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Both sides

John Ginsburg

Introduction: We were sent this short story by John Ginsburg, who is a Winnipeg writer. Given the constant stream of stories about students and professors being intimidated by forces championing political correctness, especially when it comes to anything having to do with Israel, we thought it timely to publish the story here.
June 2021 Mackenzie King College Walking east, past the Theatre building, the view was genuinely inspiring, especially in the bright morning sunshine.

To the right, the contemplative, Ivy-covered Arts Building and the century-old chapel. Straight ahead, the gleaming river and the lush green landscape beyond. To the south, the arching Unity Bridge. But the route to the classroom for Media Studies 32.455, Professor Latchman’s course, was somewhat less scenic. One had to walk around to the opposite side of the Theatre building, in through the small service entrance, and then down concrete stairs to the basement, arriving at a low-ceilinged, damp and windowless room. Such were the current circumstances of the Department of Media Studies, pursuing the noble heights of academic inquiry from the gloomy depths of a former workshop. Its old haunts, on the opposite side of the university, were being renovated from top to bottom.

The condensed, two-and-a-half-month course was entering its final few weeks. With the resumption of in-person lectures, the bright, doubly-vaccinated students had initially been swept in by a wave of camaraderie and intellectual enthusiasm. Reality, however, had soon intervened, an unrelenting schedule of jam-packed three-hour lectures, demanding term papers and nerve-wracking oral presentations. The dim subterranean venue only added to the hard-pressed feeling among the students.
Latchman’s course was entitled Political Correctness and Cancel Culture in the Media and the Arts. It was a senior-level honours course, requiring three term papers and two in-class presentations of each of its twenty-five earnest young scholars. They were a diverse lot, of all kinds of ethnicities and backgrounds. There they sat, in their sculpted, multi-coloured hair, with their necks, arms and legs artistically muralled with tattoos; their noses, lips, eyebrows, ears and navels sporting gaudy piercings; their epigrammed apparel and trendy jewellery on full display. At the front of the class, standing at the lectern, their middle-aged, conservatively-dressed professor was unfazed. The individual expressions of diversity and identity neither made him feel old nor out of place. It was simply the times. One moment might call for ethnic, racial and sexual identities to be completely ignored, while the next moment called for them to be pushed loudly to the front, singled out and magnified. However, for Professor Howard Latchman, it wasn’t a particularly difficult academic world to navigate.

Latchman was a full professor at Mackenzie King College, accomplished in his field, enjoying his twenty-sixth year as a faculty member. He was of medium height and build, with thin, greying hair. He had a warm and friendly manner and had always been well-regarded by his students. His annual student evaluations highlighted his high academic standards, as well as his accessibility and fairness. On the negative side, students found him rather boring at times, and his methods somewhat plodding. His non-academic interests were completely unknown to his students and would have come as an amusing surprise. From his teenage years right up to the present, Latchman had been a drummer in a number of rock and roll bands, most recently with The Heads, playing sixties and seventies songs in nearby towns and bars. Not to mention his tennis playing; he was good enough to compete in senior-level tournaments, once reaching the provincial quarter-finals.
Latchman was Jewish, but entirely secular. This was a constant sore point with his two older siblings, alienating him from them more and more over the years. Brought up in the same conventional Jewish home, he’d been expected to tow the line. Fortunately they lived halfway across the country, so their meetings were infrequent.

He was divorced, with two children in their late twenties. His area of specialty was Journalism. From a doctoral thesis on corporate bias in the western news media, his work had naturally evolved. With social media now dominating the flow of information, his methods of study had radically changed. But the same issues remained at the core: misinformation and the control of information; by large corporations and by special interest groups.
For the June 14 class, student presentations were scheduled for the entire lecture time. Each student had twenty minutes to speak, on a recent case of cancel culture, followed by ten to fifteen minutes of questions and comments from the rest of the class.
With only a few weeks remaining in the spring-session course, Latchman knew most of the twenty-five students by name and by appearance. The first speaker of the day was a Black woman named Letanya Wynn. She was a prominent figure in the class, very bright and always highly engaged, taking every opportunity to aggressively speak out, offering her own point of view on whatever was being discussed. She was very slight in stature, with closely-cropped orange and yellow hair, wearing massive hoop earrings and bright red lipstick. Latchman took a quick glance at the text message she had sent him, containing the title and summary of her talk. ‘Good morning everyone’ he said. ‘Our first speaker is Letanya Wynn. She is going to be telling us about a cartoon that was recently published, in a Seattle online magazine. A textbook case of cancel culture. We will follow the same format as previous presentations. At the conclusion of the presentation, we will entertain comments and questions. Ms. Wynn!’

