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Some thoughts on the passing of Jim Carr

By BERNIE BELLAN I first met Jim Carr when I decided to take an evening course Jim was teaching about politics at the University of Winnipeg in the 1970s. He was already well known to many Winnipeggers from his occasional appearances on the local CBC news program “24 Hours,” where, although still only in his twenties, he was able to offer informed insight about politics.

Jim was only two years older than me, but he was so much wiser. A scan of the many tributes that have poured forth since his death on December 12 was announced reveal – if you weren’t already aware, how incredibly diversified his interests were.

But, since this is a Jewish newspaper I’ve decided to focus on aspects of Jim’s life as they relate to his own Jewish identity. Yes, it’s true that  even though Jim did not go out of his way to draw attention to the fact he was Jewish, he was still immensely proud of his heritage.

At the beginning of his contribution to the Jewish Foundation’s Book of Life in which he writes about his Jewish background, Jim notes, in a way that would probably sound so familiar to so many of us, that “My grandparents all arrived in Canada in the early 1900s. They came from Europe with no money and no English; they came with nothing but hope, optimism, and the desire to work hard to make a life for their families in this young country.

“Those early seeds of risk and hard work have taken root as the Carr and Golden families have flourished in this great land. It’s a story that can be told thousands of times for thousands of families who saw Canada as an oasis of calm and opportunity in troubled times. I’m very aware, and proud, that to this day people from around the world continue to come to Canada. Together, we weave an elegant, multicultural tapestry that is the envy of the world.

Jim didn’t attend Jewish school, although in conversing with him he often liked to drop Yiddish expressions. He also mentions that his mother belonged to “Hadassah,” while his father belonged to the “Montefiore Club,” which was really just a venue for Jewish men to play cards.

Typically for young south end boys growing up in the 1960s, Jim wrote that  “I was involved in some Jewish youth activities and enjoyed my time as a member of Toppers in BBYO. I had my Bar Mitzvah at Shaarey Zedek where I shared the pulpit with another young man, Howard Gurevich.”

Jim goes on to describe his schooling and some of the organizations with which he was associated to that point in his life. (He was still with the Business Council of Manitoba until 2015, which is when he reentered politics, this time becoming the MP for Winnipeg South Centre.)

“I attended school at Brock Corydon, Montrose, Grant Park, University of Winnipeg Collegiate, the University of British Columbia, and McGill University. I have enjoyed—and still do—a diverse career. I have always been drawn to pursuits, both volunteer and professional, that have the potential to improve life in my city, my province, and my country. I played oboe with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra; served on the editorial board of the Winnipeg Free Press; have held senior administrative positions with the Manitoba Arts Council and the University of Winnipeg; and I served my community for four years as a Member of the Legislative Assembly and as deputy leader of the opposition. Today, I am proud to be the President and CEO of the Business Council of Manitoba…” 

It was shortly after having written that when Jim entered into the final chapter of his political career – in 2015, when he was first elected as the Liberal Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South Centre – a position he held until his death last week.

A scan of our own Jewish Post archives reveals that Jim’s name didn’t enter on to our own pages until 1996, when we reported on a panel discussion held on February 28 that year which was sponsored by the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University, the topic of which was prospects for peace in the Middle East.

Jim had just recently returned from a trip to Israel (his first time there), where he had gone to report on the Palestinian election for the Winnipeg Free Press. (With Jim on that trip also was the late Sol Kanee.)

That article also gave a foresight of the optimism that Jim continued to hold the rest of his life that Israeli Jews and Palestinians could work together, when he said that “Israelis and Palestinians now are talking about ‘taking walls down, not erecting new ones’ ”(in response to a series of terrorist bombings in Jerusalem that had been occurring), “and a proposal to divide the two peoples is a ‘non-starter.’ ”

In our June 27, 2001 issue we reported on yet another panel discussion on peace in the Middle East – again sponsored by Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University (Wouldn’t it be nice to have that organization contributing once again to the intellectual life of our community the way it used to?)

