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How Harvey Cogan became acquainted with members of his old family… and relatives he had never met – at the same time

Harvey Cogan’s boba, her nieces &
her daughter – pre WWII
l-r: Rachel, D’vorah, Raizel & Sheva Cogan

By GERRY POSNER Picture this. It is 1950 and you are about to have your Bar Mitzvah at the shul in Fort William, Ontario ( as it was then known. With the twin city then, Port Arthur, it is now known as Thunder Bay).


Not only have you prepared your Haftorah, you are also able to read from the Torah all the portions from that day. It is a rare occasion indeed in the Jewish community of Fort William. Most of the Jewish population in Fort William and Port Arthur are in attendance that day at the Shaarey Shomayim Synagogue. Moreover, your father somehow found a first cousin he had living in New York – and this cousin, with his family, decides to come by car to your Bar Mitzvah. Your father has not seen his cousin since he left Russia in 1924 and he has never met any of the family. On top of it all, as a Bar Mitzvah present to you, this New York family gives you an American $100 bill. Now, that was a lot of money in 1950. The next day they depart for New York and you never hear from them again. Not a phone call, not a letter, not a telegram… Zippo. Well, not quite. Your older brother visited New York in 1958 and saw some of the family then and he later wrote a thank you note to the family for their hospitality to him during his stay in the city.
Fast forward from the Bar Mitzvah 71 years ago to 2021. You get a call from the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba saying that someone from Philadelphia wanted to connect with you as they thought you might be a relative. You laugh out loud saying it is likely a con of some kind as you know your family tree well and you do not have any relations in Philadelphia. Yet you go along and agree to give your email address. It all sounds bizarre.

Harvey & Nessie Cogan

But all of  this happened to the now 84-year-old Harvey Cogan. He was that boy in Fort William in 1950 and so, when he opened his email this year and there was a letter from an Elyse Schatz, who claimed to be a relative of the family (Rosen) that came to Fort William for his Bar Mitzvah, Harvey was overwhelmed with emotion, tearing up to hear of letters from his grandmother whom he never met and who was murdered by Nazi stormtroopers in the shtetl. Elyse explained in a long email that her mother, Joyce Sommerfeld, had in her home a box of letters she had kept (after multiple moves ), and this box had never been opened.
In 2021, mother and daughter decided to check out these letters and, lo and behold, there were letters of over 80 years ago with photographs. All the letters were written in Yiddish. As well, there was a photo of the Bar Mitzvah boy Harvey Cogan.  Mother and daughter then decided to have the 24 letters translated into English. A name that kept repeating was Cogan. As it turned out, the letters were written by Harvey’s grandmother to her two unmarried nieces in New York and the letters detailed some of the extreme hardship the family was suffering before and during the war in Russia. The box of letters arrived recently at Harvey’s home, a  treasure to be sure.

It was only a bit  of luck that caused Joyce to have these letters, as they had in fact been sent not to her, not to her parents but to these two unmarried aunts of Joyce in New York, both nieces of the woman who sent them, Harvey’s Baba, Raizel Cogan. When the two nieces died, a cousin, Joyce Sommerfeld, the mother of Elyse, came into custody of them, but left them in the box. It could well have ended there but for the decision to look at these 24 letters and have them translated.  The letters were filled with the name Cogan. Still even with all of that, the ultimate reunification in large part took place due to the fact that Michael Schatz, Elyse’s husband, is a genealogist, so he became involved in the project right away. Even with that bit of luck, the eventual reunion needed two more things.

First, Joyce and Elyse were excellent internet sleuths. After all, the last anyone from that branch of the family who had come from New York to Harvey’s Bar Mitzvah knew, was that the Cogans were in Fort William, Ontario. How they traced Harvey to Winnipeg was no small feat. They found the thank you note that Harvey’s brother, the late Lou Cogan, had written to the family thanking them for their hospitality during his visit there in 1958. He also mentioned he was planning a possible move to Winnipeg that year and so, among the places they investigated on the internet for Louis Cogan was Winnipeg. Then, the second key part of the story came into play. Their search immediately revealed the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba’s Book of Life site where Lou and his wife Marsha had told their life stories. Upon reading Lou’s story, The New York family, some of whom had now settled in Philadelphia, realized that this was indeed mishpochah.  They contacted the Foundation and the Cogan connection was cemented.  

Harvey Cogan’s long lost relatives
in New York – members of the Sommerfeld-
Rosen clan, gathered at a family
reunion in 2021. Also in attendance
were Harvey’s son Allan & his wife Shawna

In 2021 this reunification went to a higher level when Harvey’s and Nessie’s son Allan and his wife Shawna were in New York and they met with the Sommerfeld-Rosen clan. It was as if Harvey’s Baba and indeed his Zaida were once more with the descendants of siblings. As well, Harvey and Nessie now have regular Facetime visits with their new (old ) relatives each Sunday. They have restored what was long lost. Let’s give a big shout out to the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, which helped to make the Cogan family whole.

Of course, perhaps the most moving aspect of the story is the collection of lettersitself. Following is a part of one of the letters translated from Yiddish to English, and which was sent in March 1932 by Raizel Cogan to her niece Rachel. The name” Alter” she refers to in her letter is her son, David Cogan, Harvey Cogan’s father:

1st March
Dear niece Rachel,
I have come from my parents and received a letter and a receipt for 10 dollars so I am thanking you and may God help you my dear child that you shall come to a good refuge and I will be waiting till I’m once more with you together. You should not trouble yourself my dear If you can’t send. You’re very beautiful a and you do a lot with a minimum as if you were not my niece but my own daughter. My heart is aflame for you not less than for my only son Alter. My dear child you should not deprive yourself of meat to send us. I can manage alright, Do not ruin yourself
Writing will not come (?) for us to Yaryshev, I don’t know If I want to be in Yaryshev, I gather that afterwards I will travel to my oldest. I want to be there. I will write you her address and my new one as I was dispossessed from my home. It’s a “good” life. People have to be broken and separated, it cannot go as one would have thought, I am such a wretch, my luck is very sombre, as I don’t know if it could become lighter one day, I want to tell you about Devora. You can send her at her address it could be that it will somewhat disrupt (?) her learning so she will already write you.
Your aunt
P.S. This is Devora’s address, forward to everyone our greetings
Demyna St. #4 Vinnitsya, Ukraine. In some sort of Technical school

Sadly, things got much worse. Yet the letters remain and have real and deep meaning to Harvey. What a treasure to read these letters from someone he never knew or met but was his very own grandmother. Yet this woman Raizel Cogan, through her letters, gave her grandson, Harvey, a family that had disappeared. He and Nessie state loud and clear that they are truly indebted to Michael and Elyse Schatz for their dedication to make a family reconnection occur. They are grateful to Joyce Sommerfeld who kept these letters for many years. And of course, they are so appreciative of the Jewish Foundation and the role that this organization played in the happy event. Serendipity.

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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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