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By Rhonda J Spivak, B.A., L.L.B.

About one hundred Russian Israeli immigrants to Winnipeg danced the night away at the   Park West Inn in Charleswood, on Saturday evening  Dec 4,  at a holiday function put on by Yossi Pearlman and Sonya Barklov.

The event was called a “Chrismukkah party”, featuring Russian Israeli and other music,  and  the poster advertising  it had both a Christmas tree and a Channukah menorah on it (see poster).

The highlight of the evening was when several singers, such as Ilya Gluhemkoi and Michael Averbuch  took the microphones and belted out Hebrew and Russian songs, as well as singing a very spirited  rendition of  ‘Havah Nagilah,’ while many danced horah’s  around them. (see video).

Gluhemki, an electrician who lived in Kfar Saba Israel before moving to Winnipeg said,  he now lives in St. Vital. 

“I have been singing in the Russian pavilion at Folklorama.” Although I have never been asked to sing in the Israeli Pavilion, I would be interested in participating in it in the future.”’

All of the new immigrants spoken to were pleased to learn of the Winnipeg Jewish Review, because they do not otherwise subscribe to any English Jewish newspaper.

“I am glad it [the Winnipeg Jewish Review] is on the internet and free,” said Sergei, a new immigrant.

Some of the Russian Israelis at the dance were interviewed in Hebrew by the Winnipeg Jewish Review, since their command of the English language was limited.

Alabin Aztiom said, “I have only been here fro two months and I am looking for a job. I am an electrician but I don’t have a license here.”

When asked what kind of work he is looking for, Aztion replied “Mah Sheyesh (whatever there is).”

His wife Irena, who has previously been the manager of a toy store in Israel is also hunting for a job.”  She noted that she thinks it is more difficult for immigrants without children to integrate into the Jewish community.

“If  you come  with children, then  you meet  the parents of the other children and it’s easier,” she said.

“We don’t know anyone here. The only person we know is Elena Livni, who has helped us,”she added.

An energetic Livni, who has recently become a Re-Max real estate agent, was on the dance floor for much of the night.  “I am glad you came to talk to me,” she said.

Polina Kalnoy, who has also just arrived to the city from Israel said in Hebrew, “I am not looking for a job now, since I want to study English and learn the language better before I  try to find work.”

During the party, Vladimer Bibileoy, who described himself to the Winnipeg Jewish Reviewt as “Sofia Barklons’s husband,” put on a Santa Clause costume, including a white beard and gave greetings from Santa.  He then took off the Santa Clause hat, and put on a black hat, using the same white beard. He added a vest and transformed himself into a  Jew from a Russian shtetl, and gave Channukah greetings.

Most of the attendees arrived to the dance after 10:30 p.m. and were still dancing well past one a.m.  The D.J. of the event, Felix Kavushanski, is also a recent Russian Israeli immigrant to the city.

“We would have had even more people at the party, but a lot of people had other parties around this time,” said Pearlman, who noted that his last dance had over 160 people.

Pearlman said one of the reasons he chose the Park West Inn in Charleswood for the celebration is “because I live nearby.”

Pearlman and Barklon have been putting on these dances on a monthly basis.

Larry and Toveh Vickar, as well as Ty Azuelos (product advisor, Waverly Mitsubishi) were also at he event to welcome the newcomers to Winnipeg.
Barklon made homemade Channukah  sufganiot (“jambusters’) that were served.


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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.