Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Duddy Kravitz Arrives in France Today


And wouldn't he just gloat about it? 


Richard Dreyfuss on the set of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, in 1973.

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz will be screened this evening in France as part of Cannes Film Festival's classics series. 

I support this. I support any screening of Duddy Kravitz. 

In 1974 the Cannes selection committee rejected Duddy in favour of screening a more provocative and less American Canadian film. They decided upon Once Upon a Time in the East by Quebec director André Brassard. 

Mordecai in London in the 1960s, where he shared an apartment with Ted Kotcheff, director of Duddy Kravitz.
The two met in the south of France, where Mordecai previously lived.
Image from Mordecai: The Life and Times by Charles Foran.


Richard Dreyfuss as Duddy, standing by the George-Etienne Cartier Statue at the foot of Mount Royal.
The Cross is in the background. 


Mordecai on the set of Duddy with journalist Martin Knelman, who recently
wrote about the new life granted to Duddy here.

Mordecai made a short documentary with the CBC in 1975. He walks through his turf, his old haunts, and he points out his first home. He explains his sense of place and the general inspiration for Duddy, stories from The Street, and St. Urbain's Horseman

The cigar and soda shop Mordecai visits is the inspiration for this site. Its fictional phone booth which appears in several of his Saint Urbain stories was a repository and witness to scandal, libel, things you never heard in the Bible.


You can watch the video here.



"On each corner a cigar store, a grocery, and a fruit man. Outside staircases everywhere. Winding ones, wooden ones, rusty and risky ones. Here a prized plot of grass splendidly barbered, there a spitefully weedy patch. An endless repetition of precious peeling balconies and waste lots." 

From The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.


'Ruelle Delorme, Montreal,' Painting by John Little, 1985.
This street is a little bit south-east of Mordecai's "turf,"and a little bit
east of the older Jewish area of the late 1800s and early 1900s. 

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Farewell, "Mazel Tov!" Self-Assessment Database


The Canadian Jewish News is folding. Understandably, all the big media outlets are awash in talk of it.





Say what you will about the CJN. Yes, an automated spellcheck could have heightened the calibre of several issues. A "lap dog of the community." Great for understanding one side of the story,' I won't deny that.


Just mind you exclude the "Mazel Tov!" page from your reproach.


The "Mazel Tov!" pages...



.....Are Consistently Beyond Reproach.


They are a reliable clearing-house of information that tells me who is married before I am, 
which former classmate birthed a baby before me, 
which sell-out has a law degree, PhD, or a house before I do, 
whose Bubbie is 92 before mine is - not that she was given a fighting chance peace be upon her, 
whose parents are 50-years-married before mine are - a less likely anniversary than Bubbie at 92, 
which former camp-mate will be married 5 years this Tuesday while I'm still not in a state of grace but in my jeggings, 
who was Bat-Mitzvah'd at Holy Blossom Temple while this budding violet isn't getting any younger,
...and who just celebrated her son's bris while I have nothing, no one to circumcise.


The last of the "Mazel Tov!" pages is like The Last of the Mohicans in that they sound alike. Their loss is a profound blow to my generous schadenfreude.



Friday, 12 April 2013

1938 Smoker's Rally at the Montefiore


Courtesy of CJCCC National Archives

No need to RSVP - you are relieved of the nuisance.  You will attend. 


The HYPE...
That morning in The Montreal Gazette





The clairvoyance of haze at the Montefiore Club,
 almost 60 years prior...

Courtesy of imjm.ca


A little manual laboured breathing,
and lickety-split...



Bob's your uncle.


Saturday, 19 May 2012

That Which Kisses Tansky's Cigar & Soda

Original image from Walrus Magazine.

In a short documentary for CBC in 1975, Mordecai tours his old Montreal haunts. In Wilensky's, he says "an amalgam of this cigar and soda shop and one or two others in the neighbourhood - I'm thinking in particular of another one on Laurier Street which is a block away and which is now demolished - have figured in a good deal of my St. Urbain fiction and my book of stories called The Street, and Duddy Kravitz, and again to some extent in St. Urbain's Horseman."

You can watch the short video here.

In one of The Street's stories Mordecai describes the phone booth in Tansky's Cigar and Soda as the place to place unseemly calls you wouldn't want your mother or landlord to hear, such as those to a bookie, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a pest exterminator. Phone calls about about debts, bets, sex, a pregnancy, roaches or rats in your flat, not to mention the prank calls, perhaps to one of the various numbers scribbled on the booth's walls. 

