37 episodes

If you're a Jew in Canada, odds are good you live in a big city. But Jews have built communities all across our home and native land, and in this podcast, veteran broadcaster Ralph Benmergui journeys across Canada in search of proud Jews from small places. From Moncton to Moose Jaw, Glace Bay to Thunder Bay, join Ralph as he travels from coast to coast to coast in search of a truly national Canadian Jewish identity.

Yehupetzville with Ralph Benmergui The CJN Podcast Network

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 5.0 • 13 Ratings

If you're a Jew in Canada, odds are good you live in a big city. But Jews have built communities all across our home and native land, and in this podcast, veteran broadcaster Ralph Benmergui journeys across Canada in search of proud Jews from small places. From Moncton to Moose Jaw, Glace Bay to Thunder Bay, join Ralph as he travels from coast to coast to coast in search of a truly national Canadian Jewish identity.

    This Israeli expat is making Jewish life happen in Prince Edward County

    This Israeli expat is making Jewish life happen in Prince Edward County

    When Hadas Brajtman moved from Tel Aviv to Picton, Ont., she knew it would be challenging. But she didn't realize quite how difficult it would be. With no family or organized Jewish community to fall back on, she decided to try and make something happen herself, putting a call out to locals to join her family in their backyard for a sunny Shavuot celebration.

    She expected a few people would show up—and then 50 did, mostly local Jews.

    That kicked off Brajtman's new identity as a focal point of Jewish life in Prince Edward County, where the only Israelis are tourists and nearby Belleville has been struggling to keep its synagogue open during the High Holidays. With an influx of young families fleeing Toronto housing prices and a beautiful wine-country setting, Picton is one of the rare small Canadian Jewish communities that's on the rise—and doing things their own way.

    Credits

    Yehupetzville is hosted by Ralph Benmergui. Michael Fraiman is the producer and editor. Our music was arranged by Louis Simão and performed by Louis Simão and Jacob Gorzhaltsan. Our sponsor is PearTree Canada, which you can learn more about at peartreecanada.com. This show is a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, watch this video.

    • 26 min
    'You feel more of an obligation to assert your identity': How the Jews of Tasmania are slowly growing their community

    'You feel more of an obligation to assert your identity': How the Jews of Tasmania are slowly growing their community

    Baltimore is more than 16,000 km away from Hobart, the biggest city on the Australian island of Tasmania. It's quite a distance—and one happily travelled by Jeff Schneider, the current president of the Hobart Hebrew Congregation, Australia's oldest synagogue.

    But if you'd told a young Schneider he'd one day be president of a synagogue in Tasmania, he wouldn't have believed you. While the former penal colony island is now a pleasant home to more than half a million people, just 376 of them are Jewish, down from the community's peak of 454 in the 1850s. As Schneider learned when he moved to Tasmania and began raising a young family, the island's Jews feel obligated to practice their faith, continue their traditions and share their stories—which Schneider does here on today's episode of Yehupetzville.

    Credits

    Yehupetzville is hosted by Ralph Benmergui. Michael Fraiman is the producer and editor. Our music was arranged by Louis Simão and performed by Louis Simão and Jacob Gorzhaltsan. Our sponsor is PearTree Canada, which you can learn more about at peartreecanada.com. This show is a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, watch this video.

    • 24 min
    Windsor's Jews have a strong pitch to grow their numbers. So why aren't more people moving there?

    Windsor's Jews have a strong pitch to grow their numbers. So why aren't more people moving there?

    Mark Abraham comes from a long line of Jewish community leaders in Windsor, Ont. His grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, arrived in 1953, simultaneous to a great population boom migrating to the area for jobs in the auto industry; Mark's father became deeply involved in the local Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, acting as president and sitting on its board of directors; and his mother was president of her B'nai Brith Youth Organization chapter, among taking other roles over the years.

    While past generations inform Mark of his responsibilities to the community, he's more focused on the future: specifically, getting more Jews in his native city. The Jewish population has stayed stagnant at 1,500 people for years now, but with housing prices skyrocketing elsewhere in the country—and remaining relatively affordable in Windsor—the border city faces a unique opportunity to pitch an affordable lifestyle for young families and retirees looking to flee the Greater Toronto Area.

    Mark Abraham shares his family's story and explains his community's situation on this week's episode of Yehupetzville, The CJN's podcast about Jews living in small communities across Canada and the world.

    Credits

    Yehupetzville is hosted by Ralph Benmergui. Michael Fraiman is the producer and editor. Our music was arranged by Louis Simão and performed by Louis Simão and Jacob Gorzhaltsan. Our sponsor is PearTree Canada, which you can learn more about at peartreecanada.com. This show is a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, watch this video.

