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The Zylbermans look back on 25 years of having come to Winnipeg from Argentina

The Zylberman family (l-r):
Leandro, Melina, Mauricio,
Marta, & Ariel

By BERNIE BELLAN While there has been a large influx of Jewish immigrants into Winnipeg over the past 25 years, perhaps one of the most interesting stories of how one family made the decision to come here is the Zylberman family’s – when one learns how much their decision to come here was totally a matter of chance.

Mauricio and Marta Zylberman, along with their three children: Ariel, Leandro, and Melina, arrived here in 1997 – during one of the worst snow storms in Winnipeg history, and just in time for what became the “flood of the century.”
But how the Zylbermans ended up in Canada – and a city about which they knew almost nothing at the time, is quite a fascinating tale. Although their decision to come here was taken somewhat arbitrarily, the Zylbermans quickly established strong roots in the community and have been deeply involved not only in Jewish life, but many other aspects of life in Winnipeg as well.

The story begins with a turbulent period in Argentina’s history, when the economy was cratering and Argentina was about to enter into a period that is now referred to as the “Argentine Great Depression,” which lasted from 1998-2002. Prior to that period Argentina’s economy had stagnated severely. Not only that, Buenos Aires, which is where the Zylbermans lived, had become a dangerous place where, as Mauricio Zylberman explains, the “corruption” and crime were terrible.
He says that every night, when he would come home from work, he “would have to drive around the block to make sure no one was waiting for me before I would get into my house.”
And yet, as Marta Zylberman describes their situation at the time, “we were very successful.” Their wanting to leave Argentina, she observes, “wasn’t about money. We were trying to get a better future for our kids,” she notes.
I asked them what they did in Argentina. Marta says she was a “stay at home mom and Mauricio was an accountant.”
The two boys were teenagers in 1997; Ariel was 16, Leandro was 14, and Melina was 11. Mauricio and Marta were themselves already in their 40s, so picking up and starting over in a new country – without even knowing where they might go, was definitely a challenge not for the faint of heart.
Their first choice was to get a green card for the United States, but “we couldn’t get it,” Marta says.
So, as she notes, in 1996 Marta decided to contact three different embassies: the Canadian, the Australian, and the New Zealand embassies and, as she puts it, “whoever is going to give us an answer, we’re going to go for it.”
“Canada and New Zealand were very welcoming,” Marta says, but “not the same situation with Australia.”
Eventually the Zylbermans were invited to an interview at the Canadian embassy.
I asked Marta and Mauricio whether they were even thinking about coming to Winnipeg at that time? “Was Winnipeg even on your map?” I asked them.
“No,” Marta answers. “We didn’t even know about Winnipeg.” (What eventually would turn into a major initiative undertaken by the Winnipeg Jewish Community Council – later to become the Winnipeg Jewish Federation, to attract Argentineans to Winnipeg had not yet begun.)
“When we put in the application and we were asked where we wanted to go, we said Toronto or Ottawa,” Marta says.
The Zylbermans could have gone anywhere they wanted in Canada because they were approved for visas but, at the end of their interview at the Canadian embassy, Marta says that the woman who was conducting the interview showed them some flyers that she thought might help them in their decision-making process.
According to Marta, that woman said, “You’re not going for an exploratory visit anywhere. But because you are Jewish and you have teenagers, and you are a family of five, why don’t you take these flyers that are related to the Jewish community in Winnipeg, so if you decide to change your mind and you want to go to Winnipeg (instead of Toronto or Ottawa), just let us know.”
The Zylbermans looked at those flyers. Marta notes that the flyers talked about how many restaurants there were in Winnipeg per capita, how many lakes were nearby – but there wasn’t anything about “the temperature” in Winnipeg, and there certainly wasn’t any mention of blizzards !

Mauricio picks up the story at that point, saying that when they got back from the embassy, he was intrigued at the notion of moving to a city with an established Jewish community, one that the individual at the embassy described in glowing terms. That very same day, he says, he sent a fax to the Winnipeg Jewish Community Council (noting that this was before the advent of the internet), expressing an interest in coming to Winnipeg.
Apparently that fax was fielded by Evelyn Hecht, who was the Community Relations Director for the WJCC at the time, and within a couple of hours Mauricio said he received a fax back from someone in the Manitoba government asking how could they help with the Zylbermans settling in Winnipeg.
Mauricio says that it was “astonishing to have an answer back within a couple of hours. I said to Marta, ‘If these people are giving an answer back in a couple of hours, that’s the place we should go’.”
Mauricio points out that the Provincial Nominee Program, which was begun by former Premier Gary Filmon, had not yet been established. It was that program, along with the concerted efforts of individuals such as Evelyn Hecht and Bob Freedman, who was executive director of the WJCC, along with the late Larry Hurtig, a Past President of the WJCC, and the aforementioned Gary Filmon – who all saw the potential benefit of trying to attract Argentinean Jews to Winnipeg that led to a largescale immigration to Winnipeg at the end of the 1990s and in the first decade of this century..

