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Blessing Angel Fountain in Winkler MB

Jewish Pioneers Memorial Cairn in Winkler MB

Reeeva Nepon, Administrative Director of the Sarah Sommer Chai Folk Ensemble


by Pamela Funk, CEO, SSMC, June 26, 2012

The "Blessing Angel" fountain in Winkler's Bethel Heritage Park seems to bestow favor as the "Sarah Sommer Chai Folk Ensemble" poses beneath her wings after a sumptuous Mennonite and Israeli picnic this past Sunday afternoon. The picnic feast catered to the dietary requirements of this professional singing and dancing team and included Quinoa salad and Mennonite Rollkuchen with watermelon as well as tender Hutterite organic chicken.

This fountain is an exact replica of the one in New York's Central Park   except that it has real Italian marble at its basin.  Such a lovely scene to see the 40 member ensemble with CEO Mrs. Pamela Funk of Sweet Spirit Ministries Canada, an entrepreneurial  non-profit dedicated to arts and culture, education and history which hosted the group.  She was joined by local dignitaries in welcoming the Jewish Pioneer Descendant families and Chai group members by Mr. Abe Suderman.   Mr. Suderman  played a crucial role in the original memorial cairn to the Jewish pioneers  and is seen relaxing in front of past Winkler Mayor, Mr. Neil Schmidt.  Mr. Schmidt drove the Winkler Flyer's air-conditioned bus to and from Winnipeg to transport the Chai group in comfort. 

Dr. Neil Sommer, son of the late Sarah Sommer who founded The Chai Folk Ensemble in 1964 shared words of historical significance including the connection in friendship to the Sirluck family of Winkler's ancestry.  Also, granddaughter of Maria and Martin Buchwald, Sarah Sommer danced in the evening performances.  The Buchwald and Sirluck names are two of the 15 founding family names on the Jewish Memorial cairn in this park. 

Ms. Reeva Nepon, Administrative Director of the Sarah Sommer Chai Folk Ensemble is honored with "Star of David Collar" an original design by Pamela Funk sewn by Mrs. Olga Krahn of OK Signs in Altona.  It depicts the royal blue for the Israeli flag and the gold color meaning glory and honor offered to the Jewish people.  It has embroidery which reads, "All Nations Bless Israel."  It was created for the first "All Nations Bless Israel International Conference" which SSMC hosted in Winkler in 2011.  The purpose of that conference was to recognize the Jewish roots of our area and to honor the Jewish community of our province.   Pamela and John Funk are Mennonites whose ancestors immigrated to this area in the late 1800's.  All their non-profit-entrepreneurial initiatives are based on their personal love for Israel.   They have visited Israel once in 2005 and hope to go again.

Pamela Funk was an Enns prior to marrying John Funk in 1976.  Her great grandparents, Wilheilm and Maria Enns are marked on the Mennonite Memorial Cairn in this park as founding Mennonite pioneers.   Pamela is also the niece to Mr. Peter W. Enns whom the PW Enns Centennial Hall was named after where the Chai Ensemble performed in the evening.  SSMC gave Chai its first invitation to Winkler.  Pamela has also tried repeatedly to contact actor Henry Winkler to invite him to SSMC's events because of the connection to his name.   Henry received the keys to Winnipeg a couple of years ago, but we think he should receive the ones with his name on it.   Perhaps next time the "Fonz" will attend the show!  Oh what he missed!

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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