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Gray Academy shows increase in enrollment for second straight year

By BERNIE BELLAN For years now we’ve been tracking enrollment figures at both Gray Academy and the Brock Corydon Hebrew Bilingual program.
Enrollment at Gray Academy has shown a slight increase this school year – up from 468 last year to 474 this year (K-12). Enrollment in the Hebrew bilingual program at Brock Corydon has also held steady: 192 this year, compared with 193 last year.
And, while enrollment at both schools has remained relatively even in the past few years at both schools, it is interesting to note that, over the past 11 years there were two fairly significant drops in enrollment at Gray Academy: in 2014 and 2017.
In 2014 there was a drop of 90 students at Gray Academy. In our October 1, 2014 issue Myron Love referred to an explanation given by then Head of School Rory Paul for the quite large drop in enrollment that year. Here is what Myron wrote: “This year’s enrolment stands at just over 500, compared to just over 600 two years ago and 590 to start the year last fall. The decline actually began over the course of the year last year and continued throughout the summer, Paul reports. The school lost 20 students between September and June alone.
“ ‘Part of the decline in student numbers,’ Paul reports,’ is due to families leaving the city. That accounts for about 50 students.’ He notes that the families – both Winnipeg- born and recent immigrants – left for better jobs elsewhere. ‘In most cases, he observes, ‘the parents were middle management and moved because they were promoted to senior management positions.’ “

Compare that explanation with one given by current Head of School Lori Binder in 2021, when there was another fairly significant drop in enrollment that year – from 481 in 2020 to 458 in 2021. Readers may recall that only three short years ago we were in the midst of the Covid epidemic and Gray Academy had become the first school in the province to require all students age 12 and up to be fully vaccinated in order to attend school. Twenty out of the 485 students who had been registered to attend Gray Academy were subsequently pulled by their parents from the school.
But, added to that, I also had this in my report about enrollment at Gray Academy in the fall of 2021: “Perhaps of greater concern to the Jewish community might be the fact that the families of 20 different students have left Winnipeg since the end of the school year last June.”
Again, this year, in an email to us, Lori noted that another 20 students left the school this year when their families left the city.
Thus, if there should be one constant concern for our Jewish community – based on what happened both those years at Gray Academy, it should be losing families to other cities.

We can now report, however, that the trend of losing families seems to have reversed itself since 2021. Enrollment at Gray Academy has not only held steady, it has increased both the past two years –to 468 last year and to 474 this years.
In analyzing enrollment at Gray Academy this current school year, Lori Binder offered the following pieces of information:
2023-2024 Total Number of Students JK to Grade 12: 474 (compared to 468 same time last year)
The total number of new students is 78 (compared to 66 at the same time last year).
Retention of students in 2023-2024 from eligible* students returning from 2022-2023: 98%
*When we count eligible students we remove graduates (44 graduates) and students who moved with their families out of the city (20 students moved outside of Winnipeg in the summer of 2023)

New Students This Year Include:

  • 38 New Students in Early Years (JK & K)
  • 12 New Students that Just Arrived in Canada
  • 4 from Other Cities in Canada
  • 2 International Students (Brazil and Australia)
  • 17 from Public Schools
  • 5 from other Independent Schools

The new students above can also be viewed as follows:
38 new to Early Years (JK & K)
16 new to Elementary (Gr. 1-6)
24 new to Grades 7 – 12 (high school)

  • Graduating class size is 41 for the Class of ‘24
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Local News

Congregation Etz Chayim says good bye to 123 Matheson Ave.

By BERNIE BELLAN After 71 years of serving as the home for first the Rosh Pina Synagogue, then for the past 21 years as the home for what was the merger of three different congregations – Rosh Pina’s, along with the Bnay Abraham and Beth Israel, the Etz Chayim Congregation held its final service on Wednesday, November 29.
You can read the story by CJN writer John Longhurst elsewhere on this site ( along with our earlier story about the sale of the building to an Eritrean Church (, but here are some pictures from the final service.

