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evelyn hecht reunionElsewhere on this website we have a story about a major reunion that is going to be held in Phoenix later this month.  In the meantime we thought you might like to read this story by Evelyn Hecht about another major reunion of Winnipeggers that took place in Phoenix two years ago.

 

By EVELYN HECHT

It all started with a conversation between three old friends. We were reacting to a question by yet another friend. Would we consider planning another reunion, in a few years. We were, after all, 73 already!

We had celebrated our 50th birthday with a very successful Birthday Bash in Winnipeg in 1990. It was reported in this newspaper. Over 50 Jewish men and women chose to attend. It was an outstanding weekend. We did it again, on a smaller scale for our 60th in Winnipeg in 2000. Our 70th celebration was very small: simply a few girlfriends having a celebratory lunch together, one glorious afternoon in June 2011.
We pondered what we should do as we inevitably inched closer to the big 75. I weighed in on the discussion with a resounding no - we can’t wait for 75.. it’s too risky!!
And so it began - the gathering of emails, the questionnaire, the suggestions, the planning and ultimately it was decided: we would have a reunion of old friends (female) in Phoenix in February 2014, 57 years after we graduated from high school.
We chose Phoenix because quite a few of our friends winter there and one lives there permanently. Judy Linhart agreed to look after the logistics on the ground, Sharon Glass would look after the finances and I would be the communications person. And communicate we did. We searched out friends, organized lists and sought consensus on everything.
Who are we? Some of us moved away from Winnipeg for University, most stayed here for their undergraduate degrees, then subsequently left. One went into nursing, one to Israel. We were girlfriends at Kelvin, or Tech or WKCI, we were BBYO’ers and USY’ers. We even traced our connections as far back as kindergarten at Talmud Torah, 3RD grade at Peretz School, various grades at Machray and Luxton schools. Imagine!!
We are teachers, social workers, physiotherapists, psychologists, lawyers, fundraisers, business women, and more. We are mothers, wives, divorcees, grandmothers, cancer survivors, community volunteers. The whole gamut. Only 6 of us currently live in Winnipeg. The others flew in from as far away as the Bahamas and Hawaii to joins us. The rest live in New York, California, Washington, Boston, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Calgary.
On February 18th, a very impressive group of nineteen women, 73 years old, gathered in a private room at a restaurant. Some had not seen each other in 50 years. Many of us were nervous initially, but that quickly evaporated as we reconnected in ways that exceeded all of our expectations. Over the next 4 days, we laughed, we cried, we empathized as we shared our journeys and discovered that in spite of the passing of so many years, we still had much in common. We perused old photos, recounting numerous funny stories of past teenage angst. We remembered the canteens at the YMHA on Hargrave. We compared notes on our fraternity and sorority prom dates, stirring emotions that were so powerful, yet unexpected. We recognized how durable the pull of Winnipeg is. We are who we are because of our parents, teachers, friends and significantly where and with whom we grew up. We shared the same values, the emphasis on family and on the importance of giving back to the communities in which we live. We rejoiced in all that we had accomplished as strong, independent women. Listening to the life stories of these 19 women generated within each of us, feelings of warmth, respect and love.
We did some sightseeing as well - Phoenix is a great city to visit. We went to the Herd Museum, the Phoenix Art Gallery, the Botanical Gardens, and the Museum of Musical Instruments. Judy Linhart graciously hosted a delicious luncheon at her home. We enjoyed a sampling of the restaurants in Phoenix, ate and drank and it was apparent, we still knew how to have fun.
By the time we said goodbye Friday we were basking in the glow of the trust and intimacy that was everywhere. We were content, knowing that the effort, the expense, the time away from family was worth it. In writing this piece I have gratefully incorporated some thoughts shared by my friends…they will recognize their words. We have made a generous contribution to Winnipeg’s JCFS and to the Canadian Friends of the Human Rights Museum, in honour of our Reunion.
It was a Love Fest, from beginning to end that each of us will remember always.