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25 records – page 1 of 1.
Name
Gail Freeman
Material Format
sound recording
Interview Date
24 Mar. 2015
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Gail Freeman
Number
AC 414
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
24 Mar. 2015
Quantity
1
Interviewer
Naomi Raichyk
Total Running Time
52 minutes
Biography
The middle of three siblings, Gail Freeman was born in Johannesburg in 1953. The daughter of committed Jews, she fondly remembers the beautiful seders her parents would host, sometimes having as many as forty-to-fifty people joining them for Pesach. Growing up, she attended a Jewish day school in Linksfield, a positive experience that would later influence her decision to enroll her own children in Jewish day schools in Canada. Overall, it was a happy, almost utopian childhood, which took on a slightly more complicated character when she developed a political consciousness as a teenager.
It was at a cousin’s wedding that Gail met her future husband. Years later, she would joke that they met under the chuppah. The young couple married a short time after meeting and had two children in South Africa before moving to Canada and having two more.
Upon arriving in Canada, the family received a warm welcome from Toronto’s South African community, which she describes as “out of this world.” Gail, who has a master of education degree in educational psychology, found work in the Jewish school system while her husband found work as an accountant. The family’s immigration a success, her parents followed suit, thereby ensuring that her children would grow up with grandparents nearby.
Today, Gail feels proud to be a Canadian, not least because Canada allows her to be proud of her Jewish identity. As she puts it, in Canada “everybody [is] from everywhere.”
Material Format
sound recording
Language
English
Name Access
Freeman, Gail, 1953-
Geographic Access
Irving (Calif.)
Johannesburg (South Africa)
Toronto (Ont.)
Original Format
Digital file
Transcript
00:19 Gail was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1953.
00:30 Gail discusses her grandparents' immigration to South Africa from Russia. Her maternal grandparents were from (Kadam?) and her paternal grandparents were from Vilna. Her mother was born in Vilna and her father was born in South Africa.
01:17 Gail's mother is the youngest of three sisters. Her father is the eldest of three, with a younger sister and brother. Gail has an older brother, Hilton, living in New York, and a sister, Felicia, living in California.
01:55 Gail's father was born in the suburbs of Doornfontein.
02:14 Gail's parents were married in 1948. They worked in the building industry.
02:26 Gail describes her family's practice of Judaism while she was growing up.
03:39 Gail's parents originally lived in the neighbourhood called Bez Valley but moved to Linksfield, a Jewish neighbourhood where the King David Jewish day school was built.
04:25 Gail attended King David from nursery to high school. She briefly describes the school.
05:22 Gail mentions that another branch of King David later opened in Victory Park. She notes other Jewish day schools in Cape Town, Durban, and Pretoria. Later Yeshiva College opened.
06:15 Gail notes that her own school experience influence how she selected schools or her own children, who attended the Associated Hebrew Day School in Toronto.
07:28 Gail notes that there is a King David alumni group on Facebook. She mentions class reunions and a fundraiser spearheaded by former schoolmaster Elliott Wolf.
08:25 Gail earned a bachelor of arts with a major in Hebrew and sociology at the University of Witwatersrand. She earned a teaching diploma at the Hebrew Seminary. She completed her practical work at King David School. She returned to university and earned a bachelor's in social work and a master of education degree in educational psychology.
09:56 Gail discusses her involvement with "Boys Town" as principal in a children's home.
11:30 Gail shares some childhood memories concerning friends and school while growing up in Linksfield.
12:40 Gail notes that she became more politically aware as an adolescent. She identifies some of the issues that challenged her morally as a Jew. She comments that her ability to protest was limited due to the restrictions imposed by the police state.
14:14 Gail describes her warm relationships with her nannies.
15:11 Gail describes Jewish life in Linksfield. She attended weekly Shabbat services with her friends at King David. She recalls fond memories attending holiday services with her family at the Jewish Hebrew Congregation in Doornfontein, where her father was chairman. (Gail has a photo of the synagogue in her home.)
16:26 Gail participated in a group bar mitzvah through school.
17:44 Gail identifies a strong commitment to Israel as a major component of her Jewish tradition. They were encouraged to volunteer in Israel, support Israel and move to Israel. She recalls David Ben-Gurion visiting her school.
18:27 Gail was married in 1977. She describes how she met her husband and where they lived after they were married (Norwood, Berea and Linksfield).
20:34 Gail worked as a social worker for Jewish Family and Child Services and for Yeshiva School. Her husband worked as an accountant.
22:30 Gail discusses how the circumstances in South Africa that contributed to their decision to emigrate. She explains how she and her husband considered applications to the United States, Canada, Australia, and Israel. She discusses the trauma involved with leaving family and moving to an unknown, new country.
27:02 Gail's parents moved to Canada two years later.
28:13 Gail describes what they were allowed to take out of South Africa and what they brought.
29:25 Gail shares some of her initial impressions upon arrival in Toronto.
30:15 Gail describes how she was able to secure work as a guidance counsellor with Associated Hebrew Day Schools of Toronto while in Washington for a Tay Sachs conference.
31:40 Gail explains how through family connections they were able to find housing in a neighbourhood with an established South African community. She recalls how she was well-received by the South African community.
34:22 Gail and her family arrived in Toronto in 1988.
34:30 Gail recollects more difficulty fitting into the Toronto Jewish community and having few Toronto friends.
36:30 Gail describes the decision to move to a new subdivision near Associated Hebrew Day Schools on Atkinson in 1993, her current home.
37:50 Gail's family joined the Chabad Flamingo synagogue after the move, but has since returned to the synagogue on Green Lane to be with her parents.
38:48 Gail describes the relative ease of adapting to Canadian society and her pride living in Canada.
40:28 Gail worked as a principal for a Jewish day school in Irvine, California for three years.
41:50 Gail discusses some differences in child-rearing between South Africa and Canada.
43:33 Gail explains that her reasons for teaching her children the values of respect and kindness stem from her personal experience living in South Africa.
44:30 Gail has returned to South Africa twice over thirty years, but her husband has not returned.
45:38 Gail discusses some of the differences, both positive and negative, she observed when she returned to South Africa.
47:00 Gail notes that her children feel a strong connection to South Africa (e.g. history, culture, accent, foods, politics).
50:00 Gail speaks with pride about the contributions made by South Africans who have immigrated to Canada.
Source
Oral Histories

Crying on Route to Canada

Like a Little Kibbutz

A Closed Door

Name
Percy Skuy
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
May 12, 2015
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Percy Skuy
Number
AC 416
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
May 12, 2015
Interviewer
Naomi Raichyk
Total Running Time
1 hr. 19 min.
Use Restrictions
NONE
Biography
The child of Latvian immigrants to South Africa, Percy grew up in the small town of Vryheid, South Africa with his parents and two siblings. Years later, when asked what the population of Vryheid was, Percy’s mother replied, “Forty Jewish families.” Those families formed a tight-knit community that was able to support not only a synagogue and a rabbi, but a Talmud Torah school and a butcher’s shop with a kosher section.
At seventeen years old, Percy began an apprenticeship to become a pharmacist. He qualified in 1954 and worked for a year before leaving South Africa to travel the world. He never planned on visiting Canada, but found himself in Toronto for a stopover and ended up liking the city so much he decided to stay. In 1959, Percy became the first South African pharmacist registered in Ontario.
Percy met his first wife, Frances Goodman, in 1960 on a blind date and married her that same year. Together, they had two children: Beth (born in 1961) and David (born in 1963). In 1961, Percy began his thirty-four-year career with Johnson and Johnson Corporation, taking on a number of roles in the company during that time. In 1977, Frances passed away. Two years later, he married his second wife, Elsa Ruth Snider.
In addition to his professional accomplishments, Percy is the founder of the only museum devoted exclusively to the history of contraception. The museum is located at the Dittrick Medical History Centre in Cleveland, Ohio.
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Name Access
Skuy, Percy, 1932-
Geographic Access
Canada
Europe
Israel
South Africa
United States
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Transcript
00:30 Percy was born in 1932 in Vryheid in northern Natal, South Africa.
00:41 Percy's parents emigrated from Latvia to South Africa in 1929.
00:53 Percy discusses his parents and their early lives in South Africa and the Jewish community in Vryheid.
04:10 Percy discusses his family's practice of Judaism while growing up.
05:02 Percy's father ran a small business. Later he worked with his brother-in-law to run a mill. At age fifty-nine his father was killed in an automobile accident.
06:00 Percy discusses his mother. Percy has two siblings: an older brother, Max, and a younger sister, Rita.
07:19 Percy shares some of his childhood memories.
09:29 Percy was involved in the Habonim youth movement.
11:27 Percy reminisces about the establishment of the State of Israel.
13:23 Percy discusses his impressions of apartheid. He discusses his relationships with black men and women.
15:15 Percy discusses his involvement with an anti-apartheid group.
17:19 Percy shares a story that illustrates his opposition to apartheid. His parents were not politically active.
19:06 Percy discusses how he became interested in pharmacy and the training for pharmacists.
21:21 Percy describes his two years of travel following graduation from pharmacy.
26:58 Percy relates how, en route to a pre-arranged job in the Arctic, he serendipitously secured a job with Glaxo as a medical sales representative on a stop-over in Toronto.
29:49 Percy describes his sales route.
30:46 Percy explains how he became the first South African registered pharmacist in Ontario.
32:31 Percy describes some of his early social/business pursuits in Canada.
34:12 Percy married his wife, Francis, originally from Sudbury. She graduated from the University of Toronto in nursing.
34:26 Following travel to Europe, Israel and South Africa, Percy and Francis decided to return to live in Canada.
35:35 Percy discusses the importance of maintaining family connection despite distance.
36:41 Percy describes the slow trickle of relatives who emigrated from South Africa. He notes that he has no close relatives remaining in South Africa and comments on the disappearance of the Jewish community in Vryheid.
38:39 Percy discusses some of the challenges he faced integrating socially into the Jewish community.
40:36 Percy explains how he became involved with working for the company Ortho.
45:15 Percy explains the factors that guided his integration into Canada.
47:08 Percy discusses his involvement in the Jewish community in Toronto.
48:30 Percy contrasts his own upbringing with how he raised his own children in Toronto.
52:00 Percy discusses his grandchildren.
52:26 Percy is the founder of a museum of the history of contraception. He explains how he developed an interest in the history of contraception and how he collected artifacts.
58:18 Percy describes his work history, his involvement in professional committee work, and his pursuits following his retirement in 1995.
1:00:11 Percy explains how he found a permanent location for the museum at the Dittrick Museum at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
1:02:50 Percy married Elsa in 1979. He discusses their range of hobbies.
1:03:38 Percy discusses the three documentaries he created. The topics included the formation of the Jewish pharmacy fraternity, the history of Jewish pharmacists in Canada, and the extracurricular involvement of Jewish pharmacists in Canada.
1:06:47 Percy addresses some of the issues faced by South African Jewish pharmacists who integrated to Canada.
1:09:20 Percy lists the languages he speaks.
1:10:00 Percy reminisces about his mother. He recalls his mother's relationship with their family servant.
1:13:14 Percy describes his training in pharmacy in South Africa.
1:15:27 Percy shares stories about their family's black servants.
1:17:40 Percy reminisces about the opportunities that came his way since his arrival in Canada.
Source
Oral Histories

Becoming Canadian

The History of Contraception

40 Jewish Families

Not Long Before the Police Arrived

Name
Darrel Hotz
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
June 25, 2015
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Darrel Hotz
Number
AC 417
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
June 25, 2015
Quantity
6 files
Interviewer
Naomi Raichyk
Total Running Time
1 hr. 36 min.
Biography
Born in 1959, Darrel grew up in Victory Park, a predominantly Jewish suburb of Johannesburg. The family—made up of Darrel, his parents, and his young brother—occupied a four-bedroom house on a half-acre of land just a short walk from the local Jewish day school. For Darrel, “Everything was pretty easy . . . growing up.” Although the family was not particularly religious, Darrel’s mother lit candles on Friday night and he attended a Zionist camp every summer. In his final year of high school, he won a Bible quiz sponsored by the South African Zionist Federation, for which he was awarded a trip to Israel to compete against other Jewish students from all over the world. Unfortunately, he did not perform as well in this second competition: Israeli yeshiva students took first, second, and third place.
Darrel’s family moved to Canada when Darrel was in his second year of university. Because there were no direct flights to Toronto from South Africa, the family flew first to Zurich and then to New York. From New York, they made their way to Buffalo, where they stocked up on goods prior to arriving in Canada. Unhappily for the Hotzes, North America was experiencing a terrible year in terms of weather and the winter jackets they had purchased in South Africa (said to be sufficient for surviving Arctic temperatures) proved inadequate. They immediately purchased a new batch of winter coats appropriate for Canada.
The Hotz family’s first few years in Canada were not easy ones. The dental credentials of Darrel’s father, an orthodontist, were not recognized and he was unable to practice for several years as a result. Darrel’s mother, who had not been in the labour force for twenty-odd years, had to return to work in order to help make ends meet. Eventually though, the family got itself settled and Darrel was able to complete his university education, going on to attend Osgoode Hall Law School and pass the bar. He worked for two law firms, one Jewish and one not, before starting his own practice.
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Name Access
Hotz, Darrel, 1959-
Geographic Access
Johannesburg (South Africa)
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Transcript
00:30 Darrel was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1959.
00:47 Darrel provides a brief family history. His paternal grandfather came to South Africa from Shavl, Lithuania in 1917. His paternal grandmother came from Riga, Latvia with her family in about 1910. His father was born in a suburb of Johannesburg. His maternal grandparents were born in South Africa. His grandfather's family came from Lithuania at the turn of the century. His grandmother's family moved to England in the 1870s. His maternal great-grandfather fought in the Boer War and remained in South Africa.
03:08 Darrel discusses his grandparents' education. His maternal grandmother was educated in a convent.
04:44 Darrel explains how his mother adopted more Jewish practice following her marriage to his father.
05:15 Darrel's father was born in Johannesburg and his mother was born in Benoni.
05:32 Darrel describes how his parents met.
06:00 Darrel's father studied dentistry and specialized in orthodontics.
07:18 Darrel discusses the role of Judaism in his home. Darrel attended King David. Darrel describes his bar mitzvah.
09:03 Darrel describes his family's neighbourhood, Victoria Park.
10:12 Darrel describes his home and home life.
11:48 Darrel discusses the security situation and political leanings of the Jewish community in South Africa during his youth.
14:45 Darrel describes his minor personal involvement in politics.
15:44 Darrel discusses the good relationship between Israel and South Africa.
17:18 Darrel discusses his involvement at Habonim summer camp and the Habonim youth movement.
20:53 Darrel discusses his experience of competing in a Bible quiz in Israel after having won the contest in South Africa.
25:48 Darrel describes three subsequent trips to Israel: in 1984, in 2006, and in 2008.
28:08 Darrel explains his parents' decision to leave South Africa.
29:09 Darrel discusses conscription to the South African army.
30:40 Darrel's maternal uncle immigrated to Canada before his parents.
32:19 Darrel addresses some of the challenges faced by him and other members of his family with starting again in a new country.
36:50 Darrel discusses some of the factors and considerations that contributed to the decision to select Canada as their immigration destination.
38:49 Darrel describes his parents' look-see visit to Toronto before the family moved.
40:37 Darrel describes the application process for immigration to Canada and monetary restrictions imposed by South African government.
42:53 Darrel describes his family's journey to Canada via Buffalo, New York.
44:40 Darrel describes his family's arrival in Canada on 9 March 1979.
46:20 Darrel lists the various places his parents have lived since their arrival.
47:05 Darrel discusses some of the challenges faced by his mother when she arrived.
50:11 Darrel describes his education in Canada.
52:06 Darrel shares his views concerning the differences between Canadian and South African Jews.
55:26 Darrel discusses his son's social circle and religious and secular education history.
1:00:43 Darrel discusses how his family connected with the established South African community in Toronto.
1:03:41 Darrel describes his parents' involvement in the Jewish community.
1:09:14 Darrel discusses his career in law.
1:15:02 Darrel discusses meeting and marrying his wife, Barbara, in 2000 and their early years together. They have one son, Joey.
1:19:14 Darrel discusses Barbara and his involvement in Jewish communal work.
1:23:07 Darrel reminisces about Jewish foods eaten in South Africa.
1:24:24 Darrel explains how they chose Camp Gesher, affiliated with Habonim Dror, for Joey.
1:27:24 Darrel contemplates a return visit to South Africa.
1:31:20 Darrel mentions a few South African expressions and words.
1:32:34 Darrel offers his impressions of the differences between South Africans and Canadians.
1:33:44 Darrel reflects on his family's decision to come to Canada.
Source
Oral Histories

