I am delighted to be a contributor to the Jewish Foundation's Endowment Book of Life, as it fulfills my wish to serve the Jewish community in a meaningful and lasting way.
I was born in 1926, the only daughter — my brother is Norm Oman — of Hymie and Rose (Ray) Oman. I have fond memories, not only of my parents, but of both sets of grandparents, who lived close by. My maternal grandparents, Tzepora and Mordechai Mandelovitch, arrived in Winnipeg from Romania after spending a year in Moorhead, Minnesota, where my mother, the only surviving twin, was born. My Bobba and Zaida came to Winnipeg at the turn of the century because they had heard that it was a "golden land of opportunity." My paternal grandparents, Leah and Hersch Oman, came to Canada from Russia after realizing that life there would never be free of anti-Semitism and persecution. I am extremely proud of the fact that my grandmother Leah was a founding member of the Mount Carmel Clinic and my grandfather Hersch was a learned rabbi. They passed away when I was quite young.
I have beautiful memories of my parents. My father worked very hard and was completely devoted to my mother, my brother and me. Sadly, he died at the young age of 52, when I was 26 and pregnant with my first child. Dad was blessed with a wonderful sense of humour and a love of hockey as well as opera. Sunday breakfasts at Child's Restaurant were a highlight, and a special time for us to share the week's stories. My mother Rose, also known as Ray, was a stay-at-home mother, and I remember vividly that she was always there when I came home from school. She spent a lot of time with my brother and me, and was always a strong support for me — both physically and emotionally. Chores and activities would wait as she listened patiently to my retelling of the day's events and then shared her own words of motherly wisdom.
I was the first person in my family to attend university. I graduated from the University of Manitoba with a B.A. in 1947 and was awarded a scholarship in English. After graduation, I attended business college, which led to my becoming the private secretary of Louis Leipsic, one of the principals at Aronovitch and Leipsic. My favourite office worker at that time was Izzy Asper, who, at the age of 15, was the best errand boy and pencil sharpener I had ever seen. I always had a feeling that he would amount to something. I worked at A & L for a few years, and one day, when I was at MAC's Bowling Alley, met Minno. We dated for awhile, and became engaged just before he moved to Indiana to pursue a degree in Civil Engineering. When he returned to Winnipeg in 1950, we were married. Our three children were born, and I stopped working to care for them. In 1967, I returned to university for one year, and earned my B.Ed. degree. I taught a Grade 4 class at the I.L. Peretz Folk School, a challenge that I enjoyed very much. Other positions I held included working as an office assistant at the Age and Opportunity Bureau and as a booking agent at the Stage West Dinner Club Theatre. I worked as a substitute teacher for a number of years, as well.
Volunteering in the community has always been important to me. I have been involved with Pioneer Women, the Rosh Pina Sisterhood, Seven Oaks Hospital, ORT and the United Way. As well, I have spent a lot of time in elementary school classrooms, helping children with reading difficulties.
My three children and their families continue to be a source of great joy and pride for me. Hope, a teacher, lives in Winnipeg. Alan, a dentist, married Debbie, a teacher. They live in Vancouver. Shirley, a human resources specialist, married Lorne Balsam, a computer consultant, and they live in Toronto. My life is blessed with 6 grandchildren — David and Brent Kideckel, Samantha and Abby Jeroff, and Ryan and Jenna Balsam.
When I reflect upon the things that I consider most important in my life, I must include a group of 11 dear friends, with whom I have been playing bridge for more than 50 years. We have traveled most of life's journeys together, and have been loyal and devoted friends for over a half century. Finally, I must say that the most important person in my life is my husband and partner Minno, to whom I have been happily married for 53 years. His courage, his strength, his humour and his love are unequalled.