Neil Margolis

My Story...

I was born in Winnipeg on July 29, 1936 to Doris (Berkal), born in Lithuania (1908), and Hymie, born in Russia (1903). They both lived in small villages and, like Eastern Jews of that time, endured many hardships - the Russian Revolution, pogroms, World War I and much anti-Semitism. As was common practice, they emigrated with the help of previous family �migr�s, my dad in 1923 and my mom in 1925. They both settled in Winnipeg where their families had settled. They came with nothing and worked at menial jobs. My mother, however, spent a year at age 18 in grade four at Strathcona School, learning the English language. She subsequently worked as a seamstress until she married.

My parents, who were first cousins, married in 1931. They settled into a one-room apartment in Transcona where my father started a fruit peddling business, and later a corner store. Three children were born: Shirley (Permack) in 1932, Neil in 1936 and Liba (Stillman) in 1938. My parents worked very hard, mom raising the family and dad working seven days a week at the store. In fact, during the 24 years my dad had the store, he only took two weeks of holidays. We did however have a wonderful family life and a very Jewish life. At that time there was much anti-Semitism in Transcona and there was hardly a day that I didn't experience anti-Semitic remarks. I had few friends, many fights as a kid, and not many fond memories of that time of my life. I didn't have an opportunity to attend Jewish school, living too far away, so an elderly Rebbe, Mr. Levant, came by bus three times a week to teach my siblings and me. He only spoke Yiddish to us, but as that was the language spoken at home by my parents it was not a problem for us.

In 1948 we moved to Winnipeg. My parents were increasingly concerned about our lack of exposure to the Jewish community while living in Transcona. What a change for me! We moved to Cathedral Avenue in the north end of Winnipeg and half the street was Jewish. I made friends easily then and many of them remain my closest friends today. I never experienced anti-Semitism again as I had in my first 13 years. I attended St. John's High School, U of W, U of M, Manitoba Medical College, and pediatrics residency training in Winnipeg and Cleveland, Ohio.

After many years of courtship I married the woman of my dreams, Elaine, in 1959, before entering fourth year medical school. We had the most wonderful supporting parents, who also remained friends throughout their lives. We are very proud of our three sons: Moish (196l) who is a radiologist in Toronto, Aubrey (1963) who has a retail clothing store in Winnipeg, and Evan (1965) who is a dentist in Winnipeg. We have two daughters-in-law and seven precocious grandchildren. We are so proud of the kids and kvell with their accomplishments. We continue to celebrate Shabbat dinners weekly, religious holidays, and all life events with our family.

I have now been in pediatric practice for 40 years, love what I do and hope to continue for a long time. I have served on a number of organization boards including the Winnipeg Symphony, Talmud Torah, Rosh Pina Synagogue, College of Physicians and Surgeons, YMHA and the Manitoba Medical College Foundation. I have helped in fund raising for a number of organizations. Life, especially with Elaine, has truly been wonderful. We continue to be grateful for living in such peaceful and prosperous times and living in our city, Winnipeg. We are very committed to tzedaka, our Jewish community and community at large. We both believe that by giving both your time and funds that you are repaid in so many ways. We are proud to become part of the Endowment Book of Life and hope that our children and future generations will continue to support this most worthwhile endeavour.