Being raised in South Africa

Name
Denise Rootenberg
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
June 25, 2015
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Denise Rootenberg
Number
AC 418
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--Zimbabwe
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
June 25, 2015
Quantity
1
Interviewer
Lisa Newman
Total Running Time
AC 418 part 1: 16 min.
AC 418 part 2: 16 min.
AC 418 part 3: 16 min.
AC 418 part 4: 4 min.
Biography
Denise Rootenberg (née Abrahamson) was born in Harare, Zimbabwe (then Salisbury, Rhodesia). One of four sisters, she grew up in a warm Jewish community that was able to sustain an Ashkenazi synagogue, a Sephardic synagogue, and a small Reform synagogue. One of her aunts ran the local chapter of the Women’s International Zionist Organization with her sister. The aunt’s sister, meanwhile, made costumes for the repertory theatre company. Denise’s aunts also did kosher catering for simchas.
Because the Jewish community in Zimbabwe was so small, Jewish parents encouraged their children to attend university in South Africa, where they were less likely to marry outside the faith. Consequently, Denise attended university in Cape Town, living in residence for three years with one of her sisters. Ultimately, the sisters decided Cape Town was not for them and moved to Johannesburg. It was in Johannesburg that Denise met her husband, with whom she had a son. In 1989, they left South Africa to come to Canada.
The couple’s first few years in Canada were difficult ones as Denise and her husband struggled to find work and adjust to Canadian society. Eventually, however, things began to fall into place. Denise found work as an editorial assistant and then became a research analyst. Her husband, meanwhile, secured a job that enabled the couple to send their son to Associated Hebrew Schools of Toronto and the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto (CHAT).
Denise and her husband belong to Aish Toronto. Their son married his wife at the synagogue.
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Name Access
Rootenberg, Denise
Geographic Access
Cape Town (South Africa)
Harare (Zimbabwe)
Toronto (Ont.)
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Transcript
Part 1:
00:00 Denise was born in Zimbabwe. At age eighteen, she moved to Cape Town to attend University. At age 31, she immigrated to Toronto.
00:23 Denise’s maiden name was Abramson. She tells the history of the family name.
00:55 Denise's grandparents came to Zimbabwe from Poland via Sweden before the First World War.
01:16 Denise describes the jobs of her maternal and paternal grandfathers.
02:09 Describes immediate family.
02:46 Denise discusses the Jewish community of her youth in Salisbury, Rhodesia (today Harare, Zimbabwe) comprised of three synagogues. Denise's father was president of the Ashkenazi synagogue several times.
04:24 Denise shares memories about celebrating the Jewish holidays and the involvement of her aunts in the Jewish community.
06:06 Denise attended a small Jewish day school until grade seven. She attended a public high school. She recalls the bar mitzvah party from her youth.
07:26 Denise explains why she left Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). She attended university in Cape Town, South Africa following her older sister. Other Jewish students attended university in Johannesburg.
08:40 After university, Denise and her sister moved to Johannesburg. Her sister later moved to Israel, where she married, and they later moved to the United States.
09:00 Denise discusses her husband's family. Her father-in-law grew up in Lithuania and came to South Africa, where he lived with his aunt and later married his younger cousin. Denise recounts a colourful story about her father-in-law's journey to South Africa. Denise describes her faith-in-law's various business ventures and his dealing with white and black businesses that were segregated at the time.
12:15 There were three sons in her husband's family: David, Allan, and Lennie (Denise's husband). David, the eldest, was adopted. Denise relates stories involving David and his involvement with a racist, right-wing Afrikaans movement.
15:11 Denise and her family immigrated to Toronto in 1989.
Part 2:
01:00 Denise discusses her relationships with blacks while growing up. She attributes her more liberal views to her mother's kindness. She recalls (with shame) the poor living conditions of the blacks.
02:30 Denise discusses mandatory military service in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
03:29 Denise's husband joined the police force as a way of avoiding military service. She relates a frightening incident during the Soweto riots in 1976 involving her husband while he served in the police force.
05:52 Denise recounts her husband's constant fear that he would be required to arrest someone he knew.
06:05 Denise explains why she did not get directly involved with anti-apartheid groups and politics. Her first strong awareness of apartheid rose when she entered university.
06:57 Denise moved to Johannesburg after earning degrees in English and French at university. She describes her jobs in psychometric testing and as a proofreader for manuals for military equipment.
07:41 Denise recounts a story about the father of a boyfriend who was arrested for entering the townships without a permit and was represented by Nelson Mandela.
08:33 Denise describes how she met and eventually married her husband. Their son Mark was born in South Africa.
08:56 Denise's brother Allan and his family had already moved to Toronto.
09:37 Denise reports taht her husband's family in South Africa had the tradition similar to her own of having large holiday meals and seders.
10:00 A large contigent of her husband's family immigrated to Australia and a small segment immigrated to Canada.
10:07 Denise explains her reasons for coming to Canada. She considered Australia. She discusses early regrets for having chosen Canada rather than Australia. She discusses how in hindsight, and for a variety of reasons, she made the best choice.
13:19 Denise discusses her worries stemming from being a much pampered child growing up.
14:30 Denise describes how unsettled they felt when they first moved to Canada. She recounts a story about returning to South Africa to visit family after they had been in Canada for eighteen months. Her relatives' home was vandalized.
Part 3:
00:00 As a result of this traumatic incident, Denise and her sisters made a decision not to return to South Africa.
01:28 Denise describes some of the struggles she encountered when she initially moved to Toronto and she discusses some of the factors that contributed to feeling more settled and welcomed. Specifically, she shares a story about the efforts made by a Canadian family whose son was in her child's daycare.
04:40 Denise identifies some of the differences in religious observance between South Africa and Toronto.
06:50 Denise explains her choice of education for her son.
07:35 Denise discusses her husband's educational training and lists his work history in Toronto.
08:49 Denise explains that other than education subsidies she was unaware of other services offered by Jewish agencies to assist new immigrants and those struggling financially.
09:28 Denise outlines her work experience in Toronto and some of her work experience in South Africa.
11:19 Denise expresses appreciation for the benefits and treatment she received at her workplace. Specifically, she notes how she was accomodated after returning to work following cancer treatments.
12:18 Denise discusses the evolution of her religious observance.
15:00 Denise discusses her husband's mental health. She addresses associated issues and impact of his mental health on work and family. She identifies his experience with the police in Soweto as a factory contributing to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Part 4:
02:25 Denise identifies some of the factors that have enabled her to deal with the many life challenges she has encountered.
Source
Oral Histories

We Thought we were Orthodox

Name
Lorraine and Alan Sandler
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
12 May 2015
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Lorraine and Alan Sandler
Number
AC 420
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
Jews--Zimbabwe
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
12 May 2015
Interviewer
Lisa Newman
Total Running Time
1 hr. 30 min.
Use Restrictions
Partially closed.
Biography
Lorraine, the daughter of European immigrants to Africa, was born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe) where she grew up with her three siblings. For his part, Alan was born in Cape Town, South Africa where he grew up a single child, his only brother passing away at a young age.
Alan first met Lorraine while on vacation in Bulawayo with some friends. The two dated while Alan was doing his accounting exams and Lorraine was attending teacher’s college. They married in Bulawayo after dating several years.
After their honeymoon, Alan and Lorraine began their new life in Cape Town, where they started their family. One incident in particular prompted the couple to seriously consider leaving South Africa: Their eldest son requested to attend a movie with his nanny, which would have been illegal under apartheid.
Not seeing a future in South Africa, the family looked to immigrate. Initially, Lorraine wanted to make aliyah, but Alan felt the language-barrier would be an obstacle to finding work. Eventually, they made their way to Toronto where they attended a Shabbat dinner that persuaded them that Jewish life could flourish in Canada.
The family—Alan, Lorraine, and their two sons—arrived in Canada on August 5, 1976. Unlike many subsequent Jewish South Africans who came to Toronto, the family chose to live downtown, enrolling their children in Jewish day school. Both Alan and Lorraine took on leadership roles within Toronto’s Jewish community. Alan is a founder of the South African Jewish Association of Canada and was president of the UJA Federation of Toronto. In turn, Lorraine was chair of both the Women’s Campaign and the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre. Today, their children are married and Alan and Lorraine are proud grandparents.
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Name Access
Sandler, Alan
Sandler, Lorraine
Geographic Access
Bulawayo (Rhodesia)
Cape Town (South Africa)
Toronto (Ont.)
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Transcript
00:09 Lorraine's maiden name was Weinstock. Her mother came from Lithuania. Her father came from Poland.
00:38 Lorraine describes her parents' histories and their respective journeys to Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe).
04:56 Lorraine describes her parents' courtship and decision to marry. Together they saved enough money to bring Lorraine's aunt to Rhodesia. Lorraine's father was a carpenter; her mother was a seamstress.
06:48 Lorraine describes her parents' early years together. Initially, they lived outside of Bulawayo, where her father worked for a mine. Lorraine's two older siblings, Mickey and Fay, were born there.
07:47 Lorraine's parents moved to Bulawayo. Her father and a partner started a lumber business, which flourished over time. Lorraine describes the business.
08:51 Lorraine was born. Her younger sister, Sheila, was born five years later.
09:11 Lorraine explains how despite financial struggles, life was good. She cites the weather, education, sports, friends, and fruit trees.
10:08 Lorraine describes the critical role Habonim played in her life.
11:09 Lorraine describes the Jewish community in Bulawayo. She addresses the important role the synagogue played in their lives, especially the Friday-night service.
12:30 Lorraine explains that her parents spoke Yiddish at home with one another and English with the children. The children were able to understand Yiddish, but not speak very much of it.
13:10 Lorraine attended Hebrew school but learned very little Hebrew. She learned Hebrew vocabulary at Habonim.
14:00 Alan's maternal great-grandfather came to South Africa from England. His maternal grandmother and her three sisters and four brothers were born in Cape Town. His maternal grandfather came to South Africa from Germany in 1908.
14:54 Alan's paternal grandparents came from Lithuania with other members of their shtetl. His grandparents tried (unsuccessfully) to farm. Alan explains how his father's four sisters enabled the only brother to attend university. Alan's three younger sister and father were born in South Africa. His oldest aunt was born in Lithuania.
16:35 Yiddish was not spoken. The majority of Cape Town's Jewish community came from Lithuania at the turn of the century. English was spoken at home. Alan learned Afrikaans and French at school.
17:50 Alan describes the vibrant Jewish community in Cape Town. he notes that there has been a Jewish presence in Cape Town since 1652 with the arrival of the Dutch.
19:30 Alan recalls that the meeting place for Jewish children in Cape Town was Muizenberg Beach.
19:58 Alan explains the reasons he did not have a strong Jewish education. In contrast, his Zionist education was very strong.
21:05 Alan explains that his father developed Zionist leanings while in university and he grew up in a Zionist household. He recalls meeting David Ben-Gurion and fundraising events for Israel.
22:42 Alan shares memories from his bar mitzvah. He recalls that he did not have a close connection with synagogue, but was actively involved with Zionist and Jewish community needs.
25:22 Alan contrasts the Jewish community in Cape Town with Toronto.
28:05 Alan's father was an accountant. He notes that in the 1930s and 1940s the large accounting firms did not hire Jews. The situation changed after the war as Jews became more affluent.
30:35 Alan and Lorraine describe how they met and dated.
36:20 Alan and Lorraine discuss their wedding.
38:40 Alan shares an anecdote about his aufruf (calling to the Torah) before his wedding.
40:30 Lorraine discusses their early years of marriage living in Cape Town. She discusses her and Alan's active involvement in the Jewish community.
43:17 Lorraine identifies an incident that served as a trigger for their decision to leave South Africa.
44:22 Alan discusses the inception and practice of apartheid in South Africa. He describes his personal dissonance with the situation.
47:26 Both Lorraine's father and Alan's parents supported their decision to South Africa.
48:40 Alan explains that the only people who were leaving South Africa were forced to leave because of their political activism or Zionists making aliyah. Lorraine wanted to move to Israel.
50:09 Alan and Lorraine discuss their exploration of English-speaking countries in 1974. They explain the factors that facilitated their decision to choose Toronto.
54:08 Alan discusses the financial implications of leaving a "blocked-currency state."
54:38 Alan explains his reasons for not going to Israel.
55:34 Alan discusses the sequence of events that delayed their departure until August 1976.
57:07 Lorraine discusses their difficult circumstances upon arrival in Toronto. She explains why they chose to settle in the Bathurst-Eglinton area and their decision to buy a house.
1:02:07 Alan discusses his initial involvement with the Toronto Jewish community and how he attempted to promote the needs of new Jewish South African immigrants.
1:04:00 Alan explains how he was able to integrate into a new country.
1:04:22 Once Lorraine started to run Holy Blossom Temple's preschool, she felt less isolated.
1:04:38 Alan describes the shock of a Canadian winter.
1:05:14 Alan discusses the impact of the influx of Jews from Montreal during the same period.
1:11:50 Alan describes their involvement in the Toronto Jewish community.
1:13:00 Lorraine cites her reasons for reaching out and persevering despite the obstacles.
1:14:28 Alan compares his experience to other Jewish families who remained in South Africa. He contrasts himself as an immigrant to the majority of immigrants who leave their home country.
1:16:28 Alan discusses the success of the next generation, more specifically their own children.
1:17:58 Lorraine discusses her career as a Jewish educator in early childhood education in Toronto.
1:21:24 Lorraine discusses her volunteer work in the Jewish community.
1:23:04 Alan comments that the establishment of Leo Baeck Day School was a direct result of the success of Holy Blossom Temple's preschool.
1:24:39 Lorraine displays and discusses some family mementos: heirloom candlesticks and some photographs.
1:27:38 Alan describes some family photographs and shares some family anecdotes. He discusses some of the barriers to Jews at university when his father was a student and some of the successes of Jewish students.
1:30:09 Alan and Lorraine share a photograph of their children, their spouses, and grandchildren.
Source
Oral Histories