Letanya Wynn made her way, a little awkwardly, from the back of the class up to the sixty-inch monitor at the front, where she inserted the small USB drive she’d been carrying. She selected the only file on the drive, a jpg file. It was a copy of a cartoon, recently published in The North West Record, a Seattle-based publication. The cartoon shows two men having sex, one Black and the other white, with their naughty parts concealed behind a chair in the centre foreground. The Black man is positioned behind the white man, who is bent over. A shirt is draped over the chair, displaying a large BLM logo. In the background, a grim-faced, white uniformed cop has entered the room, standing in a doorway. He is pointing a gun at the two men, with a talking bubble that says ”You’re supposed to be two metres apart, not two feet.” The caption underneath the cartoon says ”Basic Length Measurements”. This satirical take on the coronavirus pandemic and the BlackLivesMatter movement had been greeted with an immediate social outcry online. Its creator, a Black male cartoonist, was fired as a result, by his publisher, who was also a Black male.
Letanya Wynn’s presentation was focused and articulate, extremely well done. Latchman wasn’t surprised that she strongly supported the cartoonist’s firing, arguing that the themes represented in the cartoon were demeaning to Black people and personally offensive to her. But he was surprised by the subdued class response. Maybe it was because it was so early in the morning, he thought. Maybe non-Black students felt they didn’t belong in the conversation. Whatever the reason, only two students commented on the presentation, both Black men. They both disagreed with Letanya Wynn, instead finding the cartoon to be a clever work of satire, and seeing the cartoonist’s firing as an extreme overreaction.
Thinking further about the minimal class reaction, Latchman wondered if, compared to other recent topics, the class didn’t find the cartoon to be especially shocking or controversial. In any case, he was very impressed by the presentation. Twenty out of twenty, he thought. A great presentation.
Latchman glanced at his phone and quickly re-read the details for the second talk of the morning. It would probably be less engaging than the first talk, he thought. Less contentious.

‘Class, I would next like to introduce Mark Mazur. He is going to talk about the recent Facebook controversy. I’m sure we’ve all heard about it. Certain posts were not published at first, but then appeared later, after a reaction against the company. Mr. Mazur!’
The second speaker was evidently Jewish, and religious, wearing a kipa. He was tall and very thin, with a neatly trimmed beard and a friendly face. After being introduced, he stood up from his chair near the front of the room and walked over to the lectern, where he placed his notes. He was soft-spoken, with an easy and confident manner. ‘Good morning’ he said to the class, with a smile. ‘When I read about this recent Facebook controversy, I naturally read some of the posts that had not appeared for so-called ”technical reasons”. They were published a few days later, after people had complained that Facebook had shown an anti-Palestinian bias, by deliberately blocking the posts. Of course, this is not the first time that Facebook has faced these kinds of accusations, sometimes because they do allow certain posts. For example, when they published all the lies and distortions from Trump’s supporters, during the election campaign and after.’
‘There are three main questions here. First of all, is it just a coincidence that many of those posts – I didn’t try to read more than ten or so – promoted a completely one-sided picture of the recent war between Israel and Hamas? Secondly, does Facebook have the legal right, and perhaps the moral responsibility, to not publish whatever it deems to be inappropriate? Are Palestinian-run websites held to the same moral standards? Do we insist they publish pro-Israeli posts, balancing these with opposite points of view? Or do we think they should be free to decide which posts to publish and in what numbers? Thirdly, and what is most relevant to this course, is why did Facebook backtrack? Why did the policy change, with the posts being published after all? Was it political correctness, catering to an offended group, rather than just sticking to an otherwise reasonable and clearly defensible editorial stance?’
‘I’m Jewish, so some people might try to diminish what I have to say because of a perceived bias. Of course, such an ad hominem assumption of bias could be made against detractors as well. In any event, let me first summarize what I consider to be a truthful, balanced view of the war. To begin, the loss of life and the destruction of property, the traumatization of people, especially children, on both sides, is absolutely horrible. These are the terrible costs and results of war. However we measure the consequences, it is obvious there cannot only be a picture from one side. Hamas sent literally thousands of missiles into Israel, killing people and destroying property. The effects were greatly reduced because the Israelis were able to shoot down most of those bombs before they landed. Hamas fired those missiles with the intention of killing whomever they happened to kill, destroying whatever property they happened to strike. They were aimed more or less randomly. Consequences in return, to the population of Gaza, were horrendous. There were – ‘

