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By Sharon Chisvin

Two years ago I was privileged to have a short non fiction piece published in the anthology, Living Legacies: A Collection of Writing by Contemporary Canadian Jewish Women. That collection, conceived, compiled and edited by Toronto therapist and writer Liz Pearl, featured the creative non fiction of a diverse group of 48 women from across the country. In addition to my story about Winnipeg Beach, the book featured the reflections of fellow Winnipeggers Carol Rose, Ruth Simkin and a young Sophie Berkal-Sarbit, as well as former Winnipeggers Elaine Todres, Rochelle Mass and Carol Slater.

The success of that first collection inspired Pearl to compile a second volume, which was formally launched in Toronto earlier this month. As in the original collection, Volume II of Living Legacies features the works of a broad cross section of Canadian Jewish women, among them writers, artists, activists, physicians, educators, spiritual leaders and community volunteers. The topics that these women reflect upon are as diverse as their lives. Religion, the Yiddish language, the acquiring of wisdom, eating disorders, ageing, family history and family relationships are all covered in short pieces or poems that are highly readable, educational and inspiring.

Again, as in the first volume, Winnipeg is well represented. The book features stories by two Winnipeggers, social worker and former city councilor Sandy Hyman, and writer and adult literacy instructor Bev Sandell Greenberg, As well, it includes submissions from former Winnipeggers Laya Crust, Yael Brotman, Barbie Dukes, I.B. Iskov, and Mira Sucharov, who also is a regular contributor to the Winnipeg Jewish Review.

In My Dear Mamala, Hyman, who grew up in Elmwood and later in the north end, writes poignantly about her mother’s mental illness and the way in which that illness affected her childhood.

“To console my longing for Mamala, to manage my frustrations; to have to repeatedly apologize for her actions, or to dull my aching kishkes (guts), I would imagine Mamala and I ‘doing lunch at Eaton’s Grill Room,’ or laughing together about a book I borrowed from the St. John’s Library,” she writes. “But still, I could not prevent the loss of such a beautiful, capable, talented person to such a destructive depression.”

In Don’t Worry. Everything will be Okay, Sandell Greenberg, who regularly reviews books for the Winnipeg Free Press, reflects on the years she spent living in Israel and the frustrations she encountered there trying to adjust to a new language and culture. It is only in hindsight, she admits, that she is grateful for the experience.

“Israel is the catalyst that initiated my writing,” she writes, “but the experience of living there affected me in a number of ways. I learned not to buckle under stress and not to be afraid to speak up or take chances – to get through each day as best I could.”

Learning how to get through each day, learning how to deal with a painful past, and learning to appreciate the gifts in one’s life, are recurring themes in Living Legacies Volume II, an important collection that succinctly demonstrates the creativity, strength and achievements of Jewish women living in our own backyard.

To learn more about Living Legacies please visit

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