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Masha Katz

Masha Katz

Teacher

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Masha Katzfacecommnov15.JPG

Teacher

Thornhill

Tell us a little about your career.

After High School, I graduated from teacher's college. I taught elementary school for a few years, while at the same time studying at the Faculty of Philology of the Pedagogical Institute in Minsk. Upon graduation I began teaching Russian language and literature, with great success. I was given an award for "Excellence in Public Education.” I dedicated thirty-five years of my life to education.

Where is your family from?

My family is originally from Belarus. Unfortunately, we thought little about our roots. And the older a person becomes, the more he wanted to know. I remember my grandmothers. My beloved grandmother Yenta was born in the town of Beaver, in the Minsk region. Residents of towns were very similar to the tragi-comic heroes of Sholem Aleichem. The roots of many people - artists and writers, teachers and engineers, tailors and shoemakers, scientists and businessmen - now living in the big cities of different countries, is drawn from these towns. My grandmother came from a family of sixteen children, and my grandmother was the eldest. She did not have the opportunity to study, but still possessed a depth of mind, kindness and generosity. She was a people person, and had a truly folk wisdom about her. Her stories brought to life the lives of the poor, the disenfranchised poor, tireless workers, the rich, who boast of their wealth, and all the different kinds of Jews – sad, funny, adventurous, resilient. The Nazis killed most of the Jews of Beaver, and the survivors ended up scattered throughout the country. For half a century I lived in a country that for many years was considered the best. It formed my views, it was my home, and it was where my friends were. But perestroika began, and I suddenly found everything I believed in collapsing. So after some deliberation I chose to leave. In an instant I lost everything and went into the unknown, to a new country without any relatives or friends. But it was our Jewish country, and it was hoped that everything would work out. After a year and a half I started working in a boarding school for people with intellectual disabilities, in the position of social worker. As a result of my lessons the students changed for the better, and ceased to feel flawed. We stayed in Israel another ten years.

How long have you lived in Thornhill?

At first I lived with my family – I have a daughter near Thornhill. But I wanted to be around people who speak Russian and Hebrew, and moreover, wanted to live in a Jewish environment. So six months ago, I moved to Bathurst Street.

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

My interests have always been books. In retirement, I became interested in cooking. I remember my grandmother's recipes, as well as dishes, unjustly forgotten, such as teiglach, klops, tsimes and others. I began to compile a book of these recipes.

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

I would like to meet with Solomon Mikhoels, the famed actor and director, to see his extraordinary smile. He was an open, wise, and likable person. I am humbled by his ability, at a time when it was thought that the Jewish nation does not exist, to revive and develop Jewish culture, Jewish theater.

What role does Jewish tradition play in your life?

In the Soviet Union we knew about Judaism mainly in families where there were old people. My grandmother celebrated all the Jewish holidays. But it was impossible to tell anyone: Prayer services were done quietly in the house; matzah was baked secretly and transported at night. My son was probably one of the last boys in Minsk who was circumcised by an elderly Mohel. Once we moved to Israel, I learned a lot about the history of the Jews, and I wanted to honor the traditions of my ancestors, to perform what for years we had been deprived of.

What are your future plans?

Now I belong to the category known as 'the golden age.’ Life not only does not end there, but something new is just beginning. An opportunity to stop the rushing around, pay attention to the little things, and enjoy life.

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