I was born and raised in Winnipeg with my two brothers and three sisters. Our family lived on Scotia Street. I attended Hebrew school at the Rosh Pina, and then at Talmud Torah and Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate on Matheson Avenue. After graduating from high school I attended the University of Manitoba and then studied medicine at the Harvard Medical School.
As a teenager I was active in BBYO. I also sang in the Rosh Pina choir and danced with the Chai Folk Ensemble, experiences that left me with many fond memories. I also enjoyed celebrating traditional Jewish holidays with my family.
All of my grandparents immigrated to Canada from either Russia or Romania in the early 1900s. They travelled via New York and then settled in small towns in Saskatchewan. One of my great-grandfathers was a tinsmith and a peddlar. My other grandfathers were shopkeepers.
My father, Arthur Lerner, was a physician, and the first surgeon in Western Canada to perform open-heart surgery. My mother, Pearl Staniloff Lerner, was a homemaker. Today my brother Yale is a lawyer and businessman and my brother Moe is a physician. My sister Anne is a nurse, my sister Michele is a gemologist and my sister Meda is a homemaker. I am a psychiatrist. Currently, I also serve on the Board of Directors of Jewish Child and Family Services and of the Jocelyn House Hospice. I have been married to Jonathan Kroft since 1984, and we have two young children, Daniel Ethan who is five and Emily Leah who is two.
I hope that in the future, when community members look through this Endowment Book of Life, they will think of the many strong men and women who came and settled here long before my time, arriving during times of adversity and persecution, it was their suffering and hard work that has enabled me to enjoy the privileged life I lead. I hope these early settlers will be an inspiration to my children and to the entire Jewish community.
We are a cohesive community here in Winnipeg and we must continue to be so in order to ensure our survival. We must strive to work together in order to promote the survival of our Jewish school system and other Jewish institutions. Without these foundations our community cannot survive.