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Rabbi A Altein

Premier Greg Selinger seated between Larry vickar (L) and Mel Lazareck (R).
Photo by Rhonda Spivak.

M.P. Rod Bruinooge
Photo by Rhonda Spivak.

Ben Cohen and sons
Photo by Rhonda Spivak.



by Rhonda Spivak, January 11, 2010

According to an article by Myron love in the Canadian Jewish News published on December 16, 2010, “David Salita, a member of the fundraising committee [for the Chabad’s new Jewish Learning Centre in the city said that the current construction project is just phase I of a more ambitious vision. The ultimate goal, he said, is to incorporate a yeshiva and student residence that would attract students from all over the world.”

This vision is confirmed by the Chabad website which describes the new Chabad centre as “ the first Yeshiva built between Vancouver and Toronto.” According to the Chabad website, the new Jewish Learning Centre “will allow families that are growing in their Jewish practices the option of staying in Winnipeg. The Jewish Learning Centre will also will encourage new families to move to Winnipeg.”

For the last three years or more virtually all Jewish immigration to Winnipeg has been comprised of Russian Israelis, who are on the whole a more secular, non–observant population.  

When asked about the report in the  Canadian Jewish News, Rabbi Shmuly Altein  told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that  the ultimate goal of  Chabad is to  "provide a Jewish learning Centre for Jews in Winnipeg."

When asked about plans for a yeshiva, he said " Right now we have a summer Yeshiva that runs and we bring in yeshiva boys  so that there can be more one- on- one learning between a participant from Winnipeg and a yeshiva youth, [who are generally between 18-21 years old.]  We are thinking of  expanding this yeshiva learning to conduct this in September or the fall as well."

He explained that to do so, would mean having yeshiva students come and stay in Winnipeg, but details of exactly when this would happen or how long they would stay have not been worked out, and it was not clear when this expanded yeshiva learnign would take place.

When asked about the fact that the Chabad website refers to the centre being the first Yeshiva built between Vancouver and Toronto,  Rabbi Shmulyl Altein said that "A yeshva is a learning centre."

When asked about plans to build a student  residence for Yeshiva youth who would come to Winnipeg, he said that "We have only built on half of the land we own," and explained that at a later date they would like to  "build an apartment or two" for Yeshiva boys who would come and conduct one- on- one learning."

The Chabad website says, “The Lubavitch Centre holds the key to maintaining and enhancing Jewish life in Winnipeg.”

The Jewish Learning Centre [JLC] celebrated its grand opening and Channukah on December 5, 2010, at a very festive gathering attended by over 500 people of all ages. It is not very often that a new major building is inaugurated in the Jewish community, and the trays of jam busters and other Channukah treats were completely empty by the end of the festivities, and the floor filled with confetti.

Given the fact that the fundraising campaign took place during an economic downturn, the opening of the centre, a $4.1  million project, is a rather a significant feat, and a testament to the vision and leadership of Rabbi Avrohom Altein , Winnipeg’s Chabad Rabbi for the last 40 years. As of the date of the inauguration of the centre Chabad had reached over $3. 2 million of their $4.1 million stated goal.

Chabad has received donations from many individual Jewish donors who attend a variety of synagogues, of differing levels observance.  Chabad, which purchased the former railroad land in south Winnipeg in 2005, conducts many Jewish outreach programs. It believes that the Jewish Learning Centre will help re-vitalize and strengthen Jewish learning and literacy in the city and Chabad welcome all members of the community, regardless of their background or level of religious observance.

The building of the new centre received a major boost in September 2009 when the province of Manitoba and the Federal government announced infrastructure grants of $320,000 each for the project— one of which was part of the federal stimulus plan.  The City of Winnipeg and Jon Orlikow, councilor for River Heights also added $ 25,000 to the pot. The Chabad fundraising campaign also received a donation of $75,000 from the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba. The Winnipeg Foundation also contributed money to the project.

The new Chabad building, which is 17,000 square feet will house the Jewish Learning Institute (JlL), offer a Yeshiva for adult education, libraries for both adults and children, a synagogue and auditorium, school classrooms, Camp Gan Israel recreational facilities, offices, lounge, kosher kitchens (including pareve, meat, milk and passover facilities), a mikvah, large gym and play area, day-care and more.

“By investing in this important project the Government of Canada has created jobs and supported Winnipeg’s Jewish community for years to come,” said Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge, on behalf of Chuck Strahl, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. “Our government is proud to be working to support municipal infrastructure across the province of Manitoba,” Bruinooge, who attended the grand opening, added. Also in attendance was MP for Winnipeg South Anita Neville, and Conservative candidate Raymond Hall.

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger gave greetings and congratulatory remarks at the imaugral event noting that it was great to see Chabad’s new building “buzzing with activity and life”. Christine Melnick, Minister for Water Stewardship was also present for the occasion, as were MLA for  River Heights ( and leader of the Provincial Liberal party Jon Gerard and leader for the Provincial Liberal Party as will as PC Candidate for River Heights Martin Morantz.

“Today’s grand opening of the new Jewish Learning Centre is a beautiful beginning of growth and life for Winnipeg,” said Rabbi Altein.  “The new building is an impressive facility that brings educational programs for people of all ages under one roof - from “Torah Tots” for small children, “Gan Israel” camping and youth programs for children and teens, ‘JLI’ lectures and socials for young adults, to “Second Career” for seniors. Today's opening is a momentous occasion in the history of Winnipeg’s Jewish Community!”

Joe Bova, President and CEO of Manshield, who constructed the building as well as Alex Middleton, Project Manager, Manshield, Abe Anhang, offsite project manager and facilitator, Lanny Silver, architect, David Rich and his son Gavin Rich, Fundraising co-chairs, were all recognized and thanked for their major efforts in seeing the project to fruition.
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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.