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“The Campus is the most important thing the Winnipeg Jewish community has ever, ever done.”
The Asper Jewish Community Campus
The vision of the Asper Jewish Community Campus is an outstanding, vibrant, comprehensive complex to serve as the centerpiece of the Jewish community of Winnipeg, rekindling the spirit and pride of earlier days. It brings together many of the Jewish organizations serving the City of Winnipeg. The Asper Foundation committed over $2 million to the $28 million project developing the buildings and grounds of the former Fort Osborne Barracks and Agricultural College.
The 250,000 square foot Asper Jewish Community Campus opened in the fall of 1997 after 11 years of planning and development. It represents a comprehensive cultural, educational, recreational and social multi-use facility for the Jewish community of Winnipeg.
The campus was named for the Asper family in recognition of their contribution to it and as a tribute to the many Jewish immigrants and settlers who came to Manitoba in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, among whom were Israel Asper’s parents, Leon and Cecilia, and his wife Bab’s parents, Sara and Maurice Bernstein.
The campus is home to many Winnipeg’s Jewish organizations including: the Gray Academy of Jewish Education, accommodating over 600 students from Kindergarden to grade 12, the Rose and Max Rady Jewish Community Centre featuring a double gymnasium, aquatic centre, cardiovascular area, 3-lane running track, aerobics and wellness centres and more, Jewish Child and Family Services, the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg/Combined Jewish Appeal, Winnipeg Jewish Theatre, the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, and the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada.
In addition, the campus houses a library, museum, boardrooms, sports fields, a restaurant, a theatre, administrative offices and exceptional rental facilities for meetings and programs. This gathering together of like-minded organizations — sharing resources, knowledge and capabilities — makes the offerings truly excellent. The campus has become a centre of cultural and community pride.
The Asper Jewish Community Campus Wall Mural contains the following dedication:
They came by the thousands in successive waves in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from the far corners of the world. They came to the New World with nothing but their hopes and dreams. They came to escape inquisitions, ghettoization, pogroms, racial discrimination and ultimately genocide – the fate inflicted upon Jews for centuries. Here in Winnipeg they learned a new language, overcame enormous hardship, became committed Canadians and found freedom, equality and opportunity – and created the Jewish Community of Winnipeg. The Asper Jewish Community Campus is respectively dedicated to all the immigrants among whom were our parents. ~Leon and Cecilia Asper and Maurice and Sara Bernstein
The Kaufman Silverberg Library at the Asper Jewish Community Campus contains the Asper Zionism Collection, established in June 2000 to collect and maintain an excellent selection of books and videos on the history of Israel and of the Zionist movement. The Asper Foundation purchased newly published material and out of print books for the collection, and will continue to add to it as new works become available.