At that moment, one of the other students interrupted, a woman wearing a hijab, sitting near the front of the class. She stood up, looking directly at the speaker. Speaking with an Arabic accent, her tone was fierce and accusatory. She was essentially shouting. ‘You are killing children’ she said to the speaker. ‘You are destroying hospitals. You are killing innocent people.’
Professor Latchman was somewhat caught off guard, but he quickly moved to stop the woman’s outburst. Having spoken to the woman on a few previous occasions, he knew her name was Jamila Fayad, and that she was an immigrant from Syria, having settled in the area a few years before, with her parents and siblings. She was one of four religious Muslims in the class, three female and one male. The others were seated side-by-side in the row behind her. In a class that consisted mostly of people of color, they hadn’t particularly stood out during the previous weeks of the course. As occurred to Latchman in this moment, this was likely because the course topics had centred almost completely around anti-Black racism and issues involving sexual identity.

Latchman, seated at the front of the room right beside the speaker, stood up and made a restraining gesture to the woman with his right hand. It was abundantly clear to him that the situation could easily escalate if he didn’t quickly take control. ‘Please. I must ask you to stop, Ms. Fayad. Please sit down’ he said, in a firm, resolute tone, addressing the woman as he did all of his students, using her last name. ‘You will have an opportunity to comment once the speaker has finished. Please allow the speaker to make his presentation. We have all agreed that there will be no comments until these presentations have been completed. And please, remember not to attack people personally. We can strongly disagree with what someone says, but let us challenge what has been said. No personal attacks or insinuations. That is very important. Okay. Mr. Mazur, please continue.’
‘Thank you, Professor Latchman’ said the young speaker, apparently unrattled by the outburst. ‘Justifying war and conflict and killing might be called a fool’s job’ he continued. ‘Yet, if people are not provided with an accurate historical picture of conflict, it can make the situation worse and lead to further violence and injustice. Hamas is a terrorist organization. Our country and other western countries have declared this to be the case. Their only goal in relation to Israel is quote, to drive the Jews into the sea. The idea of a peace treaty or peaceful co-existence is not even a possibility. The claims made about land can – ‘
Again Jamila Fayad stood up, confronting the speaker in the same defiant, angry way. ‘You must end the occupation’ she said. ‘You must give back our land. You are killing our people. We have the right to fight for the liberation.

Anticipating this second outburst, Latchman had already decided on his response, and he acted swiftly. He stood up and again addressed the woman. ‘That is enough’ he said, speaking somewhat forcefully while trying to retain his composure. ‘This presentation is over for now. Thank you, Mr. Mazur. I am sorry for the interruption. Class, we are going to take a fifteen minute break now, before the next talk. Would everyone please leave the room, except for Ms. Fayad. If you wouldn’t mind, Ms. Fayad, I would like to have a word with you before we continue.’
In his head, Latchman was rapidly composing a short speech he would deliver to Jamila Fayad, some careful form of admonishment. How she had attacked the speaker personally. How she hadn’t let him speak. How she had been rude and disrespectful. How she had denied him the same basic freedom of speech she would want for herself. But he never had the opportunity, as Jamila Fayad filed out of the room along with everyone else. For fifteen minutes, Latchman stood waiting for her to return, but she never did. When the students returned fifteen minutes later, she was not among them.

