Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pieces of the Past wins a Manitoba Day Award!

Pieces of the Past, The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz, was awarded a Manitoba Day Award by The Association for Manitoba Archives. 
The award ceremony was on May 13th at the Berney Theatre at the Rady JCC in Winnipeg. It was a fascinating program honouring people who had used Manitoba archives  with excellent results. My book was one of 10 awards given out.
The award itself is a stunning glass sculpture of prairie wheat, which is now sitting proudly on my dining room hutch. (I may have to move it to avoid destruction when the grandchildren come over!)
I used the archives of The Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada extensivley as I researched my book. Stan Carbone, who is Director of Programs and Exhibits at the Centre helped me gather all the relevant materials. In particular I was able to use the minutes from the organizing committee that brought the orphans to Winnipeg. The minutes had every detail of the orphans' resettlemnt from where they were to be housed, to jobs, to dances and swimming, to psychiatric issues.
The book would not have been the same without these detailed documents.

With Stan's permission I am posting his introduction of me from last night:
The Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada, which I represent, nominated Carol Matas for Pieces of the Past: The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz. For the preparation of her book Carol drew on the Jewish Heritage Centre’s extensive collection of materials that covers virtually every aspect of the history of Winnipeg Jewry including the connection or relation between the local community and the Holocaust in all of its implications, be they historical as well as moral, ethical and psychological. The excellence and high quality of Pieces of the Past is due to various factors not the least of which is Carol’s ability to utilize archival sources to posit a sense and a feel for the period she is writing about. In so doing she is able to integrate the subjective element which is critical to understanding the human condition with objective, historical circumstances and realities.
Carol Matas has a proven track record of documenting, through the medium of literature, the social and cultural life of Winnipeg and Manitoba as reflected in the history and contemporary reality of the local Jewish community. In many of her works, the Holocaust provides an indispensable point of reference as the local Jewish community seeks to negotiate and define its identity in a Manitoban and Canadian social setting. In addition, she has that wonderful ability to connect the local with the universal in that the themes she explores and dissects relate to local circumstances but resonate at a universal level. Her works speak to dimensions and aspects of the human condition that transcend the Jewish experience without of course diminishing the centrality of said experience.  In so doing she has brought the Holocaust to our attention by making it a part of our lives. I’d like to think that the archives of the Jewish Heritage Centre have played a role in this process. The information that she has unravelled and interpreted has allowed her to piece together the past and offer it to her readers so that they will acquire a better understanding of the moral, ethical and human rights issues that reverberate in their everyday lives. If literature and the interpretation of history are vehicles for empowering people by making them aware of their role in society and how they fit in the ups and downs and windings of the course of history, Carol has succeeded on all counts. Through the characters she has created, with their nuanced and complex experiences and values, and through the pedagogical importance of her works, Carol Matas has made a major contribution to our province’s richly textured and vibrant multicultural mosaic.
 I’d like to ask Carol Matas to come up and receive her award.



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