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Fredelle Bruser Maynard’s centenary and remembering “Raisins and Almonds”

Fredelle Bruser Maynard composite edited 1By IRENA KARSHENBAUM While out walking recently, I came across a copy of “Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole in one of those free little libraries. Now the book doesn’t fit into my criteria of rare, lost or out-of-print works that I am usually on the hunt for, but knowing that this is one of the great American classics of the 20th century, which I had not yet read, I started reading it on the spot while thinking, can people see me from their front windows and think I’m like rummaging through their garbage?

I quieted the noise in my head, and concentrated on the lively story of the publisher, Walker Percy, recounting how he first came across the work; the mother of the author who turned out to be dead, started calling him incessantly, and in an attempt to push her off, Percy asked why he should read the book, only to be told that it was a “great novel.” (Many readers know how this story ends, the book won the Pulitzer Prize eleven years after the author’s suicide, thanks to Percy publishing the work.)

My search-for-publisher story is the exact opposite. For years, my mother knew I was writing a book and was after me to read it. Finally, I acquiesced and emailed her the manuscript. A few weeks later, my mother called and told me she nearly vomited when she got to the part where the main character masturbates (can I use this word in a PG-rated community newspaper?) and then asked me if I seriously thought someone would publish my book.

So, if I were to run a garden hose from the exhaust pipe into my car, while securing myself tightly inside (I have no inclination to do so), I know for a fact my mother will never make a nuisance of herself with some publisher. What I am trying to say here, is that every writer needs a champion. Just one. Toole had Walker Percy, and his mother. That’s two, hence the Pulitzer Prize. Franz Kafka had Max Brod. Anne Frank and Julia Child had Judith Jones. (Anne Frank also had her father.) I don’t have one, not even my mother. Now, Dear Reader, please don’t think my mother is some horrible person. She makes me blintzes and borscht and sends me home with massive care packages. It’s just that she couldn’t get past the masturbation scene, which she may be right about because when it comes to literary fiction, Sex. Does. Not. Sell.
Writers need champions not only to get published, but also not to get forgotten, as so many good books suffer this fate. My tale continues.

On another recent walk I was rummaging through a different free little library that was full of Catholic titles. I zeroed in on “Christ Stopped at Eboli” with a sketch of a cross as the backdrop for a crucified figure. I wasn’t about to take this book home with me. But then it was as if time had stopped. My breathing seized. Pudgy cupids fluttered in front of my eyes playing their little harps as my eyes rested on the name of the author — Carlo Levi. I pulled out my phone and googled the name. Italian. Jewish. Doctor. Painter. Author. Detained during the 1930s for his anti-Fascist activities in an impoverished Italian town, the memoir recounts this time. Fits my criteria: rare, lost and/or out-of-print, not to mention, fascinating time and place. I placed the book snuggly under my arm pit, looked around for any judging eyes and slunk away like some satisfied thief with her precious plunder.
I won’t be retelling the story of “Christ at Eboli” here because I’ve only just started reading it — it is good, so far — but I’ve brought the work to your attention so go find a copy and read it!

I’ve flown to Tasmania and back to make my convoluted points and have to get to the story I promised Bernie, “Raisins and Almonds,” a memoir by Fredelle Bruser Maynard. This book is not exactly forgotten because one thing I know about Winnipegers is that they are very cultured people and are faithful followers of their great literary tradition. The book is a quiet masterpiece that deservers to be remembered, celebrated and introduced to younger readers.
Originally published in 1972, it was one of the first Jewish memoirs to be published by a major publisher, Doubleday Canada Limited, and received wide-spread acclaim. Today, it is sadly out-of-print. I got my copy, luckily, when the Jewish Historical Society of Southern Alberta was purging its library — Fredelle Bruser Maynard belongs to Saskatchewan, to Manitoba, she is not “ours” they said — and knowing my interests post-publication of “Remembering a forgotten book, Winnipeg Stories” (in this newspaper), triumphantly handed me the fragile copy.
Through a series of short stories, “Raisins and Almonds” recounts the author’s life growing up in the 1920s and ‘30s in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The memoir doesn’t pull at the heartstrings; it rips out the heart.
In a Jewish Christmas, Bruser Maynard writes about what it was like to be the only Jewish child in a small Saskatchewan town, in Birch Hills, during the Christmas season, “Christmas, when I was young, was the season of bitterness.” The story is painful to read not because little Fredelle is not like the other children and can’t have a Christmas tree or Christmas presents or is even cruelly taunted in the playground for having “killed Christ.” All of these experiences are hard and traumatic for a child to endure. What is so painful about this story is the vulnerability of the parents who at their core feel inferior as Jews and who will do anything — even have their child, “the town’s most accomplished elocutionist,” recite a Christmas poem at the yearly Christmas concert — for a scrap of Gentile acceptance. Of course, the Brusers are not the first Jews in history to hide or compromise their identity; Jewish pride or confidence is probably more of a historic rarity that flourishes when we have the good fortune to live in a Jewish golden age.