Teacher of Teachers

It

Impact of Habonim

A Reconnaissance Mission

Name
Brenda and Colin Baskind
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
16 July 2015
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Brenda and Colin Baskind
Number
AC 423
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
16 July 2015
Interviewer
Lisa Newman
Total Running Time
1 hr. 52 min.
Biography
Brenda met Colin on a blind date while attending teacher’s college in Johannesburg. The two dated for one year before getting married at the Pine Street Shul in 1967. Together, they raised three children—Stacey, Alana, and Cliff—and helped bring up the nephew of their maid, whom they regarded as family.
Around 1976, Colin and Brenda began thinking about emigrating as a result of the country’s worsening political situation. At first, their daughter was unwilling to move, but after a riot broke out at her university, she declared she had had enough. Initially, the family considered moving to Australia, but soon settled upon Canada, immigrating in 1987. Although they found the prospect of starting over intimidating, they received a warm welcome from both the South African Jewish community and the larger community.
Brenda and Colin purchased a khaloupe (a fixer-upper) that they transformed into a beautiful home, planting trees in its large garden. Brenda found employment with Holy Blossom Synagogue while Colin became president of the Southern African Jewish Association of Canada. In their free time, they took up running, a hobby that introduced them to many friends. By 2015, they had participated in eleven marathons.
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Yiddish
Name Access
Baskind, Brenda, 1944-
Baskind, Colin, 1941-
Geographic Access
Johannesburg (South Africa)
Port Elizabeth (South Africa)
Toronto (Ont.)
Original Format
Digital file
Transcript
00:13 Brenda (née Bebrow?) was born 29 October 1944 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Brenda discusses her parents’ divorce and the death of her brother from polio in 1956.
01:25 Brenda explains the reasons her mother sent her to boarding school in Grahamstown.
02:12 Brenda’s father drowned in the ocean in Port Elizabeth at age eleven.
03:41 Brenda’s mother worked as a bookkeeper in Johannesburg.
03:50 Brenda discusses her limited Jewish education and practice while living in Grahamstown.
05:40 Brenda reminisces about her experience at boarding school.
06:43 Brenda discusses how she was able to cope while dealing with her parents’ divorce, followed by the deaths of her brother, father, and grandmother.
07:36 Brenda’s maternal grandparents and great-grandmother were from Russia. They were observant Jews.
09:12 Brenda moved to Johannesburg at age eighteen to attend teacher’s college. She describes living with her great-aunt, great-uncle, and cousin.
10:21 Brenda describes how she met her husband, Colin.
11:37 Colin was born on 20 April 1941 in Johannesburg, South Africa. He lived with his parents and younger sister.
12:03 Colin reminisces about his early years. He discusses his friends and interest in sports.
13:50 Colin’s father was a butcher. His mother assisted his father.
14:18 Colin discusses the high quality of his education.
15:32 Colin’s father practiced Orthodox Judaism.
16:26 Colin discusses his Jewish education. He reminisces about his bar mitzvah.
18:43 Colin describes how he helped with his father’s business.
20:21 Colin’s father was born in Lithuania at age 11. His mother was born in Latvia. Both came to South Africa in the 1920s.
21:39 Colin attended university in Johannesburg.
23:21 Colin discusses work experience.
25:12 Colin and Brenda reminisce about their initial meeting, courtship, and marriage.
29:30 Colin and Brenda’s eldest daughter Alana was born.
29:36 Colin and Brenda discuss their close relationship with their nanny and her family. They describe the living conditions for nannies in general.
33:23 Colin and Brenda recount how they helped raise the baby of their nanny’s sister.
36:50 Brenda’s mother remarried a third time.
39:18 Brenda discusses her work as a nursery school teacher in Johannesburg and Toronto.
41:06 Colin and Brenda explain the reasons that triggered their decision to emigrate. They describe the Soweto riots in 1976.
45:08 Colin explains how they chose and were accepted to immigrate to Canada. Colin and Brenda discuss the distinct advantages of living in Canada relative to South Africa and Australia.
52:33 Colin only considered leaving South Africa after his parents passed away.
53:10 Colin and Brenda discuss their children’s points of view about leaving South Africa.
55:23 Colin and Brenda describe how they got ready for the move to Canada. They discuss what they were and were not allowed to bring out of South Africa.
57:27 Colin explains how some South Africans left the country without going through the steps of formal immigration.
57:26 Brenda describes her fears concerning the move and explains the reasons some of her friends have remained in South Africa.
1:00:04 Brenda shares early memories of moving to Toronto: buying a house and a car.
1:03:09 Colin and Brenda contrast the quality of living between Johannesburg and Toronto.
1:05:04 Colin and Brenda discuss how they formed their early social connections.
1:07:46 Colin discusses how he maintained interest in sport, both as a participant and as a spectator. Sport was another means of making friends.
1:10:0 Colin volunteered with the Jewish Immigrant Aid Services (JIAS) for five years and became involved with the Southern African Jewish Association of Canada (SAJAC).
1:10:40 Colin discusses his involvement with SAJAC.
1:12:44 Brenda and Colin discuss some of the language and cultural challenges they encountered when they arrived in Canada.
1:16:17 Colin and Brenda discuss the achievements of their children.
1:20:42 Colin and Brenda discuss their daughter Stacy’s decision to be a single mother. Brenda discusses their involvement with baby Lily’s care and their decision to buy a house with private quarters to share with Stacy and Lily.
1:28:18 Brenda discusses two trips back to South Africa to care for her mother in 1998.
1:32:28 Brenda discusses the changes she noted in South Africa during her visit.
1:34:43 Colin discusses his volunteer work with JIAS, SAJAC, Jewish Family & Child (JF&CS) and JVC. He explains his desire to enable others to prepare themselves for and find work.
1:43:33 Colin discusses some of the challenges faced by his sister.
1:46:50 Colin and Brenda share their views on the current and future situation in South Africa.
Source
Oral Histories

The Way Things Were

A khaloupe!

A Scholarship Based on Need

Name
Laurie Manoim
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
16 July 2015
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Laurie Manoim
Number
AC 424
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
16 July 2015
Interviewer
Gail Freeman
Total Running Time
AC 424 part 1: 40 min.
AC 424 part 2: 9 min.
Biography
Lorraine “Laurie” Manoim (née Stern) was born on 21 June 1945 in Johannesburg, South Africa. She spent a happy childhood growing up with her two brothers and many cousins. Her parents were founding members of Temple Emanuel, a Reform synagogue.
Laurie’s family is a rich tapestry of nationalities. Her paternal grandparents were from Austria and Germany; her maternal grandfather was from Morocco; her maternal grandmother was from Poland; and her mother was born in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). In addition, Laurie is a descendant of Solica Hachuel, a Moroccan-Jewish martyr who was killed in the early nineteenth century. This background made Laurie’s family stand out from other Jewish families in South Africa, many of whom originally emigrated from Lithuania.
After earning her bachelor of arts, Laurie married and had a son, Gary. She and her husband opened a restaurant, which Laurie ran by herself for the first two years, but ended up divorcing. Not wanting her son to internalize the values of apartheid South Africa, Laurie made the decision to immigrate to Canada with her son.
Laurie and Gary arrived in Canada in 1978. Laurie managed to raise Gary without family support and while holding down multiple jobs. She worked in the restaurant industry for a number of years, even owning a deli at one point, but ultimately decided to go back to school, earning a master’s degree in industrial relations (MIR). After graduating, she worked at the Government of Canada for twenty-eight years. During this time her parents immigrated to Canada and she supported them by having the additional income from students residing in her home for fifteen years. Laurie graduated from Guelph as a master gardener. (Gardening is her major hobby.)
Laurie has a large and diverse social circle and a broad range of interests. She has been back to South Africa many times as her son returned to work there for twenty years before returning to Canada. She has no desire to move back, commenting that she couldn’t go back to an empty life, to being a prisoner of luxury and discrimination.
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Name Access
Manoim, Laurie, 1945-
Geographic Access
Bulawayo (Zimbabwe)
Johannesburg (South Africa)
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Transcript
Part 1:
00:00 Laurie's maiden name was Stern. She was born on 21 June 1945 in Johannesburg. She immigrated to Canada in 1978.
00:55 Laurie's paternal grandparents came from Germany and Austria. Her father was born in South Africa. Her maternal grandfather came from Morocco. Her maternal grandmother came from Poland. Her mother was born in Rhodesia.
01:19 Laurie discusses how her maternal grandfather from Morocco came to Bulawayo in Rhodesia.
02:20 Laurie discusses her childhood. She had two brothers. One brother died at age twenty-two. Her younger brother is married and lives in South Africa.
03:18 Laurie discusses her family's religious observance. Her father came from a small farming town, Schweizer-Reneke. Her parents were founding members of Temple Emanuel, a Reform synagogue.
04:50 Laurie outlines her education: elementary grades at Rosebank (a public school), secondary grades at King David (a Jewish day school).
06:22 Laurie earned a bachelor of arts in sociology and economics at university. She studied computers and market research.
07:53 Laurie got engaged and married. In 1970, she and her husband decided to immigrate. Laurie discusses some of their reasons and their plan. They ran a restaurant to get a cash business.
09:07 Laurie discusses the breakdown of her marriage that ended in divorce. She needed to get court's permission to bring her son with her to Canada.
10:06 Laurie explains her decision to immigrate to Canada.
11:00 Laurie describes her disappointment when her son, Gary, returned to South Africa.
12:38 Laurie considered and abandoned the options of living in Israel and San Francisco.
13:35 Laurie describes her struggles with finding suitable housing, finding stable employment, and raising her young son during her early years in Canada.
17:57 Laurie mentions preparation for her son's bar mitzvah.
18:50 Laurie returned to university to earn a master's degree in industrial relations. She found a government post, where she remained for twenty-six years.
20:30 Laurie shares some of her initial impressions of living in Canada. She compares and contrasts the Jewish communities in South Africa and Toronto, and specifically highlights how the needs of the South African Jewish immigrants differed from other Jewish immigrant groups.
24:43 Laurie identifies some of the challenges she faced when she came to Toronto.
25:34 Laurie describes the circumstances that triggered her parents' immigration to Canada in 1996.
27:04 Laurie describes her mother's artistic training and endeavours.
28:53 Laurie discusses some of the South African traditions she has maintained while living in Canada.
31:06 Laurie rediscovered seven South African childhood friends in Canada, but most of her friends are Canadian.
32:13 Laurie describes her passion for gardening.
34:05 Laurie identifies an incident when she first felt Canadian. She describes how her family in South Africa became dispersed.
35:17 Laurie shares an anecdote about one of her Moroccan ancestors.
37:33 Laurie shares memories of her move to Canada.
Part 2:
00:20 Laurie explains how she was able to secure housing at Bayview Mews after some initial challenges.
03:00 Laurie offers tribute to her work colleagues and gives some examples to justify her admiration.
06:05 Laurie speaks of her relationship with a friend during her life and during her terminal illness.
08:24 Laurie discusses her travel plans for retirement.
Source
Oral Histories

Immigrating Solo to Canada

Name
Ivor Simmons
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
9 Feb. 2016
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Ivor Simmons
Number
AC 425
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
9 Feb. 2016
Interviewer
Naomi Raichyk
Total Running Time
AC 425 part 1: 21 min.
AC 425 part 2: 20 min.
AC 425 part 3: 21 min.
AC 425 part 4: 1 min.
AC 425 part 5: 2 min.
AC 425 part 6: 4 min.
Biography
Born in Bloemfontein, South Africa’s judicial capital, in 1937, Ivor had a pleasant childhood alongside his two brothers. Because his family lived on the “wrong side” of Naval Hill (the other side was considerably more Jewish), he counted both Jews and non-Jews among his friends. This did not mean he lacked for Jewish culture: Ivor participated in a Jewish youth movement and was sent to a nearby cheder ahead of his bar mitzvah, which he celebrated in the communal hall. Unfortunately, the cheder teacher, a European immigrant who spoke halting English, was not the best teacher and Ivor finished his education with only a partial ability to read Hebrew.
As a young man, Ivor studied chemical engineering at the University of Cape Town. He worked in South Africa for a time before leaving to go to London. At the time he left, he did not have plans to live outside South Africa, but he ended up meeting several Canadians in England who encouraged him to give Canada a try. Obtaining work without any great difficulty and finding the locals friendlier than those in England, he decided to make Canada home.
Ivor worked in marketing for a time before coming to the conclusion that he wanted to be his own boss. With a loan from his father-in-law, he purchased a small company, which he ran for twenty-seven years. He looks back on those years fondly on account of having overcome a number of obstacles along the way and treated his employees fairly. In 1997, he sold his business and decided to devote his time to travel and volunteering.
Ivor and his wife have three children, all of whom live in Canada. They also have several grandchildren.
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Name Access
Simmons, Ivor, 1937-
Geographic Access
Bloemfontein (South Africa)
Cape Town (South Africa)
England
Sasolburg (South Africa)
Toronto (Ont.)
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Transcript
Part 1:
00:25 Ivor was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa in 1937. His maternal grandparents' birthplace was Russia. His paternal grandfather was born near the Lithuanian/Latvian border. His paternal grandfather travelled to England and in 1886 moved to South Africa. His paternal grandmother came to South Africa from Cardiff.
02:24 Ivor's maternal grandfather was a jeweller in Cape Town. He remarried after Ivor's maternal grandmother died. The grandfather and second wife died in a vehicular accident in the 1920s.
03:45 Ivor discusses his parents: how they met and married. Ivor's father ran a printing company and his mother was a music teacher with an interest in the arts. Ivor's mother was involved in Jewish communal affairs.
05:55 Ivor discusses his two younger brother, both of whom moved to Sydney, Australia.
09:20 Ivor describes his youth in Bloemfontein.
10:34 Ivor participated in a B'nai Brith youth movement and attended cheder until age thirteen.
12:05 Ivor had a bar mitzvah in the communal hall.
13:24 Ivor discusses his education and extracurricular activities while he attended Grey College, a boys' school in Bloemfontein. Although Afrikaans was taught in school, Ivor did not gain fluency in Afrikaans until he worked in an oil refinery in Sasolburg.
15:40 Ivor describes his Jewish education.
16:20 Ivor discusses his family's religious and cultural observance.
17:47 Ivor shares his perspective on the impact of politics in South Africa on the Jewish community and on him personally.
19:40 Ivor discusses his reasons for leaving South Africa and how he decided to move to Canada. He found a job with Union Carbide in Toronto and decided to stay.
Part 2:
00:20 Ivor shares his first impressions of living in Toronto and addresses the ease of transition for him.
02:57 Ivor arrived in Toronto on 2 June 1963 after having spent one month in Montreal.
03:40 Ivor discusses the small South African community in Toronto at that time.
05:40 Ivor discusses his family's reaction to his decision to move to Toronto. His parents remained in South Africa. Ivor describes his parents' lifestyle.
08:45 Ivor describes his professional education and career. He studied chemical engineering at the University of Cape Town. He discusses his work history in South Africa, England, and Canada.
13:20 Ivor discusses how he met his wife. He discusses his family: his two sons and one daughter. Ivor discusses his daughter's career.
Part 3:
01:15 Ivor discusses the adoption of his two sons. Ivor discusses the children's education.
06:15 Ivor's mother came to visit regularly. His father came for several visits. Ivor and his family visited South Africa.
07:35 Ivor discusses how his family celebrated Jewish holidays.
08:24 Ivor discusses his wife, Renee.
09:08 Ivor discusses the similarities between Renee's family and his family with regards to Jewish practice and values and their Jewish practice in their home.
11:10 Ivor discusses his limited participation with any organizations within the South African Jewish community in Canada.
12:10 Ivor offers reasons why it would have been difficult to raise his children had they been living in South Africa.
13:40 Ivor discusses some of his family visits to South Africa and the impressions of the children.
15:36 Ivor offers his impressions of current day South Africa.
18:16 Ivor comments on the ease with which he integrated into Canada.
19:06 Ivor discusses his volunteer involvement following his retirement and his personal interests.
Part 4:
00:00 Ivor continues to discuss his personal interests.
Part 5:
00:00 Ivor fondly reminisces about his extended family in Cape Town: his mother's sister and her husband, his mother's brothers, their wives and children, and his father's twin cousins.
Part 6:
00:00 Ivor continues to reminisce about extended family.
02:42 Ivor discusses his pleasure in travel since his retirement.
Source
Oral Histories

What was planned as just a short trip...

