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SOMETHING FROM NOTHING: The Shumiatcher Saga
For Teachers
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EPISODE: 1 "Something From Nothing: The Shumiatcher Saga"
Directed by David Paperny

SYNOPSIS

Judah and Chasia Shumiatcher were Russian Jews who emigrated to Canada in the early 1900s. This film explores the historical, cultural, and economic evolution of the Shumiatchers and their descendants and the important economic and cultural contributions this Jewish family has made to Canada.

KEY IDEAS

  • The reasons behind Russian Jewish emigration
  • The contribution of Jewish immigrants to Canada
  • The success of the Shumiatcher Family

KEY TERMS

  • Torah Scroll
  • Synagogue
  • Kosher
  • Yiddish
  • Pogroms

OBJECTIVES

  • To understand the contributing factors of Jewish emigration from Russia
  • To appreciate the contributions Jewish immigrants have made to the cultural and economic evolution of Canada
  • To develop an awareness of basic Jewish customs

STUDENT ACTIVITIES

  1. Develop a time chart showing significant events relating to Jewish immigration to Canada. Begin your timeline in 1750.

  2. Create a genealogy chart for the Shumiatchers, starting with Judah and Chasia. Wherever possible, indicate the type of occupation their descendants had/have.

  3. Create a map showing the geographical dispersion of the Shumiatchers family from their arrival in Canada to today.

  4. Using an organizer like the one below, compare the lifestyle and values of Jewish families as portrayed by the Shumiatchers with that of your own family.

    CRITERIA SHUMIATCHERS MY FAMILY

    General Beliefs
    Vocation
    Religion [Chart]
    Role of Parents
    Role of Grandparents
    Work Ethic


  5. Choose one of the following people and prepare a three minute biographical presentation. Be sure to focus on their contribution to Canadian society.

    Dave Barrett Samuel Bronfman Leonard Cohen Garth Drabinsky
    Barbara Frum Herb Gray Lorne Greene A. M. Klein
    Irving Layton Stephen Lewis Peter C. Newman

  6. Morris Shumiatcher, through the Smithbilt Hat Company, created a symbol that has come to represent western Canadian hospitality -- the white cowboy hat or Stetson.
    • Identify positive qualities or characteristics that in some way make a statement about your community.
    • Develop a symbol that can be easily associated with these qualities, using paper and pastels or coloured pencils.
    • Prepare a three minute presentation about these important characteristics.

  7. Write a brief report explaining the basic beliefs and customs of Orthodox Judaism. Some things you may want to consider in your report are: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Purim, Passover, Shavuot, Hannukah

  8. Explain the following Jewish customs:
    • Why do Jews put stones on the grave when visiting a gravesite?
    • What happens on the Sabbath?
    • What is an Orthodox Jewish wedding like?


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