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Yude Henteleff

Rami Kleinmann, Merle Goldman, Murray Palay,Yude Henteleff and Faith Kaplan


Yude Henteleff, Posted May 15, 2012


[Editor's note: The tribute evening in honour of Yude Henteleff put on by the Winnipeg Chapter of  the Canadian Freinds of  Hebrew University in April was a lovely event.  A substantial amount of money was raised to support the excellent Mishpatim Program initiated by Prof Bryan Schwartz which takes U of M law students to study on a program at the  Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Below is the complete address given by Yude Henteleff at the event]


Yiddish is a wonderfully expressive language and I would like to share one Yiddish expression with you. It's "hahk meer a Chai-nik". What it means is to talk someone's ear off. I certainly don't intend to do that this evening. However, literally, to hahk meer a Chai-nik means to "bang on a tea kettle". The expression comes from a common custom of the shtetl, which was a small town or village in Eastern Europe, particularly with a significant Jewish population.  The custom was that when a woman had all she could take of her family problems, she would walk out into the middle of the street and bang on her tea kettle. Hearing this, the neighbouring housewives would come out and listen while she told them her troubles. When she got it all off her chest, everybody would go home again. Isn't that wonderful group therapy on demand? I don't intend to use this occasion for that purpose, but I do want to share a few thoughts with you.

Life, as they say, is full of beginnings. Some beginnings are very special and unique.

And I would like to share four with you.

In 1904, from a village near Kiev in the Ukraine where the Henteleff family lived, my grandfather's cousin, Basia Henteleff, her husband and three children made their way to Israel.

At that time, there was no Tel Aviv and a large part of the land between Haifa and Jaffa was all swamp. They began to farm in a village called Ein Ganeem, which is now part of Petah Tikva, adjacent to Tel Aviv. Basia's husband changed his family name to Carmeli in order to identify more closely with Israel. Sadly, Basia died when she was merely 30 from malaria.

The Henteleff/Carmeli orchards were established with the greatest of difficulty because of centuries of neglect with the result that there was more stone and swamp than arable land. These orchards ultimately became part of the City of Petah Tikva. That city named a street in Petah Tikva "Carmeli Street" in their honour in order to memorialize the extra ordinary efforts by these pioneers.

In 1907, all the rest of the Henteleff family, led by my grandfather, including my greatgrandfather, immigrated to Canada in order to escape the pogroms that were raging throughout that part of Russia. In 1922, my grandfather purchased land along the Red River in St. Vital opposite the University of Manitoba and began a market garden operation, which my father inherited in the early 1930s. All this land had to be cleared of trees, with the hardest of hand labour just as had been the case with the family in Israel.

Both Henteleff families, the one in Israel and the one in Manitoba, made their beginnings thousands of miles apart, but they were seeking the same rights - to own one's land; the right that Jews throughout Europe had been deprived of for centuries, the opportunity to live in peace; the opportunity to seek justice, fairness, equality and self-determination; the right to be free of racism and murder and destruction. In Canada, in ever lasting gratitude, my family in large part has achieved those rights and freedoms. In Israel, however, the right to live in peace remains an unfulfilled hope.

In 1967, my father's land in St. Vital was expropriated by the City of Winnipeg for the purpose of establishing a green belt, but that never proceeded. The land then was used by the City as a tree nursery. After much advocacy, in 2002, the lands were zoned by the City of Winnipeg as a public park. In honour of my parents' significant contribution to the market garden business in Manitoba, the park was named Henteleff Park by the City. Volunteer have since planted over 5000 trees and shrubs on that 40-acre site under the guidance of the NGO The Henteleff Park Foundation as well as establishing three kms of hiking trails, making it into a place of serene beauty.

As so, the Henteleff pioneers in Israel and in Winnipeg were honored for their respective significant contributions to their respective countries. A critically important part of the aspirations of my two families, one in Israel and one in Canada, was for their children to receive an education. Education is the foundation for the fulfillment of an individual's hopes and dreams, whether one views it from an economic, social, cultural or civil point of view. It is deeply imbedded in the hopes of all those who escape from the horrors of poverty, deprivation of civil rights, racism and murder, to seek a better life elsewhere.

As so, in Israel, while it was trying to assure its very existence, the establishment of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem became an urgent imperative in the early 1900s.  And now another beginning. Some 40 years ago, when the late Honourable Sam Freedman encouraged my involvement with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University, I didn't hesitate for one moment. He also encouraged like participation by my dear friends, Harold Buchwald and Izzy Asper of blessed memory.

