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Leon Berger

Leon Berger to be honoured June 1-3

Guest scholar Barry Bender to deliver a weekend of Jewish learning

release, posted May 17, 2012

After WWII, Leon Berger became a teacher because he wanted to “help kids who had lost years of Jewish education during the war to get back on track…teaching was my desire,” he said. “A Jewish education is the greatest education in the world because it encompasses everything else.”
That desire, and an initial teaching stint in a displaced persons camp in Germany, turned into a 43-year teaching career in Winnipeg at Talmud Torah, Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate, Herzlia, and Temple Shalom.
On June 1-3, Congregation Etz Chayim invites the entire community to join in a special weekend honouring Mr. Berger and thanking him for sharing his passion for Jewish learning with thousands of students over his career. Truly, a “Moreh L’Dorot” – a teacher to the generations.
“We are proud to honour Mr. Berger,” said Kim Hirt, President of Congregation Etz Chayim. “Not only do we celebrate him as a teacher, but we honour his contribution as a Torah reader in the community since 1981.”
Mr. Berger continues to serve as Torah reader at Congregation Etz Chayim and still delivers the occasional d’var Torah.
Guest scholar for the weekend is Barry Bender, known to Winnipeggers for his leadership of numerous Gray Academy Jewish Awareness Retreats. A gifted speaker, Bender has conducted stimulating programs in five countries and at 100 university campuses.
“We’re thrilled that Barry Bender can join us,” said Jonathan Buchwald, Etz Chayim’s Executive Director. “There is no more fitting way to honour Mr. Berger than to gather together with an innovative and dynamic educator.”
The weekend begins Friday, June 1 with a Kabbalat Shabbat service and dinner, followed by a presentation by Bender. Shabbat morning services and kiddush will be followed by another session by Bender, and programming continues Saturday evening and Sunday morning. For full details of the weekend’s events and discussion topics, please visit
“This is a great honour and I would love to see many of my former students,” said Mr. Berger.
For tickets to the Shabbat dinner, please contact the synagogue office. All Shabbat services and discussion sessions are open and free for the entire community.
In Mr. Berger’s honour, The Leon Berger Core Values Continuity Fund at the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba has been established.
Facts about Leon Berger
·         Born shortly after WWI in Radivilov, Poland.
·         Banished with his family to Kazakhstan through WWII.
·         Moved to a DP camp in Germany after the war.
·         While in Germany, earned a teaching degree from the Hebrew University through a branch of the school in Munich.
·         Studied at Bar Ilan University and ultimately earned a Master of Education degree from the University of Manitoba.
·         Speaks seven languages.
·         Former producer of the JWC Yom Ha’atzmaut Song Festival.
·         Led Bnei Akiva in Winnipeg.
·         Offered a teaching job in Winnipeg in 1949; came here alone while the rest of his family went to New York.
·         Married Anne Mazurek Z”L in 1950. Wedding was officiated by Rabbi Kravetz.
·         Mr. Berger has three sons: Max, Jack, and Hart.
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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