Explore the diverse stories and ideas of Jewish life, through interviews and conversations with community members, leaders, and all those with a story to tell. Through hearing these diverse stories, we will look at modern Jewish history, faith, humor, spirituality, identity and activism, helping us grow stronger as individuals and as a community. Based in Montreal, Quebec, we begin with this unique Jewish city, but plan to move beyond as the project grows. Join in the journey of A Jewish Life!
Episode 7-Ernest Chonchol
Ernest Chonchol recently celebrated his 99th birthday, and in these many years, he has gathered endless stories and much wisdom. Born in Port Said, Egypt, Ernest made his way through France and Israel before finally arriving here in Montreal. Connected deeply to his faith, his community and his family, Ernest has held on to life with an amazing humility and strength. In this episode, Ernest shares his journey.
Episode 6-Ellayne Kaplan and Howard Berger
Ellayne Kaplan and Howard Berger have built a beautiful partnership, weaving together their unique life stories and backgrounds as they created a family, and found their way as teachers, activists and Jewish communal leaders. In this episode they share reflections on family, on the changes taking place in the Jewish community, and on how we can make sense of life, relationships and tradition in an ever more complicated world.
Episode 5-Sheila Caplan
Sheila Caplan is a Montreal ceramic artist and active member of the Dorshei Emet community. On this episode, Sheila shares her unique path to becoming a potter, from her time as an occupational therapist, to her first experience with clay, to taking on her passion full time. For Sheila, clay is deeply symbolic of life and she discusses the important lessons she has learned; patience, forgiveness, moving on from mistakes and failure, and finding beauty in each moment. The lessons of creating art, are also the lessons of life.
Sheila also tells us about her unique Jewish path and identity, and how she has used her art to educate others about Jewish traditions and spirituality.
“Know that every deed counts, that every word is power…Above all, remember that you must build your life as if it were a work of art.”-Abraham Joshua Heschel
Episode 4-Peter Margo
“Gam zu l’tova. This too is for the good.” – Nachum Ish Gamzu, Talmud, Taanit
On Episode 4 of A Jewish Life, I interview Peter Margo. Peter has a long and fascinating journey. He was born in Germany in 1930, just a few years before Hitler took power, but remarkably, shares his positive experiences growing up in Germany at that time. He eventually made his way to Canada where he went to school, took over the family business and finally, started a family of his own. During this time he found his place in the Jewish community, finding joy and meaning from the traditions that were not a part of his secular upbringing. In the interview, Peter reflects on the importance of remembering the past, while reflecting on how to maintain a positive view of the future.
Episode 3-Ruth Block
“With age comes wisdom, and length of days brings understanding.” – Job 12:12
Ruth Block recently celebrated her 100th birthday, and she is still going strong. In this episode, Ruth will share her long journey from a small town in Poland to her time her in Montreal. She reflects on the challenges of growing up Jewish in pre-war Europe and the pain and hope that she found leaving her family to head to Canada. She also shares some of her parenting wisdom, and her thoughts about how to stay strong in a quickly changing world.
Ruth is joined in the interview by her son Irwin Block.
A Jewish Life Episode 2-Shara Rosen
Join us as we hear the Jewish journey of Shara Rosen, activist and proud member of the Montreal Jewish community. She will share her thoughts on identity and social justice, as we explore how we can best create a proud, active and diverse Jewish community.
Shara is the founder and director of Sénégal Santé Mobile which has been sending primary care medications to rural health and birthing centres in Sénégal since 2010. Shara also helped launch the Pads for Homeless campaign providing advocacy and menstrual supplies to homeless and poor women in Montreal since 2017.