Watching What you Say in South Africa

Name
John Brotman
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
5 Apr. 2016
Source
Oral Histories
Name
John Brotman
Number
AC 427
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
5 Apr. 2016
Interviewer
Gail Freeman
Total Running Time
AC 427 part 1: 17 min.
AC 427 part 2: 22 min.
AC 427 part 3: 9 min.
AC 427 part 4: 2 min.
Biography
A musician by training, John arrived in Fort McMurray in April 1977. The very next day it snowed. He immediately regretted not picking Australia. “Canada was freezing cold,” he recalled. “But the people are the friendliest people I’ve ever known.”
John’s journey to Canada was anything but straightforward. Born in 1945, he grew up with his parents and two younger sisters in Saxonwold, a suburb of Johannesburg. After graduating high school and studying at the Wits University, he left for England in order to study music. It was there that he met his first wife, Jenny, who was born in Zimbabwe. The couple had two children: a son and a daughter. About a year after their second child was born, the couple decided to move to Australia. First though, they would stop in South Africa to visit with family. That visit, which was meant to last one month, ended up lasting a number of years.
While home in South Africa, John began having second thoughts about Australia. Back in London, he had met a Canadian musician who had encouraged him to move to Canada. When he returned to South Africa, he found an enormous parcel from Edmonton, Alberta that contained invitations from various towns and cities in Alberta encouraging him to come with his family and make a life there, even going as far as to promise housing. The offer being too good to pass up, the family made the move in 1977.
John initially worked as musician in residence at a college in Fort McMurray, a job he thoroughly enjoyed. It was during this time that his first marriage ended and he met his second wife, Sara, a Canadian who grew up on a farm in Alberta but was now teaching in Fort McMurray. The two moved to Edmonton where John worked for the provincial government for a time before being offered a job by the Canada Council. This job, in turn, took him to Ottawa. While in Ottawa, he and Sara had two children: another son and daughter.
John’s final job was with the Ontario Arts Council, of which he eventually became director. He retired several years ago, but continues to take pride in the accomplishment of Canadian artists and composers around the world.
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Name Access
Brotman, John
Geographic Access
Australia
Edmonton (Alta.)
Fort McMurray (Alta.)
Johannesburg (South Africa)
London (England)
Ottawa (Ont.)
Toronto (Ont.)
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Transcript
Part 1:
01:15 John discusses his parents. His father was Isadore and his mother was Doris. Doris was born in Manchester. His father was a radiologist. Two younger sisters: Linda and Angela.
02:00 John briefly outlines his history. He was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. At age twenty, he moved to London, England to study music. He remained there for ten years, where he married and had two children.
02:37 John discusses his neighbourhood, Saxonwold, and his education from elementary school to high school through university.
03:45 John moved to London to study with several music teachers.
04:45 John married in 1970 in London. He discusses his wife's early history. She was born in Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe) and later moved to Cape Town. Their two children were born in England.
05:50 John explains his reasons for deciding to move to Australia. He explains how a short visit stretched into three years.
06:54 John explains how his plans changed and how his first destination in Canada was Alberta.
08:59 John lived in Alberta for four-to-five years. He describes his work as musician-in-residence at the newly founded college in Fort McMurray.
12:17 John explains how, after his first marriage broke up, he moved to Edmonton with his second wife. He worked as cultural music officer for the Alberta government.
13:37 John describes the job he took with the Canada Council in Ottawa. He remained in Ottawa for five years.
15:10 John discusses the job he took with Jeunesse Musicale (Youth in Music), a position that brought him to Toronto.
16:29 John took a position with the Ontario Arts Council. He explains how he advanced from music officer to director of the Ontario Arts Council, where he remained until his retirement in 2013.
Part 2:
00:00 John discusses his first wife, Jennifer Strong, and their children, Matthew and Lauren. They divorced while living in Fort McMurray. He discusses his second wife, Sarah, and their two children, Nicholas and Anna.
03:09 John recounts how he has reconnected with childhood friends from South Africa.
05:31 John discusses the role of Judaism in his life. His father came to South Africa from Prague.
08:24 John discusses his view of politics in South Africa and its impact on his decision to leave to study in England. He recalls South African friends in England who were anti-apartheid.
11:30 John recalls how he briefly contemplated moving to Israel but reconsidered when he was advised that his non-Jewish wife would be required to convert in order to ensure that his children would have full Israeli status.
15:54 John shares his first impressions of Canada and Canadians.
18:06 John discusses his children's education.
19:25 John discusses his family's observance of Jewish holidays.
20:40 John discusses his views on Israel and his connection to Judaism.
Part 3:
00:00 John discusses his reaction to criticism from various interest groups (Jewish, Palestinian, Polish), who objected to certain arts decisions by the Arts Council of Canada.
03:20 John discusses his adjustment to England and Canada.
05:12 John notes some changes in the South African Jewish community that have occurred since he left.
06:56 John recalls experiences that have made him feel "Canadian."
Part 4:
00:00 John relates a meeting with an old South African friend living in Israel and shares some of his views about Israel.
Source
Oral Histories

A Mandate for the Whole Country

The Inevitability of Leaving

Name
Adele and Alan Farber
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
13 Apr. 2016
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Adele and Alan Farber
Number
AC 428
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
13 Apr. 2016
Interviewer
Lisa Newman
Total Running Time
AC 428 part 1: 18 min.
AC 428 part 2: 19 min.
AC 428 part 3: 22 min.
AC 428 part 4: 3 min.
Biography
Adele and Alan met when she was fifteen and he was seventeen years old. They married a few years later, and lived in Johannesburg until Alan qualified as a chartered accountant. In 1975, they immigrated to Toronto.
Adele arrived in Canada with an honours degree in psychology. She initially completed a one-year program at a Canadian teaching college. After having three children, she went back to university, and obtained an honours degree in social work from York University and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Toronto. She worked with teenagers for several years at an agency and in 2001 opened a private practice as a psychotherapist. Today she works part-time.
Alan requalified as a chartered accountant in Canada, and became a trustee in bankruptcy. In 1979, he founded a firm, which is currently called Farber Group. The firm provides business advisory services from eleven business units and operates in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta.
Adele and Alan are members of Kehillat Shaarei Torah and have engaged in philanthropy through the United Jewish Appeal, Canadian Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and other Jewish and community charitable organizations.
Their oldest son, Jonathan, lives in Israel while their two younger children, Steven and Sherri, live in Canada. They have seven grandchildren.
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Name Access
Farber, Adele, 1952-
Farber, Alan, 1951-
Geographic Access
Israel
Johannesburg (South Africa)
Toronto (Ont.)
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Transcript
00:02 Adele was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1952. She has one brother, ten years her junior.
00:32 Adele explains why her family moved several times during her childhood: to London, England in 1962; to Herzliya Pituach, Israel in 1964; and back to Johannesburg in 1967.
02:55 Adele discusses her parents' family histories. Her paternal grandfather came from Lithuania at the turn of the century. Her paternal grandmother came from England. They married in South Africa. Her father was the youngest of five children. Adele's maternal grandparents came from Poland prior to the Second World War. Her mother was the middle of six children, all born in Poland.
05:26 Adele discusses her extended family, their cloneness, and regular family get-togethers.
07:17 Adele outlines her Jewish education.
08:13 Adele speaks Hebrew fluently and majored in Hebrew and psychology at university.
08:41 Adele has a son who lives in Israel.
09:07 Adele discusses how she met her husband, Alan. They married young: Adele was nineteen; Alan was twenty-one. They lived in Johannesburg for three years before moving to Canada.
11:10 Adele discusses the reasons they decided to leave South Africa.
14:40 Adele explains why they chose to immigrate to Canada.
16:36 Adele discusses the rocky start to their immigration due to her father's illness and death. They entered Canada in June 1975, returned to South Africa for six months, and returned to Canada at the end of 1975.
17:59 Adele's mother immigrated to Canada in 1980. Adele's brother moved to the United States.
18:12 Adele discusses return trips to South Africa.
Part 2:
00:00 Alan was born in 1951 in Johannesburg. Alan has two older sisters.
00:20 Alan briefly outlines his primary and secondary education.
00:54 Alan fondly reminisces about a friendship he has maintained since childhood.
02:43 Alan discusses growing up in Johannesburg: his neighbourhood, his friends, and his interest in sports.
03:44: Alan discusses his family's origins. Alan's father was born in South Africa. His paternal grandparents came from Lithuania. Alan's mother and maternal grandfather were born in South Africa. His maternal grandparents came from Latvia.
04:35 Alan describes his observance of Judaism while growing up.
06:15 Alan discusses his bar mitzvah. He had a private Hebrew teacher.
07:54 Alan explains that he and his family had limited involvement in Jewish community activity.
09:00 Alan explains how he became more involved in Jewish community organizations in Toronto. He describes his involvement.
11:38 Alan describes his professional training to become an accountant in South Africa, a chartered accountant in Canada, and a trustee in bankruptcy.
13:52 Alan discusses his career development in Canada. He describes his business, the Farber Financial Group.
17:09 Alan discusses the optiosn he considered before ultimately choosing Canada as an immigration destination.
Part 3:
00:03 Adele discusses her post-secondary education, including an honour's degree in psychology earned in South Africa, a teaching degree, a bachelor of social work, and a master's of social work earned in Canada. Adele discusses her various jobs and her private practice.
03:20 Adele discusses their young family: Jonathon (1978), Steven (1980), and Sherry (1983).
05:34 Alan warmly describes raising his children.
06:31 Adele discusses their family's Jewish life when they first arrived in Toronto: the neighbourhood, Shabbat observance, and synagogue attendance. Adele and Alan explain that, for financial reasons, they sent their children to public school, with the exception of Sherry who attended the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto (CHAT).
09:29 Alan and Adele discuss how they established social connections when they first arrived in Canada, welcomed by distant cousins and with other young Jewish couples who had recently immigrated from South Africa.
11:13 Adele and Alan discuss how they were received by Canadians.
12:26 Alan describes their efforts to help other immigrants including sponsoring a family from Vietnam in 1981, sponsoring a Russian Jew through Jewish Immigrant Aid Services (JIAS), and helping sponsor Syrian refugees through their synagogue.
14:29 Adele discusses the supports offered by South African Jews in Canada to South African immigrants, specifically through the Southern African Jewish Association of Canada (SAJAC).
15:57 Alan explains how he served as a contact person for other South African accountants when they arrived in Canada. Also, many of his business employees are from South Africa.
18:03 Alan and Adele belong to Kehillah Shaarei Torah.
18:48 Adele and Alan discuss their grown children. Their oldest son, Jonathon (Israel) is a rabbi in Bet Shemesh, Israel. Steven is a professor of urban geography at the University of Toronto. Sherry, who studied medicine at Ben-Gurion University, returned to Canada to practice medicine.
20:37 Alan shares his hopes for the future.
Part 4:
00:39 Adele expounds on her appreciation of living in Canada.
Source
Oral Histories

The Kensington of Johannesburg

Maybe Canada?

Immigrants Sponsoring Immigrants

Kiss the Ground

Name
Ismé Bennie
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
26 Apr. 2016
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Ismé Bennie
Number
AC 429
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
26 Apr. 2016
Interviewer
Naomi Raichyk
Total Running Time
AC 429 part 1: 21 min.
AC 429 part 2: 21 min.
AC 429 part 3: 21 min.
AC 429 part 4: 9 min.
Biography
For someone who went on to become an influential figure in Canadian broadcasting, it is perhaps surprising to learn that Ismé Bennie grew up without television. Born in Vereeniging, South Africa in 1940, Ismé knew from a young age that she wanted to travel. After graduating from Wits University in 1960, she moved to London, England, which is where she saw television for the first time.
Although happy in London, Ismé decided to return to South Africa after two years, mostly as a result of her parents’ urging. While participating in the production of an American documentary about South Africa, she met a Canadian man who lived in the United States. In 1964, she moved to Los Angeles to be with him and eventually the two moved to New York, where they lived for five years.
Ismé’s partner eventually grew unhappy in New York and decided to return to Canada. At the time, many young men were making their way to Canada in order to dodge the draft. Ismé followed their guide about entering Canada. Upon arrival, she completed the questionnaire with flying colours and was allowed to stay.
Once in Canada, Ismé quickly put together an impressive resume, holding senior positions at CHUM and CTV. She has been honoured by the Canadian Film and Television Production Association with a Personal Achievement Award in 1990 and a Jack Chisholm Award in 1995. In 2003, Women in Film and Television – Toronto recognized her with an Outstanding Achievement Award.
In 2010, Ismé left CTV in order to focus on freelance writing. In 2015, she published a memoir of her childhood entitled White Schooldays: Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa.
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Name Access
Bennie, Ismé, 1940-
Geographic Access
London (England)
Los Angeles (Calif.)
New York (N.Y.)
South Africa
Toronto (Ont.)
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Transcript
Part 1:
00:24 Ismé was born in South Africa in 1940.
00:36 Ismé immigrated to Enland in 1962. She shares some of her memories from her stay in London. She explains how her views of apartheid changed.
02:40 Ismé discusses her personal and political reaction when she returned to South Africa in 1964.
05:09 Ismé discusses her job with a news magazine in South Africa.
06:48 Ismé discusses her involvement with the production of a film.
08:15 Ismé explains how she met and followed a man to the United States in 1965. She discusses his influence on her intellectually and politically.
10:43 Ismé outlines her first years in North America, initially in Los Angeles, then in New York, and finally in Toronto.
12:32 Ismé explains how she prepared for her move to Canada and discusses her initial arrival in Canada in December 1969.
15:56 Ismé shares her first impressions of Toronto.
18:02 Ismé discusses the friends she made in Toronto.
19:42 Ismé discusses her involvement with her local residential association.
Part 2:
00:00 Ismé discusses her impressions of Canadians' views of South Africa.
01:11 Ismé discusses her process of integration into and adjustment to Toronto.
03:10 Ismé explains that she had minimal contact with other South Africans when she arrived in Toronto. She suggests that her circumstances differed from other South African immigrants.
06:42 Ismé discusses her Jewish life growing up in South Africa.
09:45 Ismé discusses her involvement with the Jewish Genealogical Society in Toronto due to her personal interest in genealogy.
10:57 Ismé discusses her pursuit of her family history.
14:24 Ismé graduated from Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg. She discusses the efforts of an alumni group in Toronto.
16:11 Ismé discusses her successful career in broadcasting.
Part 3:
00:00 Ismé continues to discuss her career in broadcasting.
01:46 Ismé discusses her current work involvement as a consultant and writer.
03:16 Ismé discusses challenges she has faced as a woman and as a Jew.
06:50 Ismé discusses people who have influenced her in her professional life.
08:31 Ismé discusses some of her most rewarding professional achievements.
10:28 Ismé discusses her avid, longstanding interest in reading.
12:07 Ismé discusses her family and friends in South Africa and how she has maintained connection with them.
16:10 Ismé discusses her impressions of recent visits to South Africa.
19:23 Ismé discusses the challenges her sister would face if she considered immigration to Canada.
Ismé considers the notion of moving back to South Africa.
Part 4:
00:00 Ismé continues to discuss the notion of living in South Africa.
01:30 Ismé recalls some of her memories of South Africa.
05:40 Ismé discusses the process of pursuing her Canadian citizenship.
Source
Oral Histories

Toronto Fashion

A Very Loose Jewish Background

Welcome to Canada

Two South Africas

Name
Anthony Lipschitz
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
10 May 2016
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Anthony Lipschitz
Number
AC 430
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
10 May 2016
Interviewer
Melissa Caza
Total Running Time
1 hr. 4 min.
Biography
Like many South African boys, Anthony Lipschitz’s life revolved around sports. He grew up in Victory Park, a Jewish neighbourhood in Johannesburg whose claim to fame was that it had a Jewish day school. Though not especially devout, the neighbourhood had a strong traditional Jewish identity and Anthony fondly remembers walking across the street with his sister to attend Shul on holidays.
As a child, Anthony played sports with a diverse group of friends that included Jews, Italians, Greeks, and Lebanese. It was through sports, and especially soccer, that Anthony came to view athletic pursuits as “the ultimate equalizer” because it brought people together from different backgrounds. This was especially true as he advanced in his career as a soccer player and began playing in mixed-race teams.
As an adult, Anthony lived and studied in several countries including Israel and the United States. He studied Media Arts at Long Island University on a full soccer scholarship and co-founded a software business called Advanceware Solutions with a childhood friend, which they sold in 2006. Since then, Anthony has held leadership roles at numerous companies including Brightspark Ventures, iStopOver, a peer-to-peer vacation rentals marketplace that he co-founded, and StubHub, an eBay, Inc. company. Today, he is a Partner at FirePower Capital, where he runs their Private Equity practice.
In 2000, Anthony met his future wife, Lisa, whom he married in March 2003. In 2004,the couple moved to Toronto which is where Lisa grew up. Anthony has two sons, both of whom attend Bialik Hebrew Day School.
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Name Access
Lipschitz, 1973-
Geographic Access
Israel
Johannesburg (South Africa)
Toronto (Ont.)
United States
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Transcript
00:33 Anthony's grandparents came to South Africa from Vilnius, Lithuania in the late 1800s to escape pogroms.
01:02 Anthony was born in Johannesburg on 17 October 1973.
01:15 Anthony's parents were born in Johannesburg. His father was a lawyer. Anthony's mother was a legal secretary. They divorced when Anthony was five. Anthony has a brother in Johannesburg and a sister in Sydney, Australia.
02:28 Anthony discusses Victory Park, his neighbourhood in Johannesburg.
03:22 Anthony discusses the make-up his childhood friends.
03:55 Anthony shares memories from his childhood in Johannesburg.
05:34 Anthony discusses his involvement in soccer.
08:03 Anthony describes the make-up of his soccer teams. He discusses the impact of playing on a mixed-race sports team on his personal growth.
10:28 Anthony explains why, with political changes in South Africa, the make-up of his team became more mixed-race.
11:20 Anthony discusses the role of Judaism in his youth while growing up in Johannesburg. Anthony attended a Jewish day school.
12:50 Anthony describes his bar mitzvah.
14:28 Anthony discusses the impact of apartheid in his life. He describes the challenge of filtering out propaganda while growing up in a liberal home.
16:45 Anthony describes his education. He attended Jewish nursery and Jewish day school.
17:43 Anthony attended Betar summer camp for seven years.
18:55 Anthony explains some of the factors that contributed to his decision to leave South Africa.
20:30 Anthony briefly attended Boston University in South Africa.
21:05 Anthony left South Africa at age nineteen for Israel with the intention of soccer.
22:55 Anthony describes his mother's reaction to his decision to leave South Africa.
23:00 Anthony describes his five month stay in Israel and the factors that influenced his decision to move to the United States.
25:47 Anthony discusses his travels to London and the United States.
26:45 Anthony received a scholarship to play soccer at a university in the United States.
27:15 Anthony discusses his first impressions of the United States.
29:30 Anthony attended Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York to study media arts. He discusses his university stay.
33:50 Anthony discusses his first job after graduation.
37:27 Anthony explains how he partnered with a childhood friend to start their own web design business in 1998. He discusses the growth and metamorphosis of the business. They sold the company in 2006.
40:30 Anthony describes how he met his wife, Lisa, in July 2000. They married in March 2003.
42:33 Anthony explains their decision to move to Toronto in January 2004.
43:55 Anthony shares his impressions of Toronto.
44:50 Anthony explains why they chose to live in the Annex.
45:40 Anthony has two sons: Zachary and Matthew.
46:28 Anthony discusses their decision to send their children to Bialik Hebrew Day School.
47:53 Anthony describes his sons' involvement in sports.
48:50 Anthony discusses his own involvement in sports.
49:40 Anthony discusses his business pursuits in Toronto.
54:50 Anthony shares points of pride from his career.
55:26 Anthony describes his Jewish life in Toronto.
57:10 Anthony explains why his family chose to become members of the Temmy Latner Centre in Forest Hill.
58:40 Anthony describes South African traditions that he has passed on to his children.
1:01:00 Anthony discusses his ongoing connection with South Africa. He notes that his mother, brother, father, and grandmother continues to live in South Africa.
1:01:58 Anthony discusses his impressions of current day South Africa.
1:03:00 Anthony muses about what it means to be Canadian.
Source
Oral Histories

