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Seidelman (family)

  • Familia
  • 1854-

William Seidelman, who was born in Budapest in 1854, came to North America around 1879, eventually arriving in Vancouver by way of Kansas and Seattle. In 1879 he served as a postmaster in the town of Guelph, Kansas. After settling in Vancouver, William married Esther Pearlman [Dalkin] from Winnipeg on August 30th, 1896. In that same year, William opened a general merchandise store in Cedar Cove on the South side of Powell Street at Victoria Drive. In 1900, a post office was opened in the store and Seidelman became Cedar Cove's first postmaster. The Seidelman home was located at 1735 2nd Avenue, East Grandview (the house is still standing today). William and Esther maintained Kashrut and he slaughtered chickens in accordance with the laws of Shechita using a traditional Chalif which is in the possession of the JMABC. Their children were: Edward Joseph [Joe] who was born in 1897; Rachel, [Rae] who was born in 1898; Harry who was born in 1900; and Benjamin [Ben] who was born in 1902. William Jr. [Bill] was born after the father died in 1907. Their mother, Esther, passed away in 1937. William Sr. is buried in the Bikur Cholim Cemetery in Seattle. Esther is buried in the Schara Tzedeck Cemetery in New Westminster.

Joseph, Rachel and Harry attended Macdonald Elementary School. Rachel also attended Seymour and Grandview public schools. All three attended Britannia High School. Joseph went to the University of British Columbia (then a branch of McGill University). At UBC, Joseph joined the Western University Battalion which fought in France in World War I. He saw service along with fellow UBC students. Joseph was killed in the Battle of Passchendaele on October 26, 1917, the first member of Vancouver's Jewish community to give his life for his country. Joseph's name is included on a plaque in the War Memorial Gym at UBC that commemorates those UBC students who fought and gave their lives in World War I.

Harry, at age 17 (1917), joined the Canadian Pacific Ocean Services as a cadet. He sailed the Pacific Ocean on the Empress of Japan and on the RMS Niagara before returning to Vancouver. He subsequently served on the Union Steamship Line that sailed between Vancouver and Alaska. After working for Buckerfields Feed Company, Harry joined the United Milling and Grain Co. Ltd. as a partner. He remained with the United Milling & Grain until 1961 when the company went out of business due to the City of Vancouver expropriating the land for housing.

Harry married Esther Blank of Winnipeg in 1938. Harry and Esther lived in Vancouver and were strong supporters of the Jewish Community Centre and charter members of the Beth Israel Synagogue. Harry died in 1972 and is buried in the Beth Israel Cemetery. Harry's children are Perry Seidelman, the first Jewish vice principal of a high school for the Vancouver School Board and the first Principal of King David High School. Perry lives in Vancouver.

Dr. William (Bill) Seidelman is a retired physician, formerly of the Universities of McMaster and Toronto medical faculties. At the beginning of his career, Bill was the first full-time family physician to practice at the Reach Clinic, one of the earliest walk-in medical clinics in Vancouver. He continues to be a world renowned authority and lecturer on medical ethics as a consequence of his research into the legacy of medicine during the Third Reich. He now resides in Israel with his family.

After high-school, Rachel attended UBC and Normal School and taught for a few years at Strathcona Public School. In 1919 Rachel became involved with the Jewish community and volunteered with Hebrew Aid, B'nai B'rith, the National Council of Jewish Women, and joined the effort to start a Reform Synagogue. Rachel taught English to landed immigrants at night school, played tennis and basketball and later took up golf. Rachel met Dr. William [Bill] Morris at the home of Ruth Mahrer, Rachel's best friend. Rachel and Bill were married in 1925 and lived in Vancouver. Rachel died in 1985 and is buried in the Beth Israel Cemetery. Rachel Morris's [nee Seidelman] daughters are Judy Zaitzow, Dorothy Grad, and Lillian Fryfield, all of whom live in Vancouver.

Ben married Sarah Weis of Winnipeg. Ben and Sarah did not have children and lived at various places throughout B.C. including Port Mellon on the Sunshine Coast and Crofton on Vancouver Island. They eventually moved to Los Angeles to be near Sarah's family. Ben died in 1983.

Bill married Hazel. They lived in Vancouver their entire married life and had one child, Roy, who is living in Summerland B.C. Bill died in 1983, the same year as his brother Ben.

Groberman, Marjorie

  • Persona
  • September 24, 1919 - October 30, 2011

Marjorie was born in Edmonton, Alberta in 1919 to her parents Harry and Betty (Babe) Frome. She moved with her parents and brother Alan, to Vancouver in 1937. In 1941 she married Cecil Groberman, son of Morris and Hilda Groberman. They had 2 children, Jeffrey, born in 1945 and Hildy, born in 1949. Jeffrey has 2 children: Aviva Mandelman, BA and Elan Groberman, an electric engineer. Hildy Barnett has 2 children: Joel, BA and Mira.