This was certainly not the first time a student had filed a formal complaint about some aspect of Media Studies 32.455. One of Latchman’s colleagues had faced a similar situation a few years before, when a Black student had objected to a class discussion on rap music. The professor had played a selection of songs in class, all laced with profanity and the N-word, which the student had found humiliating and demeaning. The professor had to appear before the Academic Standards Committee to answer for the material. He volunteered to meet with the student-complainant, and successfully diffused the matter. Most student-complaints never reached that stage. Though they were always taken seriously, such complaints were usually answered by no more than a polite note from the Dean’s office, thanking the student for the submission and emphasizing that it had been taken very seriously. The university was always striving to improve in its awareness of and sensitivity to student concerns, et cetera. It was virtually unheard of for any remedial or punitive action to result from such a complaint. So, when Howard Latchman was asked to meet with the Dean of Arts the following week, after a formal complaint had been filed by Jamila Fayad, he wasn’t particularly troubled by the matter.
On the day of his meeting with the Dean of Arts, Latchman came prepared, bearing a printed copy of the course outline for 32.455, as well as a detailed summary of the incident surrounding Mark Mazur’s presentation the previous week.

Like many faculty members at Mackenzie King College, Howard Latchman was mostly oblivious to administrative matters. He tried to have as little to do with meetings and committees and procedures as he could possibly get away with. For most of his years on the faculty, he would not even have been able to name the President of the university, or any of its senior administration. His focus was his teaching and his other academic work. As a full professor in his late fifties, he’d paid his dues, and he now purposefully managed his time with a minimum of aggravation and a minimum of futility. When he was escorted into his meeting with the Dean of Arts, by the administrative assistant, he was meeting the Dean for the first time.
Walking into the Dean’s inner office, carrying his documents, he was greeted by an exuberant, friendly-looking woman. ‘Hello, Professor Latchman’ she said. ‘I’m Amira Zuhar.’
Latchman only vaguely remembered the Dean’s recent hiring. People who had paid more attention would have remembered that she’d been highly touted at the time. She was a devout Muslim and well-known social activist. She’d been hired directly from the faculty ranks at the University of Toronto, with an impressive publication record in Political Studies, and with absolutely no prior administrative experience. Forty years of age, she was a shining example of Mackenzie King College’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness at every level.
Dean Zuhar was wearing a beige hijab. She had a dazzling smile, immediately disarming Latchman. She motioned for him to sit down on one of the black leather chairs beside her oak desk, offering him water or coffee or tea, all of which he politely refused.
All of a sudden, Latchman’s situation seemed much more perilous. A hijab-wearing Dean was to pronounce on the complaint; on the confrontation between a hijab-wearing student and a male, Jewish student; a confrontation in which he, Latchman, himself Jewish, was deemed by the female student to be at fault. This might not go so well, Latchman thought to himself, nervously glancing around the spacious, well-appointed office. He decided he would wait for a moment before offering his documents to the Dean.

‘Professor Latchman’ the Dean began, flashing a quick smile, a smile Latchman was suddenly rather wary of. ‘Thank you for dropping by today. Jamila Fayad’s complaint… I’ve sent you a copy of what she’s written. I have spoken at some length with her.’ The Dean spoke evenly and quietly, maintaining direct eye-contact with Latchman. ‘Jamila says you silenced her. You stopped her from talking, from countering the pro-Israeli statements. She says you took the side of the Jewish student. Because you are Jewish. She says she can’t return to your class anymore, because you don’t give the same freedoms to all of your students.’
Latchman shuffled in his seat uneasily before offering a response. ‘Ms. Fayad stood up and interrupted the class presentation’ he said to the Dean. ‘She accused the speaker of killing children, of destroying homes. Accused him. He was not involved in the war. He’s not an Israeli; he’s a Canadian. She kept accusing him. It was horrible. She said things like ”You are killing children”; targeting her accusations directly at him. I politely asked her to stop, but she wouldn’t. She continued her personal attack. I had to stop the presentation entirely. It was embarrassing to expose my entire class to that kind of thing. I’ve prepared a detailed summary of the – ‘
The Dean cut Latchman off in mid-sentence. ‘As to the interruption and as to her point of view, she is obviously a passionate defender of the Palestinian cause. And she felt it was necessary to counter a one-sided justification of the actions of the Israelis. Her use of the personal pronoun ”you” probably has as much to do with second-language issues as anything else.’