Sport as an Equalizer

Jewish Day School

Raising Jewish Children

Food and South African Identity

Name
Lynne and David Ginsburg
Material Format
sound recording
Interview Date
19 Nov. 2010 and 17 Dec. 2010
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Lynne and David Ginsburg
Number
AC 431
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
19 Nov. 2010 and 17 Dec. 2010
Interviewer
Jessica Parker
Total Running Time
South African Oral History 2, Part I: 1 hr. 34 min.
South African Oral History 2, Part II: 1 hr. 8 min.
South African Oral History 2, Part III: 1 hr. 9 min.
Biography
David and Lynne both come from medical families: All four of their parents were doctors and all four attended University of Cape Town Medical School at the same time. As for David and Lynne, they began dating while Lynne was in medical school and David was completing his residency program.
South Africa’s political situation was one of the main reasons David and Lynne began thinking about leaving as neither of them wanted to raise children under the apartheid regime. Their first son was born in 1965 and by 1967 they had left. The family spent a year in Glasgow before moving to Boston, where David worked at Harvard Medical School. It was during this time that they had their second child.
Because of the fact David was eligible to be conscripted if he immigrated to the United States, the couple took out student visas, which expired after three years. If the Vietnam War had not been taking place, it is conceivable that the family would have remained in the United States, David and Lynne having already adjusted to American culture and made friends in the area.
With their visas set to expire, the couple considered immigrating to a number of countries, but settled on Canada. After their arrival, their third child was born. Once David and Lynne were settled in Canada they were joined by several other family members.
David and Lynne are now retired and enjoying the best years of their life. Their son and two daughters live in Toronto and they have ten grandchildren ranging in age from twenty-four to ten years as of November 2018.
Material Format
sound recording
Language
English
Name Access
Ginsburg, David
Ginsburg, Lynne
Geographic Access
Boston (Mass.)
Cape Town (South Africa)
Durban (South Africa)
Glasgow (Scotland)
Kingston (Ont.)
London (England)
Pretoria (South Africa)
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Transcript
Part I:
00:27 Lynne discusses how she and David met, courted, and married.
00:46 David and Lynne and their respective parents graduated from medicine at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.
01:45 Lynne and David's son Neil was born in Cape Town in 1965.
01:50 Lynne explains their reasons for leaving South Africa in February 1967.
02:25 Lynne and David spent one year in Glasgow and three years in Boston.
02:58 Lynne and David have a second child.
03:22 Lynne explains why they were forced to leave the United States.
05:07 Lynne explains how she and David moved to Canada, specifically Kingston.
08:48 Lynne and David discuss the warm community of Kingston.
09:00 David and Lynne describe the positive and negative features of living in Boston.
11:14 Lynne was born in Pretoria, moved to Durban, and then moved to Cape Town.
12:25 David and Lynne reminisce about Cape Town.
13:10 David's brother and sister and Lynne's sister emigrated. Lynne's brother left for a short time but returned to South Africa.
13:40 David and Lynne muse about some of the changes that have occurred in South Africa.
15:42 David's father's family was from Lithuania; his mother's family was from Latvia. Lynne's father's family was from Lithuania; her mother's family was from Latvia. Lynne cites a trip made by her sister to Lithuania.
16:47 Lynne and David discuss safety concerns and high level of crime in South Africa and how it affected them personally.
19:24 Lynne addresses the inefficiency of modern-day South Africa.
21:30 Lynne discusses some of her family's history, including her grandparents and parents. Her maternal grandfather came from Lithuania and married her South-African-born grandmother. They lived briefly in the United States, where her mother was born. Her maternal grandparents came from Lithuania but were married in Cape Town. Her father was born in Cape Town. She discusses the challenges faced by her father as well as his accomplishments in the field of medicine.
25:55 Lynne describes her family's experiences during the Second World War: her father's role as a surgeon enlisted with the British army and her pregnant mother evacuated out of London to South Africa.
28:24 Lynne addresses the role of living near a Jewish community impacted her family.
31:12 David discusses some of his family's history. He shares a colourful story of how his maternal grandparents fled from Russia (Lituhania). They settled in a small town, Sterksstroom, South Africa. David shares a few stories about his father and family.
34:15 David and Lynne reminisce about the apartheid situation in South Africa during their childhood. David discusses the link between the nationalists and Israel He notes that the current South African government is anti-Israel and anti-Jewish.
36:47 David and Lynne cite incidents of antisemitism during their childhood.
38:17 David discusses the risk of making political comments during his university years.
39:14 Lynne discusses some of the restrictions imposed by the apartheid regime.
42:43 Lynne comments that her family had minimal contact with Israel and Zionist movements.
46:50 Lynne's parents spoke Yiddish with one another. David's mother spoke Yiddish, not his father. Lynne and David speak Afrikaans.
52:33 Lynne discusses her family's practice of Judaism.
55:05 David discusses his family's practice of Judaism.
56:52 Lynne and David continue to discuss Jewish practices and the customs of their grandparents.
59:46 Lynne and David describe some of the struggles faced by their grandparents' generation and the sacrifices they made for their children. They relate some stories about David's grandfather.
1:04:44 Lynne and David recall some Jewish memories while living in Glasgow and Boston.
1:10:47 Lynne discusses her experience of becoming a bat mitzvah at age fifty-three.
1:15:26 Lynne describes their involvement with the Jewish community in Kingston.
1:18:52 Lynne and David describe some of the recent changes in practice in the Kingston synagogue.
1:20:59 Lynne and David describe their children's Jewish education and practice.
1:22:42 Lynne and David share some of their views about Judaism and practice.
1:28:48 Lynne and David relate a story involving a kiddush cup brought from Europe by David's grandfather.
1:30:16 Lynne's maiden name was Heselson.
1:30:32 Lynne presents and discusses her father's military service and medals.
1:32:20 David and Lynne list their and their parents' medical specialties.
Part II
00:00 David describes his family's religious practice, including his paternal grandfather and father. David describes his own observance.
07:50 Lynne discusses her family's practice of Judaism. She recalls celebrating Jewish holidays with neighbours, the Gelfands. David and Lynne reminisce about Jewish foods.
Source
Oral Histories

A Two-Cent Stamp

A Way to Meet People

Racial Segregation

Name
Aubrey and Lucille Groll
Material Format
sound recording
Interview Date
28 June 2011
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Aubrey and Lucille Groll
Number
AC 432
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
28 June 2011
Interviewer
Jessica Parker
Total Running Time
South African Oral History 1, Part I - 30 min.
South African Oral History 1, Part II - 21 min.
South African Oral History 1, Part III - 1 min.
Biography
Aubrey and Lucille both grew up Jewish in South Africa, but in many respects their experiences of Yiddishkeit were quite different. The son of Orthodox Eastern European parents, Aubrey grew up in a kosher household that took religion very seriously, even if his parents, who owned a small business, had to work Friday evenings in order to make ends meet. Lucille, on the other hand, was the daughter of German immigrants to South Africa who belonged to a Reform synagogue; as a result, she was less familiar with the nuances of kashrut. After meeting Lucille, Aubrey’s mother made several phone calls to verify that her future daughter-in-law was, in fact, Jewish.
Lucille tells a story related to her lack of familiarity with kashrut that illustrates several aspects of Jewish life under apartheid South Africa. When Aubrey was fourteen years old, his family employed a servant of the same age who went on to work for the family for decades. Years later, when Lucille was staying with Aubrey’s family, the servant, despite being non-Jewish, would inquire whether Lucille would be giving her child meat or milk that night and would then proceed to put out the food along with the appropriate plates. Immediately after doing so, he would tell Lucille not to touch anything until he returned in the morning lest she inadvertently violate kashrut!
Aubrey and Lucille left South Africa in 1965, ending up in Kingston after a two-year stay in Birmingham, Alabama. Aubrey became one of the first Jewish academics to teach at Queen’s University while Lucille found interesting jobs in social work, ending her career at Kingston General Hospital. Initially, they had some difficulty integrating into the local Jewish community, but the situation improved as they slowly became more integrated into the Jewish community and more Jewish academics settled in Kingston. Aubrey and Lucille have four children and are the proud grandparents of ten grandchildren. Aubrey passed away in February, 2018.
Material Format
sound recording
Language
English
Name Access
Groll, Aubrey
Groll, Lucille
Geographic Access
Kingston (Ont.)
South Africa
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Transcript
Part 1:
01:07 Lucille Groll (née Godfrey) shares some of her family history. Her parents were born in Germany. Her father (né Gothelf) came to South Africa in the late 1920s as an adult. Her mother came to Johannesburg as an infant and was educated in a convent.
02:36 Lucille describes her Jewish upbringing as Reform and liberal with minimal Zionism.
03:10 Lucille's brother attended a Reform summer camp with Zionist leanings.
03:34 Lucille discusses her Jewish education, practice of Jewish holidays, and her Jewish social life.
06:50 Lucille's parents and other elders spoke German at home.
07:14 Lucille recalls the German-style food eaten at her home.
09:34 Lucille's maternal grandfather came to South Africa in 1910, returned to Germany, and then returned to South Africa after the First World War.
10:41 Aubrey shares some of his family history. His parents were married in Lithuania and migrated to Furrow, a farming community. His parents ran a general store. He had two brothers.
13:38 Aubrey discusses his upbringing in Somerset West such as going to school and Jewish practices (Shabbat, kashrut, holidays, Zionism).
15:44 Aubrey discusses her father's affiliation with the Revisionist Zionism. He relates an anecdote involving a visit by Menachem Begin to their town.
16:35 Aubrey discusses her parents' involvement with the synagogue.
17:28 Aubrey reminisces about his education, bar mitzvah, foods, the Jewish community, synagogue life, Hebrew school, and keeping kashrut.
22:00 Aubrey notes that his parents did not discuss the Holocaust or their family's history, despite losing all of the family that remained behind in Lithuania.
23:20 Aubrey's parents spoke Yiddish with one another and friends but not with their children.
25:35 Lucille recalls first meeting Aubrey and his family.
26:45 Aubrey discusses antisemitism during his school years.
27:48 Lucille relates a humorous about Aubrey's mother confirming Lucille's Jewish background.
28:38 Lucille and Aubrey discuss how they met.
Aubrey explains how they ultimately moved to Kingston, Ontario in 1967 via Birmingham, Alabama.
Part 2:
01:36 Lucille discusses her work as a social worker in psychiatry.
02:10 Aubrey and Lucille discuss their relationships with Lynne and David Ginsburg and their role in helping David find work in Kingston.
03:24 Lucille explains how she assumed there would be a Jewish community in Kingston. She shares her impressions of the Jewish community when they arrived. Aubrey shares his impressions as well.
06:20 Aubrey and Lucille were the first Jewish South Africans in Kingston. Other South Africans came to Kingston in 1969 and the 1970s. Aubrey discusses the involvement of South African Jews in the Kingston Jewish community.
08:23 Lucille discusses her family's involvement in the Jewish community in Kingston.
09:22 Lucille discusses her children and grandchildren and their practice.
14:10 ?Joyce (Aubrey's relative?) relates an anecdote about finding and repairing some old candlesticks.
15:45 Lucille discusses changes in Jewish practice over time in Canada versus South Africa.
16:50 Aubrey shares comments about the strong sense of Zionism and Jewish identity in South Africa during his youth.
19:35 Lucille notes that most South African Jews in Toronto have been affiliated with an Orthodox synagogue on Bayview Avenue and the Reform Temple Emanu-El.
Part 3:
00:00 Aubrey briefly discusses the prominence of Zionist movements and camps in South Africa.
00:48 Mention some prayer books.
Source
Oral Histories

Holiday Celebrations

Not Marrying Jewish

Name
Avis and Robbie Osher
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
12 July 2016
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Avis and Robbie Osher
Number
AC 436
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
12 July 2016
Interviewer
Lisa Newman
Total Running Time
AC 436 part 1: 12 min.
AC 436 part 2: 11 min.
AC 436 part 3: 22 min.
AC 436 part 4: 13 min.
Biography
Like many South Africans, Avis and Robbie are descendants of Latvian and Lithuanian immigrants to South Africa. Each had two siblings, attended public school, and went on to attend Wits University. Avis became an occupational therapist and Robbie a chartered accountant. They have three daughters.
Avis and Robbie began thinking about leaving South Africa as early as 1969, but a combination of family and financial considerations kept them there until 1996, the year they immigrated to Canada.
Robbie ran a successful accounting practice in South Africa for thirty years. On arriving in Canada, he decided he wanted a career change and eventually transitioned into the role of chief financial officer of a Toronto company. A competitive squash player in South Africa, he continued winning titles at the provincial and national levels in Canada. It was largely through squash that he integrated into Canadian society.
Avis worked in a variety of hospitals and schools, taught at Wits, and ran a successful practice in Johannesburg. She re-qualified to register in Canada and after occupying different positions now works in her own practice.
They are proud grandparents of nine grandchildren. They both agree that through their professional and personal dedication, they have given back to their adopted country.
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Name Access
Osher, Avis
Osher, Robbie, 1939-
Geographic Access
Johannesburg (South Africa)
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Transcript
Part 1:
00:14 Avis was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Avis provides a brief family history. Her mother, Rae Mer, was born in Zamel, Lithuania. Her father, Sollie Burde, was born in Grodno, Belarus. She discusses the circumstances of various relatives.
01:45 Avis explains why her father came to South Africa in 1932.
02:55 Avis hypothesizes how her parents met and married in Johannesburg. Avis had one sister, Hessie, and one brother, David.
04:25 Avis describes her experience growing up.
06:38 Avis explains that she went to work in the family factory when she finished school. She discusses her mother's role in the business.
07:44 Avis discusses her family's involvement with the Jewish community and their practice of Judaism.
10:50 Avis describes the path she took to become an occupational therapist. She describes her first work placement.
Part 2:
00:00 Robbie was named Robert Percy Osher at birth. Robbie was born in Johannesburg in 1939.
01:02 Robbie discusses his childhood. He discusses his social life, interests, and education. Robbie graduated from accounting and qualified as a certified public accountant (CPA) in Israel. He received a degree in accounting in the United Kingdom and a certified management accountant (CMA) degree.
04:01 Robbie discusses the reasons for considering and then rejecting the idea of moving to Israel in 1969. Robbie discusses his Jewish education and his family's practice of Judaism.
05:34 Robbie provides a brief family history. His mother was born in 1912 in Latvia. She came to South Africa at age eight with her family. His father was born in 1911 in ?Killem, Lithuania. His father was a tailor.
07:40 Robbie explains that his family had black servants. He discusses segregation.
Robbie discusses his reasons for deciding to leave South Africa in 1969. He discusses multiple applications for emigration: Canada, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Israel. Their daughter, Dorit, immigrated to Canada in 1986. Robbie explains how he and Avis immigrated to Canada in 1990 after settling their business affairs.
Part 3:
00:17 Avis discusses the dilemmas she struggled with when she and Robbie considered leaving South Africa.
01:35 Avis describes the challenges her family encountered when they attempted a move to the United States in 1976.
03:50 Avis describes her response when her mother suffered a heart attack when Avis was aged eight. She explains how she was not inclined to leave her mother.
05:17 Avis discusses expectations for her daughters.
05:49 Robbie discusses the reasons for remaining in South Africa.
08:00 Robbie discusses his passion for and achievement in squash, including six medals at the Maccabiah Games in 1985, 1989, and 1993.
10:50 Robbie explains how playing competitive squash in Canada was a way of integrating into Canadian society. Robbie discusses his accomplishments in squash since he arrived in Canada.
12:03 Robbie discusses his work since he arrived in Canada.
12:50 Avis explains how they were able to get some money out of South Africa despite state financial restrictions.
15:00 Avis shares some stories from her experience working with black African patients and staff. She discusses hierarchies and inequities in care and equipment.
18:33 Avis and Robbie provide examples to show racism and the separation of white, black, and coloured individuals in South Africa.
21:20 Robbie relates an example from his own experience to highlight the practice of racism and injustice in South Africa.
Part 4:
00:00 Avis discusses her relationship with their family nanny.
02:30 Robbie describes what they brought with them from South Africa to Canada.
04:30 Robbie and Avis discuss the reaction of their friends and relationships when they decided to leave.
08:26 Avis discuss the life pursuits of their three daughters: Dorit, Shira, and Susan.
11:05 Robbie and Avis discuss factors that contribute to their feeling and identifying as Canadian.
Source
Oral Histories

