My mother, Rochelle was born in Poland but came to Canada as a very young child with her parents, Levi and Fanny Sommer and her sister Norma. Her brother, Alex Sommer, was born here. My father, Joseph, along with his parents Sender and Chaya, came to Canada in 1938. They were among the lucky few Jews that Canada allowed to immigrate. My father and his family settled in Montreal. My mother went to live and work there in 1940 where she met my father. They were married in June of 1942.
My sister, Sharon Shinewald, and my brothers, David and Daniel and I were all born in Montreal. Although I only have a few dim memories of those years in Montreal, we have always heard stories of my Zaida's delicatessen and the vibrant Jewish life that my parents experienced.
I grew up primarily in West Kildonan, first on Enniskillen and then on Rupertsland, attending Talmud Torah and Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate until the end of grade nine and graduating from West Kildonan Collegiate. Many of my summers were spent at Camp Massad and Winnipeg Beach. During junior high and high school I actively participated in USY and BBG.
My home was a traditional Jewish home. It was very important to my parents to be involved in Jewish organizations and activities. My father, in particular, because of his excellent Jewish education, found it important to volunteer within the Jewish day school system, helping to establish Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate and also chairing the Board of Jewish Education. My parents actively pursued their own Jewish education by participating in their Tanach study group.
My mother, a wonderful cook and hostess, was always entertaining whether it was hordes of teenagers or in more formal community events, such as when they hosted the Prime Minister of Israel, Moshe Sharret. Shabbat and Jewish holidays were very important. These events were celebrated with wonderful food, extended family and friends.
In my own life, I have had the good fortune of travelling and working in many places. I first studied at the University of Manitoba, where I received my BA. Thereafter, I spent two years travelling in Europe and living in Israel. When I returned to Canada I moved to Calgary, where I articled and completed my Chartered Accountancy designation. Once I completed my studies I moved back to Winnipeg and worked as an accountant. I then took a couple of years off, went back to university to receive my Bachelor of Fine Arts and was able to fulfil my dream of operating a contemporary art gallery. Now, I am a Financial Consultant with Investors Group.
Throughout all of these endeavours, I have done my best to follow my parents' example by volunteering in both the Jewish and secular community. Over the years, I have participated in a number of organizations, as the Treasurer of Artspace, a board member of The University of Manitoba Alumni Association and as a board member of Family Services of Winnipeg. Currently, I am a member of the board of the Rosh Pina Synagogue and Vice-President of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada. Also following my parents' example, I have taken numerous courses offered through the Rosh Pina and Adult Jewish Institute.
I hope that my legacy will help to keep the Winnipeg Jewish Community a vibrant place for future generations.