And, who was the chair of that panel discussion? You guessed it: Jim Carr.

Continuing in that vein, for years Jim was an active member of the Arab Jewish Dialogue, which was founded in 2006 by Ab Freig and the late Harold Buchwald as a means by which members of Winnipeg’s Jewish and Arab communities could engage in meaningful discussion.

Through the years whenever I spoke with Jim about the prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, he held to his belief that peace could be achieved, but only through a return by Israel to the pre-1967 borders and the recognition by Palestinians of Israel’s right to live within secure borders.

Was he naïve to continue holding to a view that has undoubtedly been rendered almost totally irrelevant as a result of Israeli settlements on the West Bank and the apparent utter refusal of most Palestinians to abandon the notion that violence against Israelis is justified? Perhaps, but Jim was a small-l  liberal through and through.

The last time I had a chance to sit down with Jim and have a really meaningful chat was in September 2018 when he had just returned from another trip to Israel, this time as Canada’s Minister of International Trade Diversification. Jim was very proud of the growth in trade that had been occurring between Israel and Canada, especially since the signing of a free trade treaty between the two countries in 1997 (and which was modernized in 2014). 

Yet, I wondered whether Jim’s almost dogged insistence on even-handedness might be something for which he could be criticized by Jewish groups for not doing more to represent “Jewish” interests? I pointed out, for instance, that in speaking with Dimitri Lascaris, who has long been a fierce critic of Israel, when I mentioned to Lascaris that Jim Carr was, in fact, Jewish, Lascaris said he wasn’t aware of that. I said to Jim that was indicative of how even-handed he was perceived by other politicians.

I wondered though how Jim felt about being a “Jewish” member of Cabinet?

He responded: “I can only speak for myself. I am not in Cabinet to represent Jewish interests to the Government of Canada, but I’m Jewish, so I bring with me my sensitivities, my sensibilities, who I am as a person – and who I am as a person is very much a product of how I was raised in the community in which I was raised and with which I still feel a very close association as early as today – when I was in synagogue.” (That interview took place the second day of Rosh Hashanah.)

That was quintessential Jim Carr – a thoroughly thought out and articulate sentence that reads as well on the written page as it sounded when he spoke those words to me.

At the same time I should mention that Jim was also actively engaged in a dialogue with Muslim members of the Federal Liberal caucus, along with fellow Jewish members of the Liberal caucus. That was Jim: always wanting to keep the discussion going – maybe not to achieve any specific goals, but simply for the sake of keeping lines of communication open.

In closing, I want to note that the last time I saw Jim was this past summer when he was at a meet and greet event in Lindenwoods. There weren’t many people there; I was a little surprised because it was a beautiful summer day and I thought more people would have turned out to see Jim. As it was, when I went up to say hi, Jim flashed that trademark smile and told me that he always enjoys reading The Jewish Post & News. I told him that in many ways he had been a role model for me – as a champion of a style of thoughtful liberalism that is often under attack. But he looked very tired and I saw that just coming out to that event, even though he was sitting down, must have been quite an effort for him.

I will miss Jim Carr, as a friend, as a devoted member of the Manitoba community, and as a Jew who represented values that were engrained in those of us who grew up in the 1950s and 60s when it was fashionable to believe that public service was a noble aspiration. I’m not sure there are any others like Jim Carr still around in our community. 

Jim Carr’s body was laid to rest at Shaarey Zedek Cemetery on Wednesday, December 14 in a private graveside service.