(Photos courtesy of Keith Levit)

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Local News

Israel report by former Winnipegger Bruce Brown

Bruce Brown

By BRUCE BROWN (posted Nov. 28/23) Was driving home from work the other day.  Pre-ceasefire.  Left the office early to reduce driving time in the evening hours.  Hamas likes their 6PM missile barrage and I’m honing my missile-avoidance routine.
Was listening to talk-radio… but kind of had enough of the news.  Too much war talk and its getting a bit overwhelming.  So switched to Spotify and up popped Supertramp – the Logical Song.  For sure how ‘wonderful, beautiful, magical’ life once felt.  Before Oct 7th.  Before Hamas. 
Then, as if on cue.  I gaze towards the sky.  And saw missiles flying overhead.  At first it didn’t really click. And then.  Yikes!  I quickly switched back to the news.  Where, in a very calming voice, they were announcing areas under missile attack.  Which is another reason to listen to the radio while driving during war – real-time information.  Lesson learned.
Suddenly my smartphone’s flashlight started flashing.  Which was pretty darn cool!  And there I was, on Star Trek.  Standing on the bridge.  Even recalled the vessel number – NCC-1701. There I was with Captain Kirk.  No!  I was Captain Kirk.  Dr. McCoy by my side.  Sulu and Chekov at the controls.  The Klingons were attacking.  And Mr. Spock -standing to the side- was calmy advising the attack coordinates.  No Wait!  That was the radio announcer.  Seriously.  This all took place within a split second in my over-active imagination.
The flashing continued.  Then I realized my cellphone was communicating with me.  Warning of danger.  I have the Home Front Command application which sounds an amazingly loud alarm during a missile attack in my area.  But changing between the radio and Spotify prevented the siren from going off.  So instead, the phone activated my flashlight.  Sending out an S.O.S.  Now how neat is that!  In a geeky sort of way.  Like for someone who imagines himself on Star Trek during a real-life missile attack.
Then.  Reality set in.  There were Home Front Command instructions to follow.  Momentary-panic set in.  Where was my wife.  To tell me what to do.  Like she always does…but that’s another story.  This time I wanted her there, instructing me. 
All these thoughts racing through my mind in milliseconds.  As I calmly slowed the car and veered to the shoulder.  Like other cars around me.  I put on the blinkers.  More flashing lights but the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise now a distant thought.  Looking both ways I left the car and hopped over the road- barrier.  Moving away from the car.  Although probably not far enough.  Because there was a steep decline just below.  It was getting dark and, suffering from poor night vision, I didn’t want to trip and hurt myself.  I heard my son laughing at me. “Nerd!” he called out.  But that was just my imagination.
I should have laid flat.  Prostrating myself for maximum protection.  But it rained earlier that day, the ground was wet and I didn’t want to get muddy.  ‘”Nerd!”  This time it was my daughter in my mind’s eye.  “Okay,” I said to no one in particular.  “I’ll squat.”  Good enough…but not really.
The family in the car ahead were huddling together but too close to their vehicle.  I shouted for them to move further away.  But they didn’t react.  Probably didn’t understand me, especially given my still heavily accented Canadian Hebrew.  This time I heard both my kids.  Teasing me – thirty years and still talk like an immigrant!  “Hey, they just don’t hear me.”  I said to the darkness.  Otherwise it was very moving seeing the father crouching down on top of his brood, in a protective sort of way.  “Isn’t that touching.” I said to my wife.  “For sure.” She said somewhat sarcastically in the back of my mind, “I know you’d do the same.”  
Then it was over.  The sky went quiet.  People returned to their cars.  The nestled family broke apart and entered theirs.  We should have stayed in place several more minutes.  Ten minutes is the recommended time.  But it was dark.  Getting late.  Also a bit cold.  I just wanted to get home.  Back to the real chiding of my kids and to my wife… somehow longing for her ordering me about.
A few minutes later my wife called.  Making sure I was safe.  And then routine set in.  “Don’t forget to pick up some milk and bread from the corner store.”  She instructed me.
Um Israel Chai
Bruce Brown.  A Canadian. And an Israeli.  Bruce made Aliyah…a long time ago.  He works in Israel’s hi-tech sector by day and, in spurts, is a somewhat inspired writer by night.  Bruce is the winner of the 2019 American Jewish Press Association Simon Rockower Award for excellence in writing.  And wrote the 1998 satire, An Israeli is….  Bruce’s reflects on life in Israel – political, social, economic and personal.  With lots of biting, contrarian, sardonic and irreverent insight.

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Local News

Jewish community holds solidarity rally November 25

The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg held a rally in support of Israel on Saturday evening, November 25.

A number of speakers addressed the crowd of 800, including Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun-Herzlia Congregation; Members of Parliament Ben Carr & Marty Morantz; Yolanda Papini-Pollock of Winnipeg Friends of Israel; Paula McPherson, former Brock Corydon teacher; and Gustavo Zentner, President of the Jewish Federation.

Ben Carr

Click here to watch Ben Carr’s remarks:

Marty Morantz

Click here to watch a video of Marty Morantz’s remarks:

Gustavo Zentner

Click here to watch a video of Gustavo Zentner’s remarks:

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