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St. John’s used to produce so many of Winnipeg’s “best & brightest”

Bernie new pic edited 1By BERNIE BELLAN Readers may wonder why I’ve devoted so much space to writing about Aron Katz, who died tragically 49 years ago.
The reason, as I explain in my story about Aron, is that memories of a member of our community whose life was suddenly cut short – especially someone who was on the cusp of greatness, evoke strong feelings in so many of us.

As I also note in my story, a year and a half ago I wrote a very similar story about someone named Rebbie Victor. Here is what I wrote in December 2020: “It was 50 years ago this month that the life of a young woman who was loved by all who knew her was cut tragically short as the result of a totally unforeseeable incident.
“I didn’t know Rebecca Victor (who was commonly known as Rebbie), although it turns out we weren’t far apart in age.”

In that article I quoted extensively from a piece the late Abe Arnold had written about Rebbie, in which he described how immensely talented she was – and what great promise she held. Abe wrote: “Rebbie Victor was a talented young woman with mature interests in the world around her. A student of music and of dance, she showed accomplishment at the piano and had a lovely voice, but music was not all and she had a great zest for the varied experiences of life.
“Rebbie had an earnest concern for other people demonstrated by her active interest in the cause of world peace and in political activities which, to her, were truly devoted to the achievement of a just society.”

So, when I was contacted again – this time by a former classmate of Aron Katz’s by the name of Reid Linney – who asked me whether I’d be interested in writing about yet another product of St. John’s, and who was only 21 when his life came to a sudden end, I immediately responded that I would because I knew Aron’s story would also evoke a similar reaction among readers as had the story about Rebbie Victor.
Never having attended St. John’s myself, although many of my friends did, when I pored through the same online 1968-69 yearbook that I had looked at in December 2020 when I was researching Rebbie Victor’s life, I was astounded at how many names I recognized – and who have since gone on to successful careers.

There are doctors, dentists, lawyers, and businesspeople, many of whom are well known, not only in our Jewish community, but the larger community as well. And, when I looked at the names of the individuals who have contributed to the scholarship that has been established in Aron Katz’s name for a student at St. Johns’s, I was impressed with the mix of Jewish and non-Jewish names.
That was another aspect of Aron’s story that impressed me. Among the many individuals who have contributed to the scholarship established in his memory are many non-Jewish names.

Here is the wording that explains the purpose of the Aron Katz scholarship: “Aron excelled at academics, made friends easily, and exhibited uncommon courage in his life. His classmates wish to recognize a graduating student who similarly shows academic promise and exhibits empathy for others; in particular, one who has demonstrated courage when faced with a significant challenge in their life.”

To think that someone who died almost 50 years ago can serve as an inspiration for others is something that we should all keep in mind when we think of the types of role models that young people have in abundance these days.
Nowadays someone has to have a huge Instagram presence and be a social influencer of immense fame in order to attract the admiration of most young people.

But, back in the day when Aron Katz was growing up – along with his friends, the criteria for success included academic achievement and being a well-rounded person. I’m not so sure those criteria still hold when the single most important criterion for success these days seems to be how many followers you have on Instagram.
At the same time I wonder how the current generation of Jewish kids compares with kids from years past when it comes to goals and opportunities. Back in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, it was taken for granted that if you did well at school and continued on the same path at university, then doors would be open to you in almost any field you might choose. The era of facing discrimination on gaining admittance to medical school, for instance – something that was a bitter obstacle for Jewish students for years, was over. All that you needed were good marks and a willingness to work hard .

Yet, in looking at that St. John’s yearbook, as I realized that so many of the names I recognized no longer live in Winnipeg, I couldn’t help but think that so many of the best and brightest have left Winnipeg over the years. That comes as a surprise to no one, I’m sure.
Back in 2016 I was curious to find out whether the trend of leaving Winnipeg once someone had acquired an undergraduate degree had continued among more recent graduates of our school system. I decided to focus on everyone who had received a scholarship from the Jewish Foundation in 2004. It was an arbitrary choice and it could well have been any other year.
Of the 45 scholarship recipients I was able to track down 41 of them. What I found surprised me to a certain extent. Of the 45, 22 were in Winnipeg. (I noted that I wasn’t sure whether some of them had left Winnipeg for a while and returned.)
I also wrote that “Of the others who are living elsewhere, eight are in Toronto, one is in Calgary, one is in Montreal, six are in the U.S., and two are in Israel.”
I also noted that many of the scholarship winners were Russian Israelis – and that the majority of the Russian Israelis had remained in Winnipeg.
In addition, I wrote that “Many of the scholarship winners have gone on to careers in the health field. Three are doctors (one is a psychiatrist), one is a naturopath, and one is an acupuncturist.
“Three others are dentists; four are nurses.
Three are lawyers, three are engineers, one is an actuary, one is an economist, one is a Russian language school operator; three are university lecturers (although someone who I thought is a university lecturer might be a learning specialist – there were two individuals from Winnipeg with the same name who could have fit the bill); while the rest are involved in business to one degree or another – including software developer, food entrepreneur, swimming school owner, goldsmith, employee of a religious store, and a senior executive with Target in the U.S.”

It was an interesting exercise and one I ought to consider doing again. (I wonder whether anyone at the Jewish Foundation itself has ever thought to track down previous scholarship recipients to see where they ended up.)

My point in writing this is simply to try to know more about our Jewish community, especially recent immigrants to Winnipeg. If it was a given back in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s that the children of individuals who had immigrated to Winnipeg back in the first half of the 20th century or, as was the case with so many others, following World War II, would be motivated to succeed academically – not because their parents had been well educated (because most of them weren’t), but as was almost always the case – as a result not only of pressure put upon them by their parents to succeed academically, but also due to peer pressure, then what of the current generation of children whose parents also came here – from Argentina, Israel, Russia, Ukraine, and several other countries?
In the past I’ve written about educator Dina Raihman and her “Integral School,” which places on emphasis on teaching math and physics. Although not all of Dina’s students are the children of immigrants, a good majority of them are. I’d be looking for those kids to be the next generation of academic achievers.

In reading about Aron Katz I was especially moved by something David Manusow remarked upon in a 2019 speech in which he paid tribute to Aron: “Aron was the second youngest of 7 children, all academic stars, who grew up under very modest circumstances in an old, white 2-1/2 storey wooden clapboard house on Alfred Ave. (Many years later, I still recall Aron complaining that the sound of mice scurrying about in its walls interfered with his studying!)”

Many of Aron’s peer group at St. John’s came from similar circumstances. Fifty years from now, I’m thinking that if we’re going to be able to look back upon a similar group of shining academic stars who are currently in school, they too will have been the children of immigrants.

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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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