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Tom Traves: From the north end to the presidency of several Canadian universities

Tom Traves

By GERRY POSNER There haven’t been lot of Jewish presidents of Canadian universities.
To be clear, there have been some, but not as many as one might expect – given how many Jewish academics we’ve had in Canada over the years.
One person who made the short list of Jewish university presidents in this country has been none other than a former Winnipegger – right out of the north end of Winnipeg: Tom Traves. Now retired, Traves had a long and distinguished career in the university setting as President of Dalhousie University in Halifax, serving for 18 years in that position.
Traves’s tenure as Dalhousie president followed a four-year term as Vice- President of the University of New Brunswick. But, if you read the CV of Tom Traves, you can understand how this came to be.
Tom was a graduate of the University of Manitoba with a B.A. ( Hons.) in 1970, followed by an M.A. from York in 1973, and a Ph.D., also from York, in 1976.
Tom began his teaching career at York (where he spent many years) in 1974 as a lecturer, then as an associate professor, from 1976 to 1991. From 1981 to 1983, Tom was the Chairman of the Division of Social Science at York. He was soon appointed, in 1983, as Dean of the Faculty of Arts, where he served until 1991. From York Tom moved to the University of New Brunswick, where he became both Vice President (Academic) and a Professor of History, from 1991 to 1995.
Then, in 1995, Traves was invited to be the President and Vice- Chancellor of Dalhousie University for a six year term. When that term ended, Tom was appointed again for another six year term. And still later, in 2007 – for yet a third term of three years. When that ended, he was renewed for another three year term. Would you not agree that Tom Traves and Dalhousie had a strong connection, to put it mildly? Just to lend credence to this statement, it was during the Tom Traves tenure that enrolment at Dalhousie grew by over forty percent and external research grants and contract income increased by over three hundred percent. Now, those are impressive statistics. Perhaps the most telling assessment of Traves during his time at Dalhousie is a comment made by a former member of the University’s Board of Governors, who noted that Traves had been at the centre of a fund raising campaign which raised over $250 million during his time at Dalhousie, the highest total in the history of the province. When asked about Traves and his successor, Richard Florizone, this board member called them both remarkable individuals: “I would hire them for my company in a minute, and they would make me money.”
To read through the list of books, articles and other credits of Tom Traves is more than the Jewish Post & News could put on its website, as it might overload the system. But for sure some of the highlights of his career (aside from all the boards he has sat on across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia), would be the awards and honours that have come his way. He was the recipient of an award not commonly given to Canadians: the Filosofie Hedersdocktor Honoris Causa, from Umea University in Sweden in 1997, and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Commemorative Medal in 2000. Not to be forgotten was Tom’s inclusion on the list as one of the top 50 CEOs in Atlantic Canada in 2005, 2006 and 2007. There were so many other major awards, culminating in 2014 when he was appointed to the Order of Canada.
With all of that, Traves was still in demand when he retired and moved back to Toronto in 2016. He was asked to be the Interim President of Brock University in 2016 while that university sought out a long term person to fill that position. Once he completed that role, he semi-retired, taking on consulting activities over the last number of years.
How did a quiet unassuming boy, son of Sam and Marjorie Traves (Kay), brother to the late Nancy Traves, a product of West Kildonan, advance so far and so fast? Did he show signs of this kind of superior level of scholarship and leadership in his early days? Some might answer that it was his time spent at West Kildonan Collegiate that spurred him on to greater heights. Was it perhaps his days as an undergraduate at the University of Manitoba (from 1966-1970?) No one can say for sure, but the truth is that Traves had a speedy trajectory upward and even in retirement he has moved along at a decent clip. He is quite active these days, playing Bridge, golf, and now Pickleball. In large part, he and his wife Karen (Posner), my first cousin, (and that connection to the Posner family might be the real reason for his great success) have focused time and attention on their grandson Ben, son of his daughter Julie. There are also trips to the Washington D. C area, where his son Will and his wife live, along with his oldest grandson, Daniel.
In short, the Tom Traves story is just another Winnipeg success story – if the city wishes to lay claim to it: North End Jewish boy makes good in the east. The best part of the whole story is that, if you know Tom, or just met him, you would never have an inkling of his accomplishments, so unassuming is he. That is Tom Traves.

