Helen Pengelly: Beginnings of the Kootenay Jewish Cultural Association

Posted by jyuhasz

Helen Pengelly in her living room in Nelson
Rights - JMABC
Pengelly, Helen
Nelson, BC
Tessler, Ronnie
Monday, September 8, 2003
Digital audio recording #: 20.03-31
HP:        So, it wasn’t until I was here [Nelson, BC] and living in what I would have to call ‘Jewish isolation’ that I suddenly started to really feel the need for more community.
RT:        Was this before or after your boys were born?
HP:        Before. And so I started doing things. Like when we would go to visit my parents in Calgary, I would go to shul. I would sort of sneak off by myself on a Saturday morning and go to shul because I felt so isolated here that I actually felt a need to do that when it was available to me to do. And that may have also been because I was working at a church. I don’t know, you know. I was pretty heavily steeped in Christianity and feeling kind of foreign.
And, then, it would be the year that...Our son was born in May 1994, and sometime after that, and while he was still very small, somebody called a meeting by putting an ad in the paper. They rented the Elks Hall and put an ad in the paper saying that there was going to be a community Shabbat meal and a meeting of the Jewish community and please come if you were interested.
So, by that time I knew several people who were Jewish. By that time I had also, I had organized a Rosh Hashanah party the year before, you know. There was a guy downtown who owned a restaurant who was Jewish and I kind of bullied him into doin’ it at his restaurant.
RT:         Was that Krieger?
HP:         Yeah. With the Japanese restaurant?
RT:         Yeah.
HP:        Yeah, yeah. So, I had just kind of bugged him and bugged him and bugged him until he did it. Right. And I was so surprised.
RT:         Did lots of people come?
HP:         Lots of people came and most of them weren’t anybody I had expected. [Laughs]. And I met all kinds of people I had never heard of and the place was packed.

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