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Hana and Vladimer Mesongnik and family
photo by Rhonda Spivak

Galina Khaminskaya and Meytal Levy, both new immigrants from Israel
photo by Rhonda Spivak

Itai and Ariela Eliahu and Alma
photo by Rhonda Spivak

Children on stage dancing and singing on stage of Berney Theatre
photoby Rhonda Spivak


by Rhonda spivak, December 15, 2010

The gym at the Asper Campus was filled with about 400 people,  families and children, including many new  immigrants who have moved to Winnipeg from Israel, for the Rady JCC’s Channukah Extravaganza on December 5.

There were many great activities to choose from art the Extravaganza; pin the shamash on the Chanukiah, Latke Toss, Dreidel Game, Chanukah Making., Candle Making, Chanukah Cards, Chanukah Decals, Chanukah Gelt Bags, Chanukah Magnets, Cookie Decorating, Face Painting, Trivia Games. There were latkes for everyone, prepared by Machon Madrichim.

Following these activities, many parents with young children filled the Berney Theatre where  the energetic Rena Elbaze sang blessings and  led a Channukah sing songin English, Hebrew and French with children on stage in English, Hebrew and French. Then there was a broadcast premiere of  Shalom Sesame : Can Grover find the Missing Menorah and What Happened to the Latkes. The delight on the children's faces during the sing song and movie was easy to spot.

Since there were a lot of families who have moved to Winnipeg from Israel recently who came out for the event, the Winnipeg Jewish Review took the opportunity to meet some of the newcomers.
Itai and Ariela Eliyahu and their children Lihu (7) and Alma (3) arrived to Winnipeg only two weeks earlier and are both looking for employment. Itai said he is looking for work as a “logistics-warehouse manager.” His wife Ariela, whose parents are originally from Argentina and moved to Israel, said she would be flexible in looking for work. Ariela speaks “Spanish, Hebrew, and French,” in addition to English and has worked previously as “an office manager” and in a public relations firm in Be’er-Sheva. They said they enjoyed spending their first channukah in Winnipeg at the Rady JCC.
Hana and Vladimir Mesongnik, who originate from the former Soviet Union, were also at the event with their three children Nicole (4), Arik (9) and Sasha (13). Both the Mesongnik’s are nurses (Hana was an engineer before) but are without degrees. They worked for years as nurses in Israel  and “we got our temporary liscences to work here,” said Vladimir, who explained that they both had to pass a “language test.”
The Mesongnik’s chose Manitoba because “It was the easiest to get to without having a degree.” They live in St. Norbert, and Sasha told the Winnipeg Jewish Review, “there are three Jews in my school in St. Norbert.”
Vlad added That “We know three other families that are on their way from Israel to Winnipeg” to move here.
Meytal Lavy, who has been her five months, and who speaks English well , has already found work. She is the office administrator at an architecture firm. Her friend Galina Khaminskaya has been here for six months and is learning English and will look  for employment. She has worked before in delicatessens.
The two women know each other from living in Haifa before moving here. When asked how they found out about Winnipeg as a place to live, Lavy mentioned a website where a lot of Israelis who want to leave Israel can chat to each other. She also had spoken to Danny Kaufman, another Israeli who had already moved here.
Victoria Tsitrin, another Russian born Israeli was also at the Rady JCC Channukah party. She lives in Waverely Heights and sends her children to public school where “there aren’t so many Jewish people.” She said she comes to community events sporadically, but “Every year I come here [for Channukah].” She commented that there were many young children this year. 

Vicortia has family in Haifa, and commented that the forest fire there  which was raging the day of the Rady JCC Channukah party "was a tragedy—it was the only natural forest in Israel. All the rest were man made.”

There were lots of other newcomers at the event, who were leaving with hands full of  the Channukah related crafts they had made.  As for the Channukah latkes--they must have been good-good enough that there weren't any left for the Winnipeg Jewish Review to sample after meeting  the newcomers.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.