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Vera Zvyagelsky

Vera Zvyagelsky

Special Education Teacher for the Hearing Impaired

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Special Education Teacher for the Hearing Impaired

North York

Tell us a little about your career.

I graduated from the Pedagogical Institute in Moscow and worked with hearing-impaired children. I was fortunate enough to work at the Research Institute of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences under the leadership of an outstanding scientist, Bronislava Davydovna Korsun, who became my friend and mentor both professionally and personally. In 1991, we moved to Israel. First, without knowing the language, I had a hard time pursuing my career and worked odd jobs. Eventually I learned Hebrew and resumed working in my specialty as a subsitute teacher. When the principle observed how I worked with children, I was offered a permanent position. Before my departure my colleagues prepared a unique album for me, which I keep as a memento to this day.

Where is your family from?

My paternal grandfather was a melamed (cheder teacher) in a town near Dnepropetrovsk. He was murdered by Cossacks. My father, who was only nine years old at the time, was left in charge, and he had to earn money wherever possible. Once he was hired by a wealthy Jewish family, where he carried out various assignments. In the family there was a boy a few years younger than my father. Against the wishes of his wealthy parents, the two became good friends. The boy, Izzy, taught my father everything he had been taught in school, and that’s how my father received his primary education. They remained lifelong friends. They graduated from military college together. Once, after Izzy was already married, they went to the park and saw two young women sitting on a bench. Pointing to one of them, Izzy said: "This is the girl for you. You will have a good wife." That’s how my parents me. My maternal grandfather was the treasurer in a Moscow synagogue near Solyanka. Every year on vacation we would go to Moscow to my mother's parents. My grandparents lived in a large communal apartment where they shared a kitchen in which each family had a small table. And even in those conditions, she managed to keep kept kosher.

Why did you choose to live in North York?

I chose to live in North York because my daughter settled here with her family.

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

By nature I am sentimental and collect everything that was dear for life. I have kept letters from my students and colleagues, my parents, my brother. I collect newspaper articles that interest me. Often all this is sorted out, reread and share with friends. In my spare time, I help those who need help. Sensing the mood of the people, I try to support them in difficult times. Much time is spent with my grandchildren. I like to read, listen to music, and go to concerts and theater performances.

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

I would very much like to meet with my mentor head Bronislava Davydovna Korsun. She was a doctor of Pedagogical Sciences in a research institute dealing with all issues of child pathology. I met her by accident. Somehow, being a student in 9th grade, I came on vacation in Moscow, and my father took me to a night at the cinema. I was there with a woman who spoke to me about my plans for the future. The woman turned out to Bronislaw Davydovna Korsun, a meeting which influenced the rest of my fate. She told me about the problems of deaf children, and I realized that I wanted to help them. Bronislaw Davydovna spoke about a plan for further study and promised in future to take into their group. Many years later, that’s exactly what happened.

What do JRCC programs mean to you and your family?

My grandchildren are members of the Teen Club, led by Rabbi Zalman and Tamar Shuchat. They go on outings, attend sessions, and participate in the Bar and Bat Mitzvah program. In our family, they are the first generation to resume keeping Jewish traditions. And all of this is thanks to the JRCC.

What are your future plans? My philosophy is to enjoy life and to please others. It gives me great happiness to feel needed and useful to people

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