Latchman was incensed at the Dean’s complete misreading of the incident. He struggled to remain composed. ‘No’ he said, his voice rising. ‘Her usage of ”you” cannot in any way be attributed to second-language issues. She very deliberately pointed to him, and targeted the accusations at him. There was no doubt about it at all. She is a bright student. She obviously knows the difference between ”you” and ”the Israeli army”. There were twenty-four witnesses to the incident, other than me. How many of them have you bothered to interview?’ His tone had quickly progressed to one of anger and impatience. ‘I’m guessing very few, if any. I guess I should have expected you to take her side, but what you are saying is patently ridiculous and simply wrong. All of those statements about the way things proceeded, and the accusations made about my reaction, they are all false. In fact, they’re libelous. She should examine her own behaviour. The ”Jewish student”, as she calls him, did everything he could to be even-handed, respectful and non-accusatory. The whole point was to address the political correctness involved in the matter. In Facebook’s reversing its decision to not allow certain posts that were clearly pro-Palestinian. Was it political correctness that pressured the company to reverse its position? The presenting student was admirably respectful and sensitive to the Gaza side of the conflict. He didn’t even get to fully express his thoughts on the matter. She jumped on him and fired off some very hostile, personal accusations at him.’
Dean Zuhar responded in a much sterner tone than before. ‘Professor Latchman’ she said, ‘I am very much disturbed by your implying my taking sides here. That is certainly not the case. I understand and I very much appreciate the sensitive nature of this classroom topic. Especially for both Jewish and Muslim students. But Professor Latchman, we can’t have students accusing our faculty of silencing their views. We can’t have our students saying it is impossible for them to continue their attendance in class; impossible because of their humiliation and their perceived mistreatment at the hands of their professors. This goes well beyond reasonable classroom behaviour and course management. I’m afraid I’m going to have to suspend you from any further involvement in this course. Your department chair, Professor Guilfoyle, will appoint a replacement to finish the remaining few weeks of lectures. I have spoken to him this morning. For the present, there are no further consequences to you with respect to this incident. However, there will be a full internal inquiry into the matter. I have asked Professor Nkosa, the chair of the Academic Standards Committee, to conduct a thorough review of the matter, including your role. Thank you for coming in this morning.’ Saying this, Dean Zuhar stood up to see Latchman out.

Latchman was stunned. It took him a moment to begin breathing evenly again. Getting to his feet, he was fuming mad. ‘Are you serious?’ he said to the Dean. ‘This is a travesty. There were twenty-four witnesses to the event. Did you talk to them? Does the truth matter? Do you -‘
Dean Zuhar cut him short. ‘Professor Latchman’ she said, firmly. ‘I’m very sorry. I have to interrupt you. I know you must find this very upsetting. I’m going to wish you a good day. This is a most unfortunate incident. Again, thanks for coming in.’
It was all Latchman could do, to simply walk out of the room, without lashing out at the Dean of Arts. He stormed out of the office, out of the building and onto the nearly empty quad outside, shaking his head in disbelief.

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A Backwards Family Tree

author Janice Weizman/cover of "Our Little Histories"