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Favourite Game, Recognized.


"Your shoulders say 'come closer' but your ankle taps say 'you bore me."
Image from  www.1heckofaguy.com
It looks like an early courtship's to and fro, its woo and coy, but the above park-bench camaraderie is how last Monday night would appear as a photo-montage. The Glenn Gould Foundation proffered its triennial award to Leonard Cohen. Several musicians, writers and cultural VIPs played and paid tribute to Cohen for "transforming lives through the power of music and the arts." I support that.  
Photo by Nigel Dickson


There are things we know now that we didn't know last week. Leonard Cohen just barely follows the King James Bible on former Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson's all-time 'What's Hot' list. And existing among a space heater, a Cheese Whiz sandwich, and Leonard Cohen was probably the high, highlight of Ms. Clarkson's 1970-80 decade. Enchanted, she wrote, 


Everything Leonard Cohen says is a sleek embodiment of meaning coming down a corridor at you from the gilded rooms of a glittering palace you only dream about.
Sure, why not. On firmer ground, Michael Ondaatje discussed the literary topography of Cohen’s first novel, The Favourite Game, and how it helped him to adapt to Montreal after immigrating from Sri Lanka and England. I can imagine Ondaatje thoughtfully wandering the same twilight-lit streets as did Lawrence Breavman and Krantz. In his slightly-suffocated and young adulthood in Montreal, the protagonist Lawrence sought to touch people with his writing, to affect them, "to make them beautiful."

"Do you recognize me like this? I'm Michael Ondaatje."



Canada Council granted Cohen $2000 in 1959 to write The Favourite Game, money he stretched in London and on his Greek island, Hydra. Now, he's putting the Glenn Gould award's $50 000 prize back into the community, donating it to the Canada Council for the Arts. 

Below, Cohen recalls his interview of Gould in the 1960s. After a few minutes, Cohen was so consumed, enrapt, feet no longer on the ground, that he barely recorded a note and forgot everything Gould said.   






And here, we have people enjoying the autumn of their lives while sitting on really high chairs tacked to buildings.


Monday, 14 May 2012

Rabbi Harvey

Come now, sweet Air! 


I am a woman resurfaced. At high noon almost three-score days ago I retreated into an involuntary and prolonged hibernation from all things sane and measured. I was in the abyss of a mall. I was looking for pink and fluffy barrettes - the feminine kind. My short-term goal was to emerge as the woman below with the Barnum-theme neck. You see, I am soon attending a friend's wedding and I told the bride-to-be she may as well stay home because I'm going to look fantastic. 

Image of Rabbi Harvey by Steve Sheinkin
How apt that the Hebrew word for these labyrinths is 'kanion.' Nearing my two-month breaking point and after a particularly game-changing kosher beef burritto (read diarrhea, this mall's main export), I found the exit and emerged as Alice did from Wonderland. I have fluffy hair ties and a conversation-starter neck to show for my sojourn. Alice had unconvincing stories.
Image from http://louboutindesignershoes.info 

The purpose of this post is more noble than my metamorphosis. It was recently National LGBT Health Awareness Week in the United States. In honour of a beautiful friend who devoted much of herself to LGBT causes, I share a short story by Isaac Bashevis Singer, read aloud by Nathan Englander for The New Yorker's monthly fiction series. Disguised is about a Polish woman's long search and discovery of her disappeared husband. When Temerl finds him, she sees he is dressed and living as a woman. 



He, or she rather, invites Temerl home for tea, where we are introduced to a hulking and jovial man who has replaced Temerl's spot in her former husband's heart. Englander remarks at the subtlety, welcome and respect Singer shows for the husband's new identity as a woman. I think Ali would like this.

Lastly, I'm fluttering about this purchase. Chroniques de Jérusalem! This is an illustrated travelogue by Guy Delisle about his recent adventures travelling the city with a little girl. It follows his recent memoirs of Shenzhen, Pyonyang and Rangoon. Animated entirely in the same colour scheme as below, Delisle shows Jerusalem much like it really looks, that is with its buildings faced with the light, Jerusalem limestone.
Book cover and animation by Guy Delisle

Saturday, 10 March 2012

A centenary cette semaine


Irving Layton and Leonard Cohen. Photo by Harry Rasky.