Marjorie became very active in Hadassah- Wizo and in 1952, originating and chairing the first bazaar and exposition open to the general public at the Seaforth Armoury. For the next 10 years she traveled across Canada teaching 12 other cities how to set up their own bazaar and exposition.

In 1964 Marjorie was invited to Israel to set up the first ever bazaar and exposition at the World Wizo conference in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

She rose to become president of Vancouver Hadassah Wizo, then National vice president and eventually a member for 4 years of the World Wizo executive in Israel.

One of the highlights of her community work was organizing the national convention of Hadassah Wizo in Vancouver in January 10-14, 1997.

In addition to Hadassah Wizo, Marjorie opened the first Vancouver office of the Israel bonds and co-chaired its first bond drive. She was also chair person of the women’s division of Combined Jewish Appeal and served as a board member of Jewish Federation for many years (both her mother and daughter served as chairs of the Combined Jewish Appeal). Her latest community work has been with the seniors department of the Vancouver Jewish Community Centre, serving on their board of directors. Marjorie and her father, Harry Frome, were honoured at a Negev Dinner in 1966. On April 28, 2010 Marjorie received from the government of British Columbia a community achievement award. Marjorie passed away October 30, 2011.

Chelm Cultural Club

  • Entidad colectiva
  • 1978-1986

The Chelm Cultural Club initiated a Jewish film festival in Vancouver and maintained it for nine years (1978-1986), with screenings at Langara Community College and Pacific Cinematheque.

The Chelm Cultural Club was created by a group of Jewish friends who wanted to fill what they experienced as a cultural void in Vancouver, both for themselves and for the community at large. Primarily they wanted to see Jewish and Israeli films, and to that end they formed the club in 1978. In addition to films, they also organized other cultural events (ex. "Megila Lider," a Yiddish musical event and a number of lectures), but above all the Chelm Cultural Club was a Jewish film society. In 1980 they incorporated as a non-profit society (see constitution of 1980). The society disbanded in 1986.

From the point of view of their internal organization, all members of the Chelm Cultural Club participated equally and democratically. There was no bureaucracy or hierarchy. Hence the name "Chelm." Amusing as this may sound, it was basic and important because it assured the vitality of the society. In this way, the Chelm Cultural Club was an ideal model of a democratic community organization.

They chose to be independent and not to be restricted by official agencies of the Jewish community, though they did network with some Jewish (ex. Canadian Jewish Congress, Hillel, Louis Brier Home and Hospital) and non-Jewish (ex. Vancouver Community College/Langara, Pacific Cinematheque) agencies.

The Chelm Cultural Club was a volunteer-run enterprise whose operating budget came from donations at the door at film screenings and other events, occasional membership donations, as well as small contributions from other organizations when they co-sponsored a film.

The founding and core members of the Chelm Cultural Club included: Avi Dolgin, Ruth Hess-Dolgin, Shaya Kirman, Shanie Levin, and Seymour Levitan. Other active participants over the years included: Ned Glick, Alex Kliner, Edna Oberman, Barry Rabinowitz, Abe Schwartzman.

Chelm Cultural Club - list of films screened:
• Fall 1978: Miraleh Efros, Salah, Got, Mentsch un Tayvl, House on Cherrlouche Street, Let My People Go, This is Sholem Aleychem, The Dybbuk, Garden of the Finzi-Continis.
• Fall 1979: Grine Felder, The Big Day, The Martyr, Jacob the Liar, Jew of Winnipeg, A People Chosen/Who is a Jew?, The Falashas.
• Fall 1980: Yidl Mitn Fidl, Daughters Daughters, Number Our Days, The Fifth Horseman is Fear, Free Voice of Labor, Music of Auschwitz.
• Fall 1981: Der Purimshpiler, The Dreamer, Bye Bye Braverman, Jerusalem File, Journey to Heritage, 20 Years Later, A Brivele Der Mamen.
• Fall 1982: Mamele, Image Before Our Eyes, Kazablan, The Dybbuk.
• Fall 1983: One Hundred and Two Mature, The Golden Age of Second Avenue, Memorandum, 20 Years Later, Routes of Exile: A Moroccan Jewish Odyssey, The Wooden Gun/Rove Huliot.
• Fall 1984: Tevye, Jacob the Liar, Kaddish, Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die?.
• Fall 1985: Routes of Exile, Catskill Honeymoon, Ra'ananah, Dark Lullabies.

Chelm Cultural Club - other activities:
• January 1979: Professor Eugene Orenstein, Moshe Leib Halpern: A Great American Yiddish Writer and His Times.
• March 1979: A Purim Celebration.
• Fall 1985: Concert with Michael Alpert.