The following review first appeared in the February 15, 2024 issue of Lilith Magazine. Reprinted with permission.
What does Jennifer Greenberg-Wu, an American-Jewish museum curator working on a reality show in rural Belarus, have to do with Raizel Shulman, a Russian mother desperate to save her triplet sons from being drafted into the czar’s army? The answer spans three continents and nearly two centuries, and it is the spellbinding tale that Janice Weizman weaves in Our Little Histories (Toby Press, $17.95), a novel that unfolds back-wards to tell the story of a family’s history one generation at a time.
Each of the book’s seven chapters focuses on another branch of the family tree that connects Jennifer back to Raizel. We witness the encounter between Jennifer’s mother Nancy Wexler, a young feminist hippie from Chicago, and her distant cousin Yardena, 25 years old and happily pregnant in Tel Aviv in 1968. In the next chapter we meet Yardena’s mother, Tamar, who, while smuggling guns for the Haga- nah, engages in a fateful act of betrayal with a visitor to her home on Kibbutz Hadar, where she has made her home ever since her parents sent her off on a train from Minsk in 1927. In the next chapter we meet Tamar’s distant cousin, Gabriel Schulman, a literature teacher in Vilna, who is attacked in a dark alley in Tamar’s impassioned letters pleading with him to come to Palestine before the situation in Europe gets worse for the Jews. “To be a Jew in Vilna, or Poland, or perhaps anywhere, is to find courage where you thought you had none, to feel it flowing through your veins like blood,” Gabriel thinks in the seconds before he is attacked.
Set one year earlier but thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean, the following chapter focuses on a third branch of the family—not those who stayed in Europe or settled in Palestine, but those like Nat Wexler, a first-generation American journalist in Chicago who is also Tamar and Gabriel’s cousin. Nat understands Yiddish but cannot speak it, and prides himself in his assimilation into American culture; he dreads bringing his fashionable, light-hearted Jewish-American girlfriend to the Yiddish theater with his mother, who is eager to meet her. The penultimate chapter takes us back forty years earlier to turn-of-the-century Belarus, where Gabriel’s father Yoyna is sent on a mission by his own father to reunite with his father’s two brothers; all three brothers were separated at a young age. In the book’s compelling, heart-wrenching final chapter, we meet three triplet boys, one of whom is Yoyna’s father, and we learn the reasons for their tragic separation by their mother Raizel in the shtetl in 1850, where “every year, right around the short dark days leading up to Hanukkah, the boys of Propoisk become scarce…gone for weeks or even months at a time.”
Like A .B. Yehoshua’s Mr. Mani, which follows a Sephardi family back in time, Our Little Histories is a book that demands re-rereading, backwards, from the last chapter back to the first. Connecting threads link one generation to another, and serve as leitmotifs through out the book, like the poem in three stanzas that Raizel Schulman pens just before she parts from two of her triplets so as to spare them from the czar’s army; each son receives one stanza, and the poem is published in a 1914 Yiddish anthology which Yoyna gives to Gabriel, who mails it to Tamar, who donates the slim booklet to the Yiddish library in Tel Aviv, where Yardena and Nancy find it; Nancy will give that booklet to Jennifer to take with her to Belarus for her reality show. When Jennifer’s mother hands her that booklet, she is convinced she has seen it before, and her deja-vu mirrors that of the reader, who will encounter and re-encounter the anthology, and Raizel’s poem, in each of the book’s seven chapters.
Our Little Histories is masterfully constructed, such that the book’s final chapter is both inevitable—it couldn’t possibly have been any other way—and yet impossible to predict. The three branches of Raizel’s family, who make their homes in Europe, Israel, and America, offer us an intimate window into aspects of Ashke- nazi Jewish history—pogroms and Zionism, yeshiva culture and the assimilation, the kibbutz and the shtetl. We have all tragically witnessed how the legacy of persecution has reverberated even in the Jew- ish homeland, a reminder of the unbear- able sacrifices and the acts of raw courage that continue to forge us as a people.

Our Little Histories is available in paperback and kindle on Amazon.

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Chuck & Carol Faiman – a “Fien” team

Carol & Chuck Faiman

By GERRY POSNER Take two Jewish kids – a boy and a girl from the north end of Winnipeg, have them grow up in the 1950s, and you would probably be well familiar with their following the well-worn path of marriage, raising a family, professional success, and a continued connection with Manitoba. That pattern would well describe Charles or, as he is better known – Chuck, and Carol Faiman.

Carol was a Fien, daughter of Sophie and Harry Fien. Chuck was the son of Bessie and Max Faiman. Carol was a graduate of places well known to Winnipeggers, as in Champlain and Luxton Schools, St. John’s High School and the University of Manitoba, where she received a B.A. Later, she did post-graduate work in vocational rehabilitation counselling. As well, Carol has a well-known passion for art, stemming in no small part from classes she took in art history at the University of Winnipeg and later at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Chuck’s parents, Max and Bessie Faiman, were part of a core group who founded the Talmud Torah Hebrew Day School, which Chuck attended. He was also a student at Machray School and, like so many other north enders, St. John’s High School. Hard though it may be to believe, he graduated high school at 15. By 22, he already had an M.D. degree.

He trained in endocrinology at the University of Manitoba Medical School, the University of Illinois, and later at the Mayo Clinic. Returning to Winnipeg in 1968, Chuck Faiman’s career took off as he became a Professor of Medicine and Physiology and later the head of the Endocrinology Laboratory. During his tenure at the hospital, one year Chuck took a sabbatical leave with his family at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel.

