Friday | February 23, 2018

Norman Cohen was born in the east end of Toronto in 1923.  Growing up Jewish in the Beach neighbourhood, Norman dealt with the anti-Semitism of the era, as well as the economic pressures that led him to quit school at age 16.  Norman found work around the neighbourhood, and he fondly remembered working for Charlie’s Bakery on Queen Street.  But then the war came, and shortly after Pearl Harbour Norm and his friends enlisted.  Norm opted for the air force and after his in Canada training had been completed, bombardier Norman Cohen set off for England, joining his older brother in Bomber Command.  Norm was there for just under year, when rumours of the fates of Jewish airmen led him to seek a change, and he was shipped to Burma.  His journey would prove to be an odyssey:  along the way Norm ended up in Montecassino, where he joined the battle.  Then he found himself in Benghazi, Libya and Tehran, Iran among other places, as he effectively hitched rides in the direction of Burma.  Norm finally arrived in Ramree Island, and he joined the Canadians at their base, when he discovered that they had been looking for him and that a court-martial had been considered.  Norm spent a year there, where his role was to search out lost and captured soldiers.  When the Pacific War ended, Norm made his way back to Europe, and then in 1946 he finally made his way back to Canada, and his family in Toronto.

August 30th, 2016

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Zbigniew Gondek served in the Polish Army during World War Two.  Born in Szemysyl in 1923, he and his family found themselves in the Soviet Zone of occupation after the 1939 Nazi Soviet Pact.  Zbigniew’s father, a police officer, was murdered, and Zbigniew and his mother were transported to Siberia, where they ended up in a work camp/village.  When Germany broke the pact and invaded the Soviet Union, many of the Poles were released, with Zbigniew and many young men taking advantage of the opportunity to join “Anders’ Army”, organized by the Polish General Anders.  With that his odyssey began, and Zbigniew moved through a succession of countries in the Middle East, including Iran, Iraq, Syria and Palestine.  After a year of training and transportation, Zbigniew and his fellow soldiers landed in Italy, bound for the battlefield.  Quickly they found themselves at Montecassino, where the battle was raging between the Germans and the Allied forces.  The Poles played a major role in that battle, earning great distinction for themselves.  Following Montecassino, Zbigniew and his platoon came under machine gun fire at Loretto, where Zbigniew bravely threw several grenades, so the column could move forward.  He was gravely wounded at that time, losing his left hand and sustaining serious wounds to his leg.  He was shipped back to Scotland, where he spent a year in hospital recovering and learning to walk again.  After marrying he and his wife made their way to Canada.
We met Zbigniew through the efforts of the Royal Canadian Legion, and Scott Masters visited and interviewed Zbigniew in July 2016.

August 24th, 2016

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Roshan Shafai was born in Tehran, Iran, on September 21 1964. She was the daughter of Habib Shafai and Noshin Shafai, who in the next 2 years would have 2 sons, making her the eldest child and the only daughter in the family. Her father worked with the Shah’s government and her mother stayed at home, as was the norm in Iran. She was educated to a high school level in Iran before the revolution began. She was an active member, even to the point of being arrested. After the fall of the Shah’s government her family stayed in Iran for a time before fleeing into neighboring Turkey. They then moved to the US and began a life, with Roshan entering Purdue University where she received a Bachelors Degree along with a Masters in Bio Chemistry. She also met Arash Sarshar, whom she married a year later. The couple then moved to Toronto Canada where they attended UFT. After getting a medical degree she began to build a life there with her husband. She is currently 50 years old and living in Toronto. She sat down in 2015, with her son Navid Sharshar to share her story.

June 8th, 2015

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Last week eight Crestwood Preparatory College students braved the cold weather and attended the University of Toronto Model United Nations Assembly. Representing Israel, Sweden, and Iran, and the slaves and ruling classes of ancient Rome, Crestwood students put their diplomatic skills on display, resolving crises and building consensus. The eight intrepid students were Cassie and Sabrina Wasserman, Jake Pascoe, Antony Cook, Adam Tytel, Shawky Abdelrazzak, Akib Shahjahan, and Victor Minkov, who won a special award for his position paper for the World Health Organization.