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Newly-arrived Health Sciences Centre surgeon Dr. Lev Bubis has deep roots in Winnipeg Jewish community

Dr. Lev Bubis

By MYRON LOVE Dr. Lev Bubis, the Health Sciences Centre’s new hepato-pancreato-biliary (HPB) surgeon, says that he and his family –wife, Amy, and four-year-old daughter, Ada, – are settling in quite nicely in their new home.
“We are really enjoying being here,” notes Bubis who arrived here in early October. “We have a house in south River Heights and we enjoyed being with the family for the High Holidays and Chanukah.”
Bubis is the grandson of the late Morris and Mae Bubis. And, although the young Bubis grew up in Ottawa – family members here include his aunts, Carol Arenson, Adrienne Katz and Harriet Rodin, and their families.
Bubis’s father, Mordy Bubis, left Winnipeg for Ottawa after university and the nation’s capital is where the young Bubis grew up.
He notes that he was interested in pursuing a career in medicine from an early age – although he first earned a B.A. in Philosophy at Kings College in Halifax. He did his medical training at Columbia University.
“I decided to specialize in liver and pancreatic medicine in third year when I got the opportunity to work with Dr. John Chabot, one of America’s leading pancreatic cancer specialist,” Bubis says.
After Columbia, Bubis relocated (in 2014) to Toronto, where he honed his surgical skills in liver and pancreatic surgery at the University of Toronto and St. Joseph’s Hospital. He did a six-year residency at the university, followed by two years of research and two more years training in surgical oncology.
Bubis (and family) arrived in our community in early October to begin his position at HSC. In an interview on the Health Sciences Centre Foundation website “Tell Your Story” section, which was published on December 21, Bubis noted that there were several factors that led him to come to HSC – in particular, the hospital’s commitment to minimally invasive surgery.
“I was attracted by the exceptional team that’s in place at HSC and by the fact that the hospital is really pushing things forward with minimally invasive surgery,” said Bubis in the HSCF interview. “This is where the HPB field is going and it is a real interest of mine. It’s exciting to me that the HSC Foundation is supporting this direction in surgery with capital investments.”
He explained that minimally invasive surgery is “an approach to surgery that typically relies on smaller incisions and instruments. Very small cameras allow surgeons to see their work on video monitors in high definition. Minimally invasive surgery means less pain for a patient, a quicker recovery, and a shorter hospital stay. Among other benefits, shorter hospital stays free up beds more quickly, which reduces the amount of time patients need to wait in the Emergency Department.”
Bubis has also had extensive training in treating neuroendocrine tumors, which can occur throughout the gastrointestinal tract, as well as elsewhere in the body. One of his specialties is the Whipple procedure, an operation to remove tumors and treat other conditions in the pancreas, small intestine and bile ducts. The complex procedure involves removing the head of the pancreas, the first part of the small intestine, the gall bladder and bile duct.
Bubis points out that, at HSC, he is a member of a team that treats patients from throughout Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. He reports that he sees patients at the clinic two days a week, does surgeries one or two days a week and does some endoscopes and teaching.
He is looking forward to a lengthy stay here.

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‘Put a Yid on It!’ Festival of New Yiddish Culture!