In 1992, Chuck Faiman accepted an offer to become Chairman of the Department of Endocrinology at the Cleveland Clinic. At that time, all the family knew about Cleveland was that it was in Ohio and that they had a baseball team there. Five years later, the Faimans became US citizens and, to this day, hold dual citizenship. During the time when Chuck was growing the department, he had the opportunity to look after heads of state, crown princes and the Sheikh of the United Arab Emirates, where he also provided medical consultations and teaching. (It occurs to me that given Chuck’s connection, maybe he can persuade the Sheikh or his colleagues to consider taking into The United Arab Emirates some of the people floundering in Gaza.)

Chuck was an active player in his field, and is still involved in teaching and as a consultant in the department. He was honoured to receive an award as a Master of the American College of Endocrinology.
Carol also had careers, both in Winnipeg and in Cleveland. In Winnipeg, she worked as a vocational rehabilitation counsellor and ergonomist for the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities. She did not miss a beat when she moved to Cleveland, where she worked in physical therapy at the Cleveland Clinic with patients suffering from occupational injuries. She is now retired.

Now, not be overlooked is that the Faimans are a team. They just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in June 2023. They have three sons, all of whom were raised in Winnipeg: Barton, an MBA graduate of the Asper School of Business and his wife Michelle are still residents of Winnipeg. Gregg, a graduate of the University of Manitoba Medical School, trained with his father in endocrinology at the Cleveland Clinic – sort of a medical version of Gordie and Mark Howe and Bobby and Brett Hull in the hockey world. He and his wife Karrie have three children. Matthew, another U of M Medical School graduate, trained at the Cleveland Clinic in Internal Medicine. He and his wife Beth have one son. All the Faimans remain staunch Blue Bomber and Jets fans.

The Faimans were, and are still, very active in their community, both in their synagogue and other areas. For those readers who can go back that far, Chuck Faiman was largely involved in the amalgamation of the Talmud Torah and the Peretz Schools, not to overlook his term as president of Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate. That active participation continued in Cleveland with the Cleveland Federation.
Carol served on the Board of Rosh Pina Synagogue, as it was then known, and then in Cleveland as a board member at Park Synagogue. Moreover, Carol initiated a programme, which she ran for 14 years, for the National Council of Jewish Women at the Cleveland Museum of Art. For over 15 years the Faimans have also been regular attendees at courses offered by the Siegal College of Jewish Studies, a division of Case Western University.

What also keeps the Faimans very happy is the renewal of their Winnipeg roots each year when they return to the family cottage at West Hawk Lake. There is also a Winnipeg reunion of a different sort each winter in Florida. Likely what sets the Faimans apart from many other people who have moved away is that, although they do maintain strong connections to their history and friends back in Winnipeg, they have integrated well into the Cleveland community, even at an older age when they moved there.

So, for anyone who knows them, the recognition and success the Faimans have earned is well deserved.

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Debut novel from Montreal’s Ben Gonshar follows in the mould of Phillip Roth

Ben Gonshor/cover of The Book of Izzy

Ben Gonshor is an award-winning writer, actor, musician and entrepreneur. His play, “When Blood Ran Red,” won the David and Clare Rosen Memorial International Play Contest at the National Yiddish Theatre in New York. 
Now, with his debut novel, The Book of Izzy, Gonshor follows the likes of Phillip Roth in how The Book of Izzy is a captivating modern take on Jewish cultural touchstones and heritage.
“The Book of Izzy is a story about a man trying to find his own place between two worlds as he reckons with letting go of his painful past to focus on creating a fulfilling present. In the process, Izzy embarks on a fanciful, romantic voyage that not only forces him to come to terms with his Jewish identity, but to also confront the mystifying bird that holds the key to preserving the past and ensuring the survival of his heritage.
“Izzy is a writer who’s found himself in a series of downward spirals; between his recently failed love life, his faltering career as both a wedding planner and a novelist, and an ever-looming mental breakdown, he’s at his wit’s end. 
“Filled to the brim with wit, candid discussions about navigating life with a mental illness, and an engaging cast of characters, The Book of Izzy is a captivating modern take on Jewish cultural touchstones and heritage.”

