Galina ChernyakGalina Chernyak.JPG

Electronics Engineer (Retired)

North York

I am currently a pensioner. In the Soviet Union, I received higher technical education in Electronics Engineering. When it came time to leave (we first moved to Israel and then to Canada), I found an additional specialty as a hairdresser. After working for two years in this new field for me, I was able to confirm my technical education and get a job first as a technition, and then, following additional training, I became a member of the Canadian Association of Professional Engineers. Later, I had to quit my engineering job (as a result of a severe car accident) and graduated from several design schools to become a qualified hairstylist, and even had my own salon.

How long have you lived in Ontario, and why did you choose North York?

I moved to Canada from Israel in 1978, and initially settled in Quebec.  In 1980, I moved to Ontario, and have lived in North York since then. I chose this area because I had friends living there who helped me find an apartment when I moved from Quebec, and I really liked the

Where does your family come from?

Throughout my life before moving from the Soviet Union I lived in Moscow. My parents went missing during the war. The Germans were marching on Moscow. Whoever could went to the front to protect the capital. I received notifying me that they were missing. My grandmother, my mother's mother, Polina Shulemovna Spivak, came to Moscow in 1915 from Berdichev, escaping from the brutal pogroms that plagued the area.

What do you do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies?

I love to swim and play table tennis. But the biggest part of my life is drawing. I began in 1989, when my son brought me a bouquet of Trillium flowers for Mother's Day. Trillium - the symbol of the province of Ontario, and we did not know at the time that it was forbidden to pick them. I became interested in the specifics of flowers as symbols of Canada, and my first painting was devoted to this topic - the colors of all Canadian provinces.

As far as I know, many of your works are devoted to Jewish themes. When did this begin?

I was inspired to explore Jewish subjects by the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Israel. To this date I have worked on paintings on the theme of Jewish women, ”The lesson of the Talmud," "Sabbath," "Two rabbis,” a portrait of two boys’ Bar Mitzvah (one of them a portrait my son), "Moroccan wedding", "Sukkot". I even painted a portrait of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

If you were given the opportunity to meet anyone, alive or dead, who would you choose, and why?

I would like to like to talk to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, as for me he is a symbol of world Jewry. I would talk to him about the education of our children and the history of the Jewish people.

How involved are you in JRCC programs?

I try to participate in the celebration of all Jewish community and holiday programs.

What are your future plans?

Continue painting.