Overcrowding in Black Hospitals

What We Left Behind

An Icon at the Club

Name
Brynie Lacob and Steven Silver
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
31 Aug. 2016
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Brynie Lacob and Steven Silver
Number
AC 437
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
31 Aug. 2016
Interviewer
Miriam Borden
Total Running Time
AC 437 part 1: 22 min.
AC 437 part 2: 22 min.
AC 437 part 3: 3 min.
Use Restrictions
Please contact Brynie Lacob for permission before posting on the internet.
Please contact Steven Silver for permission before posting on the internet.
Biography
Brynie and Steven first met at a bar mitzvah when Brynie was twelve and Steven was thirteen. The two have been in each other’s lives in one way or another ever since.
Brynie came to Canada in 1988. She chose Canada partly because she had a boyfriend there and partly because she anticipated using it as a stepping stone to the United States. Instead, she found work, earned a master’s degree in psychology, and married. Her first marriage resulted in three children, all of whom she enrolled in Jewish day school.
Steven came to Canada in 1994, a number of years after the rest of his immediate family had immigrated. He became involved in Canada’s film and television industry and today is chief executive officer of Kew Media Group, a special purpose acquisition company. In April 2000, Brynie and Steven began dating. They married in 2006.
Brynie and Steven retain close ties to South Africa, frequently going back. While both are grateful to Canada for the opportunities it has given them, they continue to feel a strong connection to the smells, sounds, and warmth of their country of origin and have discussed returning for a few months each year.
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Name Access
Lacob, Brynie
Silver, Steven
Geographic Access
Durban (South Africa)
Johannesburg (Ont.)
Thornhill (Ont.)
Toronto (Ont.)
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Transcript
Part 1:
00:42 Brynie discusses her family's immigration to South Africa. Her paternal grandparents and maternal great-grandparents came from Lithuania. Her maternal grandparents were born in South Africa.
01:24 Steven discusses his family history. His paternal grandfather and great-grandparents came from Poland. His paternal grandmother was born in South Africa. His maternal grandmother came from Russia.
03:59 Steven was born in Durban and grew up in Johannesburg from age four. He came to Canada in 1994.
04:11 Brynie was born and raised in Johannesburg. She came to Canada in 1988 at age twenty-one.
04:49 Brynie discusses her family's Jewish practice. Her father's family was traditional. Her mother's family was secular.
06:09 Steven discusses his family's Jewish practice. His paternal grandfather was gabbai at the main synagogue in Durban.
09:05 Brynie discusses her personal practice of Judaism.
10:24 Steven discusses his personal Jewish experience. He attended Jewish day school, belonged to the Habonim youth movement, and attended ulpan in Israel in 1981.
12:09 Steven explains how his Jewish education and involvement in Habonim influenced him and other Jews to get involved with politics in South Africa.
12:55 Brynie discusses her family's involvement in politics. She explains that her mother was involved with the Progressive Reform Party (PRP). Brynie was not actively involved with politics.
14:45 Brynie explains her desire to leave South Africa. At age seventeen, she attended an exchange program for a year in the United States.
15:12 Steven discusses politics in his home and school life. He recalls an accident involving bringing a political activist to his school that left an impression on him.
16:53 Steven discusses his involvement with the National Union of South African Students while attending university. He was president in 1981.
17:30 Steven joined the African National Congress (ANC) when it was unbanned in 1990.
18:14 Steven discusses his involvement with the group End Conscription Campaign (ECC). He discusses getting arrested for his refusal to serve in the army.
20:18 Brynie discusses her relationship with her family's black nanny.
21:26 Steven discusses his relationship with his family's black nanny.
Part 2:
00:08 Brynie discusses the factors that led to her decision to leave South Africa.
01:10 Steven discusses his parents' and two young brothers' immigration to Canada in 1986. He explains his decision to remain in South Africa and the impetus that spurred him to leave in 1994.
02:43 Brynie describes her lack of preparedness upon arrival in Canada.
04:00 Brynie discusses her expectations of Canada when she arrived.
05:17 Steven explains the factors that facilitated his adjustment to Canada (e.g. family, employment).
07:28 Steven discusses his early impressions of Canada. He highlights the feelings of security and safety in Canada.
08:59 Brynie and Steven discuss how they met. Brynie was married previously and had three children. Steven and Brynie married in 2006.
12:15 Brynie discusses her children.
12:55 Brynie discusses her professional career in social work and counselling.
13:33 Steven discusses his professional career. He graduated in law. His career focused on documentary and feature films. He current works as chief executive officer of a media company.
15:40 Brynie discusses her reception in Canada.
17:17 Steven discusses his perceptions as a South African in Canada.
18:04 Brynie discusses her involvement in the Jewish community in Toronto.
19:08 Brynie shares her impressions of raising children in Toronto and more specifically in Thornhill.
20:21 Brynie discusses her ongoing connection with South Africa.
Part 3:
00:00 Steven discusses his ongoing to South Africa.
01:05 Steven shares some comments on the current and future situation in South Africa.
01:51 Brynie discusses her outgoing interest in South African news and politics.
Source
Oral Histories

Political Activism

The Place I Call Home

Name
Monty Grunebaum and Barney Sher
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
6 Sept. 2016
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Monty Grunebaum and Barney Sher
Number
AC 438
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South AFrica
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
6 Sept. 2016
Interviewer
Naomi Raichyk
Total Running Time
AC 438 part 1: 22 min.
AC 438 part 2: 22 min.
AC 438 part 3: 20 sec.
AC 438 part 4: 14 min.
AC 438 part 5: 22 min.
AC 438 part 6: 11 min.
Biography
Monty Grunebaum and Barnie Sher are two of the founding members of Kehillat Shaarei Torah, a Modern Orthodox shul located on Bayview Avenue in North York. Monty, who immigrated to Canada in 1977, says that the impetus for starting the shul derived partly from South Africans wanting to recreate their memories of Jewish life in South Africa in their new country. A group began to look at different venues in the city and applied for a rabbi. Because many of the South Africans who immigrated to Canada were of modest means, it was a challenge raising funds. With the support of the established Toronto community, eventually, the group was able to purchase a property and hire a rabbi. In November 1980, the shul was incorporated as Kehillat Shaarei Torah of Toronto.
Kehillat Shaarei Torah has had four rabbis since its incorporation in 1980. Rabbi Eliot Feldman served the community from 1981 to 1988 and was instrumental in getting the shul established. Rabbi Steven Cohen succeeded Feldman, serving the congregation from 1988 to 1992. Rabbi Reuven Tradburks came next, caring for the community from 1992 to 2009. The current rabbi, Rabbi Joe Kanofsky, has led the community since 2009.
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Name Access
Grunebaum, Monty
Kehillat Shaarei Torah (Toronto, Ont.)
Sher, Barney
Geographic Access
South Africa
Toronto (Ont.)
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Transcript
Part 1:
00:29 Monty explains the impetus for starting a synagogue for South African Jews in Toronto.
01:37 Monty discusses where he lived in Toronto when he arrived in 1977. He discusses the main locations where South African Jews settled.
02:50 Barnie describes a large presence of South African Jews in the Bayview/York Mills area.
03:11 Barnie discusses the origins of the synagogues in South Africa.
04:14 Barnie discusses the importance of cantorial singing in South African synagogues.
05:20 Barnie describes some of the synagogues and their primary influences from Lithuania and Germany.
06:24 Barnie recounts his first experience at a Toronto synagogue for the High Holidays.
08:13 Monty recounts his first experience at a Toronto synagogue for Rosh Hashanah and how it served as a catalyst to establish a synagogue that would feel more comfortable.
09:47 Barnie describes funeral traditions in South Africa. He contrasts these practices with his personal experience in Toronto.
14:19 Barnie and Monty discuss the early attempts to establish services to meet the needs of their South African Jewish community.
18:21 Barnie highlights the importance of having a separate section in the cemetery in order to maintain South African burial practices.
19:23 Barnie and Monty discuss the role played by Bernard Isaacs in the formation of the synagogue.
Part 2:
00:00 Barnie discusses some of the earliest founders and promoters of the synagogue: Rabbi Whitty, Kurt Rothschild, Harvey Hecker, ?Bernie Gert. He describes fundraising efforts.
01:19 Monty explains how the property for the synagogue was purchased.
03:23 Barnie describes the acquisition of the aron kodesh, pews, and prayer books from an Ontario synagogue donation and from membership donations.
04:25 Monty discusses the limited financial resources of new South African immigrants. Financial support for the synagogues came from membership donations.
05:20 Monty notes that the synagogue attracted a number of Jews who moved from Montreal.
06:26 Barnie discusses the synagogue's first rabbi, Rabbi Feldman.
07:50 Barnie discusses resistance to the synagogue from Jewish neighbours.
09:36 The synagogue's name, Kehillah Shaarei Torah, was the name of Rabbi Feldman's congregation in Syracuse. Barnie and Monty reminisce about Rabbi Feldman.
12:55 The synagogue was incorporated in November 1980.
14:45 Barnie describes the operation of the synagogue before a building was constructed.
19:13 Monty recalls that Beth Tikvah Synagogue lent them Torahs.
19:51 Barnie reminisces about the first Rosh Hashanah in their new building.
20:48 Barnie recounts how the synagogue received a generous donation from the Reichman family.
Part 4:
00:00 Monty lists the rabbis who served the synagogue.
00:26 Barnie recounts a humorous incident about meeting a new rabbi.
02:50 Barnie and Monty discuss Rabbi Tradburks and his contribution to the synagogue and the greater Jewish community in Toronto.
09:29 Barnie discusses an attempt to change the synagogue's direction from Orthodox to Conservative.
10:28 Barnie and Monty continue to reminisce about Rabbi Tradburks.
Part 5:
00:00 Monty discusses Rabbi Joel Kanofsky.
02:40 Barnie identified demographics as a concern for the continuity of the synagogue.
04:50 Barnie continues to discuss membership. Membership has remained relatively steady at a 220-230 family core.
06:00 Barnie and Monty discuss outreach methods and various synagogue services, education, and events.
11:00 Barnie discusses some humorous incidents involving their group of four friends, including a Purim skit and a birthday gag.
18:17 Barnie discusses Rabbi Tradburk's involvement in the formation of the Coby Mandel Foundation, a support group for youth in Israel who have lost family members as a result of terrorism.
Part 6:
00:00 Barnie discusses changes that are occurring in the synagogue with a change of demographics and new membership.
02:24 Monty raises concerns about loss of membership.
04:18 Monty lists some programs and services offered in the synagogue, including a youth program.
04:43 Barnie discusses the current status of the synagogue. He cites some of the problems with the existing synagogue (e.g. no elevator, lack of parking, no banquet hall).
07:34 Barnie mentions the synagogue on Green Lane, another synagogue with a large South African membership.
08:44 Barnie describes the process of hiring a new rabbi for their synagogue.
Source
Oral Histories

https://player.vimeo.com/video/232091886?

Name
Neville and Ruth Sischy
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
17 Nov. 2016
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Neville and Ruth Sischy
Number
AC 439
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
17 Nov. 2016
Interviewer
Miriam Borden
Total Running Time
AC 439 part 1: 37 min.
AC 439 part 2: 7 min.
AC 439 part 3: 7 min.
Biography
Neville and Ruth were born toward the beginning of apartheid rule in South Africa. Indeed, Neville was born the same year the National Party returned to power and formalized the system of apartheid. Because of their young age, Neville and Ruth were largely unaware of the political developments taking place in their country. By the time they left South Africa in the mid-1970s, the government had devolved into a police state. For them, the Canada of Pierre Elliott Trudeau was a welcome contrast to the injustice of apartheid South Africa.
Neville and Ruth grew up in traditional Jewish homes, in which their grandparents spoke Yiddish and were treated with deference. Neville met Ruth while attending medical school in Johannesburg. He was twenty-one at the time; she was eighteen. The two married on the condition that they leave South Africa and, after a positive look-see, came to Canada in 1975. Initially, Neville had trouble finding work as a general practitioner but was eventually able to open a clinic, where he has worked for forty years. Ruth, meanwhile, quickly found work in the nursery department of Holy Blossom Temple, the latter serving as a launching pad for their integration into Canadian society.
Although there were challenges along the way, Neville and Ruth have never regretted their decision to immigrate to Canada. They have four children, all of whom have made friends with the children of their Holy Blossom friends, and hope to see those friendships continue into the third generation.
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Name Access
Sischy, Neville
Sischy, Ruth
Geographic Access
Benoni (South Africa)
Cape Town (South Africa)
Germiston (South Africa)
Toronto (Ont.)
Vancouver (B.C.)
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Transcript
Part 1:
00:35 Ruth discusses her parents' immigration history. Her father came to Benoni, South Africa from Lithuania and Latvia at age fifteen. Her mother came to Cape Town from Lithuania as an infant with her mother.
03:40 Ruth discusses her Jewish home life growing up. Yiddish was the primary language spoken by her grandmothers and between her grandparents and her parents. She describes her parents' home as traditional but not religious.
05:04 Ruth discusses her education. She attended a public school. She describes her brothers' Jewish education. She did not have any formal Jewish education.
05:42 Ruth continues to describe her home life.
06:55 Neville discusses his family's immigration history. His father came from Sveskna, Lithuania to live with an aunt in South Africa at age sixteen in 1927. He eventually bought a men's clothing business in Germiston, where Neville was born. His mother was born in South Africa. His maternal grandfather came to South Africa from Lithuania at the turn of the twentieth century, leaving behind a wife and child. He was able to bring them to Johannesburg, South Africa thirteen years later.
09:23 Neville explains that he lived in Germiston until 1971, when he moved to Johannesburg to go to medical school. He met Ruth while he was attending medical school. He explains that he and Ruth were married knowing they would leave South Africa.
10:29 Neville discusses the factors that contributed to his decision to leave South Africa.
11:49 Neville considered moving to England after he did an elective there during medical school. He explains why he decided to come to Canada instead. Neville discusses the circumstances that led to two of his father's cousins to leave South Africa and come to Canada.
13:24 Neville and Ruth explain why they decided to settle in Toronto rather than Vancouver, their initial destination. Ruth discusses the challenges of leaving her family. She recalls her first Rosh Hashanah in Toronto and how she found comfort from a sense of community.
17:23 Ruth notes that she chose Toronto over Vancouver thinking she would have a greater chance of seeing family. Paradoxically, her family immigrated to Oregon.
18:21 Ruth discusses the reaction of friends and family to their decision to emigrate.
19:12 Neville and Ruth discuss a look-see visit to Canada in 1974. They relate a humorous incident involving trying to get to the Canadian embassy in Rome.
21:04 Ruth describes the homesickness she felt as a new immigrant to Canada. She highlights the poor communication at the time: slow mail; postal strikes; sending mail via Buffalo, New York; expensive and complicated long-distance phone calls.
23:06 Neville discusses some of the challenges he encountered when he first arrived.
24:38 Neville and Ruth discuss the support they received from the Jewish community. They identify support from their colleagues.
26:10 Neville and Ruth explain the factors that directed them to choose their first neighbourhood.
27:12 Ruth discusses her adjustment to Canadian winter.
28:31 Ruth comments on her surprise of being able to practice Judaism openly in Toronto.
30:44 Ruth contrasts open conversations about the Holocaust in Canada with minimal discussion in Johannesburg. Neville discusses the impact of the Holocaust on his family.
32:25 Ruth discusses the role their household staff played in her life in South Africa.
33:11 Neville recounts an anecdote demonstrating the prevalence of domestic help in white South Africa.
34:08 Neville contrasts the oppressive society of South Africa with the open, welcoming Canadian governance and society.
35:11 Neville discusses why the military was glorified in South Africa.
36:02 Ruth discusses her professional career.
Part 2:
00:47 Neville's sister and family and parents immigrated to Canada a year-and-a-half after their arrival. Ruth's family immigrated to the United States.
01:25 Neville and Ruth have four children, all born in Canada.
02:01 Both Neville and Ruth strongly identify as Canadian. Neville recalls he felt Canadian when she took his children to school. Ruth distinguishes between her "childhood life" in Africa and her "adult life" in Canada.
04:16 Ruth explains when and why she returned to South Africa for visits.
05:07 Neville discusses a desire to help young children and families in South Africa.
07:17 Neville notes the similarities between Ruth and his backgrounds (e.g. living with a grandmother, Yiddish spoken in the home).
Part 3:
00:22 Ruth explains why she is grateful for coming to Toronto.
00:47 Neville discusses a social group in Toronto comprised of former Jewish residents from Germiston. He notes that he has a large extended family in Toronto.
01:38 Ruth notes that most of their close friends tend to be South African.
02:01 Neville discusses his cousin, Ben Sischy, who had been a political activist in South Africa.
02:30 Ruth notes her awareness of South African politics became stronger after she immigrated to Canada.
03:15 Neville relates stories about black medical students in his medical school class.
04:24 Neville and Ruth explain that they visited Israel but did not consider moving there.
04:57 Neville and Ruth discuss their limited involvement with Zionist youth movements and reminisce about fundraising as children for Jewish organizations.
Source
Oral Histories

