S3E5 - Why is Azerbaijan suddenly so focused on promoting its Jewish community?
Yehupetzville with Ralph Benmergui
by The CJN Podcast Network
11M ago
In recent months, the small nation of Azerbaijan has been making a big push to show off their Jews. The leader of the local Jewish community, Rabbi Zamir Isayev, has gone around the world promoting Azerbaijani-Jewish life, making his pitch to Canadians during a visit in November 2022. Here at The CJN, we've received numerous pitches and press opportunities to go on free trips to visit the country's "Mountain Jews". (We haven't taken them up on any.) There may be grander geopolitical logic behind all this. Sandwiched in the mountainous Caucasus region between Russia and Iran, the dominantly Mus ..read more
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S3E3 - Oy, what a beautiful morning: Inside Tulsa's push for new Jewish life
Yehupetzville with Ralph Benmergui
by The CJN Podcast Network
1y ago
Read transcript Oklahoma is know for lots of things—country music, Native American history, tornadoes, Black Wall Street—none of which are particularly Jewish. But if you look into Tulsa, a thriving city of 400,000 people, you'll find a vibrant surge of new developments, incredible infrastructure and an active community of 2,600 Jews. Thanks to its numerous synagogues and organizations like Tulsa Tomorrow, the city is a surprising hotbed of Jewish life. Rabbi Lillian Kowalski joins to discuss the years she spent in Tulsa during the pandemic, what life is like for a nomadic rabbi, and how she's ..read more
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S2E16 - How Heidi Coleman tapped into Kamloops' Jewish community—and quickly became their leader
Yehupetzville with Ralph Benmergui
by The CJN Podcast Network
1y ago
When Heidi Coleman moved to Kamloops from Montreal in 2012, she had to deliberately seek out its Jewish members—asking around, searching for information that was not widely available. Once she found them, however, they welcomed her warmly... and then quickly asked her to become their president. A charismatic natural leader who is the CEO of the Royal Inland Hospital Foundation, Coleman has remained the community's president ever since, mostly because, as she says, nobody else wants to do the job. On this episode of Yehupetzville, Coleman joins to describe the beauty of their faraway Jewish enc ..read more
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S2E15 - Shalom, y'all: What life is like for the Jews of Little Rock, Arkansas
Yehupetzville with Ralph Benmergui
by The CJN Podcast Network
1y ago
Canadian-born Rabbi Mark Biller has moved around a lot. But his latest adventure has taken him on his biggest leap so far: in the fall of 2021, he headed south to become the rabbi of Agudath Achim, one of a few synagogues in Arkansas, a state home to just 2,500 Jews. The community is so tight-knit that part of his job interview process was sitting down with rabbis from the local Chabad and Reform congregations for an hour to make sure they'd get along. (They did.) In this episode of Yehupetzville, The CJN's podcast about Jews in small communities, Biller describes what he's found as striking s ..read more
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S2E14 - This Israeli expat is making Jewish life happen in Prince Edward County
Yehupetzville with Ralph Benmergui
by The CJN Podcast Network
1y ago
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 be ..read more
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S2E13 - 'You feel more of an obligation to assert your identity': How the Jews of Tasmania are slowly growing their community
Yehupetzville with Ralph Benmergui
by The CJN Podcast Network
1y ago
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 Tasm ..read more
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S2E10 - One woman's mission to revitalize the Jewish community of Quebec City
Yehupetzville with Ralph Benmergui
by The CJN Podcast Network
1y ago
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 ..read more
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S2E12 - Windsor's Jews have a strong pitch to grow their numbers. So why aren't more people moving there?
Yehupetzville with Ralph Benmergui
by The CJN Podcast Network
1y ago
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: spe ..read more
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S2E11 - Niagara Falls is losing its only synagogue—but the building's legacy lives on
Yehupetzville with Ralph Benmergui
by The CJN Podcast Network
1y ago
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 Re ..read more
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S2E9 - Small-town Judaism is in danger. Here's how it can be saved
Yehupetzville with Ralph Benmergui
by The CJN Podcast Network
1y ago
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 t ..read more
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