This week I've been thinking of Irving Layton, one of Canada's first modernist poets who was born 100 years ago this week and died six years ago. My copy of his witty memoirs, Waiting for the Messiah, is packed away among many other life stories in wine boxes in a garage. In my favourite passage Layton recalls his involvement with First Statement, the modernist literary magazine he and John Sutherland stapled together in the early 1940s. Out of a tight Stanley Street office Irving and John worked one of Montreal's very few small presses. They prided themselves on being apart from the conservative and Britishist Preview magazine, a minor rivalry which didn't prevent them from publishing the same poets and soon merging together.

Image from Gregory Betts in 'The Rise
of the Small Press Movement in Canada.'
In this passage John and Irving receive a visitor to their office in the form of an old man, shrivelled like a tasty prune and I imagine bent over himself at a right angle supported by his weathered cane. He came to the 'First Statement Press' bureau on official business. He wanted John and Irving to print his grand-son's bar mitzvah party invitations and he was going to pay for it. Layton describes tears dripping from his eyes.

Bar mitzvah cards. This did not resemble the literary material John and Irving envisioned their small First Statement press to publish between runs of Ezra Pound and Louis Dudek. To this unenlightened man's crass proposition, Layton let it be known, albeit ever so subtly, that the First Statement press was a delicate virgin whose chastity was not up for grabs by anything to do with bar mitzvah celebratory events. The gumption! Good day, Sir.


Layton was a teacher for the better part of his life. Here he is with his Talmud Torah class in the early 1940s.
There he taught History, English and Political Science.  



Friday, 20 January 2012

Have you entertained the thought of including more women in your blog?

"And are you hiding babies in your sleeves, or is that just hot air?"
Photo from Andrea Bush Rowe.

That's Lois Long on the right - a shrewd, satirical and anonymous columnist who critiqued high society and fashion for Vanity Fair and The New Yorker

Writing as 'Lipstick' in her night-life column, Lois closed a 1925 piece asking for telegram responses to her question, Is the Charleston still being done at college dances? 

Night letter from Cambridge - (Collect)
KICKED OUT OF RESPECTABLE BOSTON DANCE ON EAR FOR ATTEMPTING VIOLENT CHARLESTON ON PERSON OF DEBUTANTE STOP VERY CONSERVATIVE VERSION WITH VERY LITTLE LEG SWINGING AND MUCH SMOOTHNESS IN ORDER.             
-BRIAN

Telegram from Princeton - (Charged to the Princetonian)
CHARLESTON THE LAST THING TO ENTER ANYONE'S MIND STOP RUMORS TO THE CONTRARY WE STUDY HERE STOP AGAIN.             
-BIOLOGY 4


For more on Lois Long and modern Flappers, see here, see here.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Saul Bellow on Napoleon

An edited version of this post appears on Third Solitude Series
the blog of the Interactive Museum of Jewish Montreal. 

The Jewish Museum in New York has in its art collection this painting of a wonky Napoleon Street in Montreal. It's an aptly named road. Napoleon is but five short blocks when it disappears, defeated by wide thoroughfares then continues for another two metres. Abraham Manievich depicted its like in 1930 when perhaps on a stop from Russia to his new home in New York. Napoleon remains as off-kilter as Abraham portrayed it, although to my puzzlement I see the city has since filled these bathtub potholes.

Napoleon Street, Montreal. Abraham Manievich 1930.
Image from The Jewish Museum, New York.

This painting and Napoleon Street make me think of Saul Bellow. More than the Emperor and more than his wife Josephine whose name I appropriated for over two years, it is this author who comes to mind. To Bellow's great credit, I associate this street to him and his characters more so than even a couple nearby Portuguese chicken restaurants, for which I thank God of Rotisserie that it put poultry and Portuguese people in the same place at the same time.

Bellow's famous character, Moses Herzog, lived on Napoleon as a young boy with his family, crowded among many and supported erratically by his bootlegging father.

Here was a wider range of human feelings than Herzog had ever been able to find....Napoleon Street, rotten, toylike, crazy and filthy, riddled, flogged with harsh weather- the bootlegger's boys reciting ancient prayers. To this Moses' heart was attached with great power. All her ever wanted was there.  

Bellow with his son Adam in Chicago.
Photo by Michael Mauney for Life Magazine.

Bellow's own childhood beat before he moved to Chicago was the nearby Saint-Dominique, a past home he shared with the thoughtful, loner narrator Joseph in his book Dangling Man. Joe describes it in his journal.