    Niagara Falls is losing its only synagogue—but the building's legacy lives on

    Niagara Falls is losing its only synagogue—but the building's legacy lives on

    Built in 1937, Niagara Falls' only synagogue—Congregation B'nai Jacob, later renamed B’nai Tikvah—has stood dormant in recent years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the congregants agreed to sell the building to a nearby developer, who plans to tear it down to build hotels in the near future.

    But the spirit of the community is not entirely lost. Despite the shul's numbered days, its stained glass windows, installed during a renovation in the 1970s, will be relocated to a nearby cemetery as part of its Holocaust memorial. It may not attract many of the 13 million tourists who visit the Niagara Region every year, but it will remind locals, and the city's remaining Jewish population, of what stood before.

    In the meantime, the community still has work to do—services, gatherings, community outreach for which they don't need a physical structure. Bob Muller, head of the congregation, joins Ralph Benmergui to share his city's story on Yehupetzville, our podcast highlighting Jews in small communities around Canada and the world.

    Credits

    Yehupetzville is hosted by Ralph Benmergui. Michael Fraiman is the producer and editor. Our music was arranged by Louis Simão and performed by Louis Simão and Jacob Gorzhaltsan. Our sponsor is PearTree Canada, which you can learn more about at peartreecanada.com. This show is a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, watch this video.

    • 24 min
    One woman's mission to revitalize the Jewish community of Quebec City

    One woman's mission to revitalize the Jewish community of Quebec City

    Over the past generation, the Jewish community of Quebec City has been decimated—first by the Quebec Referendum, slowly by an outward migration of young people, and finally by COVID-19, which coincided with a loss of funds to keep any paid staff. The outlook for the couple dozen active remaining Jews looked grim.

    Debbie Rootman wouldn't accept that. She moved there in September 2019, and swiftly took it upon herself to revitalize the newsletter, organize events and galvanize community members as best she could. After facing extreme challenges in the last two years, Rootman felt so inspired by a recent episode of Yehupetzville that she reached out to share her own story—and share the proud, centuries-old Jewish history of her adoptive home city.

    Credits

    Yehupetzville is hosted by Ralph Benmergui. Michael Fraiman is the producer and editor. Our music was arranged by Louis Simão and performed by Louis Simão and Jacob Gorzhaltsan. Our sponsor is PearTree Canada, which you can learn more about at peartreecanada.com. This show is a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, watch this video.

    • 29 min
    Small-town Judaism is in danger. Here's how it can be saved

    Small-town Judaism is in danger. Here's how it can be saved

    Across North America, Jews are increasingly migrating to large urban centres, abandoning smaller towns for more opportunities and a more convenient Jewish life. One rabbi is on a mission to change that.

    As a student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Rachel Isaacs was assigned to a one-year stint in Waterville, Maine, with one small synagogue and a handful of Hillel students at a local liberal arts college. She quickly realized that the disparate, dwindling community had a chance at surviving through innovative thinking and consolidation: bring together the students and older families to make a minyan, get Hillel kids going to local homes for Shabbat, and foster a cross-generational, non-denominational community that would inspire younger Jews to get engaged.

    Today, Rabbi Isaacs is the head of the Center for Small Town Jewish Life, a university program that runs events and brings together Jews from across the Pine Tree State. She's now expanding the concept to cities across the United States, from Honolulu to Lexington. Her pitch: if you believe Judaism is not a privilege to be enjoyed exclusively by those living in the densest cities in the country, the impetus is on you to help redistribute wealth and opportunity.

    Rabbi Isaacs joins Yehupetzville to share her story, describe her project and explain why small-town Jews are so often primed to become community leaders.

    Credits

    Yehupetzville is hosted by Ralph Benmergui. Michael Fraiman is the producer and editor. Our music was arranged by Louis Simão and performed by Louis Simão and Jacob Gorzhaltsan. Our sponsor is PearTree Canada, which you can learn more about at peartreecanada.com. This show is a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, watch this video.

    • 30 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
13 Ratings

13 Ratings

Maman Canadienne ,

Jewish Life across Canada

Great idea for a podcast. Really enjoyed hearing about pockets of Jewish life across Canada. Wonderful conversations lead by Ralph Benmergui.

MF432 ,

Great variety

Too much of Canadian Jewish news deals with Toronto and Montreal. Great to hear what life is like for normal, everyday folks living in different parts of the country.

Skigzz ,

Really enjoyable!

Great idea for a show and it was nice to hear the different voices and perspectives of Jewish life in “small town” Canada.

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