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Artwork by students at Gray Academy marking 25 years
photo by Keith Levit

Past WBJE Presidents (there were 13 of 20 at the event)
photo by Keith Levit

Former leaders and administrators
photo by Keith Levit

Current staff who have been at Gray Academy since 1997 (missing: Jamie Kagan) Head of School Lori Binder is in the middle of the photo
photo by Keith Levit

Mrs. Fink honoured as former leader in one of Gray Academy's founding schools
photo by Keith Levit

Mrs. Kimelman honoured as former leader in one of Gray Academy's founding schools
photo by Keith Levit

Barry Bender (came in from New York to be honoured for over 25 years of dedication to Jewish Awareness Retreats)
photo by Keith Levit

Mazel Tov to Gray Academy on its 25th Anniversary: School raises over $100,000 to mark its 25 years.

by Rhonda Spivak, July 11, 2023



Gray Academy of Jewish Education celebrated its 25th Anniversary on June 26, 2023 , in the Jewish Foundation Garden at the Asper Jewish Community Campus,  where past and present staff of Gray Academy, along with past and present members of the Winnipeg Board of Jewish Education (WBJE) and community leaders gathered. There was an "after party" for those who wished to see Barry Bender from New York, who  ran retreats  for over 25 years at Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate and Gray Academy. 


As Lori Binder,  Head of School of Gray Academy told the Winnipeg Jewish Review, "We wanted to show gratitude to all those individuals and organizations that have positively impacted our ability to be successful as a Jewish day school...We recognized the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba,  Jewish Child and Family Service, Rady Jewish Community Centre, the Asper Jewish Community Campus, the Asper Foundation and Barry Bender, all of whom have been integral to our success."


There were approximately 120-130 people present for the event, and every one of them the extended Gray Academy family. "The feedback we received was very positive," Skye Kneller, Director of Advancement & Alumni Relations noted. "We didn't want 25 years to go unnoticed," Binder added. "It was a beautiful event that gave us an opportunity to reconnect with people we have not had an opportunity to see in a while...We wanted people to feel good and have an enjoyable time, and we are glad that this happened...We had 13 Winnipeg Board of Jewish Education  Presidents present, including Bob Freedman, who was the very first President."


At the event, various members of the current WBJE called up representatives of Jewish organizations to receive awards in recognition of the support those organizations have given to Gray Academy over the years.


Binder noted that Gray Academy launched a campaign in May of this year, giving people the opportunity to consider making a gift to the school to mark this milestone anniversary. "People could give a gift to Gray Academy that would go towards upgrading our furnishings, the enhancement of arts and athletics programming, or a gift directed to wherever Gray Academy feels it is needed the most," Binder explained.


"We are extremely grateful to have received just over $100,000 so far," Binder stated. "We received gifts from generous donors from the community, alumni,  past and current families, board members, and retreat advisors. Both Winnipeggers and out of towners made contributions. We are grateful for every gift received.” 


 The MC for the June 26 event was  current WBJE President Josh Weinstein ('89). At the celebration, David Cohen,  former Jewish Foundation Executive Director,  gave a brief  overview of the history of the events that led up to the formation of  WBJE and the process that eventually led to the building of the Asper Jewish Community Campus, including Gray Academy.


 WBJE was created in 1980 as a result of the financial strains of Gray Academy's founding schools, including Talmud Torah I.L. Peretz School, Ramah Hebrew School, and Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate found themselves facing. The schools turned to what was then the Winnipeg Jewish Community Council (WJCC), asking for financial assistance. The WJCC agreed to provide this assistance on the condition that oversight of the two schools would merge. This commitment led to the formation of the WBJE.


In the 1980's, community leaders realized that community infrastructure, including the schools,  needed  to be revitalized. A planning committee, led by Marjorie Blankstein, recommended the building of a centralized campus, with one Jewish day school. The Asper Jewish Community Campus opened its doors in 1997, with Gray Academy of Jewish Education as a vital pillar of the new campus.

At the event, Binder asked everyone in attendance to raise their glasses and toast all staff-former and current-who played such a key role as Gray Academy and its founding schools.


To mark the celebration of 25 years, Gray Academy produced this impactful video, in which alumnusfrom every graduating class for the past 25 years speaks about how Gray Academy positively contributed to their lives, nurtured their Jewish identity and  gave them a sense of belonging to c'lal Israel.  To see the video, go to:




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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.