Education

Posted by jyuhasz
                Interviewer: Jean Gerber & Cyril E. Leonoff
 
 
               JW:        So it was after my second year of university here that I decided to go into medicine which made my mother and father very happy.
 
               CL:         Did this school have a pre-med at that time?
 
JW:        No, no. No, couldn’t take any…I stayed here ‘til the end of my second year then I tried to get some pre-med and they had nothing here. They…In those days you had to have the equivalent of high school Latin to get into medical school. And I hadn’t taken Latin, I had taken French in high school. Only two schools in Canada that had a preliminary course in Latin which was the equivalent of high school Latin; one was University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and the other was Halifax, Dalhousie. So Saskatoon, I’d come from there so I went back to Saskatoon and took my pre-med there. And then I got into the University of Toronto Medical School.
 
JG:          Now these were days towards the end of the Depression beginning of World War II when Jews did not enter medical school so easily.
 
JW:        No, very difficult.
 
JG:          How did you overcome this quota system?
 
JW:        I just got very good marks. Didn’t get such high marks at the University of British Columbia. I was too busy fooling around, having a good time. But once I decided to go into medical school, my final year in my pre-med year I really got very good marks.
 
JG:          Were there other Jewish—I guess at that time it would have been mostly boys, some girls maybe—trying to get in?
 
JW:        Out of 120 in our class there were five girls. That’s all.
 
JG:          So they would have had to be very good.
 
JW:        They were very good and they were nice girls.
 
JG:          Any other Jews went into medical school with you?
 
JW:        Yes, yes, there were a few, not many. The University of Toronto strangely enough, although the city was an anti-Semitic city, and there many of the doctors were personally anti-Semitic and showed it, the policy of the school wasn’t that bad. I had difficulty finding a place to stay because many houses had ‘restricted’ signs on them. And restricted didn’t mean blacks because there were no blacks, restricted meant there were no Jews allowed. So I had difficulty finding a place to live.
 
JG:          Where did you finally settle?
 
JW:        Well, when I went to Toronto I stayed at the YMCA which is right near the University of Toronto in Toronto. And I stayed there, it was a dollar a day I remember. And I wandered around looking for a place. The university had lists of places that you could go to board and room. I wandered around to a lot of these places and a lot of them had restricted signs on them. And I was getting very discouraged.
 
               I was in swimming one day, you know, at the Y, you go swimming with no clothes on, the YMCA in those days. So I see another guy swimming, he looked Jewish to me.
 
JG:          [Laughing].
 
JW:        So I got talking to him and I was telling him my problems and he turned out to be a medical student also and living in Toronto. And he says, “Well,” he said, “look, I’ve got a place for you to live.” He says, “There’s a Jewish medical fraternity.” He says, “Come and live at our place.” So I lived there for five years, cost $35 a month.
 
JG:          What was the name of the fraternity?
 
JW:        Phi Delta Epsilon and that is an international, Jewish—only Jewish students…

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Posted by jyuhasz
                Interviewer: Naomi Katz & Cyril E. Leonoff
 
 
               CL:         Well on the Prairies—Winnipeg, populated by Russian Jews primarily and Eastern European Jews, Yiddish was the language spoken. I have the impression that in Vancouver Hebrew was emphasized. Did you speak Yiddish with your parents?
 
               NB:        No, no, no. Until we the children introduced English into the home, we knew no language except Jewish. And one of the things that you and your generation might find a little difficult unless you’ve thought about it seriously is the problems that youngsters who don’t have English have when they go to school. I recall going to school and the second day that I was there they called a roll and as they called the roll each of the children had to say ‘present.’ Well, when they called my name and I wouldn’t say ‘present.’ When the teacher asked me why I wouldn’t tell her and she punished me, and she asked me to stay after school and I told her that the only reason that I wouldn’t say ‘present’ was that I wasn’t going to give her a present because that was the only connotation that I knew present in. [Laughter]. That’s why I think that some of these intelligence tests are so ridiculous. Because connotations is all important.
 
CL:         So you spoke Yiddish in the home and when you started to go to school you learned English.
 
NB:        Then my parents learned as well. And ultimately…
 
BB:         That is always the history. The children learned, came home, wouldn’t speak the Yiddish and so the parents had to learn English.

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Posted by jyuhasz
                Interviewer: Irene Dodek & Ron Stuart
 
 
               ID:          You said that your mother encouraged you to go into law. Did you ever at any time consider another field? Did you ever consider medicine?
 
               NN:        No, no.
 
               ID:          Never. And how did law school change you?
 
               NN:        Well, I think the discipline of law was a thing...
 
ID:          The work load?
 
NN:        The work was heavy. In those days, this was after you had a degree but before we had a full fledged law school, we had something, people wanted to go back to a system...You would go to law office...
 
