David Bogoch is keeper of the Vancouver Talmud Torah archives and chair of the school’s alumni fund. (photo from facebook.com/vttschool/photos)
David Bogoch is on the board of the Vancouver Talmud Torah Foundation. He is also the collector and keeper of the school’s archives. Previously, he was on the school’s board of directors for eight years – a position he took for a unique reason.
“At my dad’s shiva, the president of the board at that time, David Kauffman, tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I would be on the board at the school,” explained Bogoch about how he became involved. “At that time, with my father’s spirit in the room, I felt I had no choice but to say yes. Talk about timing.”
Dr. Al Bogoch was the guest of honour at Vancouver Talmud Torah’s 50th anniversary at its current location, in 1998. He was recognized for his more than 40 years of dedication to the school. He acted in many capacities over those years, including as president of the board of directors, as one of the founders of the VTT Foundation, which was established in 1974, and as a main driving force of four of the school’s expansions. On the occasion of the golden anniversary, the Alumni Endowment Foundation was launched.
In addition to his duties as archivist, David Bogoch is also chair of the school’s alumni fund.
“The board was portfolio driven, so I chose alumni,” he told the Independent. “I inherited the job from Carla van Messel. I figured it would be the least political and most fun. I knew at least 100 alum I could call and it all started from there.”
In going through the boxes in his father’s basement, Bogoch found tons of old Talmud Torah paperwork. “He had kept everything to do with his time on the board in the 1960s,” said Bogoch. “Other past presidents had given him their collections and, together, amassed a lot of what is in the archives today.
“Today, the archive has thousands of photos and documents, from 1918 to the present,” he continued. “There are so many interesting stories which make up the 100-plus years of the school history. I looked up every issue in the library of the old Jewish Western Bulletin and the Jewish Independent to help tell the history of the school and the community of the times. Where would we be without the ability to search through the newspaper of old?”
While many stories have captured his interest, Bogoch said, “One story which caught my attention was in the board meeting minutes from 1944. The community wanted to build its own new Talmud Torah day school but were unable to because of lack of building supplies because of the world war. They also wanted to buy a school bus but couldn’t because of gas rations due to the war.
“Some people like jigsaw puzzles, others like bridge or golf,” he said. “My game of choice is the history of the school and all the people who either attended or were involved with the school. I love the good stories of friendship; I suffer when I hear the bad stories of tough times for students or parents or teachers. By knowing what has gone on in the past, I hope to impart those stories to the people of the present and the future, so we can try to avoid mistakes made before.”
Some of those stories are included in the one-hour documentary Vancouver Talmud Torah Onward: The 100-Year History. Written and directed by Bogoch’s son, filmmaker Adam Bogoch, the documentary was released in September 2017, as part of the school’s centenary celebrations. It can be viewed at youtube.com/ watch?v=ifoAqk3EKb0.
VTT obviously means a lot to David Bogoch, who also attended the school. “All of my lifelong friends came from Talmud Torah,” he said. “Most alum I come in contact with also share the same experience – our ties to the Jewish community stem from our shared experiences of school years. Between school, shul or camp, that is where we forge our community ties that bind.”
Bogoch is working toward making the VTT archives more widely accessible.
“The school,” he said, “is currently trying to put the photos and archival material on the school website so that everyone can search through and find the memories of their time, or of their family’s era.