Maurene Cohen

My Story...

I am a "Yankee" through and through, but since marrying David Cohen on August 20, 1961, the Winnipeg Jewish community has truly been my "home."

My parents, Max (1912-1996) and Sylvia (1913-1995) Levinsohn were born in Chicago, married in 1935 and moved to Minneapolis where I was born in 1940. As an only child, I was privileged to grow up in a loving home where community caring, commitment and involvement was a way of life. B'nai B'rith, ADL (Anti Defamation League), UJA and especially Hillel were organizations of prime importance to my parents. All of this instilled in me a sincere desire to become involved in Jewish communal affairs. Involvement in Hillel at the University of Minnesota led me to a Jewish leadership program in 1959 at Starlight, Pennsylvania. There I met wonderful new friends, Carole and Jerry Cohen of Winnipeg, and through them, their close friend, David Cohen - "and the rest is great history"!!

Our three children, Eli Gidon (1963), Lisa Elana (1965-1989) and Aaron Levi (1969) were graduates of the Jewish Day School system and all spent their Grade 10 school year at Kfar Blum in Israel. Our family life has always been intertwined with the Winnipeg Jewish community, Israel and the community at large. Our children participated actively in the Sarah Sommer Chai Folk Ensemble, Folklorama, and JSA (Jewish Students' Association) - in1983 Lisa was Miss Israel at the Folklorama Israeli Pavilion and chosen as first princess of the Folklorama Festival.

Volunteerism has always been a very important part of my life. The Winnipeg Jewish community welcomed me openly and warmly and I am pleased that I was able to participate in many organizations: Talmud Torah and Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate PTA and school committees, chairperson and participant of National Council of Jewish Women's Mental Health play reading group, elementary school audiometer testing, Vice President of CJA Women's Division and co-chair (with husband David) of Super Sunday, and chairperson of Folklorama's Israeli pavilion.

My career path from Children's Aid Society, Family Services and Age and Opportunity Centre, led me to become Coordinator of Volunteer Services at Jewish Child & Family Service beginning in 1983. It is wonderful for me to be able to serve our community and to work with (and for) caring individuals of all ages. I feel blessed that I have had the opportunity to give back to the community.

This closely knit Winnipeg Jewish community has a rich heritage of Jewish education, tzedakah and service to others. My wish is that it will continue to flourish well into the future and that the small part our family has played in its growth, will be an example for others.