Loneliness

Basic Human Needs

Two Very Distinct Lives

Name
Nicole Cohen
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
18 Nov. 2015
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Nicole Cohen
Number
AC 422
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
18 Nov. 2015
Interviewer
Lisa Newman
Total Running Time
AC 422 part 1: 22 min.
AC 422 part 2: 18 min.
AC 422 part 3: 4 min.
AC 422 part 4: 10 min.
Biography
Nicole “Nicky” Cohen moved to Canada from Johannesburg when she was five years old. Thereafter, her family went back several times. Her last trip back as a child was at age twelve. It is from these trips that she has her earliest memories of South Africa.
In 2008, Nicky returned to South Africa with her husband and children for a cousin’s wedding. While back, they visited the apartment where Nicky’s mother had grown up. As luck would have it, they made the acquaintance of the maid taking care of the apartment and who turned out to be the daughter of Nicky’s own nanny, Ruth. Ruth met with the family several times and the two sides stayed in touch for many years.
Ruth has since passed away, but Nicky hopes to return to South Africa with her husband and children in the near future.
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Name Access
Cohen, Nicole
Geographic Access
Cape Town (South Africa)
Johannesburg (South Africa)
Soweto (South Africa)
Thornhill (Ont.)
Toronto (Ont.)
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Transcript
Part 1:
00:30 Nicole "Nicky" Cohen outlines her family history. Her great-grandparents came from Lithuania. Her paternal grandfather was born in Cape Town and her paternal grandmother was born in Johannesburg. Her maternal grandmother was born in Namibia. He maternal father and step-father were born in Germany and immigrated to South Africa in the 1930s.
01:40 Nicole discusses the birthplaces of her family. Her parents, Nicole, and her older brother were born in Johannesburg. Her younger brother was born in Toronto.
02:08 Nicole, aged five, immigrated to Canada with her parents on 19 March 1977.
02:23 Nicole recalls few memories from living in South Africa but shares some memories she gleaned from return trips and photographs.
03:37 Nicole recalls that her family would take four-to-six-week trips to South Africa every two years from 1977-1984.
04:52 Nicole's mother was a physiotherapist and her father was a travel agent.
05:30 Nicole explains why her parents decided to emigrate from South Africa.
06:58 Nicole discusses the maid (i.e., nanny), Ruth, from her childhood.
10:55 Nicole recalls other South African family friends they maintained when they moved to Toronto.
11:34 Nicole discusses living arrangements when her family came to Toronto. Her family settled in Thornhill.
13:15 Nicole discusses her education.
14:00 Nicole discusses the challenges of adjusting to a Toronto winter.
15:42 Nicole fondly recalls return visits to South Africa with her family.
16:45 Nicole describes attending a cousin's wedding to South Africa in 2008, twenty-four years after her last visit. She discusses the trip.
21:06 Nicole discusses the high crime rate in Johannesburg. She cites some specific examples.
Part 2:
00:00 Nicole continues to discuss the high rate of crime in Johannesburg. She discusses driving through shanty towns in Cape Town and Soweto.
02:05 Nicole recalls visiting the apartment where her grandmother had lived. She discusses some of the security enforced by gates and guards. She shares an anecdote involving her family's maid, Ruth. She describes how she reconnected with Ruth and her daughter while visiting her grandmother's former apartment.
13:00 Nicole expresses a desire to return to South Africa.
13:55 Nicole discusses relatives who remain in South Africa. She notes her father's first cousin and daughter who live in Johannesburg. She discusses where other relatives are currently living.
Part 3:
00:00 Nicole discusses the close relationship between her family and their maid, Ruth. She describes how her family supported Ruth and her family.
01:20 Nicole explains how her parents and grandmother remained in contact with Ruth even after her grandmother immigrated to Canada. She recalls an anecdote involving her family arranging for Ruth to visit Toronto when she was temporarily working with a South African family in New York in the late 1980s.
02:54 Nicole discusses the difficulty her father encouraged when he initially attempted to immigrate to Canada in 1976. She cites a fictitious letter of employment for her father that enabled her family to immigrate. The letter is on file in the archives.
Part 4:
00:00 Nicole describes photographs. Some of the photographs were taken during former and recent trips to South Africa. Some photographs include images from shanty towns, Soweto, Sun City, relatives, Nicole's grandmother's apartment, etc.
Source
Oral Histories

A Big Part of my Life

Name
Ivan Zarenda
Material Format
sound recording
Interview Date
21 July 2011 and 15 June 2012
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Ivan Zarenda
Number
AC 434
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
21 July 2011 and 15 June 2012
Interviewer
Jessica Parker
Total Running Time
Part I: 46 min.
Part II: 1 hr. 4 min.
Biography
Ivan’s parents arrived in South Africa from Lithuania around 1930. Prior to immigrating, they knew each other from Klykoliai, a shtetl in northwestern Lithuania. Ivan’s father was the first to arrive, taking up work at a concession store in the mining town of Brakpan. As for Ivan’s mother, she came over with her mother after her siblings had prepared a home for them in Brakpan. After being sent to a convent in Rhodesia in order to learn English, she returned to Brakpan where she married Ivan’s father. Together, the couple raised two children, who grew up with their maternal grandmother, who only spoke Yiddish. Consequently, Ivan grew up speaking Yiddish as well as English. He even gave his bar mitzvah speech in Yiddish, causing his Lithuanian grandmother to beam with pride.
Although they were not well off, Ivan’s parents managed to send their two sons to university. As an undergraduate, Ivan studied pharmacy at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. He met his wife while visiting his parents in Kimberley, where they had moved and were managing a hotel. The two were introduced on a blind date and corresponded for well over a year when Ivan went to do a post-graduate degree in industrial pharmacy at the University of Michigan. When Ivan returned to South Africa to take up a job in Cape Town, the two dated, became engaged, and married. In 1990, they immigrated to Canada with their two children as part of a job transfer. After a short stay in Brockville, the family relocated to Kingston, where they were active in Jewish life. Ivan’s wife, Daphne, passed away in 2006. He moved from Kingston to Toronto in 2018, joining his children Marc and Shelley and families who live there.
Material Format
sound recording
Language
English
Name Access
Zarenda, Ivan
Geographic Access
Kingston (Ont.)
South Africa
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Source
Oral Histories

Friendship with Afrikaners

Name
Shane Teper
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
3 Nov. 2015
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Shane Teper
Number
AC 421
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
3 Nov. 2015
Interviewer
Gail Freeman
Total Running Time
46 min.
Use Restrictions
Written consent is required prior to the publication of all or any portion of this video/oral history on the internet.
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Name Access
Teper, Shane, 1965-
Geographic Access
Canada
South Africa
Original Format
Digital file
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Dr. Vivian Rakoff
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
24 Nov. 2016
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Dr. Vivian Rakoff
Number
AC 440
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
24 Nov. 2016
Interviewer
Naomi Raichyk
Total Running Time
AC 440 part 1: 31 min.
AC 440 part 2: 3 min.
AC 440 part 3: 2 min.
AC 440 part 4: 21 min.
Biography
Vivian was born in 1928 in Cape Town, but was quickly whisked off to Port Nolloth, a small town on the northwest coast of South Africa, where he spent his earliest years. And while Port Nolloth was home to less than a dozen Jewish families, his mother would still braid challah every Friday night.
The family moved to Cape Town when Vivian was six. At age eleven, he had a bruising encounter with apartheid that left a strong impression on him. Having innocently boarded a bus set aside for black South Africans, he was thrown off by the conductor who told him, “You can’t come here!” Afterwards, he told his aunt he was not going to live in South Africa.
After completing a degree at the University of Cape Town, Vivian set sail for England, where he was planning to study English at Oxford. Instead, he followed friends down to Marseilles where he met Yiddish-speaking Holocaust survivors waiting to set sail for Israel. The encounter was a pivotal one and led Vivian to journey to Israel, where he lived on kibbutz for a year.
After losing his passport, Vivian returned to South Africa, where he completed a master’s degree in psychology. He then traveled to England, this time staying for more than eight years. He studied medicine at University College London and enjoyed the city’s theatres and museums. After completing his degree, he decided it was time to see his parents so he returned once more to South Africa.
While in South Africa, Vivian met a friend who suggested he enroll in McGill University’s psychiatry program. Vivian thus set sail yet again, this time with wife and ten-month-old baby. After an eighteen day journey, the family arrived in Montreal, where Vivian did his residency. Residency complete, he accepted a job offer in Toronto, where he stayed for the rest of his career, serving as chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and as the namesake for the Rakoff Centre for Positron Emission Tomography. In 2015, the Government of Canada appointed him a member of the Order of Canada in recognition of his contributions to psychiatry as well as for his role in founding the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Name Access
Rakoff, Vivian, 1928-
Geographic Access
Cape Town (South Africa)
Montréal (Québec)
Port Nolloth (South Africa)
Toronto (Ont.)
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Transcript
Part 1:
00:29 Vivian discusses the immigration of his father's family to South Africa. His grandfather left Lithuania around the turn of the twentieth century. His grandmother and her children joined him in South Africa. Vivian lists the members of the family.
04:24 Vivian discusses the immigration of his mother's family. His mother, who was born in Chicago, came to South Africa in 1914.
05:00 Vivian's family settled in Port Nolloth. Vivian discusses the economy of the region. He discusses his father's businesses and marriage to his mother, Bertha. Vivian is one of four children.
06:48 Vivian was born on 28 April 1928 and lived in Port Nolloth for his first six years.
07:35 Vivian shares memories of growing up Jewish in Port Nolloth. He recounts anecdotes concerning his father's Zionist leanings.
09:40 Vivian describes his family's Jewish observance and shares memories from his youth.
12:30 Vivian discusses the impact of Zionism in his personal life. He describes his involvement with HaShomer HaTzair and travelling to Israel.
13:13 Vivian describes synagogues in Cape Town. He discusses his Jewish education after his family moved to Cape Town when he was six.
14:26 Vivian discusses the Jewish lives of his grandparents in Lithuania. He discusses the influence of the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) and the rise of Zionism.
17:17 Vivian discusses the impact of South African politics on his life. He recalls a poem he wrote for his Zionist youth magazine. He recalls how an incident from his childhood that highlights the oppressive nature of the apartheid regime. The incident influenced his decision to leave South Africa.
21:04 Vivian describes the circumstances that triggered his decision to go to Palestine in 1947. His plan to study in England was interrupted when he decided to join a group of displaced persons in Marseilles who were travelling to Palestine. He remained there for a year.
24:26 Vivian describes his educational studies in South Africa and England.
25:27 Vivian expounds on living in London for eight years.
28:15 Vivian discusses his decision to come to Canada to study Psychiatry at McGill University.
29:18 Vivian describes his journey by steamship to Canada with his wife and ten-month-old baby.
30:13 Vivian discusses his impressions of South Africa when he returned from England.
Part 2:
00:13 Vivian discusses early memories of living in Montreal and how reality differed from expectations. He worked as a psychiatry resident at the Jewish General Hospital, but his wife, also a doctor, was unable to work. He describes a feeling of disappointment when they were not invited for High Holidays.
Part 3:
00:00 Vivian explains that he had decided to leave Montreal in 1967. He discusses Expo 67 and their many visitors.
Part 4:
00:00 Vivian discusses how his first job offer in Toronto at St. Michael's Hospital in 1967 was retracted due to antisemitism. He was then offered a position as director of postgraduate education in the psychiatry department.
01:00 Vivian describes some of the early challenges faced by his family when they arrived in Canada such as financial challenges and antisemitism.
02:28 Vivian and family move to a home on Ridgewood Road where they remain for twenty-three years.
03:00 Vivian contrasts his early experiences in Toronto with those in Montreal.
04:07 Vivian's children attended Bialik Hebrew Day School.
04:16 Vivian describes his family's Jewish observance.
04:52 Vivian explains that his primary connection to the South African Jewish community in Toronto is through relatives.
05:25 Vivian continues to discuss his Jewish observance.
06:25 Vivian discusses some of his family members who came to Toronto.
08:00 Vivian discusses his research concerning the challenges faced by children of Holocaust survivors. He continues to discuss his professional and literary writing.
09:5 Vivian outlines his professional positions: director of postgraduate education, chief of psychiatry at St. Michael's Hospital, chief of psychiatry and professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto.
10:25 Vivian highlights a personal achievement concerning bringing a positron emission scanner to the Clark Institute (CAMH).
11:50 Vivian discusses his interest in art.
13:17 Vivian discusses some of the challenges encountered by new immigrants.
14:30 Vivian addresses his own decision to immigrate to Canada.
15:41 Vivian addresses his Canadian identity.
15:58 Vivian describes a trip with his grandchildren to Port Nolloth.
17:36 Vivian shares some of his lasting memories of Cape Town.
19:08 Vivian discusses the common destinations for South African Jewish immigration.
20:12 Vivian discusses his experience as an immigrant of Canada.
Source
Oral Histories