I have never found another street that resembles St. Dominique. It was a slum between a market and a hospital...Little since then worked upon me with much force as, say, the sight of a driver trying to raise his fallen horse, of a funeral passing through the snow, or of a cripple who taunted his brother. And the pungency and staleness of its stores and cellars, the dogs, the boys, the French and immigrant women....the very breezes in the narrow course of that street, have remained so clear to me that I sometimes think it is the one place where I was ever allowed to encounter reality. 

Rue Saint-Dominique, Montreal. Sam Borenstein 1942.
Image from the National Gallery of Canada.

This cold painting of Bellow's Saint-Dominique is the cover image on a 2002 edition of The Street by Mordecai Richler, whose literary world borne from his childhood Saint-Urbain Street likens to Bellow's own grounding in his past neighbourhood.  In a scene out of the biographical This Year in Jerusalem, Mordecai is dining with an old classmate in a popular steakhouse. He charitably enlightens his waiter on their shared cultural geography, showing a condescension common throughout his work.

"Remember Sid Horowitz?" said the waiter.

"I don't think so."

"Sure you do," said the man at the next table. It was Marty Hoffman, Baron Byng class of '48. Now sole proprietor of Pantalon Picasso - Picasso Jeans. Made by prisoners in China. No strikes, no late deliveries. 

"He was with the Y basketball team the year they won everything."

...The waiter was back with more names recalled from the good old days. Charna Rosen, Moish Barcovitch, who was doing time. Dr. Phil Gold, a credit to us...and William Shatner, Captain Kirk of Star Trek. 

Foolishly, I tried to trump that one. "Do you know who used to live right around the corner from here on Napoleon Street?"

"Sure. The Krushners. They were in footwear. Retail."

"Saul Bellow," I said, "right around the corner. When he was a boy."

"Bellow?" The waiter asked, puzzled. "Now you've got me. What was his father in?"
Napoleon Street, as photographed for the cover of The Apprenticeship
of Duddy Kravitz
on McLellan & Stewart's 1974 edition.

I suppose two possibilities. Either Mordecai confused Bellow's childhood address with his famous character Herzog's, or he showed a susceptibility to distraction by Portuguese chicken prophets, and the proximity of one particularly holy shrine sent his mental faculties into temporary suspension. I recognize the symptom of discombobulation because I know it well.   

If you're interested to know Bellow's thoughts on the consciousness and identity-building of Jewish writers in America, this and this are what you should read.  Bellow gave this talk in 1988 and The New York Review of Books recently published it for the folk absent. 

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Waiting for Digital

Crowds gather at the opening of the new Jewish Public Library at Mount Royal and Esplanade in 1952.  My grandfather had a women's clothing factory a half-block east of the easternmost building shown here.
 Photo from JPL Archives.

The Yiddish Book Center in Massachusetts will soon begin a project to digitize almost 1,500 recordings of readings, discussions, lectures and any kind of event held at Montreal's Jewish Public Library between 1950 and 1980. This follows a recent transfer of many of the Jewish Public Library's tape-recorded books onto CD, and the Yiddish Book Center's long term goal of putting the entire JPL's vast collection on a USB stick. 
"Now we have an unexpected opportunity to share the experiences of JPL’s large Yiddish audiences as they passed through a transitional moment in Jewish history. The Jewish Public Library began recording its public programs in the early 1950s; perhaps its staff foresaw that the Yiddish world was contracting, shifting from the status of a sweeping cultural force to that of a fascinating object of study. The big leather-bound log books of the programs, beautifully penned in Yiddish, English, and French scripts, list annual meetings, award banquets, concerts, and book-publication parties as well as names like Itzik Manger, Yankev Glatshteyn, and Isaac Bashevis Singer. There were multiday conferences on such topics as “Great Books of the Jewish People,” evenings honoring the anniversaries of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the Night of the Murdered Poets, and, of course, political debates. Elie Wiesel came to speak, first in Yiddish, later in English. Marc Chagall appeared at the height of his career. There were Jewish humor nights, interviews, panel discussions. Flexible criteria for inclusion prevailed: in 1979, when Allen Ginsberg arrived, accompanied by a blaring harmonium, he invited his audience to chant “om” with him."

Here's the full article, written by Nancy Sherman from the Yiddish Book Center.

The same day from another angle. Photo from JPL Archives.


