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Simkin family reunion group shot at the Simkin Centre Friday evening, July 26

The Simkin cousins’ reunion that took place the weekend of July 25-28 ago attracted 125 family members – ranging in age from eight months to one cousin in her mid-90s - from far and wide, and created memories that will be cherished for years to come. It was also an opportunity for several more distant cousins to meet each other for the first time.






The reunion brought together the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of early Jewish Winnipeggers Samuel and Fanny Simkin. The couple had six children - sons Blackie, Saul, Jim and Abe and daughters Jenny Cohen and Clara Erlichman.
In its heyday, BACM Industries, the construction company that evolved from Samuel Simkin’s fuel company, was one of the largest builders in Western Canada. In Winnipeg, the Simkin family has played prominent philanthropic and leadership roles in the community.
In 2012, the 18 grandchildren of Samuel and Fanny Simkin held a reunion that was restricted only to their generation. The first event of this most recent reunion weekend – a get-together in the common room at 141 Wellington Crescent (where reunion co-organizer Jerry Cohen and his wife, Susan, live) – was just for the first cousins and their spouses. The evening naturally featured that Winnipeg staple - a Jeannie’s Cake.

Cohen reports that seven of the first cousins still live in Winnipeg, five live in San Diego and the others six are in Israel, Miami, Minneapolis, northern California, Victoria and Vancouver. “Among us are doctors, lawyers, writers and educators,” says Cohen, who was himself principal of Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate. “And many of us have been involved in community leadership roles.”
Cohen co-ordinated the weekend reunion in partnership with other Winnipeg cousins.
The reunion for the entire family began with a Friday evening dinner at - where else, but the Saul and Claribel Simkin Centre. “The staff at the Simkin Centre went out of their way to accommodate us,” Cohen says. “It was really nice to have an event there.”
The family members, Cohen notes, included 35 Winnipeggers and 77 from out of town. “We Winnipeggers gave a really warm welcome to our out-of-town cousins,” he says.
On Shabbat, all of the Simkin family members were at Congregation Etz Chayim, (the former Rosh Pina - which was the unofficial Simkin family shul; the Simkin family was among the synagogue’s principal builders). “Fifteen of the first cousins were married at Rosh Pina and we have celebrated many bar and bat mitzvahs there,” Jerry Cohen says.

Cohen presented the Dvar Torah that Shabbas, while Sam Simkin, a graduate of the Cantor Benjamin Brownstone choir, davened musaf. “In my Dvar Torah, I highlighted from Parshat Pinchas, insights into census taking, feminism and family values,” he says.
On Saturday evening, the family booked the Inn at the Forks for a big family gathering. Family member David Gale served as MC while Stuart Slayen (one of Jerry Cohen’s sons-in-law) was the moderator for an “everything there is to know about the Simkin Family” quiz.
“We also had a karaoke machine, a family tree compiled by Simon Simkin on display and lots of family pictures for people to look at,” Jerry says. Kinzey (Posen) and Shayla (Fink) provided the music. The evening was a lot of fun.”
The weekend reunion continued Sunday with a brunch at the Asper Campus (catered by Schmoozer’s, which opened specially that particular Sunday just for that occasion) outside on the Jewish Foundation patio and a baseball game on the Campus grounds.
“On Sunday evening, we did what Jews used to do here on a Sunday evening – go out for Chinese food,” Cohen says.
“All in all, it was a wonderful weekend. Everyone had a good time.”

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