision was taken to postpone the lecture.

The Jewish Federation has been in constant contact with Jewish organizations – as events have been fast moving. One of the first cancellations announced by the Federation was the March of the Living, which was scheduled to take place beginning April 21 in Poland. Elaine Goldstine, CEO of the Federation, said that she was sad to have to tell the 24 students who had signed up from Manitoba that this year’s march had to be cancelled.

In an email sent to this paper Friday morning March 13, Goldstine wrote that “We do have a plan moving forward. The campus ramped up cleaning procedures as well. We sent a email to our staff and to our beneficiary agencies about staying home if sick, wash hands more frequently, etc . Campus has provided disinfectant wipes for all offices.”

Later in the afternoon Goldstine issued an email, which said in part: “I want to assure you that we are taking proactive measures to ensure that the Asper Jewish Community Campus and the facilities contained herein are safe, clean and that there are protocols in place to ensure that they stay that way. There are currently no plans to close the facilities to visitors, however, certain programs and events may be rescheduled or canceled. Updates pertaining to community programs or events will be communicated by their respective planners.”

The Shaarey Zedek did not cancel Saturday services, although the synagogue did issue this notice:


We are still planning for Shabbat Services (including our Family Service) to be held here tomorrow morning and for the immediate future. There will be some modifications during the services to reduce personal contacts including holding the services in the Sanctuary which provides for more social distancing (more room to spread out). We have created new copies of our Shabbat Siddur. We will provide brand new Kippot for those that require them and ask that you keep them for your personal use. Do not return them to the basket! Daily Minyans are still being held.

Shabbat Kiddush

Services will be followed by our traditional Kiddush as usual. However, there will be some modifications, most notably being that our serving staff will be responsible for providing the food as opposed to the usual practise of everyone helping themselves. This provides an extra layer of protection for each one of us.

The Rady JCC has canceled all cultural programming. On Friday afternoon, March 13, Rob Berkowits, Executive Director of the Rady JCC, issued the following email (abridged): Today, we have made the correct decision to postpone/cancel all events effective now until April 28, 2020. As of right now, the Fitness Centre will remain open.

The Winnipeg Jewish Theatre has postponed its next production, “Narrow Bridges”, which was scheduled to open March 28. It is now slated to run next year.

We contacted Faith Kaplan of the Adas Yeshurun-Herzlia Congregation to ask whether the Caroline Glick lecture, scheduled for May 4, has either been postponed or canceled. As of the time of writing this, no decision has been taken.

As further updates occur, we will post them to this website.

Posted March 14: We have been advised that a program planned for Sunday, March 15 celebrating the legacy of Jews & chess in Winnipeg, which was to have taken place in the Multipurpose Room of the Asper Campus has now been canceled.

In response to a query sent to a spokesperson for the WRHA asking about any measures that might have been implemented at the Simkin Centre (as well as any other PCH’s under the supervision of the WRHA, we received the following response:

Our WRHA Long Term Care program is in regular communication with all Long Term Care facilities in Winnipeg. We connect regularly to remind and reinforce with all these facilities to follow the outbreak management and influenza management protocols that are already in place as standard operating procedures in response se to COVID-19.
In addition, we have enacted Incident Command in Long Term Care which includes regular conference calls and communication with all facilities to ensure all facilities remain fully up to date on COVID-19 information, and to promote a consistent approach in their address of concerns related to COVID-19.
Visitor restrictions are in place as per Public Health direction. Group recreation activities are also being limited in accordance with the social distancing guidelines. Staff screening continues to take place through our regional occupation health officers.
Staff are being reminded to follow standard infection prevention and control protocol (such as regular hand washing, and staying away from work when sick) to promote the safety and health of the residents we serve.


Updated Sunday, March 15: We just received an email from Laurie Cerqueti, CEO of the Simkin Centre, asking me to let readers know they do not want visitors there.

The Gwen Secter Centre had originally planned to remain open and continue offering programming –  to members only. But, on Sunday, March 15, we received the following email from Gwen Secter Becky Chisick, informing us of a change in plans: “

n response to COVID-19, Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre will be cancelling all programming. The Wednesday program will be cancelled until after Passover. All exercise programs, concerts and social programs are cancelled until April 6 (for now). We will reassess and provide updates as we have them Operating hours will be reduced in order to limit traffic and third party services. At Gwen Secter we are talking all necessary precautions to ensure everyone’s health and safety.

“The kitchen will continue operations. Kosher Meals on Wheels will run and we will continue to accept your Passover catering orders.

“Our staff will still be in the building and available to answer questions.

“Thank you & be well!”

Updated March 16

The Winnipeg Jewish Theatre announced that its upcoming production, “Narrow Bridge”, which was slated to open March 28, has been postponed until next year. Here is a portion of the WJT announcement:

“In order to contribute to public health efforts, we have decided to cancel the upcoming run of Narrow Bridge by Daniel Thau-Eleff and move its world premiere into our 2020-2021 season. Narrow Bridge will replace the previously announced production of Trayf by Lindsay Joelle from March 4 – 14, 2021.

“During this time our administrative operations will continue, with staff working from home where possible. We will continue to check our office voicemail and email on a daily basis Monday – Friday. The box office will be contacting all ticket holders for Narrow Bridge to ensure that they are aware of the cancellation.”


Sunday, March 15, Gray Academy issued the following notice on its Facebook page: “Monday, March 16, will be our last day of in-class learning until Passover Break.
“Tuesday, March 17 and Wednesday, March 18 will be In-Service days. Teachers and staff will use this time to put plans and processes into action for remote learning for all grades.
“Remote learning will begin on Thursday, March 19 for all grades.”

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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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