A Community of Leaders T ake a look at the leaders of Winnipeg’s Jewish community and you’ll notice many of them have something in common: an education from Gray Academy. Back in the days of founding school Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate ( JWC) and now at Gray, students are given tremendous opportunities to hone their leadership skills and influence change within their school environment. Once they graduate, they’re ready to do the same for the community at large. Throughout Winnipeg’s Jewish organizations, our alumni have led our community to thrive by developing and sustaining our cultural identity and institutions. It’s no coincidence, says Al Benarroch (’82), the executive director of Jewish Child and Family Service. “A deep, rich Jewish education is an important piece of the formula in nurturing Jewish leaders,” he says. “I didn’t see myself as a leader in high school, but the foundation was laid, and it helped guide me to where I am today.” “There are many factors that have shaped who I am, and JWC is a key piece of that puzzle,” says his brother, Rabbi Yosef Benarroch (’76) of the Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Synagogue. The student body is intricately tied to the rest of Winnipeg’s Jewish community—including charities and cultural organizations—giving them exposure to the important work going on around them and encouraging participation and support. “In school I learned to be a leader, but I also learned to be a mensch,” says Tamar Barr (’83), the interim executive director of the Rady Jewish Community Centre. “I use the Jewish values I learned at JWC every single day.”
“I never questioned who I was, and giving back became important to me,” says Marla Aronovitch (née Adelberg) (’84), Jewish Foundation of Manitoba’s director of operations and grants. “That strong identity is why I remain committed to making this community better each and every day through my work.” “The school gave each of us opportunities to shine in our own way,” says Rena Boroditsky (’80), the executive director of Chesed Shel Emes, the Jewish community burial society. For her, that meant editing the yearbook, being the prop-master for school plays, and participating on student council. Tracy Kasner Greaves (’94)—president of the Chai Folk Arts Council Inc., past president of the Winnipeg Board of Jewish Education, and cantor at Congregation Etz Chayim—believes the opportunities she was given in high school gave her the courage to create positive change after graduation. “Leadership is being willing to put yourself out there and do what you can to make the world a better place, and to take responsibility for all those around you,” she says. “That is at the heart of a Gray Academy education.” There are also many other alumni leading Jewish community organizations, including Rabbi Matthew Leibl (’03) of Congregation Shaarey Zedek, Jonathan Buchwald (’86), executive director of Congregation Etz Chayim, and Ran Ukashi (’01), national director of B’nai Brith's League for Human Rights. But you don’t have to look much farther than the current head of school and CEO of Gray Academy, Lori Binder (’91). “My education set me up for a life of leadership,” she says. “I’m proud to say that this tradition is still strong at Gray, and I know we’ll see today’s students become the leaders of tomorrow.” •
(L to R) Al Benarroch (’82), Tracy Kasner Greaves (’94), Lori Binder (’91), Marla Aronovitch (née Adelberg) (’84), Tamar Barr (’83), Rabbi Yosef Benarroch (’76)
Legacies is published bi-annually through Gray Academy’s Marketing and Communications Department. Digital and printed copies are distributed to parents, grandparents, alumni, and friends of the school. If you would like to support Gray Academy, please contact us at 204.477.7410 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Head of School and CEO
LORI BINDER (’91)
email@example.com Director of Admissions
firstname.lastname@example.org Director of Marketing and Communications
DAVID BORZYKOWSKI (’01)
President, Winnipeg Board of Jewish Education
Head of School and CEO
Notes from Our Leadership hank you for taking the time to read the second edition of our Legacies magazine. In this issue you will see the impact Gray Academy of Jewish Education (and its founding schools) has had on its graduates. We’re proud of the many alumni who have chosen career paths that strengthen our community, and the countless others who have used Gray as a springboard to the international arts and culture stage.
Our students are shaped by the unique experiences offered in both elementary and high school. The story on our “Buddy program” might bring back memories for many of you who experienced the power of mentorship. Our Jewish Community Internship takes mentoring one step further with opportunities for students to have a one-of-a-kind experience as they prepare for life beyond high school. Our very own Sarah Jacobsohn (’19) is currently an intern with our director of marketing and communications and is the author of the feature story “Putting Gray into the Rainbow” and “Top 10 Things Grads Miss Most about Gray.” The Winnipeg Board of Jewish Education is proud to carry on the legacy of over 100 years of Jewish education in Winnipeg. We hope that these stories will inspire you to consider a philanthropic gift to Gray Academy. Your contribution will help us carry on the tradition of building strong Jewish students today and in the future.