Friends reading, circa 1952. Photo from JPL Archives.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Sundry Lives and Spaces

This post appears on Third Solitude Series, 
the blog of The Interactive Museum of Jewish Montreal. 

'Curiosity' describes my relationship with Montreal's Jewish and Yiddish literary past. It's not mutual; I'm the giver in this relationship. I find neighbourhood stories, movements, poets' and journalists' soup hovels, bakers' unions, the changing functions and facades of buildings bygone or whose purpose bears but a few reminders of how they once were.  I write about their evolution, significance, and, vitally, I will let you know if you can or cannot still eat them. In this post I will show one important writer's memories of 1950's literary Montreal as illustrated by Louis Muhlstock's paintings. This will be the first of a few sundry lives and spaces I hope to share with the Third Solitude Series.


Louis Muhlstock (1904-2001) was known for his figures,
nudes, street scenes, and Depression depictions.
Photo from Pierre Lacerte.

I came back to a book recently for which Chava Rosenfarb wrote a chapter about Yiddish poets in Canada. Chava was one of Canada's most read post-war Yiddish writers. She was precocious growing up in Lodz, an august poet at an age when accomplishment for me was losing something up my nostrils. Chava survived the Holocaust and came to Montreal where Melekh Ravitz, a young writer, greeted her at Windsor Station. In the excerpt I quote below Chava walks us through workaday bump-ins with Melekh, writers Rokhl Korn and J.I. Segal. She notes their and many Yiddish writers' enchantment with their new country's vast landscape, from urban scenes to unending mountains and prairies, a pattern widely interpreted as a metaphor for their new sense of freedom and luxury of space.  

Chava also mentions Ida Maze, a children's poet and known as a mother to all immigrants who came through her open door for warmth, editing or a boiled egg. Writers, painters, and sculptors informed one another's creativity in Ida Maze's living room. Louis Muhlstock was among them, walking from his St. Famille studio to the Maze walk-up on Esplanade. He also shared and put to paper the writers' fascination with Canada's landscape, and so too did he depict the workers' life and struggle, a common theme of the Yiddish writers. Let's imagine it. 

Melekh Ravitch, Chava, unkhown, Melekh's wife and Chava's husband,
Henry Morgentaler, Montreal 1950's. Photo from Chava Rosenfarb's website.
When I arrived in Canada in 1950, Segal was at the peak of his literary powers. I lived in what was then called a "double parlour," as the boarder of a refugee family who had come to Canada shortly before me.  The apartment was located at the corner of Park Avenue, which was the main promenade for us newcomers. 
St. Famille Street, Montreal. Louis Muhlstock, 1939
Image from National Gallery of Canada.
There I would often run into Segal, his prematurely gray head raided high, his eyes staring into the distance through his glasses, his mind preoccupied with some new poem. He was a prolific writer. Two poems a day were his normal output.


Rokhl Korn on Mount Royal.
Photo from JPL Archives.
Sometimes I would meet him on the Mountain, where, in some literary dispute with the always cool and composed Meleck Ravitch, Segal would hotly defend his position, as if the fate of the entire world depended on the outcome of their disagreement. Or I would encounter him arguing with Rokhl Korn, insistently trying to convince her that her most recent poem was much more profound than she had intended it to be.
William O'Brien Unemployed, Louis Mulhstock, 1935.
Image from National Gallery of Canada.
Untitled, Louis Muhlstock.
Image from La Parete Gallery
Sometimes I met him at the home of Ida Maze, who wrote the most beautiful children's poetry. Having consumed a couple of glasses of cherry wine, Segal would crack jokes, shake proverbs out of his sleeve, or entertain those present with tidbits of literary gossip.  
Inscape #1, Louis Muhlstock 1991.
Image from Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Canada's diverse and mostly silent land held, in Chava's words, "a mesmerizing power...a metaphor for freedom from the narrow streets of Eastern Europe." I must add that its numbing power would have been nothing for Rokhl, Segal and Melekh to sneeze at. Mental faculties aside, thirty degrees below have the power of paralysis in a way Chava doesn't mention - I imagine even for the adroit fingers of J.I Segal.