ID:          Before you went to law school?
 
NN:        No, after you went to law school. You would go into a law office.
 
ID:          As an articling student?
 
NN:        As an articling student, and you’d spend three years if not four years there. Then you would proceed to go to lectures, and lectures at four o’clock. They’d get real money out of you by working you. And you got a real princely sum of $15. I eventually got $35 a month.
 
ID:          What did you do as an articling student?
 
NN:        Well, as an articling student you did everything that you knew exactly things that many young lawyers don’t know. You’d know how to draw wills, you’d know how to draw all of the practical things.
 
ID:          You mean young lawyers don’t learn this?
 
NN:        Well no, because they’re in a different milieu. They learn all about jurisprudence, you know, and all the fancy problems that arise in famous cases but as for doing the actual work there was a change. But that disappeared, that’s disappeared.
 
ID:          So the work load really...Did any of your professors influence you in a particular way?
 
NN:        Yes, well they did, because we had a very fine group of professors at the school and the Vancouver Law School and they did, they’re very, very good.

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Posted by jyuhasz
                Interviewer: Marvin Weintraub & Cyril E. Leonoff
 
 
               MW:      Yes. Phyllis you had a few, a few things that you started in the [Beth Israel] synagogue, didn’t you?
 
               PS:          Actually yes the very first thing that I started was at a suggestion from Rita, from your wife, and that was what we called Institute Aleph. As we mentioned before there were really only two synagogues in the city and there was not much going on education wise for the women, there were no classes, and so the concept, the idea came into being that we should start a morning class and it turned out to be a Thursday morning class and we called it Institute Aleph because we always felt that we were starting, we were always starting from the beginning and there was just so much to learn that we would never get beyond aleph. [Laughter]. That first year, that first year, and it was going to be courses in basic Judaism and then as it turned out, and the classes developed, we discussed history and philosophy and ethics and many other things. The first class we had about 60 women that came out and they represented different parts of the community, people from Schara Tzedeck, because there was nothing else. But after that class we had anywhere between 20 and 40 people that would come on a Thursday morning for maybe eight sessions in the fall and eight sessions in the spring. And out of that group, which went on from 1967 until about I don’t know for about 20 years, I think. Every Thursday morning there were about five or six people, women, who started with us in ’67 and went all the way through. And then there were of course all these new people. And this was a great joy to me because it was not just a question of teaching, it was a question of exchanging ideas. We sat around the table and we discussed things.

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Posted by jyuhasz
 
 
               RY:         So I was very lucky and both my parents were crackerjack communicators, so we moved out to a village called Ituna in Saskatchewan, population four hundred, and one of the conditions of my parents’ employment was that my mother would run a school…
 
               BB:         In English?
 
               RY:         No, no, not in English, teaching the kids Jewish and Hebrew so every day after school from four to six she ran a school, there were eight Jewish children in the village and they all attended school and of course the pride of all these parents was for the rest of their lives was the kids would write home in Yiddish. Her least successful student was yours truly, there was no time for me because come six o’clock she had to make dinner for my father, but I picked up everybody’s lessons along the way but my way of rebelling was “So I don’t read Yiddish,” that was my way of rebelling. But I found it very interesting when I was out in Ituna, the Anglican minister came to my mother one day and he said to her, “I understand you are teaching Jewish and Hebrew.”He says, “I would like to read the bible in the original Hebrew, I’ll make a deal with you…you teach me Hebrew, I’ll help you with your English.” So every Saturday noon they had an appointment where they would get together and exchange language skills. So I had a very interesting childhood and luckily picked up good communication skills, my mother was also a poet, used to write poetry and it was published in the Jewish paper in Winnipeg and I think she once submitted something to [The Torgen], New York.

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Posted by jhsadmin
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Mini-doc on British Columbia's Jewish community, dating from 1858. The election of Canada's first Jewish MLA, MP and Premier all took place in BC. Victoria's Temple Emmanuel, opened in 1863, is Canada's oldest continuously-operating synagogue.

Posted by jhsadmin
Object id: 
L.00110

The first Vancouver Peretz School opened in 1945 at Thirteenth Avenue and Birch, with the objectives of providing a secular education in Jewish history, literature, culture and traditions with an emphasis on Yiddish (See the Jewish Western Bulletin, 22 September 1960, p. 20). Back L-R: Lil Slobod, Matilda Porte, Rachel Korn, Susie Dodek, Sara Sarkin, Bernice Abramson. Front L-R: Anne Wyne, Sarah Stone, Sara Rubin, Lucy Lacterman, Bunny Braverman, Galya Chud.

Date: 
1945
Source: 
Wyne, Anne