My first visit to Israel was in 1968, about a year after the 1967 war. One of the places I visited was the site of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Mount Scopus, which for years had been under the control of Jordan. During that time, the Givat Ram Campus of the University has been established in another part of Jerusalem. Scopus was such a sad scene of wanton destruction in 1968. However, instead of despair, there was hope that it would now became what it once was, and even more so. When I now visit Mount Scopus, I can hardly remember the devastation. It is now so beautiful and so extensive. It has become one of the great universities of the world I have visited Israel many times since 1968. I have visited Dizahav and Nuweiba deep in the Sinai on the shores of the Red Sea to Kiryat Shmona in the very north and much of the land between.

I have hiked in the Negev and the Sinai desert and climbed Masada to see the sunrise. I have horseback ridden in the Golan Heights and climbed Mt. Harman in the snow. There is hardly an archaeological site or a city that I have not been to in this land that fits into Lake Winnipeg.

And as well, I have an ongoing love affair with Canada from coast to coast to coast. I have hiked part of the East Coast trail in Newfoundland; part of the West Coast trail on the very western edge of our country; along the shores of the Arctic in Iqaluit in Nunavut, and kayaked in the Queen Charlotte Islands and so many other places between. Just as in Israel, the rich diversity of our country is quite remarkable. Just think of the Haida people and their continuous presence in the Queen Charlotte Islands for over 7,000 years.

I am totally at home in both countries. Just as my association with the various organizations in my country - Canada, such as the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, has been so nourishing, so too has my continued association with the Hebrew University been worthwhile beyond measurement. Over the years my attendance at many meetings of the Board of Governors in Jerusalem has given me an opportunity to meet members of the Jewish community from every part of the world. Its doors have been opened to me and other attendees, sharing thoughts and ideas, which have been transcending. I have had the extraordinary privilege of having delivered several lectures at the University, particularly sharing my thoughts about the rights of children with special needs and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – the latter being an initiative that makes me so proud to be a Canadian.

At one of the meetings of the Board of Governors, arrangements had been made for me and other lawyers from Canada who were members of the Canadian Friends to meet with the then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Barak. What was supposed to be a 20-minute meeting ended up being nearly two hours. His particular interest was our Charter of Rights and Freedoms because Israel has no constitution.

Many of those who have attended the Board of Governors meetings know that the programs made available by the academic community are so extraordinarily informative. We visited archeological sites with archeologists from the University. That brought to life to the past in a way that could not otherwise have happened. Most unique was a visit to the Archeology Department at the University. At the foot of Lake Kineret (Sea of Galilee), they discovered the site of one of the earliest planned towns in history; its origin was several thousand years ago.

Because of the nature of the soil, they found a preserved cloth fragment. It took them two years to clean away the debris so they could fully examine it. One of the members of the Board of Governors group was a textile manufacturer from Southeast Asia. Under a magnifying glass, he looked at this small fragment of cloth and exclaimed that the technical requirements of the kind of weaving that he saw were more advanced than his machines were able to accomplish several thousand years later. It was rather humbling.

Similarly, my association with the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University has resulted in my forming close friendships with members of that association from every part of Canada. But more than that, the efforts by both the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and by the Canadian Friends to establish mutually nourishing relationships with a variety of academic, governmental and non-governmental organizations across Canada, has developed a climate of understanding, mutual respect and sharing. This is of enormous benefit to both countries, particularly when dealing with important issues such as water and soil deprivation. Whatever Ihave been able to contribute to their efforts, I have been exponentially rewarded in so many ways by my association.

And now the fourth beginning.

The establishment of the Mishpatim program, which in Hebrew means "law", is an example of the unique and special cooperation between the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and University of Manitoba. I have no doubt that the participants in this program will not only enrich themselves in countless ways, but will become advocates to advance the rule of law in order to achieve justice, equity and equality beyond the boundaries of these two countries so as to improve the lives of many individuals in the wider world.

Whether it is universities in Canada or in Israel, each require continuous nourishment in order that they should be enabled to assist citizens of Canada and Israel to better learn what it is that we must do in the best interest of people throughout the world. As the famous comedian Will Rogers stated, "even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there".

I do want to express my deepest appreciation to the Hebrew University and the Winnipeg Chapter for the honour that has been bestowed upon me this evening. It is an honour that is shared by all who have been associated with me in the efforts by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to create the tools and means by which the lives of the many in desperate need throughout the world will be improved.

Our universities are places of creativity and hope; they are a powerful means of facilitating what is necessary to make life better for children, men and women everywhere. Your continued support is therefore essential.

Thank you for sharing this special evening with me.
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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