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Dr. Haskel Greenfield Co-ordinator Judaic Studies, University of Manitoba

Jewish community ad hoc committee fundraises for Judaic courses to be continued at U of M; $12,600 needed to fund second Hebrew course that has been cut from curriculum.

by Rhonda Spivak, August 2, 2016

Local Jewish community ad hoc committee fundraises for Judaic Studies courses to be continued at the University of Manitoba; $12,600 needed to fund a second Hebrew language course that has been cut from the curriculum.


In the Spring of this academic year, Distinguished Prof. Dr. Haskel Greenfield, who is also the co-ordinator for the Judaic Studies Program at the UofM, learned that there would be budget cuts across the board at the Faculty of Arts, as part of the reassignment and reallocation of funds within the university. The net result is that all Faculty of Arts departments and programs would have fewer funds available for teaching by sessional lecturers. For Judaic Studies, which is heavily reliant upon sessionals for teaching of its language component, this meant a two thirds cut in the Arabic language courses (which is run out of Judaics Program since Arabic is the second language of Israel) and 50% of the Judaic courses (including Hebrew, Jewish, Israeli and Yiddish oriented courses) in this upcoming academic year.


Greenfield has told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that plans are in place to offer only one Hebrew course this year, due to the above cutbacks. Normally, the program tries to offer two Hebrew courses, both an introductory and advanced. However, in order to run a second Hebrew course, external funding in the amount of $12,600 must be raised (a charitable tax receipt will be provided). Greenfield says if the money is not found, only one level of Hebrew will be offered.


The Yiddish program was partially saved through the efforts of The Peretz Foundation for Yiddish, which agreed to continue their funding for a half (1 term) course related to Yiddish culture (in the amount of $5000). However, this amounts to less than half the funds needed to underwrite the costs of year-long course, such as Yiddish Language and Culture.


An ad hoc committee for the Preservation of Yiddish Language and Culture was formed to organize the raising of funds for a second Yiddish culture related course for term during the wintertime ($6,175). Funds are also necessary to raise for the creation of long-term support of the program. All funds are being donated through the ad hoc committee community and donors receive charitable receipts from the U of M. Anyone interested in donating funds to this cause can contact Professors Greenfield or Ben Baader who are liaisons to the ad hoc committee. Anyone interested can contact him by email at [email protected] or phone (204-474-9516/204-474-9370), or Fax (204-474-7601).


Greenfield says he hopes a donor or donors in the Jewish or greater community can be found to provide this funding. Without it, it is impossible to plan which courses will be offered from year to year and to build the program back to being a major. It is now a minor at the university.


There are many reasons that it is essential for the local community to support Judaic Studies at the University of Manitoba, ranging from maintaining a visible presence to being able to provide Judaic Studies content to the curriculum. It is also is important since the Grade 12 Gray Academy students are able to take an exam at the end of Grade 12, such that if they pass they can receive a U of M intro Hebrew credit. 


Last year, the Hebrew and Yiddish courses were taught by Dr. Itay Zutra, who will be returning as a sessional lecturer once again.


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.