linkedin.com/company/grayacademy Board of Directors of the WBJE Sean Shore, President Evan Roitenberg (’84), Vice President Diane Shindleman, Treasurer Bruce Caplan, Secretary Tracy Kasner Greaves (’94), Past President Bryan Borzykowski (’98), Jen Dimerman, Evgeny Gotfrid (’13), Richard Hechter, Tara Kozlowich (’94), Laura Kravetsky-Chisick (’99), Cindy Lazar (’87), Rabbi Matthew Leibl (’03), Marla Levene (’93), Josh Weinstein (’89) Editor-In-Chief
DAVID BORZYKOWSKI (’01) Writers
SARAH JACOBSOHN (’19) BEN WALDMAN (’13)
Putting Gray into the Rainbow By Sarah Jacobsohn (’19) Some might think that Judaism and the LGBTQ2S+ community are two things that don’t go together. At Gray Academy, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Gray’s gender-sexuality alliance is called Keshet, the Hebrew word for rainbow. The group chose this name to reflect the connection to the Jewish language and to celebrate the diversity of the student population. The group works to increase awareness of LGBTQ2S+ and human rights issues and to create a safe space where students can be themselves. “It gives students a place to talk about things that they wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable talking about in another environment,” says Toby Szkop (’19), Keshet vice president. “They are in a space where they know
they can say and be whoever they want without any judgment or shame,” adds Toby. Keshet was established at Gray Academy in 2012 and has done groundbreaking work contributing to the school’s inclusive nature. The group won a human rights award for their pioneering work in a faith-based school, organized several school-wide conferences, created a gender-neutral washroom, and changed the lives of countless high school students. “The group not only helped me come to terms with my own sexuality but also embrace and celebrate it,” says Sarah Jacobsohn, long-time member and the current president of Keshet. “It taught me that I did not have to compromise being Jewish or being gay, and that our school created an environment where both of my identities were equally accepted.” •
Success Starts Here While Sam Slutchuk (’17) graduated from Gray Academy two years ago, he still hasn’t left the community. Sam was one of dozens of students to take Gray’s Jewish Community Internship, an innovative, one-of-a-kind Grade 12 elective course offering work experience at leading Jewish community organizations. The program is designed to provide graduating students exciting work opportunities while instilling the values of Kehila (community). “It really opened a lot of doors for me,” says Sam, who was placed at the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg for his internship. “It gave me quite a solid résumé too.” While at the federation, Sam built connections with organizational leaders, worked on a variety of outreach projects, and learned what it meant to contribute to his community. He was responsible for creating and growing the federation’s Instagram account, a key marketing tool. Soon after graduating, the federation asked Sam if he could keep working. He
was first hired on as a summer student and then continued through the school year. “I’ve been here ever since,” says the now University of Manitoba student. “We were so impressed with Sam’s work ethic and initiative,” said Madeline Lopez Ficher (’01), the creative director at the federation, who supervised Sam’s work. “We knew it would be a great honour to continue our relationship with him.” Wherever Sam’s career takes him, he knows how fortunate he was to get a head start. “I always knew I wanted to go into business or nonprofit management,” he says. “Thanks to the internship course, I was well on my way before I even graduated.” •
Sara Thompson in the Spotlight Perhaps you recognize this alumna from her appearances on TV. Since graduating from Gray in 2013, Sara Thompson has carved out a successful career as an actress, shuffling from audition to audition and landing starring roles on CBC’s Burden of Truth, Netflix’s The 100, and in films featuring the likes of Sir Ben Kingsley and Stanley Tucci.
“When I was dancing and travelling to competitions during high school, Gray accommodated my needs,” she says. “I was able to pursue my artistic work and go to school.”
“If I could say one thing to students today, “I always pinch myself because I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been,” it’s that if you’re passionate about creating she says. art, take advantage of the opportunities As a student, Thompson was always passionate about the arts, and she’d around you,” she says. “Find what you love, often spend hours perfecting paintings and sketches in the school’s art and go for it. If it matters to you, Gray will help you achieve it.” • room. It was no surprise that she felt right at home on set.
Hitting the High Notes
ome teachers at Gray Academy would ask me, ‘What’s your passion?’ All I knew was I loved music,” recalls Milan Ackerman (’06). “When it came to music, everything kind of made sense.” Milan didn’t connect with certain courses, but in music class, he thrived. He performed in the Gray Academy production of Bye Bye Birdie and took part in the school’s Yom Ha’atzmaut Song Festival, where students write and perform original music and lyrics. Today, Milan is more likely to be found in a sold-out arena: he manages Russ, a platinum-selling, chart-topping rapper signed to Columbia Records. Five years ago, Milan spotted his future client’s then-unknown music online. Soon, he reached out and Russ hired Milan. In 2017, Russ’s début album peaked at #7 on the U.S. Billboard 200—an incredible and
rare feat—and then, with Milan pulling the strings, embarked on a 40date North American tour. Milan has also brought his younger brother, Jared (’10), on board as Russ’s tour manager. Milan now lives in Atlanta, Georgia—a hip-hop hotbed—but he’ll never forget his roots. Before Russ, he was a kid with a dream, struggling to bring top rappers to Winnipeg. And before that, he was a Gray Academy student who wasn’t sure where he’d end up. He credits his family, as well as Miriam Bronstein—the former music teacher at Gray— for encouraging him to follow his passion for music, and says he carries himself with the honesty and integrity he learned from those who surrounded him in high school. “At Gray, I learned who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live my life,” he says. “I never take where I come from for granted.” •
Top 10 Things Grads Miss Most about Gray By Sarah Jacobsohn (’19) As a Grade 12 student approaching my final few weeks at Gray Academy, I am filled with a wide array of emotions. Graduating from Gray is more than simply receiving a diploma. It means leaving my childhood friends and the building I grew up in and, more than anything, saying goodbye to the magical moments that occur every day at Gray Academy. While getting ready to embark on the next chapter of my life, I find myself reflecting on all the special times and unique parts of Gray. I know that I’m not the only one feeling this way, so I asked my classmates what they are going to miss most about our school.