Braiding challah with my mother

Montreal was Hostile

On Survivors

Receiving the Order of Canada

Name
Elfreda and Alec Levine
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
9 Feb. 2017
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Elfreda and Alec Levine
Number
AC 442
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
9 Feb. 2017
Interviewer
Miriam Borden
Total Running Time
AC 422 part 1: 37 min.
AC 422 part 2: 9 min.
Biography
Alec and Elfreda met when they were young teenagers. Elfreda was friends with Alec’s sister and the two would play tennis together. Despite meeting at a young age, Alec and Elfreda did not begin dating until they were in their early twenties. They married in 1958 and subsequently had three children. It was largely on account of their two eldest children that they emigrated. Their eldest son had emigrated first, initially settling in Saskatchewan, while their daughter emigrated shortly thereafter, making a home in the United Kingdom. Their youngest son chose to remain in South Africa.
Following the birth of their granddaughter in Saskatoon, Alec and Elfreda began making regular trips to Canada. As time went on and crime continued to rise in South Africa, Alec and Elfreda’s children started to encourage their parents to move to Canada. This they did in 1999, arriving in Toronto in the cold month of October. While the ice and snow initially made for a new and exciting experience, they quickly got over it.
Arriving in their sixties, Alec and Elfreda initially struggled in their new country, but soon found work and made friends. Making this process somewhat easier was the fact that the two enjoyed exploring the different areas of the city via subway, an activity they keep up to this day. Alec and Elfreda also continue to follow developments in South Africa—in part because one of their sons lives there—but now think of themselves as Canadians.
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Name Access
Levine, Alec
Levine, Elfreda
Geographic Access
Cape Town (South Africa)
Johannesburg (South Africa)
Saskatchewan
Toronto (Ont.)
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Transcript
00:40 Elfreda discusses her family's immigration to South Africa. Her maternal grandparents came to Cape Town from Riga, Latvia via London. Her paternal grandfather came to South Africa in his teens and settled in ?Aliwal North.
02:14 Alec discusses his family's immigration to South Africa. His parents were married in Riga, Latvia. His maternal grandfather came to South Africa. During the period of 1930-1936, he brought his five daughters and their husbands to South Africa.
03:30 Elfreda describes Jewish life in Aliwal North. She explains why the Jewish population declined over time.
05:08 Elfreda recalls travelling by train to cities for holidays and how she and Alec met during holiday.
06:41 Alec describes his Jewish life growing up in Johannesburg.
07:48 Elfreda continues to discuss Jewish life while growing up in a small community.
09:13 Alec and Elfreda discuss Jewish youth groups and camps.
10:35 Elfreda discusses her academic path: two years of nursing in Cape Town and commercial bookkeeping in Johannesburg.
12:13 Alec discusses his career path: architecture for two years then joining the family plumbing business.
13:00 Alec and Elfreda married in 1958.
13:24 Alec describes his limited involvement in politics in South Africa. Their daughter became involved with the African National Congress (ANC) while she attended university.
14:55 Elfreda shares her memories from her childhood. She recalls the impact of apartheid following the rise of the nationalists in 1948.
16:13 Alec and Elfreda discuss having household staff in their homes while growing up and after they were married.
19:50 Elfreda describes a party she held for her family's maid when she retired.
21:17 Alec and Elfreda explain when and why their two older children emigrated from South Africa. Their youngest son remained in South Africa.
22:49 Alec and Elfreda discuss the factors that contributed to their decision to immigrate to Canada.
25:13 Alec describes some incidents of violence he personally experienced in Johannesburg.
25:58 Alec and Elfreda describe their feeling about leaving South Africa and the challenges of immigrating at a later stage of life (e.g. upgrading their work skills, finding work, making new friends).
28:33 Alec and Elfreda share some of their earliest memories of moving to Canada.
30:35 Alec discusses his early efforts to find work in Canada.
33:52 Elfreda discusses her involvement with the Jewish community, notably the South African Jewish community since their arrival in Canada.
35:49 Elfreda discusses how their willingness to explore Toronto has helped with their integration.
Part 2:
00:34 Alec and Elfreda describe the response from family and friends in South Africa to their decision to leave.
02:25 Alec and Elfreda came to Canada in October 1999. Their son, Mark, came in 1986.
02:50 Alec and Elfreda discuss the easier experience of integration by their son's family compared to their own.
03:49 Elfreda relates a family story. Mark settled in a small town in Saskatchewan when he arrived in Canada. He discovered that relatives of Elfreda had settled in a small neighbouring community in 1906.
5:00 Elfreda discusses their identity as Canadians.
Elfreda discusses their ongoing connections with South Africa.
07:30 Elfreda notes that they did not experience culture shock as they settled in Canada.
Source
Oral Histories

Not the Way to Live

Afrikaners Dominated Politics

Leaving your Heart in South Africa

Name
Roland Wilk
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
23 Feb. 2017
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Roland Wilk
Number
AC 443
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
23 Feb. 2017
Interviewer
Naomi Raichyk
Total Running Time
AC 443 part1: 26 min.
AC 443 part2: 37 min.
AC 443 part3: 37 min.
AC 443 part4: 177 min.
Biography
Roland grew up part of a close-knit family in the small town of Worcester, one hundred kilometres from Cape Town. At the time, Worcester was home to a small Jewish community of 120 families, the life of which revolved around a single synagogue. Despite its small numbers, the community had a rabbi, a kindergarten teacher, and a Hebrew teacher. In the cheder, Roland learned the Hebrew grammar that was to come in useful when, years later, he studied in Israel.
After high school, Roland completed his year of compulsory military service and enrolled in electrical engineering at the University of Cape Town. He met his wife-to-be, Marion, during this time. The two shared a passion for classical music that would come to shape much of their life together. When Roland went to Israel to pursue a master’s degree at the Technion in Haifa, Marion joined him for part of the time. Even though he never had any intention of making a life in Israel, Roland remembers those years with Marion as among the most blissful and care-free of his life, including representing Israel in the European Junior Bridge Championships.
After graduating in 1976, Roland returned to Cape Town and started working in his father’s business, Merrimaker Industries. After four years, Roland decided to pursue his own path in the IT industry and moved to Johannesburg in 1981 with their two children. A year later, along with two work colleagues, Roland enrolled in a part-time MBA program at Wits University. In 1984, the three founded a software engineering business which was very successful. Fifteen years later they sold the business, which provided Roland and Marion with the financial resources to retire.
The Wilk family came to Canada in July 2003 after spending many summers there at a music camp in Quebec in the late 1990s. Roland and Marion are an integral part of the Toronto classical music scene, involved both in performance and administration. Their two older children live in New York and Beit Shemesh and the two younger ones both live in Toronto.
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Name Access
Wilk, Roland
Geographic Access
Cape Town (South Africa)
Haifa (Israel)
Worcester (South Africa)
Original Format
Digital file
Transcript
Part 1:
00:27 Roland was born on 10 March 1951 in Worcester, South Africa. He discusses the location of Worcester.
01:00 Roland discusses his family history. His paternal grandfather came to South Africa with his parents from Lithuania. He discusses an incident involving his grandfather becoming a prisoner of war while serving with the South African army during the First World War.
02:32 Roland's maternal grandfather came to South African from Lithuania via England. His maternal grandmother came as a three-year-old from Kiev at the turn of the century.
03:24 Roland discusses his grandparents' early years in South Africa. He discusses an acne business started by his great-aunt.
05:10 Roland discusses his parents: where they were born, their education, their work, and his father's service during the Second World War.
06:37 Roland's parents settled in Worcester after they married. He discusses his father's business.
07:30 Roland describes Jewish life growing up in Worcester. Roland attended a Jewish kindergarten.
08:39 Roland discusses his Jewish education.
09:30 Roland discusses the paucity of culture in Worcester and his frequent visits to Cape Town to attend concerts.
10:10 Roalnd discusses his early involvement with music.
11:18 Roland discusses his other early interests.
11:29 Roland recounts his regular visits to Cape Town.
11:58 Roland discusses his limited involvement in Jewish youth groups and camps.
12:37 Roland discusses his family's involvement in Jewish/Zionist activities. His paternal uncle lived in Israel.
13:12 Roland discusses his secular education.
14:18 Roland discusses his eleven-month compulsory military after high school in 1968.
15:40 Roland explains the reasons for moving to Cape Town. He attended the university in Cape Town, studying electrical engineering. He met his future wife while at the university.
16:44 Roland explains the reasons for his limited involvement in political activities while at university. He describes some of the political unrest and the reaction by the state/police during that time. He discusses the evolution of the movement toward a liberal democracy in South Africa.
20:09 Roland discusses his time spent in Israel pursuing his postgraduate studies at the Technion in Haifa. Marion, his future wife, joined him in Israel. Roland mentions his interest in competitive bridge.
22:31 Roland discusses his return to Cape Town following his studies. He marries Marion in November.
23:50 Roland discusses the period after his marriage. He worked in his father's business for four years.
25:35 Roland explains his decision to return to engineering in 1981 and his work in a software engineering firm in Johannesburg.
25:18 Roland describes how he met Marion.
Part 2:
00:00 Roland continues to discuss his initial relationship with Marion and their shared interest in music.
00:51 Roland discusses his involvement in the Gardens Shul choir.
02:04 Roland mentions the birth of his four children.
02:40 Roland describes Cape Town and his involvement with the Jewish community in Cape Town.
04:14 Roland discusses the impact of the unrest in South Africa on his personal life and in more general terms.
07:17 Roland discusses his move to Johannesburg, including his work, studying for a master's of business of administration (MBA) degree, and performing in a choir.
08:36 Roland discusses how he and two friends opened their own software business, BSW, in 1984. They sold the business in 1999.
10:03 Roland discusses his involvement with the Johannesburg mail choir.
10:58 Roland discusses his continued interest in music and bridge.
11:24 Roland completed his MBA in 1986.
11:52 Roland discusses the growth of the business in the telecom industry.
13:57 Roland discusses his ongoing interest in music and performance.
17:25 Roland and his two business partners took a business course at Harvard over three summers, commencing in 1994. He explains how his decision to attend a summer music camp in Quebec during his second summer at Harvard turned into an annual family summer event.
19:25 Roland discusses how and why he and his business partners ended their business in 1999.
20:43 Roland discusses his family's plans after the business was sold. His older son went to the United States, and his older daughter went to Australia with the plan to move to Israel. The rest of the family opted for Canada.
22:22 Roland explains that, as a result of his involvement with a business in England, he and his family moved to Cambridge, England in 2002 until their visas for Canada came through.
23:14 Roland and his family move to Canada in July 2003.
23:37 Roland discusses the quality of his children's education in Johannesburg, Cambridge, and Toronto.
24:30 Roland discusses extended family members who remained in South Africa.
25:24 Roland explains the system of currency movement at the time he and his family emigrated from South Africa.
26:58 Roland discusses his business plans following immigration to Canada.
28:13 Roland describes efforts to purchase a house in Toronto in March before their arrival.
31:40 Roalnd discusses his first impressions of Canada following their move.
32:10 Roland recalls his first impressions of Canada following their move.
33:20 Roland discusses joining two orchestras in Toronto.
35:10 Roland describes a relatively easy adjustment to living in Toronto.
35:45 Roland discusses the challenges of initially finding the right placement for their younger son at York Mills Collegiate.
Part 3:
00:00 Roland suggests reasons to explain the easy integration for younger children in Toronto.
01:34 Roland explains why the family chose to move to Canada.
02:27 Roland discusses his limited contact with other South Africans in Toronto. He explains that he was more inclined to seek out a music community.
03:48 Roland recalls organizing a music fundraising event for the synagogue in Cambridge.
04:38 Roland discusses his involvement on the boards of many musical organizations.
05:50 Roland continues to offer reasons to explain the ease of his integration to Canada.
09:01 Roland discusses how he identifies himself as Canadian and appreciates Canadian values.
11:17 Roland discusses his Jewish life in Toronto and the practices of his children.
12:51 Roland discusses South African traditions that he has continued in Canada.
15:00 Roland explains that he returns to South Africa for two weeks every year to stay at a time-share. He discusses friends and relatives that they visit.
19:04 Roland discusses differences between Canada and South Africa.
22:37 Roland images how his and his family's lives would be had they remained in South Africa.
24:35 Roland discusses his mother who lives in Israel.
28:00 Roland discusses the Jewish community in Worcester when he was young.
31:40 Roland discusses how he started to make cheese at home following a request from his daughter-in-law, who keeps kosher.
Part 4:
00:27 Roland discusses his involvement with various orchestras and music camps.
Source
Oral Histories

Music in the Bush

Making Cheese

Name
Colleen "Chips" Klein and Paul Klein
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
03/13/2017
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Colleen "Chips" Klein and Paul Klein
Number
AC 444
Subject
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
03/13/2017
Interviewer
Lisa Newman
Total Running Time
AC 444 part 1: 7 min.
AC 444 part 2: 7 min.
AC 444 part 3: 37 min.
AC 444 part 4: 2 min.
Biography
Although they both grew up in Jewish neighbourhoods, Chips and Paul met for the first time at Margate, a decidedly non-Jewish seaside resort on South Africa’s southern coast. Chips’ grandmother, who was with Chips at the time, scouted the area for Jewish men, which is when she spotted Paul. Convinced the two were bashert, she indulged in a little matchmaking, with the result that Paul phoned Chips when he returned home. While they did break up at one point, Chips’ grandmother’s judgment was vindicated when the two married at Cyrildene Shul in Johannesburg a few years later.
When their children were three and five years old, the couple made the decision to immigrate to Canada. Paul, an engineer by training, was transferred to Guelph. There, the family joined the local synagogue and enrolled their children in public education. It was while living in Guelph that Chips and Paul became involved in work combating antisemitism. Growing up in Jewish communities, neither had encountered much antisemitism, but living in a small town they were forced to come to terms with being different.
Once their children were grown up, Chips and Paul moved to Toronto, purchasing a house in Thornhill in order to be close to the South African community. Both Chips and Paul are involved in Jewish education through their local synagogue and remain active in a variety of sports. In addition to their faith, sport is one of the ways they stay in touch with their grandchildren, which is why Chips says, “As long as we’re able, we’re going to keep doing it.”
Material Format
moving images
Language
English
Name Access
Klein, Colleen
Klein, Paul
Geographic Access
Guelph (Ont.)
Johannesburg (South Africa)
Thornhill (Ont.)
Toronto (Ont.)
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Transcript
Part 1:
00:00 Chips discusses the areas in Johannesburg where she was born and raised.
01:30 Chips discusses her education. She attended King David School. She notes that her parents may have been founding members of King David.
02:37 Chips discusses her career in dance as a dancer and as a teacher in her own dance school.
05:22 Chips describes growing up in South Africa. She discusses her family's warm relationship with their servants.
06:20 Chips mentions her own political involvement as a teenager in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She explains why and her husband decided to leave South Africa.
Part 2:
00:00 Paul discusses his parents' arrival to South Africa. His father fled from Berlin in 1937. His mother fled from Frankfurt, Germany in 1936. His father served in the British army during the war.
01:34 Paul explains why his father did not join a synagogue. Paul did not have a bar mitzvah. He recounts an incident that he attributes to his connection to Judaism.
02:55 Paul explains that having Jewish friends only became an issue for him when he started dating.
03:20 Paul explains that his father's fellow workers were secular German Jews.
03:40 Paul discusses his limited Jew upbringing. He discusses how and why he started to learn about and practice Judaism.
05:02 Paul has one sister living in Montreal. He discusses other relatives, some of whom survived the Holocaust.
06:30 Paul discusses how he met Chips.
Part 3:
00:00 Chips discusses how she met Paul.
00:48 Chips and Paul describe how they reconnected with Chips when Paul graduated from engineering.
03:49 Paul discusses their early marriage. He explains the factors that contributed to his decision to leave South Africa and immigrate to Canada. He expresses satisfaction with their decision to come to Canada.
05:25 Chips notes their children's positive comments about growing up and living in Canada.
05:56 Paul discusses his professional career.
07:30 Chips discusses their friends' and relatives' reactions to their decision to leave South Africa. They left in 1975. Chips' and Paul's parents immigrated to Canada around 1981.
09:18 Paul describes his parents' reaction to their decision to emigrate.
10:14 Chips discusses her parents' comments about leaving South Africa.
10:49 Chips and Paul discuss their return visits to South Africa. Chips describes her children's impressions of South Africa.
12:45 Chips discusses their early time in Canada. They first came to Guelph. She discusses establishing a Jewish home/environment for their children.
13:42 Paul recounts antisemitic incidents while living in Guelph.
15:20 Paul discusses their involvement with a program out of Lipa Green focused on assisting small Jewish communities. He comments on the program's success. Paul served as vice-chair.
16:50 Paul discusses the impact of the program on his children. He describes their strong connection to Israel.
17:37 Chips and Paul explain the program and how it was implemented.
18:46 Paul discusses his involvement with the synagogue in Guelph and in Toronto.
20:39 Paul explains why they decided to move to Thornhill in 1991. They belong to a synagogue on Green Lane.
21:33 Paul explains that the company he worked for in South Africa transferred him to Canada.
22:32 Chips discusses her community involvement including participation in Hadassah-WIZO and participation in the synagogue.
23:26 Chips discusses the creation of a business. She discusses her involvement in a women's inventors project. Chips mentions that she and Paul run a business together.
25:47 Chips describes her involvement in the development of a book to assist women with the patenting and marketing of products. She describes a federal government initiative that she was involved in to develop a book for the government to help women entrepreneurs. She also assisted with the development of a books for teachers and Girl Guides geared toward female inventions.
27:52 Paul discusses an acclaimed dance program that Chips was involved with South Africa.
30:22 Chips and Paul discuss their involvement in Jewish education. Chips spearheaded an adult education program for women and men. Paul discusses his involvement teaching Parshat HaShavuah.
35:45 Chips discusses her family's involvement in sport, including marathons and skiing.
36:47 Paul ponders the question of feeling Canadian.
Part 4:
00:34 Chips comments on when she first considered herself Canadian.
02:02 Paul mentions a National Film Board documentary about Jews in small communities and their inclusion in the film.
Source
Oral Histories

An Entrepreneurial Spirit

Always a Stranger

Anti-Semitism in Canada

Small Town Life

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