Winnipeg’s JCC prepares to celebrate 100th anniversary

Tannis Mindell, left, and Murray Gilfix

Winnipeg’s Rady Jewish Community Centre (formerly known as the Young Men’s Hebrew Association, or YMHA) will be celebrating its 100th anniversary from Nov. 15-17, with a Nostalgia Weekend.

The weekend’s activities begin on Friday, Nov. 15, with a Shabbat dinner at 6:00 p.m., followed by musical entertainment.

Saturday evening will feature a “Y” Days Canteen Dance, with music provided by a live 10-piece band, which will play tunes from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

Sunday’s activities will include a “brunch and schmooze” at the Rady centre, with old photos and memorabilia on display. “Our committee has gone through thousands of pictures in putting together a montage and video for people to enjoy,” says Murray Gilfix, who is co-charing the Nostalgia Weekend committee with Tannis Mindell.

On Sunday afternoon, the Rady JCC will be hosting a floor hockey tournament, as the sport has had a constant presence at the community centre throughout the years, notes Gilfix. All Rady and YMHA alumni are welcome to participate.

According to local historian Allan Levine in his book, Coming of Age: A History of the Jewish People of Manitoba, the origins of the YMHA date back to 1895, but it wasn’t until 1919 that the organization officially received its provincial charter. And it wasn’t until 1936 that, thanks to generous contributions from community leaders Max Steinkopf and H.L. Weidman, the YMHA got its first permanent home in Winnipeg’s Exchange District.

In 1952, the YMHA relocated to a new, larger premises a few blocks away from the original building. Then, in the early ’90s, with membership at the downtown location limited by the size of the building and due to the deteriorating condition of Winnipeg’s core, the community built a new, larger building on the new Jewish community campus that was under construction in south Winnipeg.

The new JCC was called the Rose and Max Rady Jewish Community Centre, in recognition of the Rady family’s significant contribution to the project.

“I was member number 168 at the new Rady centre,” says Gilfix, who has been a board member for 20 years and is a past president of the organization. Both Gilfix and Mindell attended the old YMHA when they were kids.

Gilfix says the Rady JCC’s membership stands at 2,500 family units – roughly 5,000 people – as compared to around 700 members who belonged to the YMHA when it closed down.

There will be a couple of commemorative events before the Nostalgia Weekend, Mindell points out. As part of the annual Tarbut Festival of Jewish Culture, there will be an evening honouring all of the YMHA and Rady JCC’s past presidents and, a couple days later, a panel discussion and evening of sharing memories of the old YMHA days.

While it is still early in the registration process, Gilfix says that the organizers are hoping to have about 200 people participating in the weekend. The special weekend fee for all events is “$100 for 100 years,” with the funds going to support Rady JCC programs.

Gilfix says that a group of former Winnipeggers from Calgary are planning to come and they hope people from other parts of the country will make the journey, as well. “We have booked some rooms at a nearby hotel for potential out-of-town participants,” he says.


To register for the Nostalgia Weekend, call 204 477-7510, or visit