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Marty Morantz


by Marty Morantz, June 20, 2013

John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

When I was a young lad, pervasive in the psychology of the Winnipeg Jewish Community was the feeling of regional disparity between those in the community who lived in the north end and those who lived south.

It seems silly now when one thinks about the fact that Winnipeg is not a very large city, and so why did it matter who lived south and who lived north?  It mattered because historically, like many new Canadians who immigrated to Winnipeg, for socio-economic and cultural reasons they took up residence in the north end. This cluster of émigrés became like a family fighting together to survive in a new land and in very difficult economic times. This struggle created a strong communal bond that still very much exists today.

In the early 20th century the south end was the bastion of wealthy business people and professionals mostly of Western European descent.

Over time, as some in the community decided to move to areas like River Heights and Tuxedo and as Jewish institutions began to take root in the south end, a geographical animosity developed between those who held on to the idea of having north end roots, and those that had decided to move south.

In part, this feeling of animosity (although often left publicly unspoken, arose in private conversation) came from a feeling that those who moved south had abandoned the family.

As members of that family decided to move south, (a trend that started after World War II), a sense of resentment abided that I had thought, had mostly subsided in this modern era.

It appears that I was seriously mistaken though, when I read Elliot Leven's opinion piece entitled “Winnipeg Jews are Insane”.

I think I will give Mr. Leven the benefit of the doubt, as I have to believe he says this with lighthearted intent.

But still, the thrust of the article is joined by the old idea that somehow those that moved south had left the north end “family” and were resented for this abandonment.  

Now speaking for myself, I essentially lived in both worlds. I lived north until my parents moved south. But even after moving, as my grandparents lived north, I spent a lot of my youthful days hanging with friends in West Kildonan.

Having the best of both perspectives, I think I have the standing to say to Mr. Leven two things. Firstly, please don’t call an entire community insane. Secondly, get over it!

Now Mr. Leven might argue that his article was really about real estate prices.  I believe, in reality, his article draws upon the old animosities that try to bind us to the past instead of building a forward thinking  plan and future for the entire Winnipeg Jewish community, regardless of where they may choose to live or how much they decide to pay for their homes, with such decisions certainly not rendering them “insane” as Mr. Leven believes.

 Perhaps its time to take JFK’s sage advice, lets not miss the future!

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