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Exclusive Interview with Anat Grebler by Chava Yelloz, editor
“Inside Our Home” Newsletter


IMG_1179.jpgTo many of our friends and supporters, reaching out to the girls at the Home is a very emotional experience. This month, Lev LaLev is proud to feature a woman who first thinks of others, especially our precious girls, before she considers herself.  Anat Grebler, born on the cusp of the end of WWII in Novosibirsk, the former U.S.S.R., is now a resident of Nelson, British Columbia. She tells us that after reading our online plea for new clothes for our girls, she recalled her own childhood and decided to help.

In my lengthy conversation with Anat, who has also been called Anna, Anya and Anichka, I was privileged to learn valuable lessons that I will not forget - in history, geography, psychology, and gematria – a traditional Jewish system of assigning numerical value to a word or phrase. But, most of all, I learned the meaning of true menschlichkeit – the goodness of humanity.

Anat told me so much about her life, that if I made a great effort, I could write volumes about her past, her parent’s history, her present and even about her aspirations for the future. Anat was named after Anne of the Green Gables, a bestselling novel published in 1908 by the Canadian author Lucy M. Montgomery. Ironically, this fictitious tale is about a young orphaned girl named Anne, who is mistakenly sent to a middle-aged brother and sister on Prince Edward Island. They were farmers and wanted a boy to help them with their work. Anat’s mother was herself orphaned of her own mother at age 3, and lost her father when she was 14. As a result, Anat says, “My mother always wanted me to be her mother.”

When Anat was in elementary school, her parents returned to their original homeland - Poland. Being that there were hardly any survivors of their family, save for an uncle who landed up in Buenos Aires, the family, including Anat’s older brother Victor, settled there only temporarily. The picture she painted of her recollections of being a Jew is painful, yet Anat speaks with aplomb. She recalls, “I did not really know what it was to be Jewish. I only knew that my I.D. was stamped “Ivri” – Jew. I was labeled, and I could not deny it.  I felt the anti-semitism. It was like having an incurable disease. I felt like a fish out of water.”

IMG_1183.jpgFinally, Anichka and her family found salvation. On her 12th birthday, the day that should have been her Bat Mitzvah, the Grebler family landed in the port of Haifa, Israel onboard the Artza, a WWII ship. She clearly recollects that fateful day, “I landed wearing a scratchy woolen dress and a pair of clumsy boots – hand me downs.” But, it was the best day of her life, so far – and her “Bat Mitzvah” was celebrated by receiving the gift of an orange. Her mother lamented, “…This is all I have to give you.” Anat recoiled by telling her “No, you gave me Israel!”  She continues by saying, “I felt like tons of bricks were taken off my shoulders. I felt fully empowered – embracing Israel and Judaism.”

Back to the Lev LaLev clothes campaign that Anat Grebler responded to…

According to her vivid memories, she tells LLL that she wore lots of hand me downs. Her aunt was a small woman, so she often received clothes from her, which was embarrassing. ”Clothes are a form of self-expression. I felt like an ugly duckling with those clunky boots. When I got a pair of white slipper shoes (in Israel) it was the first feminine feeling I experienced.” In this vein, Anat succinctly understands the needs of the girls at the Home. “Their inner beauty needs to be fed by communicating through their outer attire.”

Another important reason Lev LaLev appealed to Anat Grebler is the fact that she had open-heart surgery so her deep connection with the word heart - “Lev” attracts her eye. When she read one of our e-mails about our girls celebrating their Bat Mitzvahs, she was totally excited about their coming of age. This triggered something very personal inside of her. She told us,  “I had 13 years of heart irregularities - problems which limited me physically. Finally, when I went into surgery, I made a decision. I was elated, it was like a ceremony, a right of passage – a “heart opening” in the physical, spiritual and emotional sense.”

More about Anat Grebler:

Graduate of the Technion in Haifa, 1967 (Chemistry)

Note from A.G. “My father, a brilliant academic, set the standards in Education.”

  • 1967 - Married in Holland and lived in Zurich, Switzerland between 67' -70".
    1970 emigrated to Canada  - lived in Toronto until 1998.
    1999 - Traveled through the West of USA and Mexico and came back to Canada and resettled in Nelson B.C.

Professional History:

  • IMG_1201.jpgWorked as a research assistant in Zurich in chemistry - the proper term for the work in the Dutch lab is "column chromatography".
    Worked as a documentation supervisor in Zurich.
    Returned to University in Toronto - Fine Arts courses/Poetry workshop.
    1976 - Began exhibiting as a visual artist - first show -Art Gallery of Ontario, then exhibited with Olga Korper private gallery in Toronto.
    Worked as an Art teacher and a Hebrew teacher.
  • Taught Math and science in a middle school.
    1989 - "Education advisor” liaison within the North York board of education.
    1991 - Began studying holistic healing: shiatsu, reflexology, Reiki, crystal healing Treated people and helped her parents during the last years of their lives.
    Yoga teachers' training courses
    1996 - Involved in different spiritual paths and circles until 2008.
  • After undergoing open-heart surgery, since 2010 focus on organizing Jewish community events in Nelson, B.C., study of the Torah and writing commentaries.

Mother and Grandmother

Daughter Nicky – Kineret, 43, lives in Kenmore, Alberta

Sons Ariel 40, Toronto, and Elan 34, Vancouver Island, B.C.

Two grandchildren, ages 11 and 9

A few of Anat’s Hobbies

  • Gematria
  • Meditation
  • Shiatsu
  • Drum Circle

Great Quotes from Anat Grebler:

“When I ask the question, ‘Is one overdressed?’ The answer is, ‘Not unless the outer does not match the inner.”

“Women are wise and powerful. Within the beautiful part of us there is a doorway to our deepest unique gift and to a core power.”

“Life is asking us to have the courage to embrace the lesson to heal the wound and to live from a place of wholeness.”

Lev LaLev and all the house-sisters at the Rubin-Zeffren Children’s Home in Netanya wish Anat Grebler good health and a long and fruitful life so she may continue with her great acts of kindness and magnanimous contributions to humanity ~ near and far.

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