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Winnipeg teacher Kelly Hiebert receives Governor General’s History Award for Holocaust documentary

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By MYRON LOVE In a sense, Kelly Hiebert could be designated as “righteous among the Nations”. The Westwood Collegiate history teacher is one of just a handful of teachers in Manitoba who make a point of incorporating Holocaust education in their teaching.

“Holocaust education is optional in Manitoba schools,” he points out. “I choose to teach it. Other may not. But, with the ever-increasing incidents of anti-Semitism in Canada and around the world, Holocaust education is more important than ever. I consider it important to teach the truth. There are certain truths, in my mind, such as the truth of the Holocaust that are non-negotiable.”
Last month, Hiebert’s dedication to Holocaust education was recognized with the announcement that he has been chosen to receive the Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching for his ground-breaking work – with a number of his students – mainly Grade 12 students – who belong to the Westwood Historical Society – on the documentary “Truth Against Distortion”.
“It is a honour and a privilege to have had our hard work and energy in highlighting an ongoing issue acknowledged in this way,” he says.

Holocaust survivors 750 pixelsHolocaust survivors with Westwood Collegiate teacher Kelly Hiebert and Westwood Collegiate students: Kelly Hiebert is standing behind the girl in the orange top. Beside her, are, from left-right: Joel Alpern, Frank Weinfeld, Edith Kimelman, Betty Kirshner, Barbara Goszer, and Isaac Gotfried
Hiebert says that his passion for Holocaust education was kindled while a history student at the University of Winnipeg, citing in particular the influence of European history professors Robert Young and Daniel Stone – the latter of whom has been a leader in our community in Holocaust education and the accumulation and preservation of local Jewish history.
Hiebert has been teaching at Westwood Collegiate in the St. James Assiniboia School Division for the past 16 years. He teaches Grades 9 through 12 and notes that the history curriculum in Grade 9, 11 and 12: different types of government, Canada and World War II and genocide and oppression respectively – provide opportunity to incorporate the Holocaust as part of the subject matter. He also teaches in the International Baccalaureate program, in which, he says, he has been able to delve more deeply into the lessons of the Holocaust.
The making of “Truth Against Distortion” was inspired by a trip that Hiebert and some of his students took to the Warsaw Ghetto and other Holocaust-related sites in 2019. The teacher and his students began work on the documentary in March 2020.
“Truth Against Distortion”, which runs for just under an hour, combines archival footage with first person accounts with a number of Holocaust survivors living in Winnipeg – including Edith Kimelman, Frank Weinfeld, Isaac Gotfried, Barbara Goszer, Betty Kirshner, Joel Alpern, Henny Paritzky (who recently passed away) and sisters Rochelle Fink and Regine Frankel, as well as Angie Orosz Richt from Montreal – the youngest Holocaust survivor, having been born in Auschwitz in late December 1944.
Hiebert gives a lot of credit for the making of the documentary to Belle Jarniewski, executive director of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada – and a world leader in Holocaust remembrance and education, who served as an adviser for the documentary.
“I have been working with Belle for over eight years,” Hiebert reports. “She was really helpful in providing content and contact information for survivors.”
He also credits Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, and the Azrieli Foundation, with providing resources and archival footage.
The documentary, he adds, was made possible by a 2020 human rights grant from B’nai Brith. “It was a pleasure working with Ruth Ashrafi and Adriana Glickman from B’nai Brith, he says.
Hiebert and his students premiered “Truth Against Distortion” at their school on May 26. “We had over 200 in attendance and received much positive comment,” the educator reports.
The next screening, he notes, will be held at the Rady Centre in November as part of the annual commemoration of Krisstalnacht.
The presentation of the Governor General’s Award is scheduled for the fall in Ottawa.
In the meantime, Hiebert is working on developing teaching materials for teachers to accompany the documentary. The teacher is also working toward earning a masters degree in curriculum development.
“We hope that many teachers throughout Manitoba and beyond will be inspired to use our documentary as a teaching tool to educate their students about the Holocaust,” he says.
Hiebert also says that he plans to donate the archival footage that he and students were able to gather to the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada.
His next project, he says, will be related to the ongoing national effort toward Truth and Reconciliation connected with the history of Canada’s troubedl relationship with our Aboriginal peoples.

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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 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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