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MaryAnn Lippay Kanee and Stephen Kanee

MaryAnn Lippay Kanee donates $100,000 to the Judaic Studies Program at the University of Manitoba

by Rhonda Spivak, November 27, 2019

The Judaic Studies program at the University of Manitoba will be receiving a donation of $100,000 from MaryAnn  Kanee,  who was married to the late Stephen Kanee, and currently lives in  Minneapolis.
The Jewish Studies program has been struggling financially for some time now. According to Brooke Karlaftis, Donor Relations Officer at the University of Manitoba, who sent the Winnipeg Jewish Review an email, "The Jewish community in Manitoba has been an integral part of this province’s history, and provided support for the program in its early years. At one time, the department boasted three full time faculty members dedicated to the curriculum, providing a B.A., M.A., and PhD. However, over the years it has been reduced in scope and now offers only a B.A. minor, relying almost completely on external funding."
Karlaftis wrote in her email that " It is our goal, with support from students and the public, to grow the program and begin to offer a Degree Major in Judaic Studies, with dedicated full-time faculty. At the moment, Manitobans are under served in the field of Judaic Studies. It would be great if there was a Jewish oriented education at the university level, especially for those students graduating from Gray Academy who would like to continue in this area of study. Having a thriving Judaic Studies program on campus is essential for students, faculty, and the general community. It helps to promote preservation and continuity of Jewish people, fight anti-Semitism, enhance the Hebrew program, offer an enhanced Israel experience and promote human rights. "


The University has created a website,,  such that other donors can contribute to this new endowment fund.


According to the website, "Judaic Studies at the University of Manitoba has the distinction of being the first program of its kind in Canada, originally founded in 1950. Judaic Studies is a vibrant, growing academic field, and with your help we can set the program on the path to growth and success." 


On the website there is a message from MaryAnn Lippay Kanee which reads" There are so many reasons why a Judaic studies program is valuable --- to any university, in any city in Canada or the USA. But this is Winnipeg, so the program is not just valuable, it's essential."

Kanee writes that she thinks of her donation of $100,000 "as honoring all of the Winnipeg community." She writes that " Like so many others, Stephen's grandparents, Rose and Sam Kanee, came with nothing but their dreams and hard work and helped create the fabric of this community that now holds us in its comforting embrace."
On the website,  Haskel Greenfield, Distinguished Professor and Judaic Studies Program Coordinator writes"We in the Winnipeg Jewish community heavily support a Jewish-oriented educational system until the end of high school through Gray Academy of Jewish Education - where all of my four children have gone. If we want our children to be able to continue to learn and enrich their Jewish identity on the university level, we must have a vibrant Judaic Studies Program at the University of Manitoba. If we as a program don't exist, we will be a much poorer university society and we will be doing a disservice to the next generation of students."

The website describes the the Judaic Studies program as follows: "The Judaic studies program at the University of Manitoba. promotes the study of Jewish civilization, of Jewish religious expressions and traditions, and of Jewish cultural, social, and political formations and movements in all their variety. The program supports teaching and research on Jewish life and Judaism from the Biblical period to the twenty-first century, in all parts of the world where Jews have lived. One of the strengths of the program is that it provides a venue where members of different religions can come together, learn about each other and their common interests, and cultivate a culture of understanding and respect."
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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.