In The Silk Umbrella, the author describes her father’s loneliness and alienation being the only Jewish man living in one prairie town after another, “He had no friends but us. Would it have been different in the city, in a Jewish community? I don’t know. But certainly, marooned on the prairies, an island of Jewishness in a barbarian sea, he never formed ties beyond the limits of his business life….. He talked crops with farmers, theology with the local minister, household matters with women. But he would no more have thought of accompanying a farmer to the beer parlor than, years before, he could have joined a Cossack on a gallop across the steppes.”

Born in 1922, in Foam Lake, Saskatchewan, to Boris and Rona Bruser, Fredelle describes her childhood as growing up in a family “where women mattered” and as a result was able to pursue degrees from the University of Manitoba, University of Toronto and obtained a Ph.D. in English Literature from Radcliffe College (Harvard University). She married her former professor, Max Maynard, “the son of a Protestant clergyman,” which she wrote about in The Silk Umbrella. The interfaith marriage irrevocably damaged her relationship with her father, “Always a demonstrative man, my father embraced me very seldom after I married. In this new reserve, there was no hint of reproach. I remained his own dear child. Whatever had gone wrong, the fault must be his. If he had given me a proper Jewish education….”
The couple had two daughters, Rona Maynard and Joyce Maynard, both of whom followed their mother in her literary path. Joyce Maynard, as a teenager, briefly lived with J.D. Salinger, who was more than 30 years her senior, and wrote about the time in, “At Home in the World: A Memoir.”
My PaperJacks edition of “Raisins and Almonds,” that originally sold for $1.95, includes a number of review quotes, one being from Margaret Laurence, “Fredelle Bruser Maynard… communicates the sadness at the core of laughter… Her memoirs are so authentically prairie, Depression prairie, but they reach out far beyond any place or time.”
“Raisins and Almonds” remains as true now as when crisp copies lined book store shelves 50 years ago when it was first published. If only this beautiful book would be re-released today.

Irena Karshenbaum writes in Calgary .


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Popularity of Online Casino Games in Canada

In recent years, the popularity of online casino games in Canada has surged, captivating the attention of a diverse audience seeking thrilling entertainment. With the convenience of accessing these games from the comfort of home, Canadians are exploring the vast world of virtual casinos that offer an extensive array of gaming options.

Diverse Selection of Casino Games:

One of the key factors contributing to the widespread appeal of online casino games in Canada is the vast selection available. There are hundreds of top casino games online, covering every genre imaginable. From classic table games like poker and blackjack to immersive slot machines with captivating themes, Canadian players have a plethora of options to choose from.

The Rise of Online Slots:

Among the various casino games, online slots have witnessed a significant surge in popularity. The ease of gameplay and the potential for substantial payouts make slots a preferred choice for both seasoned players and newcomers. With themes ranging from ancient civilisations to popular movies and TV shows, online slots offer a diverse and engaging experience for players of all preferences.

Convenience and Accessibility:

The accessibility of online casino games is a key driver behind their growing popularity in Canada. Players no longer need to travel to a physical casino to experience the thrill of gambling. Instead, they can enjoy their favourite games with just a few clicks on their computer or mobile device. This convenience has opened up the world of online gambling to a broader audience, attracting both seasoned gamblers and those trying their luck for the first time.

Technology Advancements:

Advancements in technology have played a pivotal role in enhancing the online casino gaming experience. High-quality graphics, realistic sound effects, and seamless gameplay contribute to an immersive environment that mirrors the excitement of traditional brick-and-mortar casinos. Additionally, the integration of live dealer games brings an authentic touch to online gaming, allowing players to interact with real dealers in real-time.

Regulatory Environment:

The regulatory environment in Canada has also contributed to the popularity of online casino games. While each province has its own regulations, the overall legal framework allows for a thriving online gambling industry. This has given rise to reputable online casinos that prioritise player safety and adhere to strict industry standards, ensuring a fair and secure gaming environment.

Social Aspect and Community Engagement:

Online casinos in Canada are not just about individual gameplay; they also provide a platform for social interaction. Many online casinos feature chat rooms and community forums where players can connect, share experiences, and discuss strategies. This sense of community adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the gaming experience, making online casinos a social activity beyond the solitary pursuit of winning.

