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My transitions in Jewish education

1966 new
Phyllis Dana (inset – top left)
Phyllis (top row left) with students
from 1966 Peretz School kindergarten

By PHYLLIS LIPSON DANA From 1941 until 1945 I lived on Mountain and Aikins and was a student from Kindergarten to Grade 4 at the Folk School, located in a 3 storey house at the corner of St Johns and Charles.

In my final year there the school merged with the I L Peretz School, which was then located in a large building on Aberdeen just west of Salter. We had moved to a house on Lansdowne Avenue east of Main so I attended Luxton School by day and went to Peretz evening classes for two years. By then our family had joined the Shaarey Zedek on Dagmar Street, so I continued my Jewish education there at the Sunday School, and began to sing with the synagogue choir.

As I recall, the Folk School had a strong Zionist perspective. Many older students were members of Habonim, which met in the building. There was emphasis on the land of Israel, though the Jewish curriculum was taught mostly in Yiddish, focusing upon language, with a little bit of Hebrew being taught, and there was a significant celebration of Jewish holidays and festivals. I retain many happy memories of my years there. The school population was quite small. In my class were only nine students (Pearl Ash, Elliot Berman, Victor Chernick, Ronald Ganetsky, Sheila Naimark, Hersh Shapera, Barbara Sherebrin, Shirley Schicher, and myself). I can’t find any class pictures but I do have a picture of our kindergarten teacher, Esther Prasso sitting on the school’s steps. Other teachers I remember were Miss Bulstein (who became Mary Yukelis), Miss Kranis (who became Yetta Grysman), Mr. Lapin, Mr. Zeitlin, and Mr. Cantor (who became the principal when the merger occurred.

Since I was no older than nine when the schools merged, I had no idea at the time why the change had taken place. In retrospect, however, I do remember my mother more than once assembling items from home to donate to the “rummage sale” to raise money to buy coal. I suppose that the larger economic base of the Peretz “shool Mispoche” allowed the smaller school to continue in some form. Peretz was secular in philosophy and there were no actual prayers as part of the curriculum in the early grades when I attended. Bible studies were presented as historia (Jewish history) and, although the holiday celebrations were important, I don’t remember any mention of God in the commemorations. However, there were High Holiday services taking place in the school’s basement, which featured my Zaida Nate Lifshitz as one of the cantors. I remember a huge celebration of the end of World War II for which we were transported to the Peretz building for an assembly.

At the Shaarey Zedek I was exposed to a totally different view of Jewish education. Hebrew language was taught through the prayers, and the Bible studies definitely focused on the miracles attached to many celebrations which gave the credit where it was due. At 11 I joined the choir, so of course that meant that I became familiar with the order of Friday evening services and holidays. The synagogue on Wellington Crescent was opened in 1950 and when a junior choir was formed I was required by the choir master, Jack Garland, to join. We performed at Saturday morning services for many years. My parents were regular attendees and my brother became a frequent Torah reader there. I continued in the Shaarey Zedek choir for many years as I married and had two children.
When each of our children were five years old, I truly believed that they were the perfect age. In my experience children at five were adventurous, inquisitive, totally honest, highly sociable, and eager to learn. I had begun taking upgrading classes with the goal of going into Education at university, when Fay Zipman asked me if I would be interested in assisting her in her four-year-old class at Peretz School on Jefferson. I met the principal and he decided to give me a chance. The year was 1965-66 and my career was launched. Fay left teaching a year after I joined her, so I assisted Sara Green until 1969, when she moved to Vancouver.

That fall I began as the Nursery teacher and I was to assist in the kindergarten; the teacher with whom I had been working was needed to take on another class, so I was upgraded to Kindergarten teacher, learning the curriculum at night while I taught all day. I was also continuing my university education at night. The Peretz atmosphere was very family oriented with a strongly Jewish cultural approach. There were many evening gatherings with music, plays, and lectures primarily in Yiddish and always highlighting student performances. While “Shabbes” celebrations were held in the classrooms, with candles, challah and juice distributed, there were no prayers chanted. Students were taught the Hebrew language, but synagogue skills were not part of the curriculum. Some boys had Bar Mitzvahs, but many did not, and initially I never heard of girls becoming “Bat Mitzvah”. Over time the Ashkenazi pronunciations of Hebrew words was replaced by the more modern one and there was a strong focus upon Israel in celebration and song. Little by little Brachot were coming into the Friday candle-and-challah gatherings in classrooms. It seemed that most students were becoming Bar Mitzvah and some girls celebrated Bat Mitzvot.

For many years many kindergarten students rushed home for lunch and then proceeded to their neighborhood schools to attend afternoon kindergarten classes. TV did not provide much stimulation for children in the afternoon and our winters can be very cold. Over the years I met many public school teachers who complained that kids would frequently tell them they had done “that” in their morning school. In the school year 1976-77 an all-day kindergarten was begun at Peretz School and I had the privilege of initiating this concept. Soon other schools incorporated these classes as well.

In the early 80s a number of parents prevailed upon Seven Oaks School Division to begin providing a Hebrew-bilingual program. When it was implemented, registration at the north-end Jewish schools declined…there was no fee at public schools. At the same time the Board of Jewish Education was formed and when, by 1983 – as our school numbers were steadily decreasing (I had a class of only eight children that year), there was a strong movement to merge the I L Peretz Folk School with Talmud Torah.

As anticipated by the smaller school’s most loyal supporters, the Yiddish component of the curriculum became reduced over time to an occasional song being taught and “optional” Yiddish language classes being offered. The teaching of synagogue skills and assemblies in the synagogue were a major component of the Judaic curriculum as well as Hebrew language, reading and writing skills and a strong emphasis upon the land of Israel. As happened with the merger of the Folk Shul with Peretz, the larger school ideology swallowed the smaller. With the burden of teaching full-time, going to university part time, and looking after my family, I had left the Shaarey Zedek choir. Over time I sang for several years in the Rosh Pina choir and in later years with the Temple Shalom choir for High Holiday services.

I have wonderful memories of my more than 30 years teaching in the Jewish day schools, and a photo album full of pictures of most of my classes. Having visited other schools over time to observe teachers and programs, I was glad to notice that the vast majority loved children and were happy to be in kindergarten. The odd time I encountered teachers who were in the wrong place, having little patience for their students and obviously wishing they were in a higher grade. Most teachers of early childhood try to convey a feeling that “school is a happy and safe place where I can succeed”. I hope that children I have taught felt that way in my classrooms.

Ed. note: I had asked Phyllis to send me as many class pictures from her time at Peretz School as she could. She was able to send me eight pictures in total.

 

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Features

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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Features

Life in Israel four months after October seventh

Orly & Solly Dreman

By ORLY 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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Features

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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