WINNIPEG — The Jewish Foundation of Manitoba recently set up the Edith and Sam Grosberg Scholarships, which support exemplary students from immigrant families who want to attend the Gray Academy of Jewish Education.
Marsha Cowan [Rhonda Spivak photo]
“This is a unique scholarship, which we created in order to fulfil Sam Grosberg’s wish to give young people the chance to receive an education, having been deprived of one himself,” said foundation CEO Marsha Cowan.
When Sam Grosberg, a Holocaust survivor who didn’t have any descendants, died in 2005, he left his $500,000 estate to the foundation.
“There are currently six students at the Gray Academy on the [Grosberg] scholarship, and there will be other students in the future who will receive this scholarship. This gift from the Grosbergs will have such a long-lasting impact,” Cowan said.
Sam Grosberg left his hometown of Solayev, Poland, for Lodz at age 12, after the death of his mother. In Lodz, he lived on the streets, supporting himself in whatever way he could, such as by chopping wood.
He returned home for his bar mitzvah, and at 15, he joined a Jewish work co-operative. He was drafted into the Polish army at 21 and was captured as a PoW after war broke out in September 1939.
He escaped and was later reunited with his wife, Bluma, whom he had married earlier in 1939. They eventually settled on the Russian side of the border.
All of Sam Grosberg’s family, including his parents and three sisters and their families, perished in the Holocaust.
Grosberg became a tailor, and in 1946, he and his wife came to Canada. They had resettled in Poland after the war, but not before losing their only son to a diptheria outbreak in Russia.
As his means allowed, he invested in property in and around Winnipeg.
Before he died, Grosberg told the Jewish Foundation that he strongly believed in the need for education.
“The streets were my university, and I survived,” he once said. “But no one should have to learn that way.”
Rory Paul, the head of school at Gray Academy, which serves students in junior kindergarten through Grade 12, said that the Grosberg “scholarships are allowing children from immigrant families who are highly successful academically to remain in our school. Without these scholarships, these children would have ended up in different public schools in all areas of the city and would have been lost to our community… These scholarships [already] have had an incredible impact.”
Paul added: “Although there is a sliding fee scale at our school, even at the low end of the scale, there is a minimum of at least $1,000 that is required as payment. The children on these scholarships are from families, some of whom have multiple children, that couldn’t have afforded this minimum fee.”
He said that Grosberg also left “a small amount of money” to help children at the school to be able to afford to participate in some school programs, such as the three-night Jewish retreat that the school runs.
Grosberg also left money for Holocaust education.