The popularity of online casino games in Canada is undoubtedly on the rise, driven by a combination of diverse gaming options, convenience, technological advancements, and a favourable regulatory environment. With a wide array of top casino games available at their fingertips, Canadians can indulge in the excitement of gambling from the comfort of their homes. As the online casino industry continues to evolve, it’s clear that virtual gaming is here to stay and will likely continue to captivate audiences across the country.

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Life in Israel four months after October seventh

Orly & Solly Dreman


(Special to the JP&N) Feb. 1, 2024

In every news broadcast that we hear that “The IDF spokesman is permitted to announce”… then every person in Israel sits down, holds their breath and waits to hear the names of the soldiers fallen in action that day. This causes deep sadness to every family in Israel. For example, I found out the son of my T.V technician was killed and my handyman’s son was seriously injured. Death in Israel is so personal.

Our synagogue recently mourned twenty seven year old Inbar Heiman who was kidnapped by Hamas from the Nova music nature party on October seventh and was murdered in captivity. She was a gifted young woman filled with love and compassion. She was a creative artist that was supposed to enter her senior year at university this academic year. We had prayed and wished that she would return until her family received the tragic news of her death.

When we made personal medical visits to the Hadassah hospital, we often heard helicopters overhead bringing in wounded soldiers from Gaza. In the surgery department we saw a reserve soldier being released after six weeks in the hospital. His wife and newborn baby were with him. The department had a touching farewell gathering with Israeli flags, music and cakes. This is how every soldier who leaves the hospital is treated. More than fourteen thousand civilians and soldiers were hospitalized since October seventh with most of the injuries being in the hands and legs, burns, head and eye injuries.

We seldom are in the mood to go to a restaurant these days, but if we do, such outings are accompanied by guilt feelings. Is it right to go when our people are suffering?- the hostages are starving. We all wear the metal disc that says “Bring Them Home now- Our hearts are captured in Gaza”. They occupy our thoughts pervasively. Some of the hostages have suffered untreated gunshot wounds and the hygiene conditions are poor, many of them not showering for four months, sitting thirty meters under the ground in dark tunnels, with no electricity and suffering from extreme malnutrition. Some of them have diseases like Celiac, Asthma, Colitis, Diabetes, Fibromialgia, heart diseases and allergies. They are getting no medications and time is running out for them. Twenty five of them have already perished. What sort of civil society will we be if we abandon them?

Whole families are recruited for combat duty in different areas of the country. It might be a brother and a sister fighting in Gaza or a father in Judea and Samaria while another brother is fighting on the Lebanese border. If you ask soldiers who have lost their siblings in combat if they wish to go back to fight after the shiva, they do not hesitate, even though it is so hard on the parents. This demonstrates the dedication of Israeli citizens and their wish to complete the task of exterminating the Hamas, while at the same time knowing their family member did not die in vain. The grief is intergenerational and we are even acquainted with grandparents whose grandchildren are in combat and they are given the opportunity to go to workshops that help them with their anxiety.

In a Knesset Committee it was recently reported That many survivors from the Nova party have taken their own lives. Others continue to experience the trauma of the horrific events. They cannot sleep nor eat. Many were sexually abused and even though they were not murdered they continue to experience the pain- the sights, voices- cries for help and the fear. They are in a sense also fighters who awaken to a new existence everyday and continue to fight for their existence.

At the military cemeteries there is one funeral process after another and the families are asked to leave the site to make room to prepare for the next funeral. Wounded soldiers arrive in ambulances, on hospital beds or wheelchairs in order to eulogize their fallen comrades.

The reservists who return home after months of combat are having troubles adjusting because this war, like the War of Independence, is very meaningful. It is the most justified war our homeland has encountered. Upon their return there is a big downfall in physical and mental energy. A stranger cannot understand this. These soldiers were disconnected from normal civilian routine for a long time and they had difficult and intimate experiences with their combat mates. They have lost friends and did not have time to mourn. They must release the stress they were exposed to. They are back in body but not always in spirit. They also might be recruited again in the near future to the southern or the northern front, the war is not over. Many men who were injured worry about their future fertility and sexual functioning.

They entertain such existential thoughts as would it be better that I am killed in action before I have children and leave no descendants, or losing my life and leaving behind orphans. Dozens of children remain orphaned from both parents. They also have witnessed their family members being murdered and their homes burned down. Years ago, Solly treated and did a follow up on a family where both parents were murdered in a terrorist attack. Even though the children were adopted by loving relatives they suffered from survivor guilt and this expressed itself in such phenomena as dropping out of school, turning into juvenile delinquents and having trouble in intimate relations.