Buddies Forever Myles Cohen (’19) is one of Vaughn Vickar’s oldest friends. Their friendship started in 2012, in an early-years classroom, where they played with toy cars, read books, and made each other laugh non-stop. It didn’t matter that Myles was in Grade 6 and Vaughn was in Kindergarten. Fast-forward six years. “Hey, Myles!” shouts Vaughn, smiling, when he sees his old Grade 6 buddy down the hall—now set to graduate. For over 20 years, Grade 5 and 6 students at Gray have acted as “Big Buddies”— role models and playmates—to “Little Buddies” in JK and Kindergarten. But the strong relationships the Buddy program creates don’t end in early-years: a Buddy once is a Buddy forever. “It’s always fun to see each other again,” Myles says. Now, Myles’s Little Buddy has a Little Buddy of his own—a bright, playful
Kindergarten student named Dwayne Openy. When Vaughn and Myles visit his classroom, Dwayne is waiting with a massive smile. “I love playing with Vaughn!” says Dwayne. “We have so much fun.” Three generations of Buddies are now sitting on the floor, enjoying a story together. It’s something that makes the Gray community unique—from the moment a student joins, they quickly become integral parts of the school’s fabric. Some day, Dwayne says he wants to be a Big Buddy too. When he gets there, his old friend Vaughn will be just down the hall with a smile. The author of this article, Ben Waldman (’13), was actually Myles’s buddy. So there were really four generations of Buddies together in the same classroom. •
Here is the Class of 2019’s Top 10 Things They Will Miss Most about Gray Academy: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Schmoozer’s Specials (two words: curly fries!) Short Fridays (can’t they happen all year?) Retreat Dance Parties (and, of course, Barry) School-Wide Bingo (we’ve got a bingo!) The Thrill of an Elevator Ride (way too many stairs) Purim and Gym Riot (it’s worth it to win) Singing together at Kabbalat Shabbat Casual Days for a Cause (some days it’s nice not to be in uniform) Everyone Knowing Your Birthday The Grade 12 Lounge (our sanctuary)
I hope that this list brought back some familiar smells, sounds, and feelings. Now, I leave you with a thought: How lucky are we to have experienced something so good that it feels impossible to say goodbye? •
Sweet and Savoury Dreams Chef Ariel Schor (’02) has always had an appetite for success.
became chef de cuisine at Liverpool House, a top restaurant in Montreal that’s been named one of the best in Canada. He’s cooked for a number of elite guests—Justin Trudeau was a regular before becoming prime minister—but two years ago, Trudeau brought a high-profile dining partner to Schor’s table.
He’s been cooking for as long as he can remember. The first meals he made were with his parents at home. But when he was 14, shortly after immigrating to Canada from Argentina, Schor plied his trade and sharpened his knife skills in a Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate cooking course. In class, Schor remembers the thrill of executing dishes to perfection and says his passion for cooking was obvious to everyone around him. “The class helped me forge a path to a career in food,” he says. “But I’d never imagined I’d be where I am today.” After a stellar stint in Winnipeg kitchens, Schor
“The owner calls me and says, ‘Barack Obama is coming in with Trudeau,’” recalls Schor. “I was freaking out a little bit.” But Schor knew exactly to make for the 44th American president: smoked trout, dry-aged steak with a red-wine jus, lobster spaghetti, oysters, halibut with wild mushrooms, and brown-butter ice cream profiteroles. Ariel, between President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau.
“He was very happy,” Schor says. “It still feels like a dream.” •
Consider a Gift Charitable gifts directly impact students attending Gray Academy. Whether you choose to make a monthly, annual, or one-time direct contribution, the WBJE will ensure the proper stewardship and care of your donation to our school. You can give a gift by cheque, credit card, donor-advised fund, transfer of appreciated securities, or through a legacy gift. We issue charitable tax receipts’ and contributions can be made in memory/honour of another person, in the donor’s own name, or anonymously. Consider a gift to enhance a current program or to spark a new initiative. For more information and to discuss possibilities of supporting Gray Academy, please contact Lori Binder, Head of School and CEO, at 204.477.7425 or email@example.com.
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Gray Academy of Jewish Education's bi-annual alumni magazine. Read all about our alumni and learn what they're up to now.
Published on Apr 18, 2019
Gray Academy of Jewish Education's bi-annual alumni magazine. Read all about our alumni and learn what they're up to now.