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Photos by Manuel F Sousa Photography and Shane Marmel Photography

Shofar blower

Lets celebrate-with two Servers in white


By Rhonda Spivak, November 27, 2014








The Jewish Foundation of Manitoba's successful 50th Anniversary Gala at the RBC Convention Centre with more than 900 people in attendance was an event to remember.  The Gala was a very elegant affair, and one that celebrated the Foundation, our  Jewish communal history and at the same time  welcomed fellow Manitobans from other faith and cultural communities.  Over 250 people representing organizations supported by the JFM were present, and the following out of towners flew in especially to be there to join the celebration:  Ronald & Carol Slater from Montreal (Ron is a founder of the JFM), Marla Berchard from Victoria, Toronto, Peter Hallett of Mercer Canada from Vancouver,  Michelle & Marc Lefler from Toronto ,  Arne Peltz from Victoria ,Barbara & Raymond Kives from Toronto, , and Jacqueline Simkin from Miami Beach Florida. 



When  I walked into the room of the JFM Gala, there was a "WOW" factor and  I couldn't help but notice how beautiful the lit up centerpieces on the tables were, and how the overall  decor  and ambiance of the room,  was welcoming and inviting. While I do not know who the youngest attendee was, I am pretty certain that Sophie Shinewald at age 101 was the oldest.





The evening began with a reception, and  after guests had gone to their tables , a  shofar blown by Ariel Pitch  (see photo above) was sounded, its voice reaching the far corners of the room, giving the event  a sense of  the sacred and eternal. When the shofar sounded, it was for me a personal moment of reflection, as my grandfather,  Malick David Spivak, who passed away in  when I was only age five, was one of the 119 visionaries who in 1964 co- founded the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, and had, in the words of the Talmud "planted for me before I was born." Of the 119 co-founders of the JFM , there are 10 living, six of whom were in attendance for the celebration: Morley Blankstein, Saul Cherniak, Ken Halprin, Yude Henteleff, Ronald Slater, and Arthur Werier. The four other living co-founders who were unable to attend are Michael Gobuty, Paul Morton, Monte Nathanson and Ernest Rady. 




As guests sat down at their tables, the "servers" with trays in hand all of a sudden burst into lively song and dance in the  opening  number "Let's Celebrate" (see photo above)  featuring Chai singers, Chai tango dancers, drummers, Russalka Dancers and additional performers. This vibrant, energetic and fun number, ably choreographed by Brenda Golick  which included dancers of all ages, was my particular favourite of the evening (I even noticed my former gym teacher from Ramah school, Ethel Gorden  dancing, and was able to spot well known arts Maven Karla Berbrayer ' boogieing'  in her signature red shoes. 





Joe Wilder, President of the Jewish Foundation gave opening remarks announcing that as the "founders have achieved their goal" as the Foundation's assets now at over 95 million approach 100 million. As Wilder said "The Foundation raises an average of $3.2 million in new capital every year," and noted that "last year the Foundation distributed over $2.5 million in grants to different charitable institutions." Gala Chair Steve Kroft in his remarks announced that JFM was allocating $150,000 dollars to the Assinibione Park Conservancy. In answer to an inquiry from the WJR, Kroft said that the amount of $150,000 is from undesignated funds and will be distributed in installments over 5 years. 






Mel and Karyn Lazareck, Honourary Gala chairs led the blessings over Gunn's Bakery Challah and the meal (see photo below), and Karyn later noted to the WJR hat she sees the JFM as the "lifeline for the longevity of our community."





Then the salad course ("Mediterranean Quinoa Salad set in a Tomato Bowl") arrived. After it there was a video  presentation entitled "The  Foundation of a Community" produced by Lank Beach Productions and Stuart Slayen Consulting which gave an overview of the founding of Winnipeg's Jewish community as well as the growth of the JFM, including perspective given by historian Allan Levine  as well as commentary by Richard Kroft and Harvey Secter. [Click here   to watch "the Foundation of  a Community ]





Following the salad course, there was a well scripted theatrical adaptation of an an Endowment Book of Life story, ably directed by Kayla Gordon. The JFM has over 722 signers to the Endowment Book of Life [EBOL] program,  a planned giving program that offers participants an opportunity to leave both a financial legacy and a historical legacy to the community.  As Marsha Cowan, CEO of the JFM explained to the WJR  "Marla Berchand who flew in from Vancouver is an EBOL signer who wrote the "Annie Rose" story on which the vignette at the Gala was based." (The story can be found )




Following the "Annie Rose" vignette, guests were served with the main course consisting of "Roast Garlic and Spice Rubbed Ribeye of Beef, carved and napped in its own juices (my portion was still napping when I got it) with "Roast Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes and Local Harvest Vegetables." Next, attendees were treated  to a lovely original composition "Let Beauty grow" by local musician Joseph Aragon, sung by Julie Lumsden and Justin Odwak , with dancers choreographed  by Brenda Gorlick.




Following this guests were served with Dessert consisting of tasty "Eva's Gelato-Raspberry of Chocolate" and “Assorted Confections" (Editor's note: a confection is low in micro nutrients but high in calories) , such as "Brownies, Date Squares, Lemon Coconut and Raspberry Coconut Dainties" (all of which were sampled by this Editor to  determine that they were indeed   low in micro nutrients and high in calories. Each and everyone passed the test with flying colours).




Following dessert, the "Chosen Few" an original composition by Danny Schur was performed by a group of singers, including Elliot Lazar, with back up by four Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra Musicians. 



This concluded the milestone event to celebrate the Foundation's success, an event to inspire the community to continue building for the future. Attendee Ruth Carol Feldman said "I think Marsha Cowan deserves an Academy Award for pulling off this flawlessly executed event ."



May the JFM continue to go from strength to strength !




To see more photos from the evening, click here

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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