In our free and vast prairies,
there hovers in the air a longing
for those wild and free tribes
who know no limit to their sense of belonging.
- J.I. Segal

Chava Rosenfarb in Montreal.
Photo from www.matica.hr
Louis Muhlstock in Montreal.
Photo from Library and Archives Canada

Chava, Louis, and the writers in this post were a few among many creators of an artistic and literary community which once flourished in Montreal. Over my next few posts I will show spaces, moments, and life stories like theirs, what this community's fervour looked like. As in the mind-stretching Phantom Toll Booth in which Mylo could swim in The Sea of Knowledge for hours and never get wet, I feel the same way. And I'm not even wearing my lucky wetsuit today.  

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

A Foran Affair

A few years ago Florence Richler received Anna Foran at her apartment on Sherbrooke to read through her father's gigantic manuscript on Mordecai Richler's life. Here is a touching article by Anna about visiting Florence's home once again and seeing Mordecai in every room.

So it's a family affair. Here is a guided tour by Charles Foran, almost an extension of his comprehensive and heavy biography, 'Mordecai: The Life and Times.' Off the cuff Charles is scruffy, funny and unassuming. A few people on his tour step in with their own memories where he doesn't know the story of a particular house or school.  Like this place....

Photo from JPL Archives.

It's now a French childcare centre, but in the building's previous life anywhere from 30 to 50 young adults lived at the bustling Jeanne Mance House. As orphaned survivors of the Holocaust, they were brought over to Canada despite the heavy immigration restrictions and lived here while waiting for a permanent home. But that's another story!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Chava Writes, Jean-Paul Paints.

I just read a short piece by Chava Rosenfarb about Yiddish poets in Canada in the 1950s. Chava was a precocious young writer in the Lodz ghetto in Poland. She survived the Holocaust and came to Montreal, greeted on arrival at Windsor Station by another young writer, Melekh Ravitch. In this short essay mentioned above, Chava writes about her relationships with other local Yiddish poets and shares thoughts on their frequent fascination with their new country's vast, diverse landscape. She feels this sets them slightly apart from their peers in the United States who felt stronger connection to their new country's culture, rather than its land.

Fletcher's Field, by Jean-Paul Lemieux, 1928.
Image from National Gallery of Canada



"Hey, you."
Jean-Paul Lemieux, 1909-1990.

I was simultaneously meandering through shy, thoughtful Quebec City painters of early 20th century, deciding where to invest my burden of bullion  (see previous post on dumpster-diving). A few years before Chava's time, Jean-Paul Lemieux painted lonely, melancholic Quebec landscapes which portrayed an environment that Yiddish poets like Rokhl Korn, Melekh Ravitch and J.I. Segal were themselves describing on paper. Let's interrupt an excerpt of Chava's piece with a few of Lemieux's topical sketches.


When I arrived in Canada in 1950, Segal was at the peak of his literary powers. I lived in what was then called a "double parlour," as the boarder of a refugee family who had come to Canada shortly before me.  The apartment was located at the corner of Park Avenue, which was the main promenade for us newcomers. There I would often run into Segal, his prematurely gray head raided high, his eyes staring into the distance through his glasses, his mind preoccupied with some new poem. He was a prolific writer. Two poems a day were his normal output.  - Chava Rosenfarb

Rokhl Korn and Melech Ravitch in Montreal.
Photo from JPL Archives.
Square, 1931.

 Sometimes I would meet him on the Mountain, where, in some literary dispute with the always cool and composed Meleck Ravitch, Segal would hotly defend his position, as if the fate of the entire world depended on the outcome of their disagreement. Or I would encounter him arguing with Rokhl Korn, insistently trying to convince her that her most recent poem was much more profound than she had intended it to be. 

Skiing on Mount Royal, 1936.

Sometimes I met him at the home of Ida Maze, who wrote the most beautiful children's poetry. Having consumed a couple of glasses of cherry wine, Segal would crack jokes, shake proverbs out of his sleeve, or entertain those present with tidbits of literary gossip.  

Melech Ravitch, Ida Maze, unknown man, Rokhl Korn and J.I. Segal, early 1950's.
Photo from JPL Archives.

Such cold that hurts your skin and burns your face was not strange to Rokhl, Melekh or J.I. Segal, but Canada's vast and mostly silent land held, in Chava's words, "a mesmerizing power...a metaphor for freedom from the narrow ghetto streets of Eastern Europe." 


Village, 1936.

In our free and vast prairies,
there hovers in the air a longing
for those wild and free tribes
who know no limit to their sense of belonging.
- J.I. Segal

Chava Rosenfarb published much poetry and prose in Yiddish and English. She died in late January, 2011.