February 11th, 2014

Posted In: Crestwood News

At the Grade 3 soccer tournament on Friday, the U9 soccer team celebrated a first place victory, bringing home the trophy for Crestwood School. Throughout the day, our team just kept getting better, defeating Crescent with a score of 2-1, Bayview Glen 4-1, and finally Sterling Hall 5-0. Our three wins at the tournament were the perfect way to round out our undefeated season. Jaden, Willem, Keiran, Jievan and Evan led our defensive line, while Alex, Cameron, Albert helped the team’s winning offence throughout the season. Jack was our primary goalie, helping Crestwood to win by making it so hard for the other teams to score. The team’s top three scorers, Declan, Molly and Beckett, all played with impressive skill and helped lead the team to victory. Special mention to our team’s MVP, Molly Hektor. As the only girl on the team, Molly’s hard work, teamwork, and tenacious drive made her a force to be reckoned with on the soccer field.

Your coach, Ms. Klein, is very proud of the whole team. Thanks for a wonderful season!

October 28th, 2013

Posted In: Crestwood News, Sports

On Tuesday, November 20th, Crestwood Preparatory College held a Human Rights and Tolerance Symposium for over 200 students from seven Toronto area schools. Organized by Scott Masters and the History Department, the symposium provided an opportunity for students to engage in learning opportunities beyond their regular classroom instruction. Seventeen speakers participated in the event touching on such subjects as Human Rights Violations in Iran, the proliferation of hate on the Internet, Holocaust Survivor stories and the consequences of the historical abuses endured by the Aboriginal people.

The symposium provided students with the opportunity to contemplate the current state of world affairs, and the role of the individual in promoting tolerance. Through a mix of inspiring stories of personal triumph and gut-wrenching moments of brutal honesty, students were reminded that the choices we make have a lasting effect on ourselves and others.

Crestwood Preparatory College would like to thank all of the speakers for their contributions and stimulating discussion. We hope that the students of Appleby College, The York School, Havergal College, MAC College, Villanova and Marshall McLuhan Catholic School enjoyed their time at Crestwood Preparatory College and have gained from the experience of participating in the Human Rights and Tolerance Symposium.

November 22nd, 2012

Posted In: Crestwood News

Marina Nemat was born in 1965 in Tehran, Iran. At the age of 16, she was arrested on false charges and spent more than two years in the infamous Evin prison, in Tehran, where she, along with many of her friends, was tortured. She was condemned to die, but survived because one of the Revolutionary guards, Ali, pleaded for her life. But the price Ali exacted was high: Nemat was forced to marry him. Ironically, it was Ali’s family who eventually secured Marina’s release after Ali was assassinated. Marina rejoined her family but was further traumatized by their reluctance to acknowledge her ordeal.

Marina came to Canada in 1991 and has called it her home ever since. It took 20 years for Marina to tell anyone about her ordeal and now she travels the world, telling her story and tirelessly working to end the cycle of violence worldwide.

Marina visited us at Crestwood in January 2012, where she did a mini-assembly for YARRD students, as well as a small group interview with So Hee Pyo, Jenny Son, Jesse Freedman, and Lindsey Swartzman.

July 9th, 2012

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Michael Lustgarten was able to get out of Poland as the Nazi onslaught began in 1939. He made his way to Russia, where he was on the move, sought by both German and later Soviet authorities. His travels eventually took him to a Soviet work camp and later to Kazakstan and then finally on to Iran, where he would eventually join up with the western Allies.

Crestwood students Kyle Seigel and Chase Farbstein spoke to Michael at Baycrest’s Cafe Europa in early 2010.

July 9th, 2012

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