Burquest Jewish Community Association

  • Entidad colectiva
  • 1972-

Burquest is a non-profit organization dedicated to the religious, social, cultural and educational needs of the Jewish population of Burnaby, New Westminster, Port Moody, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and as far east as Mission. Founded in 1972, Burquest has a diverse and growing membership. From infants to grandparents, representing 5 continents, Burquest members come from a wide variety of Jewish backgrounds and exhibit a range of current interests and needs.

Burquest’s Hebrew School is the oldest “institution” within the organization, reflecting the high priority its members have always put on Jewish education. Burquest is also rich in adult programming. Other programming includes: monthly Shabbat services; High Holiday services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; other holiday observances, such as Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Purim, and Hanukah; Bar/Bat Mitzvah training; adult education, including Hebrew classes, adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah training; discussion groups; social activities such as picnics, parties and seniors programs.

The roots of the Burquest Jewish community can be found in New Westminster in the 1950s where there was a Hadassah Chapter, a small Talmud Torah, and several Jewish businesses. By the early 1970s there were 8 families from Burnaby, Coquitlam and New Westminster, meeting to discuss and promote the cultural and religious aspects of Judaism. On a monthly basis the group met in various members’ rec rooms. In February of 1974, the name Burquest Jewish Community Association was adopted, combining the names of the members’ cities: Burnaby, New Westminster, and Coquitlam. In 1976 society status was obtained, and by that year there was a regular Hebrew School and social events, including 75 people attending the Purim party. In the early 1990s, the current membership began to solidify. There were regular Oneg Shabbat services, though still held in members’ houses, and other formal religious activities. Using a borrowed Torah, High Holiday services were held at a Coquitlam church. As the religious program was expanded, membership grew steadily. In December of 1995, one of the community’s proudest moments came at the dedication of its own Torah, an event attended by a number of local political and religious leaders. This occasion recognized Burquest’s coming of age as a religious community. The Torah allowed more in-depth services to be held on a regular basis, including Simchat Torah and the High Holidays, as well as the beginning of a Bar and Bat Mitzvah program. Hanukah parties, Sukkot and Purim programs, and an adult study group all became part of the calendar.

In the 1990s it became apparent that a building was needed to house the Burquest Jewish community. Burquest had outgrown meeting in members' homes and community halls and churches. Religious services were being held at Saint Laurence Church, the Hebrew school was meeting at Douglas College in New Westminster, and social events often required ad-hoc arrangements at other locations. There were no offices, no library, no centralized records, and no place to call a Jewish centre. It was determined that Burquest needed a single, permanent location. By the mid-1990s a building capital campaign was begun and by 1999 enough funds had been raised to purchase an acreage in Port Coquitlam. In 2001 the acreage was sold to purchase a building at the corner of Dewdney Truck Road and Mariner Way on June 27, 2001 and renovations were undertaken to add a kitchen, elevator and classrooms. On October 6, 2002/ 30 Tishri 5763 the building was officially opened. Today Burquest is located at 2860 Dewdney Trunk Road, Coquitlam, BC.

Leonoff, Cyril E.

  • Persona
  • February 22, 1925 - April 7, 2016

Cyril Edel Leonoff was a founding director of the Jewish Historical Society of BC and serves on the board as Society historian, researching such topics as the Jewish community of BC and Jewish farm communities of western Canada, and publishing the results of this research.

Cyril Edel Leonoff was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1925. He is the grandson of Edel Brotman, a homesteader and rabbi of the Wapella, Saskatchewan farm colony, 1889-1906. Cyril has been a resident of three West Coast cities, New Westminster, Seattle and Vancouver.

A civil engineer by profession, Leonoff is also a graduate of the Public History Program at SFU. He has authored and edited a number of books and papers on engineering and historical topics.

In 1970-1974, Leonoff was the founding president of the Jewish Historical Society of British Columbia. For his work, 'The Jewish Farmers of Western Canada', in 1985 he was awarded the Margaret McWilliams Medal of the Manitoba Historical Society. In 2007, he recieved the Distinguished Service Award of the Association for Canadian Jewish Studies. He is currently the Historian Emeritus of the Jewish Historical Society of British Columbia.

In May 1949 Cyril married Faye (nee Matlin) (December 30, 1927 - October 29, 2011) and they had three children: Blair (Betsy), daughters Anita (grandchildren Alysa and Cole) and Rosanne.

Keenlyside, John

  • Persona

John S. Keenlyside was born and raised in Vancouver and attended UBC and graduated with a degree in economics and political science. In 1973 he founded the investment-counseling firm John S. Keenlyside & Co. which he manages with his two sons.

Keenlyside has been collecting 19th century historical papers and stamps for over thirty-five years with his primary collecting interest being the history of British Columbia with an emphasis on the colonial period (pre-1871). He has also collected documents relating to the fur trade and the Canadian Pacific Railway. Keenlyside collects manuscripts, documents, maps, books and ephemera relating to B.C.

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