The evacuees from the south and the north are dispersed in hundreds of hotels in the center of the country. Hence, they have no permanent home, have no privacy and many have no work, nothing to do for months on end and experience feelings of powerlessness. Some pupils are not capable of returning to their temporary schools because of anxieties, depression and fear. Some teenagers have turned to drugs and alcohol which increases violence and vandalism. For them school is experienced as a waste of time. Their friends were murdered, some still have relatives in captivity and everything is falling apart. They also experience sleep disruptions and are in no mood to study. For them life is a living hell. Some families are moved from city to city several times. The children do not have friends in the new locations and they feel lonely and express a lack of social support.

In the realm of parenting many mothers even those who were NOT directly exposed to the dramatic events reported that their children cry more (eighty three percent). Others say the children have difficulties sleeping (seventy three percent), have concentration problems (fifty four percent) and many children are developing eating disorders. In sixty percent the anxiety of the children is so high it hurts functioning. For example, they are often afraid to leave the house. Other disturbances were reported such as bed-wetting, insisting on sleeping with their parents and acts of anger and aggression.

We, as Israelis are also concerned with our Jewish brethren who are experiencing thousands of antisemitic incidents, higher than the number of all incidents in the last decade. There are many Jews in the diaspora who are considering emigration to Israel after experiencing antisemitic events such as seeing their synagogue, Hebrew school, kosher butcher and other Jewish businesses being stoned and burned. For them Israel is their safest haven.

On a more optimistic note the Jewish people have prevailed over thousands of years despite terrible events. In spite of the uncertainty not everything is lost. We are united and strong. The soldiers are full of motivation and good values. I firmly believe that if we are patient and persist, the Jewish people and the state of Israel will prevail.

Orly Dreman is a 10th generation Israeli. Her cousin, Ruvi Rivlin, was a former president of Israel. Orly’s father was a diplomat who served both in North America and in Europe.
By profession Orly is an English teacher. She has dealt with children suffering from ADD.
Since childhood, Orly has been involved in voluntary work with the disabled, the challenged, new immigrants, the elderly and others. 

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The Critical Job Roles in Online Business

More companies than ever are embracing remote working. As of 2023, around 16% of businesses have a fully remote working model, with many more adopting a hybrid one. All of this should come as welcome news to anyone looking for a better work-life balance. As well as saying goodbye to grueling commutes, remote employees can embrace lucrative salary packages, generous benefits, and more. Ready to reap the benefits of online work yourself? Below are just a handful of remote working opportunities to consider.

Video Game and Casino Platform Development

Whether it’s creating Canadian online slots for real money casinos or an open-world epic, great games need talented developers. Thankfully, this is one sector where the typical rules of the 9-5 don’t apply. In the US, an experienced game developer can expect to take home around $103,000 annually. For a midweight casino games developer, a starting salary of around $65,000 is fairly respectable.

Software Engineering

If you have a background in software engineering, you’re in luck. Currently, it’s one of the highest-paid online roles around, with an average salary of $108,000. There’s no one size-fits-all remit for a software engineer, but typical roles include designing applications, testing, and creating system upgrades.

UX Design

User experience is becoming increasingly important as companies strive to make their digital products more accessible. Unsurprisingly, there’s a high demand for user experience designers, with many positions now advertised as remote-first roles. You’ll need to have sufficient software and development experience to excel here. What’s more, you’ll need to work closely with clients to meet the needs of the consumer. If you think you could do well in a role like this, expect an annual salary in the region of $97,000.

Web Design

One role you’ll never struggle to find is that of a web designer. It’s a pretty broad field, so expect a lot of disparity when it comes to job remits and starting salaries. At a minimum, a web designer worth their salt should be able to create accessible websites for a wide range of clients. You’ll also need to be familiar with coding languages and testing. Less experienced web designers can expect to command a starting salary of around $43,000. If you’ve been working professionally for more than a few years and have a solid portfolio to back you up, you can easily negotiate twice that amount.

Entry-Level Online Roles

For digital natives, remote working will come as second nature. Don’t have the skills to land a web designer or developer job? Not to worry. There are an increasing number of entry-level remote roles out there.

Customer service roles are readily available, with positions to cater to all experience levels. At the bottom rung of the ladder, you might be tasked with making sales calls or resolving complaints from customers. A customer service agent can comfortably make around $40-50,000 a year. If you operate on a commission basis or can take advantage of a generous bonus scheme, you could easily double this annually.

Is Remote Working Here To Stay?

Even as many businesses encourage workers back to the office, there’s an deniable upward trend in the number of remote and hybrid-only roles on the job market. Video conferencing technology and collaboration tools are making it easier than ever for remote teams to remain connected. Meanwhile, company executives are finding it hard to argue with significantly reduced overheads and increased productivity.

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