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JHSBC Oral History Collection Poland
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Anne Goldbloom

Oral History of Anne Goldbloom. Her father was from Poland, and her mother was from Russia, they meet in Liverpool. Her uncle, Jack Stark, was the first family member to come to Canada. He originally settled in Winnipeg but moved to Vancouver before Anne's family immigrated. Her father followed her uncle to Canada and they opened a store together. At 16 Anne got a job as a stenographer, a skill that she used working as Secretary for many Jewish community organizations. During WW2 she was in charge of the knitting group that was making items to send to the overseas soldiers. Most of the interview is about her work with the National Council of Jewish Women and their Baby Clinic. She talks a lot about the Jewish community that she grew up in Vancouver.

Isaac Messinger

Oral history interview with Isaac Messinger. He was born in Poland in 1929. During the war he was moved to Siberia, Russia. Later in the war he became a chauffeur for a General in the Polish Army, he was 16 or 17 at the time. After the war he ended up in Germany and was a pickpocketing. He got sent to an American school in Germany that was teaching children that were going to immigrate to North America, but he couldn’t sit still in class, so they gave him a job in the garage where he learnt English with the Americans that worked there. He came to Canada at age 18 or 19. He got a job as a tin smith, then he got a job as a carnie and made his way to Vancouver where he worked at the PNE. He eventually opened a steak Restaurant and ran it for a while. He talks about Casinos and Las Vegas. He talks about how he met his wife and their life together.

David Simons

Oral history interview with David Simons who was born in England in 1900 and whose parents had emigrated from Poland to England in 1895. David was able to get servicemen's passage to come to Canada, arranged through a Cdn. Soldier, and he came to Vancouver in 1921. He had a job waiting on Lulu Island helping to clear stumps. Talks about his first impressions of Vancouver and liking the night life. Talks about his years in the army. He met his wife in England and got mariied in 1924. He is a long standing member of Royal Canadian Legion.

Daniel Ezekiel

Oral history interview with Daniel Ezekiel who was born in Manila. His family is split between Ashkenazi and Sephardic. Daniel talks about his family history and how they ended up in Manila. Daniel speaks 4 languages, his father speaks 5, and his mother 8. In the 1970s political change in Manila caused everyone who could to leave. His family moved to Vancouver. He went to medical school at the University of Toronto. He compares North American Jews to Jews in the Philippines. He went to Israel with a youth group in 1980 and still visits ever couple of years.

Raya Sitwell

Oral History interview with Rita Sitwell. Her family is from Vilna Poland. Her grandmother was a baker and would make all the traditional baked goods for the holidays. Rita talks about growing up in Vilna under communism and antisemitism in the USSR. They move to Israel in 1970, when Rita was 25. She talks about finding freedom in Israel and later Canada. Her family moved to Montreal. Rita worked as a hairdresser, she tried to work with Jewish people so she could switch to Yiddish when she didn’t know the English words. Her mother loved Montreal because it was better for her health than Israel. They all moved to Vancouver in 1974. Her and John got married in 2000 and she moved to Victoria with him.

John Sitwell

Oral History interview with John Sitwell. John’s family is from Poland. His grandfather’s house in Poland was a large estate with a registration date of 1136. His family owned a sugar mill and sold bagged sugar. John and Rita went back to Poland and toured around the area his family lived. His parents survived the holocaust and then escaped Uzbekistan. They were on some of the first boats to Israel. In Israel, his grandfather owned a granary. They lived in Israel until John was 8, when they immigrated to Canada. They lived in Regina when they got here. John became a school councillor and moved out to the west coast. His parents followed him after they retired.

Elizabeth Wolak

Oral history interview with Elizabeth Wolak, interviewed by Jennifer Yuhasz. Elizabeth reflects on her childhood in Poland, while discussing her family’s history, including her experience living through WWII. She details her education both ordinary and musical, from which she graduated with honours and after which she was recommended to assist a conductor. Elizabeth started her own professional career conducting in 1952. When it was time for her and her mother to immigrate, they moved to Sydney, Australia, where they had some relatives. It was here that Elizabeth became truly interested in Jewish music. She and her husband, who she’d known in Poland, married in Australia before moving to Vancouver in 1963, where he had eventually settled after the war. Once in Vancouver, she ran a large choir with the Jewish Community Centre. She also speaks about her passion for music and how it has intertwined with her involvement in both Jewish and choral communities in Vancouver, since her immigration. Finally, she speaks about her family.

Elena Bregman

Oral history interview with Elena Bregman. Born in Kraslava, Latvia. She discusses what it meant to be Jewish openly in the Soviet Union. Graduated from Leningrad University after studying finance. She met her future husband in Murmansk. Immigrated to Vancouver in 1991. She describes how the Jewish community in Vancouver aided her in settling in and her job change to cosmetology.

Cheryl Kalmek

Oral interview with Cheryl Kalmek. Interviewed by Debby Freiman. Cheryl talks about her family's immigration to South Africa and their involvement in the Jewish community. Cheryl was particularly involved with the Jewish Women's Benevolent Society before immigrating to Vancouver.

Susan Mendelson

Interview with Susan Mendelson. Interviewed by Debby Freiman for The Scribe, 2018. Susan talks about her family's history, her upbringing in Toronto, and her first baking ventures in Vancouver. She became a regular on CBC Radio before eventually opening her own catering company, Lazy Gourmet. Susan talks extensively about her experiences in the business.

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