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Simkin cousins in 2012 photo

By MYRON LOVE
In 2012, the 18 grandchildren of Shmuel and Fanny Simkin held a reunion that was restricted only to their generation. (Click on "Read More" to see complete caption showing all names under the picture.)

 

 

 

 

1st row l-r Jack Simkin, Barbara (Cohen) Hyman, Saralyn (Cohen) Greenblatt, Murray Simkin, Bernie Simkin, Gary Simkin, Simon Simkin  2nd row l-r Sam Simkin, Judi Simkin, Jerry Cohen, Ruthie (Erlichman) Gale, Sharon (Simkin) Dudeck, Diane (Simkin)     Demeter  3rd row l-r Ruth Simkin, Em Cohen, Martin Erlichman, Eby (Erlichman) Wold, Jackie Simkin


On the weekend of July 25-28, the cousins are getting together again – but this time, they are opening the event to their children and grandchildren and second cousins as well.
“We are expecting about 130 for the weekend activities,” says principal reunion organizer Jerry Cohen.
Cohen notes that the Simkin family was originally from Mogilev in what is now Belarus. The first member of the family to come to Winnipeg was his zaida’s younger brother, Feivel Simkin, who was the founder of the Israelite Press, the first Jewish newspaper in western Canada.
Feivel came here in 1906 and brought over his parents, Joseph and Rochel, two years later. Eventually, all of that generation as well as their parents were able to come to Canada.
“Our baba and zaida began their life here as farmers in Birds Hill,” Jerry Cohen says. “At the time, that was the easiest way to receive permission to come here.”
Shmuel and Fanny gave birth to six children - Jenny Cohen (Jerry’s mother), Clara Erlichman, Jim, Saul, Blackie, and Abe. In 1928, the family moved into Winnipeg and opened Simkin’s Fuel – a coal and wood supply business.
In the 1940s, under the leadership of Shmuel and Fanny’s four sons, Blackie, Saul, Abe, and Jim, the company morphed first into Simkin Construction and later into BACM, one of the largest construction companies in western Canada.
Cohen reports that seven of the first cousins still live in Winnipeg, five live in San Diego and the other six are in Israel, Miami, Denver, Carmel, Vancouver, and Victoria. “Among us are doctors, lawyers, business leaders, writers and educators,” says Cohen, who was himself principal of Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate. “And many of us have been involved in community leadership roles.”
The reunion, he notes, begins on the 25th (Thursday) with a supper only for the first cousins and their spouses. Friday evening will feature a Shabbat dinner for all the participants at the Saul and Claribel Simkin Centre.
On Shabbat, all of the Simkin Family members will be at Congregation Etz Chayim, the former Rosh Pina - which was the unofficial Simkin Family shul (the Simkin family was among the synagogue’s principal builders).
“Seventeen of the first cousins were married at Rosh Pina and we have celebrated many bar and bat mitzvahs there,” Jerry Cohen says.
Cohen will be doing the Dvar Torah on the Shabbas while Sam Simkin, a graduate of the Brownstone Choir, will be davening Musaf.
“We would like to invite the entire community to join us for Shabbat services and the Kiddush following,” Cohen says.

On Saturday evening, the family will be having a reception at the Inn at the Forks. “We are planning a family quiz,” he says. “We will also have a karaoke machine, music provided by Kinzey Posen and Shayla Fink, and lots of family pictures.
On Sunday, the plans call for a brunch at the Asper Campus and a baseball game on the Campus grounds.
“On Sunday evening, we will do what Jews used to do here on a Sunday evening – go out for Chinese food,” Cohen says.
“The weekend has taken a lot of planning,” he notes. “We are very excited about all getting together again.”

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