Friday, June 20, 2008


One of the things I love most about living on my street is the gorgeous canopy we get in the summer with the trees- this is one street over where I stopped to get cash from the bank and snapped a few pics... The other pic is I am thinking one of the last Kosher meat markets that recently closed on Main- it's sad to me.  

I found an article from the newspaper.. Winnipeg Free Press:
Kosher butcher shop closes in North End

Winnipeg's sole kosher butcher shop is about to carve its last brisket, but Jewish community leaders warn not to read too much into closing of Omnitsky Kosher Foods.

The 86-year-old retail institution plans to close at the end of April, severing another tie between the North End and the ethnic group once synonymous with the neighbourhood.

Owner Sam Gekht has sold the one-storey Omnitsky building at Main Street and Polson Avenue and is no longer ordering new meat, said Don Aronovitch, president of Winnipeg's Vaad Ha'ir, the organization that certifies kosher food.

The business remains for sale, but the small proportion of Winnipeg Jews who keep kosher -- that is, follow a set of rabbinically ordained dietary rules -- are expected to procure their meat from groceries in the city's south end, where the majority of the ethnic group now resides.

"This doesn't say anything about the Jewish community. It says something about the North End," said Barbara Reiss, co-owner of Desserts Plus, a Corydon Avenue grocery that sells kosher meat butchered outside of Winnipeg.

"The face of the Jewish population is changing ... the writing has been on the wall for a long time."

Free-standing kosher butcher shops are becoming rare in all but the largest North American cities, said Robert Freedman, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg.

He estimated "less than five per cent" of Winnipeg's Jewish population seeks out kosher meat, but insisted that market is not comprised solely of elderly consumers.

A wave of recent Jewish immigration to Winnipeg has brought younger families here from Israel, the former Soviet Union, Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America, he said, revitalizing the demand for kosher products.

An effort is underway to convince one major supermarket chain to sell kosher meat under Vaad Ha'ir supervision, he added.

The impending closure of Omnitsky Kosher Foods, he added, should not be seen as evidence of the decline of the Jewish community in Winnipeg or Canada as a whole -- a trend suggested by Statistics Canada earlier this month.

According to the latest census, Canada's Jewish population declined to from 348,000 in 2001 to 315,000 in 2006, while the Winnipeg numbers dropped from 14,440 to 12,210 during the same period.

Freedman disputes those numbers on the basis Statistics Canada has changed the way it gathers information about ethnic groups. And Jews are already difficult to count, since some identify themselves on census forms as Jews under the religion section but not under the ethnicity section, he said.

Freedman believes Winnipeg's Jewish population has actually climbed to more 16,000 from a nadir of 14,500 early in this decade.

A targeted effort to bring Jews to Winnipeg, aided by provincial immigration policies, has turned the tide, he claimed.

"The Winnipeg approach (to population loss) used to be to sit back and moan and groan about the future. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy," Freedman said. "We learned we had to be proactive and guess what? It's working."

Other analysts believe Statistics Canada actually has it right. According to the Jerusalem Post, the decline in the national Jewish population may be due to the fact Canadian Jews tend to be older than members of other ethnic groups -- as the elderly die off, more assimilated young Jews fail to register their Jewish identity.

Winnipeg's Jewish community, however, will survive the passing of Omnitsky's, said Freedman, who dismissed the notion the business failed because of a 2006 certification dispute with the Vaad Ha'ir.

Omnitsky Kosher Foods has been closed since the beginning of the Passover holiday.

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