1. There are two copies of this interview. Sylvia Kershman donated a second copy of the recording in March 2015.
Bryna's father immigrated to England in 1911 from Soviet Union, dovinsk Latvia. He had apprenticed as a woodworker from age 11, worked in England initially as a journeyman wood carver and became a master carver who was highly regarded as a craftsman and artist.
Mother was born in England. from parents originating from Grobna (?)
-She had 2 sisters, Milly (6 years older) Norma (6 years younger).
-Met husband during her high school years, his parents came from Vienna, sister Helga when to school with Bryna and they became close friends.
-She and many other children were evacuated from London 2 days after the war began to town of St Aubins. She was billeted in foster homes with Norma and for a time Helga. Helga would later immigrate to Canada with her family.
-Has fond memories of visiting her mother in London.
-Remembers having to study with a flash light as the lights had to be out by 9 PM.
-Bryna left St. Aubins to attend University and Norma was left behind. She would eventually was brought back home to live with her parents as while she wasn't miss treated by the billets, she like many other children didn't thrive living away from home. Schools were reinstated in London after 3 or so years and the family would spend the nights in air raid shelters.
-1941-1944 she was at University of Cambridge, then upon graduating went back to London for 6-8 months.
-Lived in 'digs' rented rooms, on weekends she tried to spend time with family.
-Henry's father was a great traveller, had lived in south America and British Guinea. Had contacts in Montreal and the family immigrated to Canada in 1941. Once he arrived in Canada he volunteered to serve in the military and was sent overseas to England. Once in England he phoned Bryna and they started dating. Their parents knew each other and his parents even offered to sponsor her to come to Canada with them. Bryna's father was worried about the dangers of travel between America and Europe and thought it would be best for Bryna to remain home until wars end.
-Henry was injured in a bomb attack and was sent back to Canada on a hospital ship. At this point they were engaged. Once back in Canada he applied for and paid for Bryna's passage. This allowed her to come much faster than she would have otherwise.
-50 women and children on the ship as well as 6000 American troops coming home on leave after a period of service in Iceland. The ship arrived in New York, took train from NY to Montreal but not before having cheese cake from Lindy's.
-Arrived at central station, Bonaventure, or Windsor station?
-Anti-semitism, they were aware of it, but were not very aware of politics in Canada. Immigration officer asked what is her race. she was taken aback and responded 'well I'm white." He in turn said "You know what I mean, you're Hebrew aren't you?" She hadn't expected anyone her to ask that, it was an eye opener for her because she had been asked her 'race' - she certainly would have responded that she was Jewish if she had been asked her religion, but that wasn't the question. She hadn't thought in those terms before. It was different for her to say the least.
-Henry met her in Montreal and was absolutely delighted to see her. His mother was in Montreal at the time but his father was on business in England and so they had to wait about 6 weeks to have the weeding. They were married on the 5th of March 1945 at Shaare Hashomayim where Henry's parents were members.
-They moved to a street just behind the Montreal Forum. Henry worked for customs brokers and she worked with War Assets Corporation, which was newly established at the time, and served to sell off war materials that were salvaged from the war.
-She left the position when they moved offices, she then work with ORT from 1947-1951.
-Daughter Diana was born in 1949 and she did some part-time work working for her brother-in-law Jack Gross at McGill University, he was a doctor doing thyroid research.
-She had many friends within the War-wives group in Montreal. They happen to all be Jewish and was a binding factor for them 20-25 women, met at someone house and commiserated, especially about their mothers -in-law. Many women were strangers in their houses, Bryna was fortunate in that she knew Henry's family, but many others felt very displaced.
-Her sister in law and husband went to England for a fellowship with the National Medical Council. she was lonely, her husband wasn't happy in his job, so they moved back to England in July 1951,. They stayed until 1952, job opportunities weren't great for Henry. It was hard, they decided to return to Canada.
-The war-wives (war bride) group was really happy that Bryna had returned and helped her to re-acclimate, although she says it wasn't hard. they were in quite a luxurious position. The club itself gradually disappeared as people moved and became integrated in to various communities.
-Found work at Shaare Zion congregation on cote saint Luke. It had a day school attached to it. Her daughter and son would become students of the school. This became her community for 14 years. She was secretary to the rabbi and assistant to the executive director. It didn't pay particularly well but it helped her to become so integrated in a community which is ultimately what she so wanted.
END OF SIDE 1.
-It was a large congregation of approximate. 1000 members, 350 children in the day school apart from the afternoon Hebrew classes.
Maurice Cohen was Rabbi, he was a Harvard graduate, graduate of the Jewish theological seminary and a forward thinker. She recalls fond memories of working with him and having a great friendship with his wife.
-It was a good time in her life, but she felt that she still should be doing something more 'professional.' She wished to further her education by enrolling in McDonald college but in order to do so she needed and offer of employment from an established school board, but in order to get an offer of employment she needed a teaching certificate from McDonald college. She was faced with a real 'catch 22' situation. There was no way to do one without the other, then one day she saw an add in the paper with the department of manpower and immigration. She applied and was offered the position, but didn't immediately take the position as she was heading to England for her sister's son's bar mitzvah. She was offered the position on her terms and she began upon her return.
-assignment to an office on Jean Talon, and was to be trained by an officer involved in the restaurant and hotel industry in order to learn how a employment centre operated and also because she should know something about the industries. She was then sent to Expo 67, restaurateurs and boutique owners, who came to demonstrate what they could do at an international exposition.
-At that time Henry was offered a job working on the Expo site, as a construction inspector, as well their daughter got a job at expo as a hostess. It was a really interesting year for the whole family.
-That fall Henry went to work for Stats Canada, she went back to the Montreal Metropolitan Office of the Manpower office responsible for approximate. 14 offices across the city. Here she met and learned much from various mentors. Her functional bilinualism in French served her very well, she worked on many translation projects.
-In 1973 Henry became terminally ill. He died in September 1973.
-She was encouraged by a mentor to advance herself within employment services as she would need to support her family now on her own. She attained a very responsible position AS6 level. regional planning and analysis for the province of Quebec. He really encouraged her and helped her to steer her career. She had the opportunity to meet the regional director general who also would be a mentor for her. She then was the competed and was offered a position in Ottawa.
-Diana began her Ph.D. in Philadelphia and married in 1971. In 1973, she decided he'd be happier doing a MD and upon her second application was admitted in the 2nd year of her program. Upon graduation the graduating class took the Oath of Maimonides.
-Son Michael completed his BA in psychology, started at Concordia but transferred to Carleton.
-At the time of the interview (2000) Michael was running a book store on Bank Street in Ottawa, and Diana is a pediatric pulmonologist in Alan town (about an hour from Philadelphia) her husband is a doctor as well.
The position she accepted in Ottawa was as a 'Senior Industrial Consultant' for "Services" covers many hospitality services, but also financial, educational, health. Responsible also for foreign worker recruitment and authorization. This as you can imagine became quite a broad field and involved a great deal of travel.
-1986 she was federal head of the delegation to the international labour organisations.
-Retired in 1992. Prior to retirement she worked on free-trade negotiations between Canada, the US, and Mexico. role was to protect the Canadian work force.
END OF SIDE 2.