Gertrude Zivot: The Only Jewish Family in Mission, BC
Date:Thursday, May 13, 2010
ID:Digital audio recording #: 20.10-10
AK: At what point did you come to British Columbia?
GZ: Let’s see, I got married and we were married a couple of years and my husband was working for the Army & Navy in Edmonton and he had worked for the Army & Navy also in Vancouver but he then decided he would like to have his own business and he was looking around and he found this store in Mission, British Columbia, that’s about forty miles from Vancouver. So we moved, I had at that time one child, he was nearly a year old and we moved to Mission, the only Jewish family in Mission.
AK: That’s very interesting, so you met your husband in Edmonton.
GZ: In Edmonton.
AK: How did you meet?
GZ: He was working across the street and I was working as a credit manager in this place and that’s how we met.
AK: What’s his name?
GZ: His name was Sam Zivot.
AK: And so you were initially in Edmonton and then he found this opportunity in Mission and you pulled up your roots and came to British Columbia.
GZ: Right, so then we were there for about seven years, I had two more children both of them born in Mission, one is a daughter and the other is a younger son who, when he was born, we had to bring in the mohel [person who performs circumcisions] from Bellingham, Washington State, [laughs] so we brought him in and he was circumcised there
AK: So now you have three children.
GZ: I had three children now and I felt very strongly about having them educated and being Jewish. We met a Jewish family in Abbotsford which was across, we met a Jewish family in Chilliwack and we sort of all got together for holidays, sort of, and then as time went on and my youngest was five, yeah five, seven and nine, I said to my husband “We cannot,”—because we were running into New Westminster on Sundays so that they would have Sunday school, we were running to Bellingham to go to synagogue.
AK: How long was the drive to go to synagogue?
GZ: Oh Bellingham, not very long, about an hour.
AK: Right, but it’s still quite a drive.
GZ: So the funniest thing that happened was when my second child was born, and we were living in Mission of course, and it was Christmas time and we were driving into Vancouver and of course there were Christmas lights and Christmas lights and the oldest one said, “Oh I want Christmas lights,” and I said “Lou, you are Jewish, we don’t have Christmas lights and we don’t have Christmas trees.” “I want a Christmas tree and I want lights,” and I said “Lou, you’re Jewish, we don’t have those.” Fine, but now a week later I’m bathing the baby and the doorbell rings and I said to Lou, “Lou, go see who’s at the door,” because the doors were all…and he says, “A man says he’s selling Christmas trees.” And I hear this little voice that says, “Oh no, we’re Jewish.” So I was so excited that it got to him. Then I said to my husband, “We can’t do this.” I says, “We have to move somewhere where they can be with Jewish people and have a Jewish education.”
AK: I think you said you were the only Jewish family in Mission?
GZ: We were the only Jewish family in Mission but we had Jewish friends in Abbotsford and...So anyway my Dad at that time had a yard goods store, fabrics, in Edmonton and he suggested that we have a fabric store in Calgary. So that was fine, he went to Calgary to find out a location, etcetera, etcetera, and we moved to Calgary where the children had Jewish family also, I had two sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law living there with their children…