Following is an excerpt from The Book of Izzy:
“Hi, I’m Sue-Ann,” the twenty-something waitress said to me, extending a hand forthrightly and with the other lifted a shot glass, clinked it with Luba’s and downed it with a “L’khaim” that made you pay attention.
“Doubtful,” I thought to myself and immediately began calculating that the combination of brown bottle curls and olive skin combined with breasts and hips that curved in a way my bubbe would have approved of, didn’t add up to Sue-Ann. Then again, the piercing blue eyes and nose that would have survived a Gestapo roundup, suggested I could have been dead wrong.
I wasn’t.
“Sue-Ann, shmuann!” Luba admonished her, then looked to me while pouring herself another shot. “Her name’s Soreh,” she said while pointing insistently to her new friend then drank, ripped a piece of bread from the loaf and tossed it in her mouth and proceeded to introduce me.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that?” Sue-Ann said re Luba’s unintelligible attempt to say my name in mid-chew.
“I’m Isaiah,” I introduced myself. “Friends call me Izzy.”
“Itzikl,” Luba offered with a giggle.
“ALubable!” Sue Ann said in that patronizing way common among dog-lovers when inquiring about a breed they’ve never seen around the run. “And so Jewish…I like that,” she purred then knowingly struck a pose that emphasized her personalities, while simultaneously resting her right palm on the flesh of its adjoining hip that now introduced itself into the conversation, teasing a hint of color that I imagined made for something interesting further below. She then capped it off with a smile that revealed two perfectly formed dimples on either side, the kind so charming as to inspire a Rumshinksy tune.
“You didn’t drink your shot,” she reproached me playfully, pointing at the offending glass on the table that I knew better than to touch. “How about a beer?” she suggested with pride, “we brew in house.”
“Sure,” I answered, still somewhat sensory overloaded. “But nothing too hoppy, I’m not into drinking flowers.”
“Double IPA coming right up!” she said, clocking my narishkeit then brushed her hand expertly on my shoulder as she turned to leave. “You’re right, he’s cute,” she said to Luba, then winked in my direction before heading off toward the bar.
“Let me guess,” I began to ask Luba, who looked at me with a Cheshire grin on her face that told me everything I needed to know: “She’s Leah,” I said, referencing the lead female character in The Dybbuk.
Her giggle this time was more of an outburst of joy, as she clapped her hands near to her face and rocked back and forth happily, like another bet she made was about to pay off.
“Where’d you find her?” I asked, gazing in the direction of the bar where Sue-Ann and her pals were huddled and looking right back at us.
“I didn’t, she found me,” Luba answered and waved in their direction. “I like her. We’ve been spending a lot of time together.”
“Clearly,” I said and returned my attention back to the table. “She’s an actress?”
“So why is she playing Leah?” I asked somewhat incredulously. Mind you, not that that it was any of my business but, knowing full well the chops required for the part, it seemed a fair question.
“She read for me, she feels the character deeply.”
“She speaks Yiddish?”
“Nope,” Luba answered again, with not an iota of concern in her voice.
“I don’t get it,” I said and continued, dumfounded: “You want me to play opposite someone who doesn’t speak Yiddish and on top of that you don’t even know if she can act?”
“I don’t know if she can act?!” she guffawed, repeating my question back to me aloud as if to make me hear how dumb it sounded. “What she just did naturally in that moment,” she continued, now more earnestly while gesturing with her finger in a circular motion as if to summarize a scene that had just played out at the table, “is more than some actors learn to do with a lifetime of training.”
“What do you mean?”
She didn’t answer, but cocked her head to the side instead and threw me a look like, again, I should have thought before I spoke.
“What?!” I said incredulously and could feel my cheeks starting to flush.
“She had you mesmerized,” she answered with a smile then drank another shot and tossed a piece of bread in her mouth.
“No she didn’t,” I lied.
Luba said nothing as Sue-Ann had now returned with my beer, a basket of gluten free tortilla chips and an assortment of cheeses, each of which she proceeded to describe as an award winning artisanal creation sourced from her friends at farms nearby, without specifying whether the pals she was referring to were the farmers or their animals cuz these days, you know, it could go either way. Regardless, as she side-straddled a chair that she’d pulled in from a nearby table and invited us to dig in, I thought better than to comment on the fact that without a quality goat on the cutting board, which admittedly was artfully presented along with an assortment of dried fruit and a delightfully sweet onion tartinade, what she put on the table was a whole lot of lactose intolerance.

The Book of Izzy

By Ben Gonshor

AOS Publishing

Publication date: May 2024

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