Beyond the Pale - Feb. 8 at the Berney Theatre

By SHIRA NEWMAN – Festival Director I am thrilled to announce the inaugural year of ‘Put a Yid on It’ Festival of New Yiddish Culture, running from February 7 to 11th. I have had the great good fortune of being the producer of this event with the guidance and support of the committee which previously brought us the wonderful festival Mamaloshen.
Like a lot of Gen X-ers, I grew up hearing a smattering of Yiddish as a child, mostly in the words of my Baba. I could not speak a word of it, but when I made my first film 10 years ago, I was for some reason drawn to include Yiddish in it and I started to dive into the history of Yiddish Cinema.
A linguist I know, hearing me wondering where this desire came from, explained to me that an ancestral language will remain ‘written in our bones’ (or unconscious memory, or genes, however we may wish to see it). This resonated with me and started me down a voyage of discovery of this 1000-year-old language and culture.
It is hard to imagine that only 80 years ago eleven million people spoke, wrote, sang, and dreamt in Yiddish. It spanned throughout all of Eastern Europe and spread wherever our people travelled. Never the majority language of a nation state but the language of a pan national community of Ashkenazi Jews ‘scattered among the nations’ enriched by and enriching so many other languages and cultures while still carrying its uniqueness with it.
Since the Second World War, Yiddish has become less common but as any Yiddishist will tell you, the idea that it is dying is wrong (if not complete heresy!). And they are very right. It is spoken by many (largely in the Hassidic community) and is continually being reclaimed by more – as can be seen by talented artists of every generation who make beautiful work inspired by the Yiddish language.
Today there is a lively re-emergence of the warm, funny, poetic language – some call it a new Yiddish Renaissance in the arts, cinema, and music. There are popular films, TV shows, successful web-series, and festivals springing up everywhere. In the world of music, you can find an amazing array of bands putting their own modern spin on classical Klezmer, and others using Yiddish in everything from Punk to Metal, to Psychedelic Rock, to Hip-Hop! Put a Yid on It! Is a celebration of this trend!
On February 7th, at 7:30 pm we will be opening with a free book launch, talk, and reception at The Handsome Daughter (61 Sherbrook Street) for a brand-new book called “Yiddish Cinema: The Drama of Troubled Communication,” featuring authors Jonah Corne and Monika Vrečar. This book offers a bold new reading of Yiddish cinema by exploring the early diasporic cinema’s fascination with media and communication. Jonah and Monika will discuss their book and the history of Yiddish cinema. (Snacks and drinks will be provided).
We have some amazing bands coming! On February 8th, Canadian Folk Music Award Winners, Beyond the Pale will be here from Toronto and will be playing at the Berney Theatre. They are a tremendous fun and lively Klezmer and Balkan Band who are known for their genius musicianship, experimentation, and playfulness. This is not your traditional Klezmer Band – they bring in a world of musical styles including reggae, jazz, bluegrass. Watching them play is truly a tour of world music. They will be bringing Yiddish classics and so much more!

Socalled – Feb. 10

On February 10th, we are partnering with the West End Cultural Centre to bring the brilliant and one-of-a-kind Yiddish (and English), Montreal Hip-Hop artist Josh ‘Socalled’ Dolgin. He will be performing with his band, which includes the mesmerizing vocalist Katie Moore, Balkan trumpet ‘God’ Nizo Alimov, and Michale Felber on bass. This is going to be an incredibly special show. His music is as evocative and moving as it is fun (and danceable).
Socalled is the star of an award-winning feature length documentary (NFB) called ‘The Socalled Movie.’ The video for his song ‘You Are Never Alone’ has been viewed more than three million times. He is truly a cultural phenomenon (and his parents are from Winnipeg!).
From February 7th to 11th, we will be presenting a series of some of the greatest Yiddish films of all time – all restored to beautiful quality. I am extremely excited to see these on a big screen for the first time! This series includes films from the 1930s, which is considered The Golden Age of Yiddish Cinema such as “Yiddle with His Fiddle” (a joyful romp of a musical comedy) on February 7th, “The Light Ahead” (a poignant social commentary) on February 8th, and “The Dybbuk” (a gorgeous Yiddish ghost story) on February 10th. It will also include “Hester Street,” from 1974, (with a Yiddish speaking Carol Kane) on February 11th. All these screenings take place at 2:00 p.m. in the Berney Theatre.
On Sunday, February 11th, we will have some fun closing events! At 10 am come and join us at the Rady JCC for a bagel breakfast and a ‘Bisl’ Yiddish with Professor Itay Zutra. We will be learning some of the MOST expressive Yiddish sayings. At 3:30 pm there will be a reunion for I.L. Peretz Folk School alumni. There will be snacks and time to reminisce!
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.radyjcc.com or feel free to give me a call at 204.477.7534.

There is a quiet humor in Yiddish and a gratitude for every day of life, every crumb of success, each encounter of love… In a figurative way, Yiddish is the wise and humble language of us all, the idiom of a frightened and hopeful humanity.

  • Issac Bashevis Singer
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