As Mauricio points out, however, when the Zylbermans arrived in Winnipeg that fateful day in April 1997, “there were only three other Jewish Argentinean families that had moved within recent years to Winnipeg.” (Eventually the number of Jewish families or individuals to arrive here from Argentina grew substantially, to the point where the figure of 400 individuals was bandied about as the number of Argentinean Jews who had immigrated to Winnipeg. However, as Mauricio acknowledged during our conversation, many of those individuals used Winnipeg as a stepping stone to eventually relocating elsewhere in Canada. It’s difficult to know exactly how many Argentinean Jews have remained in Winnipeg, but according to the 2016 Census there were only 475 individuals of Argentinean descent living in Manitoba that year. It’s possible that the majority were Jewish, but the fact is that, like most questions revolving around how many Jews actually live in Winnipeg, we really don’t know the answer.)
As I already noted, the Zylbermans didn’t have a clue what was in store for them as far as Winnipeg weather was concerned. For anyone reading this who was here at the time, memories of the blizzard that began on April 5 of that year, and which saw a total of 48 centimetres of snow fall in a 24-hour period are probably still quite vivid (along with the memories of a good part of southern Manitoba turning into one vast lake).
Yet, even before that blizzard began to hit, Winnipeg was already under a heavy blanket of snow. As their plane began its descent into Winnipeg, Marta says “all they could see was white.” She turned to Mauricio and said, “Omigod – what are we doing here?”
But, when the Zylbermans saw the large troupe that had turned out to greet them upon their arrival here, including Evelyn Hecht, along with Roberta Hurtig (who, along with husband Larry, Marta described as their “Winnipeg family”), as well as a representative from Toronto for JIAS (the Jewish Immigration Aid Service), they felt quite relieved.
Another individual who provided invaluable help to the Zylbermans was Gustavo Rymberg, who was a graphic designer working for the YMHA at the time, and who had arrived in Winnipeg just a few months prior to the Zylbermans’ arrival. Gustavo has gone on to forge a successful career working for other Jewish federations in Canada, first in Ottawa, and more recently in Hamilton, where he is now executive director of the Hamilton Jewish Federation.

Marta acknowledges how hospitable members of the Jewish community were when the family first arrived in Winnipeg. “We were invited to so many houses, but it was exhausting,” she says.
“We had to translate in our minds what they were saying – and then put into English what to answer.” (I remarked though that both Marta’s and Mauricio’s English is now quite good.)
It wasn’t only members of the Jewish community who rolled out the welcome mat, Marta adds. She recalls how friendly and helpful many individuals were to her when the Zylbermans first arrived here and she was shopping for such things as winter boots – even for a car.
And, despite the snowstorm that greeted the Zylbermans soon after their arrival, according to Marta, their biggest problem wasn’t getting used to the snow, “the fateful moment was when Mauricio realized that he wasn’t recognized as a CGA here,” which is what he was in Argentina.
I asked the Zylbermans whether they didn’t know that Mauricio would not be able to practice as an accountant before they got here?
“No, we didn’t know anything,” Marta answers.
As Mauricio adds, when they visited the Canadian embassy in Buenos Aires, they were told “the number one thing we need in Canada is accountants.”
Unfortunately, despite Mauricio being fully credentialed as an accountant in Argentina, and having had years of experience practicing the profession there, upon their arrival here he was told “you’re not certified here. Become certified – and you’re good to go.”
Mauricio explains that prior to coming to Canada he had contacted the California body responsible for certifying accountants in that state (and remember – the Zylbermans’ first choice was to emigrate to the US, preferably California) and was told that all he needed to do was take the qualifying exam in that state in order to be licensed as a Certified Accountant. Mauricio assumed that the same rule would apply in Canada, hence his surprise and disappointment at finding out that wasn’t the case here.
As a result, Mauricio says he spent almost four years taking the courses required to be certified as an accountant in Manitoba. He did find work related to his training, he says, but for four years Mauricio explains that he would work from 9-5, then head to Red River College to take accountancy courses in the evening. Eventually he completed the required courses and was certified again as a Certified General Accountant.

As things turned out, the relocation of the Zylberman family to Winnipeg proved fruitful for every member of the family. Ariel, Leandro and Melina went on to spend many years dancing with the Chai Folk Ensemble. Marta and Mauricio became part of the Chai family as a result and made many lifelong friends.
Both Marta and Mauricio have also been heavily involved with the Israeli pavilion at Folklorama. It was there that they met Richard Swyston, Mauricio notes, who has also been a longtime volunteer at the Israeli pavilion. The Zylbermans now count Richard and Gemma Swyston among their friends.
Ariel and Leandro attended Kelvin High School upon their arrival in Winnipeg, and both went on to university here. Ariel was actually a Rhodes Scholar and ended up obtaining a PhD in Philosophy. (I noted that he’s a Doctor of Philosophy who is a real “Doctor of Philosophy”.)
Marta recalls how impressive an achievement Ariel’s becoming a Rhodes Scholar was: “Here he was, not only an immigrant, but a Jewish guy,” she remarks.
Marta says though that unfortunately, Ariel was unable to find work in Winnipeg and, as a result, he is now teaching in the US.
Leandro and Melina, however, have remained in Winnipeg, where Leandro works as a lawyer and Melina as a doctor (psychiatrist).
Marta has also gone on to forge a career in real estate, but she waited until she felt comfortable enough with her English to pursue that career, she says.
At the end of our conversation, I said to Marta and Mauricio what a nice gesture it is for them to thank the Jewish community for welcoming them here. (As a matter of fact, the Zylbermans also thanked the community within the pages of this paper 15 years ago, upon the 10th anniversary of their having arrived here.) I noted though that, considering the Zylbermans’ arrival in Winnipeg coincided with what became the “flood of the century” and, with all the snow we’ve had this winter, I hoped that reminding readers of what we went through 25 years ago wasn’t going to cast some sort of jinx on us – and lead to yet another weather catastrophe.
The Zylbermans, however, insist that for all the harping that people do on the weather here, this is one fabulous city – and despite how arbitrary their decision to come here may have been, it is one that they and their children will always think of as the best decision they could ever have made.

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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.

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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:

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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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